Is there any word or sentiment which is off limits these days?
Last week, talk radio shrieker Pete Santilli accused Hillary Clinton of being involved with the killing of American troops in Benghazi, Libya. And then he offered this:
“I want to shoot her right in the vagina and I don’t want her to die right away. I want her to feel the pain and I want to look her in the eyes and I want to say, on behalf of all Americans that you’ve killed, on behalf of the Navy SEALS, the families of Navy SEAL Team Six who were involved in the fake hunt down of this Obama, Obama bin Laden thing, that whole fake scenario, because these Navy SEALS know the truth, they killed them all.”
And in conclusion? Santilli: “On behalf of all of those people, I’m supporting our troops by saying we need to try, convict, and shoot Hillary Clinton in the vagina.”
These comments have drawn attention from the FBI, but Santilli yesterday doubled down on his original comments. “I don’t want her to die. I’ve actually done something and said something that’s less humane: I want her to suffer.”
Santilli is not one of the more well-known talk show hosts. But it is instructive to note that major NRA spokesperson Ted Nugent, himself infamous for his threats to shoot the President, has appeared on Santilli’s program, and made the most of it by calling President Obama “a Nazi.” Such nice pals.
So it goes with extremist talk show personas… from Rush Limbaugh on down their antics apparently pass as “entertainment” to those inured to the venomous contents. One example of a myriad: a young woman who dared to testify at a Congressional hearing was labeled “a slut” and “a prostitute” by Mr. Limbaugh, who pays no apparent penalty for his hate speech. Limbaugh’s most infamous comment may be his “joke” aimed not at Hillary but another Clinton, then 13-year-old Chelsea whom he compared to President Bush’s dog. Limbaugh’s women-hating includes his phrase “femi-Nazi” and his infantile verbal attack on another President’s daughter, Amy Carter. “She may be the most unattractive presidential daughter in the history of the country.”
But if it were just these talk show hosts, that would be one thing. Who is listening to them? Who is advertising with them? Most shamefully, what Christian (or supposedly Christian) media sources and persons are repeating the words such men churn out? We ourselves become implicated, because it isn’t just talk radio or certain TV channels promoting this sort of discourse. They do so because we support it via lending it our ears, eyes, and (most importantly) minds. By doing so, we imbibe emotional and intellectual poison. And what goes in does come out.
Go to any mainstream news site and browse comments sections. A recent CNN article about the Oklahoma tornado disaster had a comments section filled with flaming rhetoric against the idiot Christians who believe there’s such a thing as a God. Perhaps — and I didn’t drill down deep enough into the thousand-plus comments to see — there were believers in God who likewise were being vile. The story’s focus on the profound suffering the storm created was seemingly forgotten as commenters’ respective wells of bile spilled out through their fingers.
The various four letter words used to describe those we loath have become ubiquitous. The ultimate diminuitive word used to describe women (and it is a word Pete Santilli aimed at Ms. Clinton via the euphemism “this ‘C U Next Tuesday,’ Hillary Clinton”) has become nearly as common as the short version of Richard aimed at males, and has far more negative potency. Bill Maher’s use of the word, though in a slightly different context, was also aimed at Hillary Clinton. But his most infamous moment came when he called Sarah Palin both the ‘c’ word and “a dumb twat.” His attempts to obfuscate via the ruse of “I’m just a comedian” sounds exactly like Limbaugh’s very lame “I’m just an entertainer.” Ha. Ha. Ha.
Conspiracy mongering such as that purveyed by Glenn Beck and his many less wealthy cohorts is a conveniently indirect method to spread hate ideology via the airwaves and the web. There’s nothing as potent as hatred delivered with a sincere “aw shucks” smile or innocently child-like frown (such as when Beck falsely and horrifically accused George Soros, a Jew who survived Nazism’s attempt to eradicate all Jews, of being “a Jewish boy helping to send Jews to the death camps”). All said with that oughta-be-patented quizzical Beck look. That’s hate speech. And Beck regularly subjects his listeners to it via an astonishing weave of half-fact and whole fancy.
Mr. Beck illustrates a general principle regarding hate speech: hate distorts truth. If we begin with a set of preconceived notions, built upon one or another ideologies with hate at their core, we will not be willing or able to clearly see reality as it actually is.
Long ago human hatred was focused on one man, the most innocent man who ever walked the earth. Hatred triumphed, or so it seemed, in an unholy alliance between the sacred and secular as they conspired to take his life, first with words, then with action. How could they have been so blind? How could they have been so hateful?
Why are we?