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January 25, 2005

how ideology works

Don Herzog: January 25, 2005

I'm about to quote Bill O'Reilly.  (No, I don't listen to O'Reilly.  I picked up this choice exchange on www.mediamatters.org, whose circulation of it produced O'Reilly's heated denunciation of them and the Anti-Defamation League as "the worst element in American society," "despicable, vile human beings ankle biters."  Is this an example of the acute political judgment that wins him air time?)  Feeling defensive already?  Relax.  I happily stipulate that no one reading this blog thinks or feels or talks the way O'Reilly does here.

In fact, that's precisely my topic.  I want to think about how O'Reilly's language links up with that of people who actually have precious little in common with him.  Okay, ready?  Here goes.  Don't be squeamish.

The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, 12/3/04, the ever affable Mr. O'Reilly responding to a Jewish caller concerned about Christmas carols and gift exchanges in schools:

All right.  Well, what I'm tellin' you, [caller], is I think you're takin' it too seriously.  You have a predominantly Christian nation.  You have a federal holiday based on the philosopher Jesus.  And you don't wanna hear about it?  Come on, [caller] if you are really offended, you gotta go to Israel then.  I mean because we live in a country founded on Judeo and that's your guys' Christian, that's my guys' philosophy.  But overwhelmingly, America is Christian.  And the holiday is a federal holiday honoring the philosopher Jesus.  So, you don't wanna hear about it?  Impossible.

And that is an affront to the majority.  You know, the majority can be insulted, too. And that's what this anti-Christmas thing is all about.

Faithful readers may recall facially similar language from Representative Bartlett.  But O'Reilly's "Judaeo-Christian" breaks at the hyphen rather more nastily than Bartlett's fumbling effort to be generous and acommodating would.  "My guys" are in charge, he instructs the hapless Jew on the phone.  We'll suffer you as members on our terms.  Don't like it?  Go to Israel.  So whether he meant to or not O'Reilly's language conjures up the American Jew as rootless cosmopolitan, someone who is ready, or should be ready, to pack his bags and get the hell out if he doesn't like the political rules established by the real members.  We've been here before.  It isn't pretty.

O'Reilly's language is miles way from the humane and thoughtful work appearing in First Things, for instance, work I routinely disagree with but deeply respect.  O'Reilly's language does not circulate in legal circles when we try to figure out the proper boundaries of accommodation in free exercise and establishment clause jurisprudence.  And I'll say it again it does not circulate among readers of this blog.  Then again, it is also much more dignified and plausible than the unquotably vitriolic antiSemitism burbling up from the pond scum in brackish corners of the internet.

In public discussion all this language is circulating, and all of it can and does get jumbled together.  So what can happen?

  • People with really nasty views can take cover under the shield of people with more polite views.
  • People stating more polite views can find their cause advanced by the energy supplied by people with nastier views.  The pond scum may rally to people with much more refined and serious views.  Maybe strategically:  they might think, "well, that's as close as we're going to get to impact on policy."  Or maybe unselfconsciously:  they might sense, however wrongly, "those guys are really like us, deep down."
  • Critics can too easily dismiss the more serious views.  Maybe strategically:  they might think, "ah, tar and feather the serious people with the views of the nasty ones."  Or maybe unselfconsciously:  they might think, "oh, that's just a cleaned-up version of the filth spewed out by the pond scum."  To pay tribute to prior exchanges on this blog, I might dub this the Coulter-Robertson effect, the one explaining why leftists allegedly can't tell the difference between serious conservatives and strident mouthpieces.  Or the Bible-thump effect that allegedly makes secularists scare up some crazed flat-earther every time they encounter the thought that someone else is religious.

You can dream up other grisly dynamics, too, and those dreams will probably turn out to be all too true.  Now, sometimes the people advancing views in the jumbled public discussion know perfectly well what they're up to and have bad motives.  I think that Lee Atwater's infamous Willie Horton ad really was a malicious effort to "play the race card," which is wholly compatible with saying that furloughing criminals was a real issue.  And we're used to enervating debate about who the nasty villains are, with lots of finger-pointing, shouting, and accusations of bad faith.  (Though notice too that being oblivious can be another way of becoming blameworthy.)

But forget about finger-pointing.  What interests me here is that no one needs to have any bad motives, or even any awareness no one needs to be the least bit blameworthy for all these perverse dynamics to kick in.  Someone can play the race card, or flirt with centuries-old antiSemitic canards, without meaning to, even while reviling the people who are explicitly doing that.   That is even the words of the speaker horrified at such nastiness may get caught up with political sentiments and principles they despise and disavow.  For all I know, O'Reilly would be surprised to discover that his dismissive "go to Israel" has the resonances that it does.  Did he mean it?  If that refers to what philosophers call utterer meaning, roughly the particular content he wishes to convey, I don't know.  But I don't much care, either.  If the question refers to what philosophers call sentence meaning, roughly what a member of the community will hear in his words, then he isn't and can't be in control of that.  Too many phrases, images, and arguments echo through our history and culture in ways that different members of the audience will respond to, wittingly or not.  Any of us arguing about politics and the point I'm making here sprawls right across the left/right divide can find ourselves in cahoots with repulsive actors, supporting vicious causes.

Since I more recently wrote on equality of opportunity and education, I'll leave you to think about how another O'Reilly tidbit connects up with debates about crummy public schools in the inner cities and the like.  Hint:  think about the resonance of "lazy," its public and historical resonance that is, regardless of what O'Reilly thought or didn't think he was saying.

The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, 1/13/05, an exchange between our mild-mannered host and economics professor Randy Abelda:

O'REILLY:  Come on.  The government never gave me anything, madam.  I mean, I'm paying an enormous amount of taxes.  And, you wanna take more and give it to somebody else who may have not gotten educated 'cause they're lazy.  I mean I resent that

ALBELDA:  Is that why you think people aren't educated?  Because they're lazy?

O'REILLY:  Most people who don't make any money are not educated because they didn't wanna get educated.

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Comments

Posted by: Shag from Brookline

O'Reilly refers to "ankle biters". As for O'Reilly, he bites a little higher on the anatomy. So my message to O'Reilly is: "BITE ME!"

Posted by: Shag from Brookline | Jan 25, 2005 7:14:39 AM


Posted by: Paul Deignan

The use of the term "ideology" here is itself ideological. Either the line of thought is good or bad dependent on some standard. I prefer the standard of coherency and consistency with known fact and experience.

What we should be concerned about is when that line of thought is corrupted by fear. As we see here, fear is a two-edged sword.

Posted by: Paul Deignan | Jan 25, 2005 7:49:10 AM


Posted by: bakho

The US has historically had religious tensions and these have historically been used for political ends. Many in the US do not realize that the Irish potato famine produced millions of Irish Catholic immigrants to a largely Protestant nation. The majority Protestants demanded that the KJV Bible be taught in public schools. To Catholics, the KJV Bible was heretical. Many Catholics chose to abandon public schools and form their own church based schools. This is one reason why we have the Catholic parochial school system in the US today. Protestants lobbied for numerous laws meant to make Catholics uncomfortable. These politico/religious tactics were applied to each new immigrant group.

It is important to understand the dynamic of religious organizations. Most religious organizations have a set of values and doctrines, some shared, some not shared by the secular society. In order to maintain its values, religious organizations must indoctrinate their members and fight to make the secular society most compatible with their values. However, the pluralistic society of the US celebrates freedom of religion. This means that all religious groups are free to practice their religion even if the majority in society objects. This will create tension. The Protestant church sees its stamp on secular society (Christmas in schools) as under attack and being diminished.

The left must reframe the debate from eliminating Christianity in the schools to protecting the rights of all religions to practice as they please. Religious groups should be warned. If a majority can impose a religious practice on a minority, what will happen when a majority imposes a distasteful practice on their own minority religious sect?

Posted by: bakho | Jan 25, 2005 8:48:06 AM


Posted by: S. Weasel

Bill O'Reilly is a dim-witted self-promotional gasbag (and you might be surprised how many conservatives think so), but he's not a particularly sloppy speaker. Your source doesn't do itself any favors by colloquializing his speech. When I see "talkin'", "tellin'", "wanna", "gotta", and "'cause" show up in a transcript, I mentally file it under "cheap tricks to make my opponent look stupider." You'd be amazed how seldom people drop that "g" when they're quoting someone they agree with.

Posted by: S. Weasel | Jan 25, 2005 9:08:01 AM


Posted by: Paul Deignan

Well, we could go on like this all day -- it doesn't add much except to increase the friction.

Let me suggest this: If you have 3-5 minutes and you would like to get some insight into your own strengths and modes in processing information, there is an on-line Myers-Briggs linked here.

Don't worry about sending in the results. That study is over. However, if you would like a spreadsheet of the results for your own analysis, e-mail me. I would be happy to share the data as well as to discuss analytical results.

Posted by: Paul Deignan | Jan 25, 2005 9:19:24 AM


Posted by: Paul Deignan

I should probably tie in that last post with the thread topic better.


Self awareness is your best defense against the ideologues.

Posted by: Paul Deignan | Jan 25, 2005 9:35:01 AM


Posted by: Richard Bellamy

The left must reframe the debate from eliminating Christianity in the schools to protecting the rights of all religions to practice as they please. Religious groups should be warned. If a majority can impose a religious practice on a minority, what will happen when a majority imposes a distasteful practice on their own minority religious sect?

This has always confused me. What would the Christian Churches think of a public school in, say, Detroit that is majority Muslim and permitted prayer in school? Each morning the students would face Mecca and praise Allah like they would any other time, according to their religion.

Would the Christians say that they had no problem with the three Christian first-grade kids in the class either participating or opting out? Would they see no problem with at least the appearance of religious coercion by a publicly paid authority figure?

I would think they would be outraged -- and rightfully so. So why don't they see that that is the necessary outcome of the policies they pursue?

Christians must know that they are not (or soon will not be) the majority everywhere in America. Isn't the bigger risk that they end up winning the battle (prayer in school), but lose the war (oops! wrong god!).

Posted by: Richard Bellamy | Jan 25, 2005 9:57:35 AM


Posted by: John T

Don Herzog/Bakho Mr Herzog,a thoughtful,well written post. O'Reilly shoudn't talk about lazy,he does about as much research as a bear in hibernation. For a man who talks about current event,many of which should be placed in an historical context,he is remarkably ignorant. If I may offer a criticism,general, of the ebbs and flows of debate in this country it's that there is not enough sel policing within the ranks. It is only to be expected that we'll notice the other sides trangression's more than our own. But that doesn't mean an effort can't be made. National Review has on occasion asked some of it's contributors to take a walk,Joe Sobran and Ann Coulter,and their was rhe famous dressing down and reading out of Ayn Rand by Whittaker Chambers. As to finger pointing,sorry I can't help myself but who is denouncing Al Franken? By the way as to the "infamous"Willie Horton incident,it was Al Gore who first raised the issue against Dukakis. Bahko,I don't usually agee with you but you make a good point on this one. Among many other incidents that occur,this past Christmas all decoratins pertaining to that holiday were banned in Palm Beach,that is public places. However a 13ft Menorah was allowed. Maybe if people would stop trying to rub Christians noses in secularism guys like Bill O'Reilly would have less opportunity to display their ignorance

Posted by: John T | Jan 25, 2005 10:02:05 AM


Posted by: Paul Deignan

Richard,

You're off on an extreme. We have been through that debate and as you know, there is no state sponsored prayer in school. At best there is a moment of silence.

You are aware of this?

Posted by: Paul Deignan | Jan 25, 2005 10:03:21 AM


Posted by: Terrier

S. Weasel, have you ever listened to O'Reilly? HE DROPS THE 'G' - and I suggest that he drops it consciously - he knows who is listening - that is why I don't believe any mock indignation that he spews forth when someone calls him an anti-anything - he may personally be the kindest human being who ever lived - but don't kid yourself and don't try and kid me, he carefully discloses the message that is most likely to fill his pocket. You probably think he "is a dim-witted self-promotional gasbag" because he is not trying to gain your patronage.

Posted by: Terrier | Jan 25, 2005 10:16:48 AM


Posted by: Paul Deignan

How does a TV personality become the source of ideology? Isn't this like saying that Groucho Marx was the source of Marxism?

Posted by: Paul Deignan | Jan 25, 2005 10:20:24 AM


Posted by: Jay Cline

As someone who actually does listen to O'Reilly on occassion, I would take offense at the implied slanders directed my way, except all y'all don't appear to actually watch him. Blowhard? Yes. Opinionated? Absolutely. Biased? Yessir.

Sounds like some notable lefties that I have heard over the past twenty or thirty years or so.

Billy never pretends to be the smartest guy around. He speaks from the gut, and while he may often be wrong, he is often more right....

Get over it. If you don't like what you hear, go somewhere else. I think they call that freedom of speech....

Posted by: Jay Cline | Jan 25, 2005 10:29:47 AM


Posted by: S. Weasel

S. Weasel, have you ever listened to O'Reilly? HE DROPS THE 'G'

Man, I just knew some bright spark was going to come back with that. It doesn't matter. You don't record accent in a transcript unless you're making a point. Generally, a cheap point. (And, anyhow, I don't particularly remember O'Reilly dropping his g's. He speaks neutral TVland dialect, from what I recall).

Posted by: S. Weasel | Jan 25, 2005 10:32:14 AM


Posted by: Paul Deignan

So if a TV personality is the source of a popular ideology that is threatening, does that mean that the object of fear is the ideas of the people?

Posted by: Paul Deignan | Jan 25, 2005 10:36:35 AM


Posted by: John T

Richard, we don't have speculate about schools in Cleveland,religious observance for Muslims is allowed in public schools in NYC. As someone once said this is a religion with teeth. And what has being in the majority got to do with it. What ever happened to diversity and minority rights not to mention the free expression clause of the 1st amendment? Come to think about it I'd like to repeat my point about self policing,just to stay on thread.

Posted by: John T | Jan 25, 2005 10:48:11 AM


Posted by: kp

Jay Cline wrote: "If you don't like what you hear, go somewhere else. I think they call that freedom of speech...."

That's not -my- understanding of freedom of speech at all. In fact, that sounds like the very -opposite- of free speech, by which people holding unpopular political (religious, etc.) opinions literally have to go elsewhere to avoid harassment, threats, bodily harm or even death. "If you don't like what you hear, say something about it" (to use JC's parlance) sounds a bit closer to the ideal I thought those words represented... though if JC doesn't like it, he's certainly welcome to "go somewhere else" if he pleases.

Posted by: kp | Jan 25, 2005 10:52:11 AM


Posted by: Henry Woodbury

That's a very aggressive TV you have there, KP.

Posted by: Henry Woodbury | Jan 25, 2005 10:55:58 AM


Posted by: Paul Deignan

kp,

They have these remote controls that work on IR -- no need to go anywhere at all. Speaking back to the TV is one approach, but I'd recommend the remote.

Posted by: Paul Deignan | Jan 25, 2005 10:59:03 AM


Posted by: kp

Henry & Paul,
I took JC's comment to "go somewhere else" (he didn't suggest that we simply "change the channel") to be in a spirit similar to Riley's remark that Jews who don't like Christmas go to Israel. I hear these kinds of statements all the time from conservatives & they really rub me the wrong way. Happy channel surfing to you both, though.


Posted by: kp | Jan 25, 2005 11:10:45 AM


Posted by: Richard Bellamy

You're off on an extreme. We have been through that debate and as you know, there is no state sponsored prayer in school. At best there is a moment of silence.

But there USED to be prayer in school until the Supreme Court banned it, and the religious right is fighting to put it back in. That is my point. If they win, then they are a prisoner to the majority religion, whatever that religion is.

Posted by: Richard Bellamy | Jan 25, 2005 11:19:05 AM


Posted by: Paul Deignan

kp,

I was just kidding with you. I understood JC to be speaking in context (unless you are actually in the studio with Bill). He has the opportunity now to clarify (if he is still around).

It is good to hear people express their views. Sometimes words betray a bias and sometimes not. You never really know for sure until you get to know them well.

Posted by: Paul Deignan | Jan 25, 2005 11:23:43 AM


Posted by: pedro

Ah! Jay Cline's "go somewhere else" threatens not Paul Deignan and Henry Woodbury, of course. It's the kp's far wittier (and more thoughtful) response to Jay Cline's invitation that is somehow inappropriate. Interesting.

Posted by: pedro | Jan 25, 2005 11:28:00 AM


Posted by: Paul Deignan

Richard,

There is also a possibility that you will become ill from all the fecal bacteria on your keyboard. What are the chances?

There are common sense things that can be done to insure that you don't forfeit your political health. Since there is only so much you to go around, concentrate your efforts on the real problem -- wash your hands, clean your keyboard, don't put your fingers in your mouth, etc.

If you start by ditching your keyboard entirely, you may find that after some time, keyboards may become scarce and you won't be able to get one when you need it.

Posted by: Paul Deignan | Jan 25, 2005 11:30:32 AM


Posted by: Paul Deignan

Pedro,

I actually calculated the probability of hypnotic inducement leading to teletransportation of noncompliant subjects before writing the response. I compared that probability to the probability of an utterence of a misdirected idiomatic phrase using "go take a hike" as the prototype. After throwing this at the Cray, I found that the null hypothesis could be rejected with insignificant probability of error.

Posted by: Paul Deignan | Jan 25, 2005 11:39:09 AM


Posted by: Richard Bellamy

"Nothing in the Constitution shall be construed to prohibit individual or group prayer in public schools or other public institutions,"

--Text of proposed Constitutional amendment sent to Congress by President Reagan in 1982.

Rep. Istook currently sponsors the "Religious Equality Amendment" that would permit student-led religious prayers in any classroom.

These are broadly supported positions. I don't see why a person should be insulted for pointing that out.

Posted by: Richard Bellamy | Jan 25, 2005 11:56:23 AM


Posted by: Paul Deignan

Richard,

Maybe you have better polls, but from what I checked, there is not a snowball's chance in hell.

Posted by: Paul Deignan | Jan 25, 2005 12:05:31 PM


Posted by: Tony

"The government never gave me anything, madam."

Yeah, right. How about roads, prisons, national defense, food safety standards, building codes, emergency services, public education...

What, does he think these things happen on their own?

Posted by: Tony | Jan 25, 2005 12:08:10 PM


Posted by: rtr

I think some "folks" here can broaden their diversity by ordering some Factor gear for themselves. No need to be that upset because you didn't get any as Christmas presents. ^_^

O'Reilly should be able to make the points he wants to make in the manner he chooses. It's been that way since the founding of this country. It isn't limited to any specific ideology.

"You have a federal holiday based on the philosopher Jesus. And you don't wanna hear about it? Come on, [caller] — if you are really offended, you gotta go to Israel then."

Just like if you would be offended by Cinqo de Mayo or any innumerable celebrations. Are British visitors, or those of British roots, offended by the Fourth of July? How is anyone not going to "hear about it"? If we can have gay pride parades we can have menoras and Christmas trees in the public square.

As Don Herzog says, and it is true, "Any of us arguing about politics — and the point I'm making here sprawls right across the left/right divide — can find ourselves in cahoots with repulsive actors, supporting vicious causes." It should just be noted that "repulsive" and "vicious" are subjective adjectives.

Posted by: rtr | Jan 25, 2005 12:18:41 PM


Posted by: Paul Deignan

Thought: It is not misestimation of probabilities that is the cause of alarm, but rather the threat to self-identity/feeling emanating from a set of ideas.

Solution: Communicate on the level of feeling to give reassurance that agreed upon values are protected -- "stored in a lock box".

Now, think post 9/11 and look at the polls.

Posted by: Paul Deignan | Jan 25, 2005 12:23:39 PM


Posted by: Richard Bellamy

I don't know about "better," but I certainly have more of them.

http://religiousfreedom.house.gov/polls.PDF

Question wording varied, but in 1980, 55% supported "requiring" prayer in public school, and more recently, general support of prayer in public school hovered between 65 and 75%.

Posted by: Richard Bellamy | Jan 25, 2005 12:32:25 PM


Posted by: frankly0

You don't record accent in a transcript unless you're making a point. Generally, a cheap point.

Is the assumption here that somehow O'Reilly's comments are distinctly less offensive if one puts all the "g"s back in?

I mean, seriously?

Posted by: frankly0 | Jan 25, 2005 12:33:43 PM


Posted by: Paul Deignan

Richard,

There is a distinction between "prayer in school" and "state sponsored prayer in school". Be careful to check your figures to be sure you are addressing the right issue. The article I cited did address this and was based on relatively recent polling (compared to 1980).

Nearly everyone prays in school.

Posted by: Paul Deignan | Jan 25, 2005 12:46:36 PM


Posted by: S. Weasel

Is the assumption here that somehow O'Reilly's comments are distinctly less offensive if one puts all the "g"s back in?

Would you have a hard time answering this question if we dropped all the "g"s out of a Jesse Jackson transcript? He really does drop them, after all. Here, let's try it with his latest press release:

"President Bush is exercisin' his right to select his Secretary o' State, Condoleezza Rice. But the questions and challenges before Condoleezza Rice – and the Bush Administration – go far beyond these perfunctory confirmation hearin's."

Wouldn't I have more credibility reacting to this statement if I left his damn "g"s in? Colloquial spelling is a cheap trick to make the speaker sound ignorant. For heaven's sake, Bill O'Reilly can sound ignorant enough without it.

Posted by: S. Weasel | Jan 25, 2005 12:55:41 PM


Posted by: Terrier

Richard, you offended the delicate sensibilities of some libertarians who happen to be riding in the Radical Republic limousine right now because of vague hints about the intended destination. The drooling lunatics sitting on either side of them can safely be ignored because they are convinced that the driver actually likes them better no matter how many winks and kisses he throws towards their less rational car mates. So far the driver has not pistol whipped a passenger, run out of gas, exploded the engine, or plunged the car into a ravine, so we can safely deduce that none of these things will ever occur. After all, the driver is a rational person with free will being driven by market forces and he would never do anything to maintain his post in the driver's seat that jeopardized the happiness of anyone in the car. So let your fears go and lower your head. The trunk is waiting.

Posted by: Terrier | Jan 25, 2005 1:09:03 PM


Posted by: D.A. Ridgely

"Nearly everyone prays in school."

Especially, in many urban schools, the teachers.

Posted by: D.A. Ridgely | Jan 25, 2005 1:17:51 PM


Posted by: Terrier

S. Weasel, Jesse does not drop his 'g's! Bill does intentionally. Are you really representing the intent of his speech if you do not drop the 'g's? Aren't you then just cleaning it up to make him sound less ignorant? You complained that they were left out for effect, now you want them put in for effect. May be you should just let him speak for himself. On FOX his transacripts typically have them dropped - are you insinuating that FOX wants to make O'Reilly sound stupid?

Posted by: Terrier | Jan 25, 2005 1:19:35 PM


Posted by: Paul Deignan

So far the driver has not pistol whipped a passenger, run out of gas, exploded the engine, or plunged the car into a ravine ...

The sure does sound scary.

Posted by: Paul Deignan | Jan 25, 2005 1:22:52 PM


Posted by: S. Weasel

S. Weasel, Jesse does not drop his 'g's!

The hell he doesn't! And you're confusing me with another poster -- I certainly never said O'Reilly left them off for effect. I went to Fox's web site and listened to some clips, and from what I heard, he doesn't drop them at all.

While there, I also looked at some of their transcripts, and couldn't find any instances of dropped "g"s. Perhaps it's a difference between TV transcripts and radio transcripts? A link would be instructive.

This is an old, long-standing pet peeve of mine. It's not appropriate to mimic anyone's dialect in a program transcript, and certainly not when it's done selectively as a debating tactic.

Posted by: S. Weasel | Jan 25, 2005 1:30:47 PM


Posted by: oliver

So, the post's title is subtly labeling people like O'Reilly as "ideologues" and asserting that such over-the-top communicators do most of the shaping of popular ideologies? Took me a while.

Posted by: oliver | Jan 25, 2005 1:31:04 PM


Posted by: Paul Deignan

Sorry, I meant to write, "This", not "The".

I was terrified to the point of witlessness envisioning cars flying off cliffs with me trapped inside, a drooling fool at the wheel, that I just could not form a coherent thought.


I wonder if ideologues know about this effect?

Posted by: Paul Deignan | Jan 25, 2005 1:50:46 PM


Posted by: pedro

It is interesting how freedom of speech is conceptualized by some as the freedom that the audience of a particularly offensive speaker has to go somewhere else, and not the freedom that the audience has to express disagreement. You're certainly free to invite others to go somewhere else if they don't like what you say, but it's quite foolish to insist that freedom of speech consists of freedom to accept your invitations.

Posted by: pedro | Jan 25, 2005 1:53:45 PM


Posted by: Paul Deignan

Pedro,

You're welcome to try talking back at the TV. I doesn't work much for me, but you may have better luck.

Posted by: Paul Deignan | Jan 25, 2005 1:55:56 PM


Posted by: Paul Deignan

Hmmm, "O" Reilly. "O", like The Ring. A television that turns itself on and forces you to watch it while..... The last thing you see before some creepy .....


I can hardly writ anymok I mor scard Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Paul Deignan | Jan 25, 2005 2:01:11 PM


Posted by: pedro

Paul: you simply don't get it, do you? The substantive point is that what Jay Cline and Bill O'Reilly claim freedom of speech is (the freedom to "go somewhere else" if you don't like what they say), is no such thing. You seem to insist on beliving that people who disagree with Bill O'Reilly should not engage what he has to say. That is the opposite of advocating freedom of speech, Paul. Your TV joke is frankly juvenile, and completely off point.

Posted by: pedro | Jan 25, 2005 2:05:56 PM


Posted by: Nick

I think some need to step back for a moment and reread Professor Herzog's purpose for writing his post:

"Any of us arguing about politics — and the point I'm making here sprawls right across the left/right divide — can find ourselves in cahoots with repulsive actors, supporting vicious causes."

I doubt anyone disagrees with that, so calm down. He wasn't asking for comments or clarification from readers, he was just stating a fairly unremarkable opinion. It's not a post on freedom of speech nor a post on Christianity in schools.

I'd wish he'd included some of the left-moonbattery in addition to right-wing nuttery to illustrate the problem for each 'side', but the main point still stands.

- Nick

Posted by: Nick | Jan 25, 2005 2:22:25 PM


Posted by: Maggie

Pedro, I know this may seem to drag off-topic. However, those who object to certain sexual/off-color material on TV have consistently been reminded that they are free to change the channel if the material is offensive. Are these people not discouraged from engaging in a discussion of what they find offensive?

Posted by: Maggie | Jan 25, 2005 3:03:16 PM


Posted by: Paul Shields

Don,

I don’t think this post was as inspired as some of yours are. If the real purpose of this blog is to promote left-right dialog, then it seems to me that you have set the cause back by isolating an easy target on the right. Perhaps you should have balanced your post better (it is not hard to find comparable targets on the left). I am asking myself whether anything worthwhile is likely to come out of this thread. . .

Posted by: Paul Shields | Jan 25, 2005 3:26:43 PM


Posted by: John T

To step back a moment and take a broader view of the point Don Herzog is making,and that everybody is ignoring,perhaps the problem is the degraded culture we live,or exist,in. There are people commenting on national affairs as well as world events who 30 yrs ago wouldn't have been allowed in a tv studio's parking lot. There are numerous signs of this,cultural I mean not just tv. I recently went into a formerly esteemed book store and found the book shelves reduced by at least 40%. Needless to say they had been replaced by dvd's,cd's and such. Just a thought.

Posted by: John T | Jan 25, 2005 3:28:10 PM


Posted by: pedro

Maggie:

I don't think that I am saying that changing the channel is not a perfectly reasonable thing to do when you find something offensive. I certainly don't watch Mr. O'Reilly, nor do I listen to Rush Limbaugh. My objection, and I think kp's, is not to the existence of Mr. O'Reilly's show. If I had been complaining about the existence of the show, then I think the recommendation to change the channel would have been entirely appropriate. But I am not doing such a thing. I am objecting to a patently ridiculous way of defining freedom of speech. I quote:

Get over it. If you don't like what you hear, go somewhere else. I think they call that freedom of speech....

Such a statement defines freedom of speech as the freedom one has to accept the invitation that a not so magnanimous interlocutor makes: that of going somewhere else. Freedom of speech, like kp pointed out, is the freedom one has to express one's views, without feeling compelled to go anywhere else.

If somebody invites religious conservatives to leave the country, simply on account that they dislike what popular culture is producing, then I would consider that to be quite offensive an invitation. If, on the other hand, conservative concerns with TV programming are met with the sensible suggestion that one does not need to watch that programming, I would consider it perfectly legitimate, even if a bit abrasive. You see, it is sensible, in discussing to what degree the state should exercise control over TV programming and radio programming, to bring up the right that people have not to watch or hear programming. It is entirely another thing to define freedom of speech along the lines of that shady statement I quoted above.

Posted by: pedro | Jan 25, 2005 3:39:21 PM


Posted by: Literally Retarded

Pedro -

The freedom of speech has almost nothing to do with what's on television, or on the radio, or in newspapers, or even in blogs. It is a limitation on government restrictions on all those things (and more).

Among other things, "freedom of speech" doesn't guarantee the speaker of an audience.

Just a couple of other points - I have listened to O'Reilly, and to Limbaugh, and I always assumed that they are entertainers. Limbaugh isn't even very conservative, he's just opposed to the Democratic Party. He spent eight years opposing everything Clinton did, and Clinton was a pure-d Republican president.

O'Reilly, I couldn't comfortably say that he is for or against anything in particular, I generally have a tough time deciphering the cross-talk.

Finally, how does the word "ideology" and the name "O'Reilly" end up in the same sentence? It seems a bit like using "Howard Stern" and "ionosphere" in a post. It's conceivable, I guess, but it seems like a real stretch.

Posted by: Literally Retarded | Jan 25, 2005 4:53:57 PM


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