Rush Limbaugh killed some church goers in Tennessee last July. That is the message from a Newsday.com columnist for a local New York newspaper chain. Now, I've listened to Rush Limbaugh many times. Because of my schedule, I cannot listen every day, so certainly I have not heard every word the man has ever uttered, but I am sure that you won't be able to find a time when he told people to go out and kill liberals. Neither have I ever heard Sean Hannity advocate murder. Michael Savage.... well, I haven't heard it but I almost wouldn't be surprised, almost. Still, even Savage is smart enough not to do so I am sure. Regardless of a complete lack of such incitement to murder made by these "right-wing Shock jocks," as she puts it, Jenna Kern-Rugile is sure that the killings of the members of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville last July is the fault of Limbaugh, Hannity and Savage.
Her premise is that the "rhetoric of extreme right pundits" such as Limbaugh, Hannity, and Bill O'Reilly "might" have caused shooter Jim D. Adkisson, 58, to gather up his guns and perpetrate a murder spree on July 27 at the Unitarian Church in Knoxville.
Might the shooter have heard talk-show host Rush Limbaugh say that "liberalism is the greatest threat this country faces" and "the Islamofascists are actually campaigning for the election of Democrats" and that riots at the Democratic Convention would be "the best damn thing that can happen to this country."
Kern-Rugile also wonder "might the shooter" have listened to Hannity. She also notes that the killer had some conservative books in his home.
Some proof she has there.
First of all, calling O'Reilly, Limbaugh and Hannity "right-wing Shock jocks" is absurd. The woman's obscene rhetoric is itself beginning to make the lie to her claim of being an objective commentator on the subject. Worse, it seems to me this sort of loose theorizing is as much an example of hate as what she claims comes from her targets on talk radio.
But, even her example of Limbaugh's words are a far cry from advocating murder. For that matter, O'Reilly, Hannity, et al, all frame their discussions in the political arena, none of them saying that people should do anything other than vote the right way.
Even Savage, renown for saying "liberalism is a mental disorder," has never to my knowledge advocated violence. In fact, if he truly believes that liberals have a mental disorder the solution to that is medical help, not execution! Help, not death. the compassion of wanting to help the sick hardly seems to be a basis for a killing spree.
Without question the passions of political discussion should be tempered with common sense. The sort of emotions that inspire deep seated hatred needs to be carefully watched so that they don't rise to the surface and cause something like the spree in Tennessee. But, regardless of that we will see people of dubious mental balance act on their mental disorders no matter the influence.
But, here is the main problem with Kern-Rugile's piece. She doesn't seem to realize that the "hate" she so decries is infused in her side of the ideological aisle, as well. Apparently, Kern-Rugile has ignored the hate displayed by leftists on such sites as DailyKos, Huffington Post and the Democratic Underground. On any given day one can see the sort of hatred that could easily be turned to violence displayed on those sites. And the hate on such sites isn't the only manifestation of the sort of behavior that "might" cause marginally stable Democrats to under take killing sprees -- if we are to accept Jenna Kern-Rugile's concept, of course.
Recently, for instance, Cafe Press had to cancel a T-Shirt offering that featured the map of Red/Blue America on it with the words "Kill Republicans" emblazoned over it. (Cafe Press is an on-line company where users can sign up to sell their own T-Shirt designs) Early in August of 2005, Michelle Malkin reported on graffiti in New York City that proclaimed "I kill Republicans."
And then we can cite the efforts of legitimate Democrat supporting organizations for inciting hatred that might lead to violence. Just last October, when the SCHIP bill was being debated, the AFL-CIO ran a campaign that told its followers that a Bush veto of the SCHIP bill would hurt children. On the AFL-CIOs discussion of the health bill, one of the commenters on the page claimed that Republicans wanted to "kill children." Union member David Hulburt of CWA local 9410 wondered of Bush "How many children will your veto kill each day."
Using Kern-Rugile's logic, would it be surprising to find that such a person as Hurlburt might turn to murder to stop people from "killing children"? It would fit in quite easily with her assumptions, wouldn't it?
Obviously Kern-Rugile did not think her position through to its logical conclusion, that all high political passions could lead to violence. But, then, all human thoughts can be taken to such extremes. It doesn't have to be political. And that simple fact makes her whole point rather void of any legitimacy. After all, how many Jim D. Adkissons has there been since the rise of talk radio in the last 20 years? Looks like a grand total of one, to me!
(Photo of Limbaugh: Lighthouse Patriot Journal)