So why are we not seeing blame heaped upon documentary filmmaker and avowed socialist Michael Moore for yesterday's G-20 riots in Pittsburgh? Moore does, after all, preach hateful and extreme anti-capitalist rhetoric. The cryptic slogan for his most recent movie, "Capitalism, A Love Story", reads, "Capitalism is evil, and you can't regulate evil." This line is eerily reminiscent of many of the socialist-anarchist slogans chanted by the G-20 protesters.
Assume for the sake of argument that violent rhetoric does beget violence. By this logic, shouldn't we blame Michael Moore's vitriolic indictments of investment banks for the brick that was hurled through a PNC Bank window yesterday? And if government aids and abets the evil that is capitalism, aren't Moore's words responsible for the bricks that were hurled at riot police in Pittsburgh?
I do not agree with liberals that claim that violent rhetoric is equivalent to violence or responsible for it. To equate words with deeds is to erase the line between thought and action; violent thoughts become violent actions. That position is very dangerous to free speech. But the mainstream media touted that very position in criticizing Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Joe Wilson, Michelle Bachmann, and other supposed racists and hate-mongers in the conservative movement.
A guest on Keith Olbermann's Countdown, Dan Savage, a radical gay-rights advocate, came right out and said that conservative voices are trying to get the President assassinated. Olbermann agreed with Savage, who stated,
I really do think that the Michele Bachmanns of the world and the Glenn Becks of the world are actively and consciously, or subconsciously, trying to get - I'm just going to say it, trying to get the president killed. That's why they're setting this up as kill or be killed arguments. He's going to kill your grandma, pull the plug on grandma, death panels that little children have to go in front of.MSNBC's Chris Matthews, in denouncing conservative talk radio hosts, suggested that they would be responsible if someone made an attempt on President Obama's life:
at some point if we have violence in this country against our president of any form or attempt, people are gonna pay for it, the people who have encouraged the craziness.David Shuster, speaking on MSNBC above the heading "Ramping Up The Rhetoric: Is The Right Wing Pushing Violence?", suggested conservatives were fomenting violence by talking.
gun sales are up, violence is back on the front page and conservatives are calling for revolution. Is the red hot rhetoric of the right helping foment something dangerous in this country?Shuster's guest on the program, New York Times columnist Charles Blow, said,
I think that what's happening in that echo chamber is very dangerous. Because it only takes a couple of people or one person to do something that, with a gun that, that is very irresponsible, that leads to something like this [the murder of four police officers]. And I feel like if you are gonna let these people [Beck and Limbaugh] ramble on, if they feel like that's a responsible way to use the platform that they have, then that's very unfortunate.As reported by NewsBusters, ABC's Terry Moran called Moore a "rhetorical bomb-thrower." If violent rhetoric begets violence, as so many in the media have suggested, than Moore is in fact a literal bomb-thrower. His anti-capitalist rhetoric, by this logic, necessarily leads to anti-capitalist violence, such as the violence we saw yesterday in Pittsburgh.
If, God forbid, a police officer is hurt by an anti-capitalist demonstrator at the G-20 Summit, we will see if Matthews, Olbermann, and Shuster show some consistency and blame Michael Moore. I wouldn't hold my breath.