Saturday, January 8, 2011

Free speech does not mean zero accountability

A deranged man shot a congresswoman today. He also shot at least 9 others, killing at least 5 of them. He will hopefully be held accountable for his horrific crimes and pay the highest price.

He is responsible for his actions. But he is not alone.

Now, I am the first person to defend everyone's first amendment right to free speech. I am actually pretty radical on this one. I think you should be able to say just about anything, any time.

But be prepared for the consequences.

Words can incite. Words can influence. Words can push someone over the edge. Trust me on this—I work in advertising.

So when people like Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sara Palin spew their hate, day after day, don't be surprised when someone actually listens. Tell a reasonable person that our president is the devil and they will laugh at you. But tell someone who is already predisposed to violence and they will take it as a call to arms.

And that's what happened today.

So should we remove Beck and the others from the airways? No. But we should use the full force of our right to free speech to condemn them for the part they played in today's tragedy.

I'll go first.

Glen Beck, you are a deranged, sad man who is reckless with your words. When you compare democrats to Nazis and say that liberals hate America, you push the crazies closer to edge.

Rush Limbaugh, you are a calculating, hypocritical, heartless fuck who will say anything to get attention. When you belittle gay people and mock women who actually use their brains, you push the crazies closer to the edge.

And Sara Palin, you are a deceitful half-wit who thinks a wink and a folksy accent is the same thing as telling the truth. When you try to equate end-of-life care to 'death panels' or try to lump all Muslims with the ones who attacked us on 9/11, you push the crazies closer to the edge.

Don't take any of this as a call for censorship, as that would be a misguided response to this horrible crime. But to all of you people who have been pushing your hateful lies onto the public, I do ask you to do one thing.

Wash your hands. Because there is blood all over them today.

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