I have little to no patience with the 9/11 Troofers — I’ve spent too much of my career debunking crazy-ass conspiracy theories not to consider them roughly the left-wing equivalents of the OKC and New World Order conspiracy theorists (and they have their strands of right-wing nuttery thrown in for good measure, like most of these folks) — but earlier this week another right-wing nutcase — radio talk-show host Michael Reagan — went completely ’round the eliminationist bend in attacking them:
There is a group that’s sending letters to our troops in Iraq … claiming 9/11 was an inside job — oh, yeah, yeah — and that they should rethink why they’re fighting. Who — we ought to — excuse me, folks, I’m going to say this: We ought to find the people who are doing this, take them out and shoot them.
Really. Just find the people who are sending those letters to our troops to demoralize our troops and do what they are doing, you take them out, they are traitors to our country, and shoot them. You have a problem with that, deal with it. But anyone who would do that doesn’t deserve to live. You shoot them. You call them traitors — that’s what they are — and you shoot them dead. I’ll pay for the bullet.
Later on, he adds:
How about you take Mark Dice out and put him in the middle of a firing range. Tie him to a post, don’t blindfold him, let it rip and have some fun with Mark Dice.
Just on the face of it, this is vile and threatening speech that should earn Reagan his immediate removal from the airwaves; it clearly violates basic FCC standards. You can complain to the FCC here.*
But there’s a bigger issue at stake. I couldn’t disagree more strongly myself with the targets of Reagan’s eliminationism, but if they are engaging in treasonous communications, well, there are laws against that. If Michael Reagan wants to urge their criminal prosecution, he might be able to make a case for that; but urging people to take the letter-senders out and shoot them is another ball of wax.
Much as we might object to them, they are exercising their basic free-speech rights. Once you start deciding that we should start shooting people because you think they are "traitors" based on free speech we disagree with, then it suddenly becomes a lot easier to expand the definition and start shooting lots more people.
Especially when you start adding into the equation Bill O’Reilly and Ann Coulter and the rest of the right-wing gang that’s already shown an easy predilection for calling all liberals and antiwar protesters traitors. As Jeff Feldman says: Americans everywhere are tired of this.
We all remember Radio Rwanda, don’t we? Michael Reagan just brought us one step closer. If the public fails to stand up against this kind of violent hate talk, it will become a permission-giving precedent.
*Instructions for filing a complaint at the FCC site:
– Click on the button for "Broadcast (TV and Radio), Cable, and Satellite Issues."
– At the next page, click on the button for "Unauthorized, unfair, biased, illegal broadcasts (does NOT include Obscene, Profane or Indecent material)" [because this complaint involves threatening speech, which is illegal]
– Select whichever form of complaint filing method you prefer on the next page and proceed.