Wednesday, September 27, 2006

# Posted 9:39 AM by Patrick Porter  

I LOVE AMERICA: Among many reasons, because of tv like this.
(23) opinions -- Add your opinion

Is this a subtle jab at America?
I thought it was a subtle jab at Right Wing evangelicals who 'support the troops.'

Really, you don't get any lower than this woman. I do wonder why Fox gives her airtime.
It should be noted this is the archenemy of the left, FoxNews cutting the lady to shreds....

'Is this a subtle jab at America?'

Not at all! I was sincere, and I am genuinely drawn to extreme tv in the states.

That is the problem, Patrick.

When AQ gives a snuff flick to al Jazeera it is pretty easy for us to condemn al Jazeera for showing it. Furthermore, it should be pretty easy to condemn anyone else who shows this stuff on TV afterwords. AQ wins when they get their publicity because some people are 'genuinely drawn to extreme tv.'

Similarly, when Fox gives national airtime to Phelps-Roper, the wingnuts at Westboro Baptist win. I'm going to give Fox more credit than they deserve and call them stupid rather than duplicitous in this case. Better that they were ignored.

And please don't call this a free speech issue.
Anonymous, I think the stakes are a little lower. Nobody's getting their heads chopped off here. And Phelps is unlikely to gain converts or signal the "troops" through this newscast.

It may not be news (though I think it is), but it isn't destructive to show it.
it isn't destructive to show it.

We've had more than 2700 killed in Iraq and more than 19000 wounded. Regardless of your view of the war, I'm strongly opposed, this insults our troops and humiliates their families. Frankly, I'm annoyed at Patrick for posting it, and I think he should remove it.

It is possible to cover the story, the news of it, without giving this disgusting woman a sandbox.
I can't help but notice that Fox declined to 'tear this woman to shreds' when she and her family were protesting at the funerals of gay men and AIDS victims, including Matthew Shephard : this only becomes an issue worthy of coverage (and legislation) when military funerals are targeted.

I wonder how many of the commenters expressing outrage now were expressing equal outrage back in 1999 on behalf of the families of those earlier victims?
"Frankly, I'm annoyed at Patrick for posting it, and I think he should remove it."


The footage does not give a simple public platform to the evangelist nut. If you watch closely, she gets strongly criticised by the interviewer, and emerges looking even more ridiculous.

You also might notice that the interviewer reports that the dead man's father had just spoken against the evangelist protesters by appearing himself on that very Fox programme.

Exposure makes these people's views look absurd.

You should consider that other things irritate soldiers and their families far far more than a wierd shouting match between two ladies hurling bible quotes at each other.

One thing in particular that might annoy them is when antiwar people claim to know their innermost thoughts and to speak on their behalf.
btw, Niall, good point, I agree.
Hmmm. You seem to be shifting from being titillated by the extreme nature of the interview (I am genuinely drawn to extreme tv in the states) to admiring of its journalistic content. Please finish your equivocation by saying that both are true.

Exposure makes these people's views look absurd.

This is a bit naïve. It is on the level of 'We do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists.'
I don't admire its journalistic content. I was just pointing out that the segment doesn't simply give the evangelist a public platform.

I think its a fair bet that someone who says that God is killing American soldiers because of the debauchery of American society does look ridiculous on tv.

if the mainstream news channel most likely to support the Christian far right is attacking her, so much the better.

to answer your two other requests, to remove the link and not to call this a free speech issue:

a) no


b) this is a free speech issue
Freedom of speech in my country is generally thought to be a right with respect to the government, not a 'news' network.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

This detested lady does not have a protected right to appear on the detested Fox Network to emit her swill.

Again, Fox could have reported the 'news' of this event without giving her a soapbox. An example of this was the Unabomber. The NYT and the WashPo *only* published the 'Manifesto' because the FBI after considered deliberation decided that publishing it would help find him. It did; his brother recognized the writing.

Instead, this is a question of responsible non-voyeuristic journalism. There is no authority higher than your own good taste forcing you not to show this dreck, and there was no journalistic value to giving this woman a soapbox, twice.

They could have said 'There is a crazy Far Right Christian church protesting homosexuality at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq. Film not at 11.'

They could have reported the reactions of responsible Christian leaders to Westboro.

But they didn't. And it was a soapbox not a strawman.
But Fox didn't simply give her a soapbox, they furiously argued with her. This is a point you have studiously avoided about three times now.

I can see the case for not rewarding Al Qaeda's violence by broadcasting its beheadings, or for applying the criterion of public interest when deliberating whether to televise the statements of the Unabomber.

But short of that compelling public interest, I'm afraid that your rather severe view of journalistic taste would seem to threaten the political freedom of many others.

I can think of many people with extreme opinions about the war in Iraq who would be denied any airtime on your strict test. Tariq Ali argues that Iraqis have the right to attack American soldiers as a right of resistance. I suggest this might prove distressing to the families of some dead soldiers. Is it irresponsible television to give him a debate on tv?

What of Cindy Sheehan, whom one bereft mother said
"She's going about this not realizing how many people she's hurting. When she refers to anyone killed in Iraq, she's referring to my son. She doesn't have anything to say about what happened to my son."

Should Cindy be censored? Isn't it bad taste to expose families to her idea that their sons died to serve a Jewish conspiracy?

Anyway, I'm afraid that those of us who are less keen to demand uniform good taste in public life remain amused by weird American television. Deal with it.
... they furiously argued with her.

There are some positions which one doesn't argue with because they raise the opponent to your level. Holocaust deniers come to mind.

Should Cindy be censored?

No. And we weren't talking about Freedom of Speech, and we aren't talking about censorship.

Isn't it bad taste to expose families to her idea that their sons died to serve a Jewish conspiracy?

I know the 'story.' I know about the 'email.' And I know about PNAC. And I know about Hitchens.

Show me the quote from her speeches and writings.
"There are some positions which one doesn't argue with because they raise the opponent to your level. Holocaust deniers come to mind."

Well, lets agree to disagree. I think it is better to argue with them occasionally, to refute their claims. I think its better to refute the claims of 9/11 conspiracy theorists. I think reason and argument are better than censorship and 'good taste.'

On Cindy, I don't understand the distinction you are drawing: you want to censor a religious nut because her views might offend soldiers and their families, but not Cindy Sheehan, whose views might offend soldiers and their families.

And yes, she said that the war in Iraq was a Jewish conspiracy:

"was killed for lies and for a PNAC Neo-Con agenda to benefit Israel. My son joined the Army to protect America, not Israel. Am I stupid? No, I know full-well that my son, my family, this nation, and this world were betrayed by a George Bush who was influenced by the neo-con PNAC agenda after 9/11."

In other words, a secret group of people exerting sinister influence and deliberately lying to kill her son for the benefit of Israel. Classic tropes of anti-semitism.

So yes, her views might well offend soldiers and their families. Doesn't mean she shouldn't get to put her views on a tv debate.
I specifically said no to censorship and I've never met a Holocaust denier who could be reasoned with.

About Cindy Sheehan, you simply quoted the 'email.'

Show me a remotely similar quote from her writings or from her speeches. And source it.

Here's one 'source', for the 'email' and here's another.

you have a flair for giving instructions.

On Cindy Sheehan: three people who were in different parts of the world independently claimed that Cindy Sheehan sent the email making that claim about the Jewish conspiracy on a discussion group page.

On Holocaust denial, can I refer you to Richard Evans' reasoned and persuasive demolition of David Irving:


I apologize for the pointedness of my writing but not in the least for defending Cindy.

Again, I know about the 'email.' Its history is conveniently obscure--typically Hitchensian like his Kurdish flag lapel--and she disavows it as her own writing. Furthermore, if she is as anti-Semitic as you say, then it should be a simple matter of finding the damning quote in her writings and speeches.

If it isn't there then have to ask whether you've been lied to by Hitchens.

My reason for dismissing holocaust deniers out of hand is not out of disregard of the estimable Richard Evans but rather from a complete lack of respect for Irving's position. The effort would seem to me a waste of Evans' time but were that he is a historian; I guess it comes with the territory.

BTW, in retrospect, I'll even say that there is some value for getting these nut cases on the record. Not much, but some.
hey anon,

quickly on Cindy- she may not be habitually anti-semitic in her statements, but her email statement was confirmed by several other recipients who were initially sympathisers with her. I think she said it.

Regardless, I referred to her statement just as an example of the kind of madcap comment that might be excluded from tv coverage as a result of your exacting standards of journalistic responsibility.

After all, she has made lots of other remarks that might well prove insulting to combatants. I think that point still stands.

On the holocaust denial point, I think its valuable to have on the record not just their views, but a systematic take-down of the views and practices of one of the world's leading deniers.
Enough on the holocaust denial point. I think we're in violent agreement.

With respect to Free Speech, this is a Free Speech issue.

With respect to Cindy Sheehan, this is the chain of events:

1. An obscure email purported to be from Cindy appears saying that Casey "was killed for lies and for a PNAC Neo-Con agenda to benefit Israel. My son joined the Army to protect America, not Israel."

2. Hitchens writes an article about it characterizing Cindy using the phrase 'Jewish cabal.'

3. She denies writing the email. Furthermore, the email doesn't match any of her other writings or speeches before or since.

4. People read the 'Jewish cabal' phrase and start calling her an anti-Semite.

After all, she has made lots of other remarks that might well prove insulting to combatants.

Again, what remarks? I think this is the usual right wing conflation of anti-war and anti-warrior. Remember, Cindy Sheehan had a son who was killed in Iraq. Take a close look at the floppy hat she wears.
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