And Speaking of the First Amendment…

Here’s a non-disability related news item.

"Does shock jock hate speech lead to violence?"

Kern-Rugile writes:

On July 27 a man walked into the Tennessee Valley Unitarian
Universalist Church in Knoxville and opened fire, killing two people and seriously wounding seven others.

As someone who has chosen Unitarian Universalism as her faith, I was
shaken by the news. Unitarian Universalism congregations, like ours on Long Island,
define themselves as a "liberal religious community" – not liberal in
the political sense, but because we believe in open-minded discourse
and welcome people of all persuasions.

How could such a community become the target of hate?

Police in Knoxville were quoted as saying that the man, later
identified as Jim D. Adkisson, 58, targeted the church "because of its
liberal teachings and his belief that all liberals should be killed
because they were ruining the country, and that … the Democrats had
tied his country’s hands in the war on terror and had ruined every
institution in America with the aid of media outlets."

She goes on to mention right-wing radio talkers like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Micheal Savage and Bill O’Reilly and what they have said that may or may not have helped push the crazy man over the edge.  Evidently, they found books by many of the above listed personalities in the crazy guy’s house.

Mind you all she did was raise the question. She did not seek to censor them. She did not call for a boycott.

Enter the haters.

“Newsday has received 3,000 emails against my piece. The online forum
comments at have been 99% hateful… I actually had someone
sitting in a car outside my house for a half hour. I got so freaked I
called the cops!” wrote Kern-Rugile in an e-mail to Rory O’Connor at Alter-Net.

The Media Research Center (a conservative  media watchdog group dedicated to bringing political balance to the news and entertainment media) got in on the act with it’s  President L. Brent Bozell sending a letter to Newsday Publisher Tim
Knight demanding an apology for Kern’s opinion piece. He demanded that
she “never again appear on the pages of Newsday,” stating  her
article “was absolutely despicable ” and the newspaper “should be
ashamed and embarrassed for having printed it…” because it was “nothing
more than an in-print character assassination of Rush Limbaugh, Sean
Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly, a foray into absurd Leftist delusions of
links between them and the vile murderer in a Tennessee church this
past July 27.”

Bozell’s diatribe ended with, “This is not a freedom of speech issue. This is Newsday giving this woman a license to
assault these fine men in print, accusing them of complicity in murder.
Newsday should immediately publish a full retraction, and an abject and
absolute apology to those defamed by this woman’s wretched words.”

No. Newsday gave Kern-Rugile a forum in which to assert an opinion that would be read by thousands of readers.

Fine men? Accused of complicity in murder?  Who accused them of that?  I wonder if he read the same Op-Ed piece I did.

And as if that wasn’t enough, Kern-Rugile writes in another e-mail, “Bill O’Reilly’s people ambushed me in my driveway today. With camera
and microphone. I guess I’ll be on Oreillyworstthe show tonight or tomorrow. This
is not what I had wanted. Yikes. Wish me luck. I don’t feel bad about
anything I said, but he’ll probably edit it to make me look like an

Happily though, before O’Reilly could use the piece, his competiton on MSNBC, Keith Oberman, broadcasted the story on his show,featuring him on his "World’s Worst" segment. Now I’m not nuts about Keith Oberman but I gotta hand it to him this time. I like hearing someone got the jump on ol’ paranoid O’Reilly.