Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 11, 2010

THE LIMITS OF RESPONSIBILITY.... We talked earlier about Byron Williams, who launched a violent scheme after having been inspired by some of his favorite deranged media personalities, including Glenn Beck. I tried to be careful about not holding Beck directly responsible for Williams' shootings, but Kevin Drum argues I still went too far.

Beck is a conspiratorial loon, but he's just not responsible for a guy like Williams. Full stop. No more than environmentalists are responsible if some crackpot takes a shot at the CEO of Exxon or Keith Olbermann is responsible if one tosses a bomb onto the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

If Beck were advocating violence, that would be one thing. But he isn't and hasn't. Ever. Fox ought to take Beck off the air, but they should do it because he's crazy and promotes ignorance, not because Byron Williams says he learned about the Tides Foundation from him.

Oddly enough, I find this pretty persuasive, too. I can appreciate how wishy-washy this sounds, but I'm genuinely conflicted on the point.

I'd love for Beck, Limbaugh, and others like them to lower the rhetorical temperature, and I'm inclined to believe some of the violent incidents we've seen might be less likely if they did. But I also believe lunatics who commit crimes are responsible for their own actions. Unless Beck or someone like him actually starts recommending violence, there's no real, meaningful, direct culpability.

But if you've seen/heard Beck's show, you know his message dances along a dangerous line. Atrios also had a compelling take.

I think there are necessary subtleties when talking about the issue of whether crazy people or the people who inspire them are responsible for their actions. It isn't black and white, and generally I choose "crazy person" or their mental illness as the responsible party. Having said that, it is the case that Beck really is getting close to, and crossing, that line by using obvious violence-endorsing rhetoric even as he disavows the violence part.

That's exactly right. Beck's message, in effect, goes like this: don't commit acts of violence, but there's a dangerous, secret cabal trying to deliberately destroy your country. Don't commit acts of violence, but the future of civilization is at risk. Don't commit acts of violence, but Thomas Jefferson talked about the value of spilling tyrants' blood. Don't commit acts of violence, but Nazi/Soviet/Jihadist forces want to take away your children's future. Don't commit acts of violence, but someone needs to do something or we're all doomed.

Don't commit acts of violence, but don't forget the importance of "reading between the lines" when it comes to Beck's rhetoric and his underlying message. And at that point, Beck provides a detailed list of all the evil, nefarious folks who will crush your country and destroy everything you hold dear -- but don't commit acts of violence.

I know Kevin's right. Really, I do. But to augment an old metaphor, I feel like Beck is close to the point at which he's in a crowded theater shouting, "Fire! But try not to trample anyone. There's a fire right here in this very theater that may kill you! But there's no need to make a mad dash for the exits."

Do those caveats absolve Beck of responsibility? Probably, yes. If asked, Beck could honestly say, "I specifically encouraged people not to trample others," and he'd be right. But if it seems unsatisfying, it's because the rest of the context makes it hard for Beck to wash his hands of the disasters left in his wake.

Steve Benen 3:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (45)

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Comments

Oh, but do caveats let you get away with anything, let's say I heard a rumor on the internet that some famous Fox News personality raped and murdered a girl in 1990...

Posted by: Dervin on October 11, 2010 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

If Republicans and their enablers are good at anything, it's in walking--nay, dancing--along the razor-thin line between strong suggestion and outright incitement.

They know exactly what they're doing, and with a compliant media who is more apt to blame Democrats for anything and everything, Republicans will continue to get away with said dancing--right up until (and sadly, even past) the point when something truly dire happens. It's just what they do.

Posted by: terraformer on October 11, 2010 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

In your fire analogy, you are omitting the fact that "the fire" is in the form of the imaginary flame of a cigarette lighter.

Posted by: Ian on October 11, 2010 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

That is exactly it, it's the context of his behavior and the audience he works to attract and organize that makes him culpable, not for any individual thing he says, but the whole of it put together.

We know what he really means, and the lunatic knows it, too.

Posted by: cld on October 11, 2010 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

The reason you struggle with the issue of responsibility... is because you actually have a sense of personal responsibility.

Beck and his ilk do not suffer from that same sense of right & wrong. They've attached their sensibilities to a rationalization that allows them power and wealth without consequence, and that's where it ends for them.

They're not bothered by this at all. And probably think it's amusing that you are.

Beck is a small, worthless person, undeserving of your conflicted analysis.

Posted by: Rochester on October 11, 2010 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, I think your fire in the theater analogy would be more accurate if you described Beck as yelling: "Smoke! Smoke! Can't you see and smell the smoke in this theater!"

Posted by: MW on October 11, 2010 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

And Hitler's foaming rants against the Jews in Germany during the 1930s had nothing at all to do with Kristallnacht. And the beatings of the gay men the other day in New York had nothing to do with so-called Christians endlessly demonizing gay people. And of course, violence against Muslims has nothing to do with the right wing war on Islam. If it walks, talks and quacks like a duck, why do you insist it's a pigeon?

Posted by: dalloway on October 11, 2010 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Beck shouldn't be censored. However, if I were George Soros, I'd certainly be looking into the possibility of suing his lying ass for slander. All you need to do is prove that what Beck said was false (even if Beck didn't know it), and that he said it with malicious intent to cause harm to Soros's character, and that's that. Don't censor him, but definitely sue his lying ass.

Posted by: Sisyphus on October 11, 2010 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

No Kevin Drum is not right. Your are wrong too. Beck is directly responsible for violence, just as the right wing loons of the sixties were responsible for all that violence. Ramp up the hatred, you get violence, and the people who ramped up the hatred are directly responsible.

Posted by: Peter on October 11, 2010 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Legally responsible? No. Morally responsible? Yes.

Should we jail him for it? No. Should we scream at the top of our lungs that he's enabling maniacal nutcases? Fuckin' A.

Posted by: Sarcastro on October 11, 2010 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

The fact that Glenn Beck exhorts people to violence but pretends otherwise should be no shield from criticism for exhorting people to violence.

Posted by: AlphaLiberal on October 11, 2010 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Are the the companies and/or drivers that overload trucks with rocks responsible for damage to you or your car if a rock falls off their truck and smashes your window? Yes, they are, even if they have those "Stay back 250 feet. Not responsible for damage from falling rocks" sign on their truck. You can't absolve yourself from blame by declaring you're not responsible for the damage your actions cause. If you could, disclaimer t-shirts would be all the rage. Beck is not yelling "Fire!"; he's overloading his truck with rocks and telling you to watch out.

Posted by: Sandtress on October 11, 2010 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, can someone please show us the Kevin Drums of the right wing? Those who will bend over backwards to make sure the arguments against the left are meticulously pristine?

No? Didn't think so. See also "The American Taliban." It's like a boxer having someone in their corner saying "oooooh, don't punch so hard!"

Posted by: AlphaLiberal on October 11, 2010 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Beck advocates violence. Media Matters has cataloged a history of it.

http://mediamatters.org/research/201010110015

Shame on Drum for not recognizing and admitting it.

If pantomiming the poisoning death of the Speaker of the House isn't inciting violence, I don't know what is.

Posted by: doubtful on October 11, 2010 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

It's too bad Beck can't be the victim of his own incitements.

Posted by: TCinLA on October 11, 2010 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Glenn Beck is a highly paid village idiot with a Murdoch microphone! He does sputter hateful rhetoric, but unlinks himself from such proclamations by the use of thinly veiled caveats only he can use to absolve himself from the torment he puts into the minds of his feeble followers.

Beck is about as unAmerican as one could possibly get, but here in the good ol'21st century he now has the company of our beloved Chamber of Commerce! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on October 11, 2010 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Does continual hate-speak breed violence? It's one of the oldest of questions.

We do not penalize the promoter of hate; we only intervene when someone ACTS on it: It's OK to think about strangling your boss, but it is NOT at all OK to actually do it.

And that is fit and proper. But to completely exonerate the haters from their spoor?

For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind ...

~ from some book that the haters seem to love.

Posted by: Hart Williams on October 11, 2010 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

By the time I'm getting into the Comments section today, someone else has already quite eloquently nailed what I had in mind to post. In this case, I'm in 100% agreement with what @Dalloway, @Peter and @AlphaLiberal said.

Posted by: June on October 11, 2010 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Aren't you missing the point that Beck at least talks like a loon himself? I really do not worry about a crazy person hearing what he says and setting out to do violence. Someone who is mentally ill could listen to Jesus Christ himself and storm the government's offices--that is why they executed him wasn't it? It worries me much more that otherwise sane people listen to him at all. It speaks volumes about the collective ignorance and prejudice of a sizeable portion of the citizenry and that is the real danger--not to say the lone nut can not do harm, but lone nuts do not take over countries.

Posted by: Terry on October 11, 2010 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

"Beck's message [...] goes like this: don't commit acts of violence, but there's a dangerous, secret cabal trying to deliberately destroy your country. [etc]"

You're still being way too generous. The "don't commit acts of violence" part comes indirectly, as an aside at the end, after hours of the most incendiary falsetto-screaming madness possible.

Posted by: tb on October 11, 2010 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

I tried to make a similar argument earlier with coworkers. Republicans equate Democrats with terrorists who want to destroy America from within. Whether or not they believe it is irrelevant, there are figures on the right, pundits and politicians, who use those words and equally inflammatory words, and no one calls them on it.

And as we all know, we do not negotiate with terrorists.

What do we do with terrorists? What would we do to the terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center? THEY were terrorists! And so is anyone who sympathizes with them. Like Obama.

It's an "if a=b and b=c, get your gun" analogy.

It's comparable to the guys who go on the news after an abortion clinic is bombed or a doctor is assassinated and says "well, that was a tragedy...but think of all the INNOCENT LIVES spared as a result."

Democrats are not innocent lives. Liberals are the enemy. They are against everything American stands for. It must be true. They said it on Fox News. And we do not stand by and let the enemies of this nation tear it down from within, now do we?

That's the thin line upon which they dance. With all the grace and rhythm for which old rich white conservatives are known to possess.

Posted by: slappy magoo on October 11, 2010 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Like attracts like. (See: Militia, U.S.)
Seminary school doesn't teach pedophilia; it just enables it.

Brainwashing works. Give me your darling young man, and I will turn him into an amoral, stone cold killer in 16 short weeks. (we call it the USMC.)

Listen to Glen Beck for 16 weeks, and he begins to make sense. Particularly if you are a blue collar high school drop out whose job was outsourced to a G D furriner. . .

Posted by: DAY on October 11, 2010 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Honestly, the fact that Beck joyfully tap-dances on the far edge of that "line" is more evidence of his depraved indifference.

G. Gordon Liddy used to give listeners point-by-point instructions about the importance of head shots when taking on body-armored federal agents. He was practically orgasmic at the thought of someone picking up an AK-47 or mixing up some explosive fertilizer to start his personal revolution against whatever shadowy forces were out there this week. You get the feeling, listening to those old clips, that if someone had just called in and asked him point-blank, "Should I go blow up the local mosque/National Guard depot/public school/NAACP office," he'd have screamed "YES!" and gone running for his heavily fortified compound.

My point being, here's a guy who came by his homicidal egomania honestly. Beck is just faking it for the lulz. (And the cash.)

Posted by: Matt on October 11, 2010 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Seems to me that anyone who needs to add a comment about people not resorting to violence at the end of his program knows exactly what type of people are watching and that what he is saying is designed for this purpose.

These right-wing talkers are sociopathic scumbags. Beck once mocked a rival DJ's wife on air about having a miscarriage. Hannity advocated his "Freedom Concerts" every day for years saying the money was going to the troops, when in fact most of it was being used to shuttle him and Oliver North to and from the concert and their 5 star hotels in luxury limos. If I ever saw one of these people on the street I would spit at their feet and look them straight in the eye after I did it.

Posted by: jjstraka on October 11, 2010 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Conspiracy theorists create jobs for unhinged individuals. They'd be unhinged on their own, sure. But conspiracy theorists give them a way to express it.

The problem here, basically, is that Beck is encouraging people to let go of reality. He is creating a fantasy world and saying it's okay to actually believe it. This is what separates Beck from just your garden variety person using extreme rhetoric. When you start telling people to throw away rationality, you're taking on a new and different set of responsibilities than if you're just being very angry on television. Beck is reaching out to people like Mr. Williams who might have some tendency toward delusion, and telling them to cultivate it, not to fight it, to make it grow, to make that gap between themselves and reality as big as possible. Isn't what happens next pretty obvious? If you tell people to live in a fantasy world instead of the real world it's hardly surprising when they start acting like the fantasy world is real. If anything it would be far weirder to accept the fantasy world Beck presents and yet still try to live in the real world, going to the store and following the law and voting while honestly believing Obama is a foreign sleeper agent who stole the election with ACORN voter fraud, and could totally steal the next. Look at it like this. If you lived in Iran, with your electoral system just having been demonstrated totally meaningless, would you respond to the current political situation by just saying "well, maybe we'll organize and beat Ahmadinejad next election"? No! The way Mr. Williams is behaving is actually probably the way a rational person would behave if the crazy things Beck are saying were actually true. The argument is we're supposed to ignore Mr. Williams because he's unhinged, but thing is the only thing that makes Mr. Williams unhinged rather than hinged is he actually believes Beck's unbelievable rantings. You know, instead of doing what he's supposed to as a Fox News viewer and compartmentalizing. But if you have a political philosophy that believing it will by definition put you in the unhinged category, then what is it doing on a cable news network?

Keith Olbermann, on the other hand, last I checked was calling for some legislation to be passed and some people to be given trials and prosecuted within existing law, not armed rebellion. The problems he claims to exist have solutions within the existing system. What if some unhinged individual did exactly what Keith Olbermann was calling for?! Oh, I guess they'd donate to Alan Grayson.

As far as responsibility goes... what does "responsibility" mean here? Is Beck legally responsible? Clearly not, I'm pretty sure the bar for legal culpability is quite high, I don't even know how that would work. But did he cause this to happen? Is he the reason this guy went out in a hail of gunfire? Yes! So the real question here becomes, why is a national news network, which is treated as a serious news source by politicians, other news sources, etc, giving space to a possibly mentally ill person so he can create a cult that actually mentally ill people are committing violence on behalf of? Shouldn't we be, you know, treating Fox differently than we do, if that's how they behave?

Posted by: mcc on October 11, 2010 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Exactly right, Steve. In fact, I told Kevin that too but in MY fantasy world, Beck is responsible, I hate 'im and he'd pay the price for being so irresponsible. And therein lies the difference in 'fantasy worlds'...

Posted by: SYSPROG on October 11, 2010 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, you were right and Kevin is being too much the careful priss baby. Beck has talked of "hunting progressives" etc, it isn't just what it is one condemns (as per Olberman), but how they take degradingly and provocatively about that target. And Beck sometimes walks that back, but the original message has an effect. And the Beck crowd and complex see such punch-pulling as weakness anyway.

Posted by: Neil B on October 11, 2010 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not advocating violence but Kevin Drum needs to get smacked upside the head. Not advocating violence but....

Posted by: square1 on October 11, 2010 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Lieutenant Keefer wasn't technically responsible for sending Captain Queeg over the edge, but he sure as hell set out to get him sent there. And he did it in the same cowardly way Beck does it, by pushing the buttons of a mind he knows can't handle it.

Gulty? No. Responsible? Probably.

Posted by: mark on October 11, 2010 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

If the people who are committing these acts of violence are truly crazy, that means they can't be held responsible for their actions. I'm pretty sure that's the legal opinion in this country. Being as how they also think Beck is an infallible authority figure, they're not likely to try to blame him for what they've done, so that leaves it up to us to assign blame and begin prosecution.

Posted by: entrails on October 11, 2010 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

If "just supposing" doesn't incite to violence, then why do we X-rate violent and pornographic films? Surely, by that standard, such films have no influence at all on the viewers?

Posted by: exlibra on October 11, 2010 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

I recall someone writing, maybe it was you Steve, that O'reilly and Beck are putting loaded guns out there when they talk about these things. I think that makes them culpable.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on October 11, 2010 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

It's pointless to talk about legal remedies in this case. Of course people like Beck and O'Reilly are morally culpable when their followers go do things they have been hinting at for months or years at a time. Can you imagine how much worse the right-wing persecution complex would get if any of the big names like Limbaugh, Hannity or Beck was actually called to account? I would probably have to stop any interaction with any type of media for fear of my sanity.

Posted by: jjstraka on October 11, 2010 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

"Beck's message, in effect, goes like this: don't commit acts of violence, but there's a dangerous, secret cabal trying to deliberately destroy your country. Don't commit acts of violence, but the future of civilization is at risk. Don't commit acts of violence, but Thomas Jefferson talked about the value of spilling tyrants' blood. Don't commit acts of violence, but Nazi/Soviet/Jihadist forces want to take away your children's future. Don't commit acts of violence, but someone needs to do something or we're all doomed."

Good. Explain it like this frequently enough, and he can be marginalized. His name should always be accompanied by a clause similar to one of the above. Not the whole paragraph; if it's done enough, people will fill in the blanks. He can be known as the guy who incites nuts to violence. No reason why not.

Posted by: Half Elf on October 11, 2010 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

I disagree with Drum and agree with commenters above who say it is the attitude of hate, not really the words, that is key. Extremism is what killed Kennedy in Dallas, as Galbraith and Schlesinger immediately pointed out. An extremist attitude toward the law was the point of Watergate, too, not the two bit breakin. The extremist attitude now is so common because guys like Beck and Limbaugh and the other creeps have been promoting it. Extremism is an attitude toward others first and foremost, and what is said is usually just silly because it doesn't matter a hoot.

Posted by: Bob M on October 11, 2010 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

Beck = Radio Rwanda. All he broadcasts is hate, and he should be held responsible when one of his minions commits violence.

Posted by: CDWard on October 12, 2010 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

Lincoln on Copperhead agitator Vallandigham:
"As for Vallandigham, Lincoln charged that he was encouraging desertions from the Union army. "Must I shoot a simpleminded soldier boy who deserts," Lincoln asked, "while I must not touch a hair of a wily agitator who induces him to desert?""
http://www.crf-usa.org/america-responds-to-terrorism/lincoln-and-the-writ-of-liberty.html

Here is a list of some of Beck's violent rhetoric
http://mediamatters.org/research/201010110015

Posted by: Mike on October 12, 2010 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with the author. I've watched Beck and his toe is so close to the wrong side of that line between advocating violence and not that it's almost too close to call. For people predisposed to violence that minute space is all they need to go out and kill somebody because they believe that Beck wants them to or he at least agrees with them. I believe Beck is a bit unstable himself. He's either unstable or extremely disgustingly evil. Either way, he should not be hosting a show on T.V. or the radio.

Posted by: Debbie on October 12, 2010 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Mark wrote:

"Lieutenant Keefer wasn't technically responsible for sending Captain Queeg over the edge, but he sure as hell set out to get him sent there. And he did it in the same cowardly way Beck does it, by pushing the buttons of a mind he knows can't handle it.

Guilty? No. Responsible? Probably."

For those who don't recognize it, this is a reference to the Wouk book, "The Caine Mutiny", made into an excellent movie, starring Bogart as Queeg.

And it's really a good reference. (You might want to stop reading here because a crucial spoiler follows...although mark has already done damage.)

The smackdown of Keefer by the attorney, Lieutenant Greenwald, at the end of the book/film is usually very shocking to the viewer because Queeg is presented as the antagonist from the very beginning and when he cracks up on the witness stand and reveals his paranoia and unfitness for command, the audience is relieved at the vindication of the accused mutineers...among whom Keefer is *not* numbered. Keefer, rather, played a behind-the-scenes role, questioning Queeg's abilities and leadership to other officers and, crucially, suggesting that Queeg was unfit for command because of mental illness to the two officers who relieved Queeg of duty with that justification during a dangerous storm.

But Greenwald's angry, drunken rant against Keefer is probably as shocking to the audience as it is to Keefer. But in a good way. Because Greenwald's point is that a) Keefer was the real mutineer and wasn't charged, and b) he cowardly used his words as a means to influence others to do something he himself would not and that even were Queeg unfit, there was a constructive way to address the situation and Keefer chose the destructive way. Greenwald argues that Keefer and his influence made Queeg worse, when, instead, he and his influence could have supported Queeg and compensated for his shortcomings.

Anyway, this is relevant because it's all about personal responsibility...not just the personal responsibility of the mutineers, but the personal responsibility of the person who used words to direct their thoughts and, ultimately, their actions. And as mark says, it makes the crucial point that the letter of the law (or military code) is one thing, and true moral responsibility something else. They have a relationship, but one shouldn't be confused for the other.

Beck and his ilk (and that includes his counterparts on the left) certainly are morally responsible for their words and influence. Freedom of speech and similar arguments are legal, not moral arguments.

Furthermore, Americans tend to be confused about this. We venerate the First Amendment protection of speech to the point that we wrongly almost completely divorce speech from actions and consequences. Most people elsewhere don't have this fetish and resulting confusion.

We need to remember that freedom of speech as distinguished from other activities is a pragmatic distinction that results from the experience of oppressive governments limiting democratic discourse. Even if many people think the US goes too far in this, most people seem to agree that the pragmatic rationale itself is solid. So, yeah, it's generally a good thing that people like Beck can talk about politics and politicians and such without fear of being jailed. The alternative has, and in many places still is being, proved worse. Even so, demagogues and agitators and others push the limits and live within a gray area where it's not clear whether allowing them to speak isn't doing more harm than good. And even if it's not, Beck's moral responsibility is what it is and freedom of speech has not a damn thing to do with it. He certainly is, in some way, morally responsible for Williams and while I generally think very highly of Drum, he's somewhat confused on this matter.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on October 12, 2010 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

"Beck and his ilk (and that includes his counterparts on the left) certainly are morally responsible for their words and influence."

I was with you until that point, because there is no counterpart to Beck (or Limbaugh, or O'Rielly, etc.) on the left.

Posted by: Jeremy In Kansas on October 12, 2010 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Certainly not in terms of total influence, of course. In terms of the quality of rhetoric, there is.

But yeah, the ubiquity of irresponsible rhetoric on the right has nothing remotely comparable on the left.

The example that always comes to my mind is that a mere commenter, not blogger, on a leftist blog comparing Bush to Hitler became a right-wing media talking point about irresponsible leftist "hate speech", but when numerous rightist television and radio pundits and even US Representatives and Senators compare Obama to Hitler, it is no big deal. The degree of hypocrisy is astounding and there has been far, far more hate coming from the right than the left in the USA for at least the last thirty years, if not eighty.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on October 12, 2010 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

But I included the left in my original comment to make the point that irresponsible, morally reprehensible speech is not, by nature, limited to the right.

It's more a matter of temperament and the sociopolitical environment. You can find many places in the world with extremist, irresponsible and dangerous leftist speech. But the left is so deeply marginalized in the US that it's almost impossible for most Americans to imagine saying such things...when the rightist equivalents are far more thinkable.

I wouldn't want to live in an alternate reality USA where the situation was the reverse, but I wouldn't mind so much if the balance were more equal. Mostly, I'd prefer a world where this kind of speech was not socially tolerated at all, regardless of its politics.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on October 12, 2010 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

Umn, those caveats aren't.

There is something called the imbedded command which works precisely this way in language. It is a method of directing one's attention towards a topic (Commit Acts of Violence! ...not) which the conscious mind immediately deletes (the 'not' part) while the unconscious mind works over solutions towards Beck's target du jour with a handy dandy pro tip he introduced in the disclaimer (Commit Acts of Violence! ...not).

Together with his displays of hysteria and emotionally charged rants, he is setting people up to hysterically attack targets of his choosing. The fact is, his word choice and presentation style has all the effect of a deliberately targeted campaign to induce violence. The only thing that is difficult to prove in court is his intent...because the effect *can* be proven.

Posted by: Malovich on October 14, 2010 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Great entry. Anticipating the next.

Posted by: James D. - Diabetes Diet on October 23, 2010 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

I really love what you're doing here!

Posted by: D. Diabetes Diet on October 23, 2010 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK
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