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Beck Not Worthy of Sanction

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Liberal readers were outraged and conservative readers were supportive of my blog post advocating that advertisers not pull their advertising from Glenn Beck's program on the Fox News channel in response to a proposed boycott of their products.

The comments and debate have been filled with intelligent and emotion-filled arguments that seem to boil down to two positions: 1) Those who want to shut up Beck, O'Reilly, Fox News, and Rush Limbaugh and 2) those who don't want advertisers to kowtow to boycotts or try to stifle free speech and believe the hate mongers are not influencing public opinion but are merely pandering to the entrenched prejudices of an angry, hate-filled, mostly white uneducated fringe.

So my question is this, if advertisers should cancel their advertising in the conservative Beck's controversial television program, should Mutual of America cancel its sponsorship of PBS's "Bill Moyers Journal," which recently replayed a documentary titled "Critical Condition" that clearly and persuasively advocates in favor of health care reform? Health care reform is a major, divisive political issue, with liberals generally on one side of the line in the sand (the left side, of course) and conservatives on the other side.

Right-wingers typically view Bill Moyers as a soft liberal, perhaps less strident than Beck, but idealistically and politically as much an anathema as Beck and O'Reilly are to the left. So why aren't right wingers calling for Mutual of America to withdraw its support from "Bill Moyer's Journal" and for other sponsors to pull their support from other PBS or NPR or MSNBC programming?

Perhaps conservative organizations are advocating boycotting PBS, NPR, and MSNBC programming they don't like, but I have heard nothing about it. I suspect it is the tone of Beck's stupid racist remark as much as his right-wing rabble rousing and hate mongering against Obama that is upsetting liberals, many of whom want to bring back the Fairness Doctrine in an attempt to muzzle conservative hate mongers such as Rush Limbaugh who are distributed on FCC-licensed radio stations.

However, Beck, O'Reilly, and Hannity are on Fox News on cable, which is not regulated by the FCC, so they would continue to bloviate even if the ineffective Fairness Doctrine were reinstated (something Obama is on record as being against, and rightly so).

I think the solution to the Beck and right-wing ranters problem was provided by an insightful comment I received from a conservative friend of mine who was the Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division in the George H. W. Bush administration:

"As Justice William O. Douglas once referred in a Supreme Court decision to the Communist Party of the US, the hysterical commentators are, '...the poor peddlers of unwanted wares; their goods remain unsold.' Why bother elevating the focus on these ranters by suggesting they're worthy of sanction?"

Justice Douglas said it much more eloquently than I ever could. Glenn Beck's or Bill O'Reilly's or Lou Dobbs' rants are not worthy of sanction.