If you're a talk-radio host and you feed on infotainment, you pretty much have to cover the topics people will talk about because you want people to... talk.
But that doesn't mean you have to embrace bigots, like a gun instructor who says at the conclusion of a radio ad promoting his classes: "Also, if you are a non-Christian Arab or Muslim, I will not teach you the class."
If you're KHOW's Peter Boyles, and you actually want to have the man who ran the ad, Crockett Keller, on your radio show, you have a few choices.
You can expose and denounce his bigotry, have an even-handed discussion about the ad, or you can cozy up to him.
With Keller on his show Feb. 1, Boyles did the latter.
He didn't ask his listeners if they thought it would have been okay for Keller not to teach Christians. Or Jews.
He didn't ask Keller if he'd considered a different closer for his ad, like, "If you're Jewish, I will not teach you the class."
Would Boyles have sat in silence if the word "Islam" were changed to "Judaism" and the word "Muslim" to "Jew" in the following statement that Keller made to Boyles on his KHOW radio show?
Keller: I don't consider Islam as a religion. Now that may sound ignorant. I think in practice it's more of an ideology and a political entity as opposed to a religious entity... Until the moderate Muslims start picking up and rioting every time their less peaceable brethren make war against us, then we have to do that. You know, we didn't bomb just Nazi Germany. We bombed the whole place. And I'm afraid that's what it's going to take at some point in time if we are going to preserve our way of life. I would like to think that the moderate Muslims would start standing up for the American way, as opposed to Sharia law and the Muslim way. What are they? Are they Muslims first or Americans first?Boyles said to Keller that he'd heard different reactions from callers to Keller's advertisement.
Boyles told Keller: "I find myself thinking that what you're saying is probably closer to the truth, and that's why it hurts... You da man."
He closed by thanking Keller and telling him to call if he's in Colorado so he can "have him in studio."
I've listened to Boyles for years, and I couldn't believe that he really felt warmly to Keller.
So I called Boyles to make sure he meant what he said, and I was relieved to find out that he did not.
Boyles said he didn't remember saying this, and, if he did, he didn't mean it.
He described Keller as "just a guy who draws attention to himself."
But why Boyles would have a guy like this on his radio show, unless his plan was to slam him, is beyond me.
There's ratings, and it's obvious Boyles chases them. And I'm thinking he got carried away, as he does sometimes.
Boyles told me that he has nothing against Muslims, and he recommended a book called, The Mirage, which is a novel about Christian terrorists who fly planes into buildings in the Mid East.
I asked Jacob Hornberger, President of the libertarian Future of Freedom Foundation, who was part of a recent "Civil Liberties College Tour," addressing civil liberties and terrorism, whether bigoted speech like Keller's, in an advertisement, is protected under the Frist Amendment.
He emailed me that it's protected, saying:
The man has the fundamental, God given right to say all of these things and to run his concealed carry course any way he wants, no matter how offensive his speech or conduct is to others.
Because the speech is contained in an advertisement, he wrote that "the entity he's paying, as the owner of the publication or station, has the right not to publish the advertisement."
Attorney and author Bruce Fein, who was also part of the Civil Liberties College Tour, had a different view, stating in an email to me:
"The speech is unprotected by the First Amendment. Civil rights laws may properly prohibit speech that encourages persons offering services to the public generally for commercial gain from invidious discrimination in violation of the law. See US Supreme Court decision in Pittsburgh Human Relations case authored by Justice Potter Stewart.
I'm no lawyer, but from what I've read, Fein seems to have it right.
Either way, Boyles, who failed to address the free speech issues, clearly has a First Amendment right to air the ad on his radio show.
But basic decency says he should refrain from spreading senseless attacks on Muslims.
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