I have mentioned numerous times that I spend at least as much time reading comments sections as I do reading news and editorials. You can learn more this way; learn more about what people think. The comments sections are not usually full of the professional thinkers and writers. They are, instead, full of the average reader for whatever publication is hosting the comments. As such, a comments section can be a better barometer for the social, mental, and emotional state of a population than an entire newspaper.
Imagine my disgust, then, at the comments I read so often.
I read one today on the Washington Post's website. The story isn't particularly important to this discussion but, for background, it was about the continuing controversy over President Obama telling a collection of politicians that they "can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done."
Full disclosure: I did not vote for Obama and I have never listened to Rush. If that double negative throws off some preconceived notions on where I stand, too bad.
At any rate, a person posting under the name "Changeontheway" had some things to say that I find very disturbing. This person states that Rush Limbaugh has repeatedly said that he wants President Obama to fail (a point that may or may not be true - I have no way to judge) and, in this same paragraph - so, I must assume, for this reason - claims that Limbaugh is "a terrorist with a mic".
Had that been all that Changeontheway said, that would have been bad enough. To compare an editorialist with a suicide bomber is the ultimate in false identification. If people like this honestly cannot tell the difference between vehement disagreement and intentional mass homicide then our democracy is doomed already. Just imagine what happens when you get too many people this stupid voting.
That was, however, not all this genius had to say on the matter.
The next paragraph is two simple sentences: "First, Limbaugh has committed treason against the United States. His comments warrant criminal charges."
I just love how much this word "treason" gets thrown around these days. You would think that we were living in a totalitarian society where speaking out against the ruler warrants a death sentence or where "treason" is a wide word with a vague definition. In America, however, such is not the case. In America, the word "treason" has been carefully defined by nothing less than the Constitution itself. Article III Section 3 states: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort." [Stress added by me.] I am fairly certain that even Limbaugh's most ardent opponents would not attempt to claim that he adheres to the enemies of the United States or that he has attempted to levy war. The fact that Obama has already been quite vocal in expressing many ideas that would be antithetical to the conservative position combined with the fact that Limbaugh is a very vocal conservative would make it self-evident that Limbaugh would hope Obama fails in these policies. Most conservatives probably hope for the same thing. I am not, strictly speaking, a conservative and I'm hoping for quite a few failures myself. That is not treason, under our laws, and it is protected political speech. The very type of protected speech, in fact, that liberals usually spend so much time screaming about. It's so nice to see that the double standard is alive and well.
Changeontheway goes on to say that "the FCC should shut his program down. This man has been convicted of doctor shopping, due to his addiction of medications, he has made threats to our new administration and is overall offensive." We'll take those in order, if you don't mind. They won't take long.
There is no FCC regulation barring someone with a conviction from having a broadcasting career and such a regulation would be ludicrous in the extreme. What does one even have to do with the other?
What threats has Limbaugh made toward any administration? While I've already stated that I don't listen to the show, I am fairly certain that any such threats, coming from one of the highest-rated voices in talk radio, would have made the national news. I don't recall seeing any headlines to that effect and, as you might imagine, I am something of a news junkie. Hoping that someone fails, if that is what is supposed to be the threat here, is hardly the same thing as threatening someone. Even if Limbaugh has threatened to help Obama fail, that is not the type of threat that is punishable. Obama has threatened to veto certain legislation if it does not meet his approval. That is his job. Convincing his listeners to help stop the policies of which he does not approve is Limbaugh's job, and it is a legal job. Threatening to do your legal job is not the kind of threatening that is illegal.
As for "overall offensive", that is nothing more than a matter of opinion. The fact that Limbaugh is one of the highest-rated voices in talk radio clearly states that many people disagree with Changeontheway in this matter. What the FCC views as actionably offensive is as clearly defined as is the word "treason" and somehow Limbaugh doesn't strike me as someone to use foul language or do such things as perform sexual acts on his radio show.
In short, Changeontheway has not demonstrated any reason for the FCC to interfere with Limbaugh's show. He goes on to compare Limbaugh with the Don Imus controversy but it is worth noting that the FCC did not shut down Imus. His advertisers did. Limbaugh's advertisers quite obviously love him.
As I said at the beginning, these comments can be a useful barometer to what the average people of a certain group are thinking and, while I have only dissected one comment here, I see such comments on a daily basis. There are far too many people in this country who want to outlaw anything with which they disagree. Worse, there are far too many people who act as though they truly believe that anything they oppose is already illegal. These people, the voting public, have no idea what freedom means or what America stands for. That thought, alone, should chill your blood. I know it does mine.