When we hear the phrase, “talk radio” weautomatically imagine a host, and possibly one or two guests,talking about a controversial issue, which helps to inform thepublic of various viewpoints. Yet, in reality, this is not thecase. Modern day talk radio is not about talk, it is aboutperpetuating hate.
The most disturbing examples of this hate come about when thesubject of the Abu Ghraib prison photos is discussed. MostAmericans, no matter what their political persuasion found thosephotographs disturbing. However, it doesn’t seem to botherRush Limbaugh at all.
Consider Limbaugh’s reaction to the Abu Ghraib photos onhis radio show: “This is no different than what happens atthe Skull and Bones initiation and we’re…going to reallyhammer them because they had a good time…you ever heard ofemotional release? You ever heard of need to blow some steamoff?”
If we go by Limbaugh’s logic, sexual humiliation and beingbeaten to death is a perfectly acceptable way to initiate someoneinto a fraternity. Some of the pictures of the “emotionalrelease” that Limbaugh discussed have not been released tothe public. These examples of “emotional release”include an American prison guard raping an Iraqi woman, and adetainee being forced to lie down on a running truck engine.
While Limbaugh’s racist hatreds against Arabs aresemi-veiled, Michael Savage’s hatred is not. Here is what hehad to say in regards to the Abu Ghraib photos: “we need moreof the humiliation tactics, not less…and I think thereshould be no mercy shown to these sub-humans. I believe that athousand of them should be killed tomorrow…I would haveliked to have seen dynamite put in their orifices and they shouldbe dropped from airplanes.”
I confess that I am not a big fan of Donald Rumsfeld, yet Icould not agree more when he called these interrogation tacticssadistic, cruel, and “fundamentally un-American.”
After getting some heat for what he said, Limbaugh explainedthat his remarks were taken out of context. There is a veryimportant question being overlooked in all of this: in what contextare these types of remarks appropriate? Perhaps it is time we stopclassifying the shows of Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage as”talk radio” and instead identify it as hate-radio.
As disgusting, revolting, vulgar, and wretched as Limbaugh andSavage’s remarks are, I think they should be able to exercisetheir right of free speech. Yet, this right cannot be exercisedwithout impunity, not simply because these comments go against anystandard of human decency or morality. But, because these remarksare so “fundamentally un-American.”