Friday, April 29, 2005

The shots heard round the world.

Anyone listening to Air America Radio a few days ago was treated to a pretty tacky commercial.

Here is a transcript:

"A spoiled child is telling us our Social Security isn't safe anymore, so he's gonna fix it for us. Well, here's your answer, you ungrateful whelp: [sound of three shotgun blasts].

"The AAARP, the American Association of Armed Retired People [sound of rifle being cocked]. Just try it, you little bastard."

Pretty nice huh? It was done sounding like a cantankerous old redneck, giving it a nice bit of stereotyping and helping it be even more tacky.

The Story broke, where else but on the Drudge Report when Matt Drudge reported that the Secret Service was looking into it, due to the implied threat to the president (here).

Now, first of all, I don't personally think it qualified as being a threat to the president as defined under US Code Title 18, Part I, Chapter 41, ยง 871--Threats against President and successors to the Presidency


(a) Whoever knowingly and willfully deposits for conveyance in the mail or for a delivery from any post office or by any letter carrier any letter, paper, writing, print, missive, or document containing any threat to take the life of, to kidnap, or to inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States, the President-elect, the Vice President or other officer next in the order of succession to the office of President of the United States, or the Vice President-elect, or knowingly and willfully otherwise makes any such threat against the President, President-elect, Vice President or other officer next in the order of succession to the office of President, or Vice President-elect, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.


I don't think the commercial references him by name or by office. So it was a vague threat at best.

Honestly the bit was more of a satirical commentary then a threat anyway, and last I looked there is free speech here. I think the over reaction to it in many places is making it a bigger deal then necessary.

Was it tacky and stupid? Yea.

That said, while some reactions were understandable and predictable, some were unexpected.

Naturally, The Whitehouse spokesman said they considered it over the top, as did most Conservatives who mentioned it this week. Big shock there.

The surprises came from the Liberal camp.

Air America itself apologized, which was slightly surprising. I suppose I expected the station to defend the free speech angle, but I was wrong. They considered it going too far.

Lynn Samuel, who was once investigated for making inflammatory comments about Dan Quayle, also denounced the ad on her Sirius Satellite show.

But the surprise was that Randi Rhodes immediately and profusely apologized. She didn't plan, request or produce the clip, it was done by an independent group and she claims they just missed it and plugged it in. But as it was on her show, she feels responsible for the content, so she immediately accepted responsibility and apologized, with a call to not have any more of that.

Astounding. I was honestly expecting her to decry the first amendment violation and all that, but here she did the mature adult thing. She gained a lot of my respect.

On the down side, she spent way to much time demanding Matt Drudge qualify his report by telling who had reported the Secret Service's interest. Turns out he was correct as this story was in the NY Post confirming it. But I can understand that to a degree.

I guess my final word on it is that I applaud Randi for taking the stance she did. I am too used to seeing Democrats and Liberals defend things like this and accuse the Republicans of going overboard on the accusations.

Its nice to see that some liberals do know where to draw the line.

And even if they and I don't agree *where* to draw that line, (Move-on.org's Bush and Hitler comparison comes to mind) it is somewhat gratifying see it drawn somewhere.