Thursday, April 9, 2009

Gun-Toting Liberal Killers and the Boob Tube Boobs Who Inflame and Incite Them...

"I envy paranoids, they actually think attention is being paid to them." - SUSAN SONTAG

Last July, Jim Adkisson had his fifteen minutes of infamy when he took his sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun into the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tenn., and, after whipping it out of a guitar case, opened fire on parishioners while a group of schoolchildren performed songs up by the altar.

When investigators searched Adkisson's home for evidence and his motives, they found copies of Michael Savage's Liberalism is a Mental Disorder, Sean Hannity's Let Freedom Ring, and The O'Reilly Factor, by Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. They also sumbled across what appeared to be Adkisson's suicide note: a handwritten, four-page manifesto explaining his murderous actions.

The one-word answer for his deed? Hate. The three-word answer? He hated liberals.

And months later, in Pittsburgh, 22-year-old Richard Poplawski shot three police officers dead in cold blood after they responded to a domestic-disturbance call his mother had placed.

In the bloody aftermath, it was revealed that Poplawski was a neo-Nazi wannabe and something of a conspiracy nut who embraced dark, radical rhetoric about American and who railed against blacks, Jews, "Zionists," and gun control. As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, he was convinced the government wanted to take away his guns. Additionally, he hosted his own (failed) Internet radio show and that he frequently visited the Web site of 9/11 conspiracy backer Alex Jones, and posted alarming reports by Jones' writers on the white supremacist message board, Stormfront.

Now Alex Jones, who has been hyping the threat of a totalitarian world government for years, might be a "freak," even in the eyes of some conservative bloggers, but he has recently been embraced -- and mainstreamed -- by Fox News as part of the news channel's unprecedented drive to push radical propaganda warning of America's democratic demise under the new president.

Case in point is Fox News' latest boob tube boob, Glenn Beck. Every night, he rails against President Obama while denouncing his or his actions as Marxist, socialist, fascist...or any combination thereof.

Has anyone caught his latest insurrectionist fever dream, where he pondered whether the federal government, under the auspices of FEMA, was building concentration camps to round up Americans in order to institute totalitarian rule?

Nauseating, isn't it?

But does anyone catch the correlation between these acts of bloody violence perpetrated by the likes of Adkisson and Poplawski and the embracing of the kind of paranoid insurrection rhetoric propragated by Fox News that the likes of Adkisson and Poplawski have now acted on? Not only has Fox News done public discourse a disservice by giving Beck a microphone and a time slot to vent their paranoias, but also to incite violence amongst impressionable viewers. Not only does this put people in jeopardy, they are endangering the lives of others as well.

But is there any doubt that Fox News is playing an increasingly erratic and dangerous game by embracing the type of but rather had been manipulated by the kind of anti-liberal, paranoid insurrection rhetoric that may have others emulating their conduct?

David Neiwert, a veteran reporter on right-wing militia movements and author of the forthcoming book, The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right, recently explained in that by co-opting conspiratorial rhetoric from the farthest shores of the right, mainstream conservative talkers can inflame the passions of paranoiacs like Poplawski to a dangerous degree. "It's always been a problem when major league demagogues start promulgating false information for political gain," Neiwert told me. "What it does is unhinge fringe players from reality and dislodges them even further. When someone like Poplawski hears Glenn Beck touting One World Government and they're gonna take your gun theories, they believe then that it must be true. And that's when they really become crazy."

By stoking, exploiting and feeding into the dark fears about the ominous ruins that await an Obama America, by ratcheting up irresponsible back-to-the-wall scenarios, you can bet your bottom dollar there are those who will be infected by this inflammatory rhetoric and put it into violent action.

And do you think there are other Jim Adkinssons and Richard Poplawskis waiting in the wings for their fifteen minutes of bloody infamy?

You bet.

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