Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hate Radio and Its Consequences

From the PBS show "Bill Moyer's Journal" September 12, 2008 editon Rage on the Radio -
Last July Jim David Adkisson walked into a Unitarian Universal church in Knoxville, Tennessee and shot and killed one person, left another mortally wounded and six others injured.

It appears that what brought him to this horrible event was his lack of being able to obtain a job, his frustration over that, and his stated hatred for the liberal movement.

Why did Adkisson hate "the liberal movement"? Police said that he told them "that all liberals should be killed ... because they were ... ruining the country, and that he felt that the Democrats had tied his country's hands in the war on terror and ... ruined every institution in America...." Police said that Adkisson had targeted the Unitarian Universalist Church "because of its liberal teachings." The church advocates social justice and tolerance, and it openly welcomes gay, lesbian, and transgendered members. According to police, Adkisson said that, "Because he could not get to the leaders of the liberal movement that he would target those that had voted them in to office."In the weeks following the tragedy, the congregation and its pastor, Reverend Chris Buice struggled with what they were learning about Adkisson.

Police found in Adkisson's apartment, books by popular right-wing talk-radio personalities who berate and denigrate liberals. One of the books police found in Adkisson's apartment was Michael Savage's "Liberalism is a Mental Disorder". In it, Savage calls liberals "the enemy within our country;" "an enemy more dangerous than Hitler"; "traitors" who are "dangerous to your survival" and who "should be placed in a straightjacket". Like Adkisson, Savage accuses liberals of "[tying] the hands of our military".

Bill Moyers ends the show with this -

"Watching that report, however, I was reminded of a story from folk lore about the tribal elder telling his grandson about the battle the old man was waging within himself. He said, 'My son it is between two wolves. One is an evil wolf: anger, envy, sorrow, greed, self-pity, guilt, resentment, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other is the good wolf: joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.' The boy took this in for a few minutes and then asked, 'Which wolf won?' His grandfather answered, 'The one I feed.' So, too, America's public life. The wolf that wins is the wolf we feed. Media provides the fodder."

Freedom of speech needs to be protected so we live with the hate and fear mongers and hope that compassionate people will educate the next generation to ensure that the people who produce and listen to this kind of hate-filled garbage will be an ever shrinking minority.

The principles of Unitarian Universalism would not be a bad place to start -

* The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
* Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
* Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
* A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
* The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
* The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all;
* Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.


This article summarizes and goes beyond the issues Bill Moyers covered - Open Left:: Bill Moyers Shines Light On Hate Radio--But Deep Shadows Remain