micah holmquist's irregular thoughts and links
Welcome to the musings and notes of a Cadillac, Michigan based writer named Micah Holmquist, who is bothered by his own sarcasm.
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Friday, June 24, 2005
We need a constitutional amendment to ban Bill O'Reilly or O'Reilly is wrong
Bill O'Reilly argued on yesterday's edition of his radio show in favor of a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning because he said burning a flag could be an intimidating act to someone who served in the military, or who has a relative who served, is serving and/or died in the military, or who has a relative who died on September 11, 2001, or who watched tv on September 11, 2001, or who has any shred of American decency in even the smallest part of their body.
How this would be "intimidating" exactly is not spelled out, but it makes sense to me. Following this logic, I propose a constitutional amendment to ban Bill O'Reilly from saying anything in order to keep him from intimidating me.
First of all, O'Reilly does intimidate me. I am a critic of the "war on terror" and an opponent of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, and O'Reilly's recent comments seem to be threatening people like me with criminal penalties.
According to Media Matters for America (June 22), O'Reilly said on Monday that any critic of the Iraq war and the war on terror who goes beyond "dissent" to "undermine the war effort" is a "traitor" and should be arrested and treated accordingly. "[W]e could incarcerate them immediately," reportedly said he.
While Media Matters does have a brief transcription of O'Reilly's comments, to be fair, I have not heard these comments and so maybe O'Reilly was less than fully serious, but I suspect he was given his June 23 column "The Limits of Dissent." There O'Reilly does his usual bit regarding "there is a difference between dissenting from a war and trying to undermine a war" but, once again, does not define the difference and in fact suggests that any criticism that involves questioning or attacking the motivations of those in power or the actions of U.S. soldiers involves going beyond "dissent."
The popular news personality does approvingly and correctly point out that the U.S. government controlled most of what people in the U.S. knew about World War II while the U.S. was involved and calls on people to decide if they stand with "[t]he government and military, which is trying to defeat vicious killers, or those who are on a jihad to undermine the war on terror in the name of patriotism."
O'Reilly has created a clear binary dichotomy. You are either with the critics or on the side of the U.S. government. There really shouldn't be any doubt where O'Reilly stands if only because at one point he writes, "in a time of war, it might be wise to give the U.S. military the benefit of the doubt."
Given that the leaders of this land known as the U.S. of A have long record of mixing war and dishonesty, my response is, no, it isn't. No, it is not.
But I doubt that matters much to someone like O'Reilly. He doesn't want a reasoned debate. O'Reilly apparently wants to criminalize criticizing "the war effort."
O'Reilly did draw a distinction in yesterday's radio broadcast between a flag burning at a protest involving numerous people and a single person burning the flag in their back yard. (He called that "dopey," which seems to have become his favorite word and would be annoying if it wasn't overshadowed by the greater annoyance that is Bill O'Reilly. It is nonetheless quite offensive to one of the Seven Dwarves. No, correct that, it is offensive to all 7.) That, however, just bolsters my case for banning him since his website says that he is widely listened to, read and viewed and O'Reilly regularly boasts that he influences policy makers and public opinion.
If his idea takes hold, which they very well could if O'Reilly is an honest straight shooting man, I could be punished, and so the mere suggestion from someone in his position that critics of the "war on terror" and the occupation of Iraq should be imprisoned is an act of intimidation.
The courts and the public will no doubt say that O'Reilly has the right to say what he wants, so it becomes the duty of legislators to correct this problem. O'Reilly must be banned from saying, writing or in any other way communicating anything to another person, animal, living organism or anything else.
This would likely be hard on the man who calls himself "your humble correspondent." I assume he has enough money and assets to live comfortably someplace where nothing exists but him, but I doubt he could tolerate the loss of his very fancy soapbox. O'Reilly often comes across like a titular character in Orson Welles' 1941 film Citizen Kane in terms of needing the public adulation. As was the case with Kane, O'Reilly, at least comes across as someone who, doesn’t want his listeners to be well informed and intelligent. He wants them to rely on him for that.
The way out of this for O'Reilly is to admit that his argument for a constitutional ban on flag burning doesn't hold up. Maybe he could even add that many of his arguments don't make sense. Or he could just make the brilliant argument that he is important and "traitor[s]" like me are not by either saying as much or just ignoring this collection of words, which will be emailed to O'Reilly.
I await your response, expecting nothing less than a great and riveting exchange of ideas of the kind you are known for, Mr. O'Reilly.