31 July 2008

Adkisson's Accomplices?

The lead editorial in the current Metroland (our area's arts weekly) is almost exactly what you'd expect to see more frequently this week if the media were as liberal as some people claim. Jo Page cites a Huffington Post columnist who fits the archetype even better, accusing the likes of Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Michael Savage of complicity in the shootings because cops found copies of their books in Adkisson's home.

"Those may be strong accusations," Page writes, "but it seems to me they're not off the mark at all. And compared to the hate speech so easily and routinely heard on ClearChannel programs, [the columnist's comments are] pretty mild." Page isn't buying a pure personal-responsibility explanation of Adkisson's outburst.

It's not enough to say that Adkisson was a loner who couldn't tolerate diversity and one day he just snapped. The issue is broader and more serious than that. Because loners who can't tolerate diversity can find themselves a community of the like-minded so easily.

In other words, the conservative media empowers people like Adkisson, confirms their hatreds, and enables them to portray their own murderous impulses as expressions of patriotism. While acknowledging that "Not everyone who thinks the way Jim Adkisson did will open fire on a group of people," Page demands that conservative talkers "acknowledge that this lunatic was nourished on their homegrown culture of hate."

I don't really buy it. Adkisson's favorite authors are no more responsible for his crimes than the local imam would be if Adkisson were Muslim and had a Qur'an in his house, or Noam Chomsky would be if Adkisson had shot up a pro-Bush congregation and his books were found.

On the other hand, since I'm fairly certain that, had either of those scenarios happened, the likes of Hannity, O'Reilly and Savage would blame the Qur'an, or Chomsky, or Marx, or Malcolm X, or anything they consider blameworthy already, I think I'd like to see them squirm for a while.

1 comment:

hobbyfan said...

I read that same column. Adkisson comes off as loopier than a box of cereal. Funny thing is, he's referred to as a bigot and a homophobe in the same sentence. To me, it's the same thing. Homophobia is just another form of bigotry. A bigot's hate, realistically, has no rational boundaries. No, the usual suspects in the media didn't empower Adkisson. They just gave him an excuse.