Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Freedom of Speech and the Savage Nation

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.
--Pastor Martin Niemoller

From the people who brought you the wildly successful WWII-era appeasement policies...the following is a partial list of the 101 people that have been listed as "unwelcome" in Great Britain by the United Kingdom's Home Office:

Yunis Al Astal - Hamas terrorist and radical preacher who urged his subjects to conquer Rome
Stephen Donald Black - Former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and founder of StormFront
Erich Gliebe - White Supremacist and CEO of the National Alliance neo-Nazi group
Samir Kuntar - terrorist and convicted murderer of 4 Israelis including a four year old whose head he smashed with the butt of a rifle
Nasr Javed - senior operative of the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba
Shirley Phelps-Roper - anti-gay activist and member of the Westboro Baptist Church which conducts demonstrations at the funerals of American soldiers and AIDS victims thanking God for killing them
Michael (Alan Weiner) Savage - conservative radio personality of the Savage Nation, the 3rd most popular talk show in the United States


An American TALK SHOW HOST is on the same list as convicted murderers, terrorists, neo-Nazis and people who disrupt the funerals of heroes for some insane, twisted religious agenda? A list of people that are barred entry into one of the great Western democracies includes a former botanist...? That seems a little out of line, doesn't it?

Well, let's take a look at the reasons for this. The Home Office states the following on their site:

Statement from the Home Secretary

Jacqui Smith said, 'Coming to the UK is a privilege and I refuse to extend that privilege to individuals who abuse our standards and values to undermine our way of life. Therefore, I will not hesitate to name and shame those who foster extremist views as I want them to know that they are not welcome here.

'The government opposes extremism in all its forms and I am determined to stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country. This is the driving force behind tighter rules on exclusions for unacceptable behaviour.'

All right...people who abuse Great Britain's "standards and values" and "foster extremist views" are banned in Britain. Well, if that's the case, here is a short list of people who apparently DO NOT abuse any British standards and must not be extremists in the eyes of the Home Office.

Yasir Arafat
Bashar al-Assad
Hugo Chavez
Robert Mugabe
King Abdullah
Hu Jintao
Hosni Mubarak

All of which are included on this year's Parade Magazine "World's Worst Dictators" list...except for Arafat because he's dead and Chavez because I guess he's not "out of the closet" yet, since technically he is still winning "elections" and all.

In any case, none of those men made the British Home Office's list and all have visited London within the past decade. Between them on the list, these dictators have been responsible for the following:

1. Violence against their opposition, including killing supporters of their rivals
2. Repression of women - barring them from working, traveling or driving (hmmmm maybe not such a bad idea...hardy har har just kidding Britain please don't ban me too)
3. Forced "dissidents" (loosely defined as anyone who disagrees with the government) into "reeducation camps"
4. Complete and total strangulation of all media
5. Promoting international terrorism, often against British citizens or British allies
6. Countless deaths, often literally as their countries' news services do not report them, of their own subjects due to political purges, denial of medical services, horrendous domestic policies aimed at social "progress" or enforcing religious law. Between them they arguably have the blood of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people.

Many of these dictators have committed several of these offenses, by no means are they limited to only one. All have been welcome in Britain. None have been named by the Home Office.

But Michael Savage has.

Now make no mistake...Michael Savage has said some highly offensive things in his day. I've been an on-again-off-again regular listener since at least 2004. So I know a little about him and a little about the show. I can tell you I disagree with most of what he says...especially when he launches into tirades about Obama-related conspiracies to monitor your health records from birth or when he opines about autistic kids or when he refers to Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck as "the leprechaun" and "the hemorrhoid" respectively...

However, Dr. Savage (as his army of devoted listeners - estimated at 8 to 10 million - refer to him) has also been a staunch defender of Israel, a tireless crusader for individual rights and freedom of speech, a major critic of unnecessarily big government and enemy of terrorism and fascism the world over. He has used his show as a platform to rail against Islamic totalitarianism and has been a leader in exposing many issues - such as the Van Jones disaster - long before the mainstream media gets involved.

Critics claim he is a "hate-monger" and "homophobe" but frequent listeners will tell you that many of his bombastic claims and rants are part of his legendary ability to get on free-association rolls. In all, much of the criticism leveled at him is taken out of context. And of course some of it may be justified. If you disagree with his viewpoints, you will have a lot to disagree with - as Savage holds nothing back and pulls no punches whatsoever. In fact, he even has the following statement before every show begins:

"Warning: The Michael Savage Show contains adult language, adult content, psychological nudity. Listener discretion is advised."

In other words...expect to be offended and if you don't like that, change the station quickly. Frequent readers of mine will remember that this isn't the first time a controversial radio show was the inspiration for a post on this blog, so this has never been a problem for me personally. It also wasn't an issue for the reporter who did a rather positive profile on Savage for the New Yorker - which could not be confused for a right-wing publication by anyone's wildest fantasy.

In any case, it's clear that Savage, whether you agree with his views or not, has said some very outlandish things that most would consider offensive and many might even consider hateful.

Guess what. Whether he offends you or me or your mother is IRRELEVANT.

Let's go back to the list of people the Home Office didn't ban. Do you know what they all have in common? BLOOD.

Michael Savage is an ENTERTAINER. His job is to ENTERTAIN people. And his fans adore him. He's not getting on his radio show and telling people to blow up cars or bomb buildings...he's just expressing his opinions which is his Constitutional right in this country and should be in any other self-respecting democratic nation. For Great Britain to put him on a banned list for SPEAKING while ignoring the TANGIBLE ACTIONS of repressive dictators and terrorists who force religious law and totalitarian rule on their subjects is a disgrace of the highest order.

What honest democracy could possibly hope to govern fairly if there are limits on what the citizenry can and cannot say? You may not like Michael Savage or his viewpoints, but a lot of people agree with him and he represents a movement in this country that can not and should not be stifled. You can paint him as a hate-monger, but in reality he just says a lot of things that you and your friends probably say to each other when you think no one can hear you. And if you don't? Who cares! If you don't like it, change the station. Censorship is wrong in a liberal democracy. It's wrong when it's applied to anyone, whether they are political commentators, shock jocks, Geert Wilders or just random people walking down the street.

People like to act as if shutting up opposing viewpoints will make them go away. But they won't. In fact, all you accomplish by stifling viewpoints that you disagree with is to create an atmosphere of repression instead of creating an atmosphere of open debate. One option has the potential to actually settle disputes in a civilized way and bring both sides to understand each other. Repression on the other hand leads to other things...

Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen.
Where they burn books, they will ultimately also burn people.
--Heinrich Heine, 1821

You see there is something very annoying about hearing things you don't want to hear. No one wants to be subjected to listening to people they don't like, saying things they don't like. And it is very satisfying to silence these opposing viewpoints after you've heard them.

But it never stops with just "shock jocks" like Michael Savage. Nor will it stop with him just being barred entry to a country he probably wasn't heading towards anytime soon anyway. Expect every introduction and conversation about Savage to include a tag line such as "notorious shock jock Michael Savage, who was recently BANNED from entering Britain" as part of the movement to have him taken off the air in the United States as well. Remember Savage was already fired once for telling a caller to "get AIDS and die" on MSNBC. Offensive? Sure. But who forced you to listen or watch in the first place?

No, it never ends with this. Because once these people have acheived this power they start to feel like they need to go after other viewpoints they don't like. Hannity, O'Reilly, Glenn Beck - all have made offensive comments in the past...but it is their Constitutional right to do so. And what they say is no worse than the Bill Mahers and Jon Stewarts of the world. Are we going to go after them too? Will they too be banned in Britain? Will anyone who says something Jacqui Smith (or her replacement) doesn't like be denied an an entry visa? Where does it end?

How about instead of going after entertainers, comedians, political commentators and Michael Savage we focus our energy on people like Mugabe, Assad, know, people who have ACTUALLY BEEN RESPONSIBLE FOR REAL DEATH DESTRUCTION AND VIOLENCE - as opposed to just talking about it like the talk show hosts. How about instead of banding together to support a self-admitted child-molester like Roman Polanski, we rally in support of real freedom of speech and expression??

They won't do it - because they don't want to hear Michael Savage. But someday, there may be someone who doesn't want to hear them either.

And then who's going to be left speak up for them?

Who's going to speak up for you?

Click here to sign the petition to free Michael Savage


Anonymous said...

How, precisely, has Michael Savage's freedom of speech been abridged? People in the UK can log onto his Web site, they can buy his podcasts, they can listen to his show live if they can find a terrestrial radio station that streams on the Web. They can buy his books and other merchandise. he is even speaking in Britain this month, via satellite link.

So how is his speech being muffled?

Countries have the right to prohibit anyone they want from crossing their borders. We do it as well.

RonMossad said...

His speech is being muffled in two ways:

1. Preventing him from entering the country keeps him from speaking in the country. In addition to preventing him from entering the country it also stops him from giving speeches or holding events in Britain. Speaking via phone or satellite link is not the same speaking in the place. I have visitors to my site every day from a Muslim state (Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc) - that doesn't mean they've granted me the right to speak, it means they just haven't blocked my site on the internet - yet.

2. He is being punished for his words. By doing this, they are setting a precedent that if you say the wrong thing (not do, but SAY) you are unwelcome in their country. This is something all broadcasters now have to consider when speaking about topics and may cause them to hold back on their viewpoints/opinions...this equals restriction not just for Savage but for anyone who may wish to travel to England someday.

That he is punished for what he is saying is the very definition of free speech restriction.

Now - you state that "we" do the same thing...I'm assuming you're an American. That doesn't make it right you know. You see, it's one thing to stop a dangerous individual with a history of violence or incitement to violence from entering a country on the grounds of public saftey...but you would have to demonstrate that the individual actually committed violence or caused it to be committed before I would agree with it.

I think you'd have a hard time proving that Savage has committed an act of violence or caused someone else to. And even if he did, he is not in a position of power. He is not a government official. If he goes out on his show and says "I hate Muslims" and someone flips out from hearing that and murders someone, that is not his problem. A human being needs to have the right to express themselves vocally - and if someone takes it to the next level, they must take responsibility for their actions.

If he gets on his show and says "I hate Muslims, let's all get together to round them up and beat them" - then shows up at the place and time and actually incites a riot that's something else. But to my knowledge he has never done these things. Certainly not in the way the Westboro Baptist Church or KKK have done.

Furthermore, the fact that we regularly allow Gadhafi and Ahmedinjejad as well as other international gangsters and terrorists on our soil to speak at the UN should show you how ridiculous it is that someone like Michael Savage is barred from another democratic country just for things he says.

I'm sorry but when a government starts deciding who is and isn't welcome in their country because of their OPINIONS as opposed to their ACTIONS - that is when they have crossed a line and are no longer able to claim that they are representative of the principles of liberal Western democracy.

Remember, we're talking about GOVERNMENTS here not individuals. Anyone can say "I don't like you, you're not welcome in my house". But for a government to say "I don't like you, you're not welcome in ANYONE'S house" - that is where the line is crossed.

Sam said...

This story broke in April I can't believe you have given so much time to such a fly by night non story. He is on the list because of new laws brought into the UK that curtail those who incite hatred, these laws were brought in to curtail the Imams who were preaching hatred, it just happens that when you try and define preaching hatred in law it can become a wide net.

I myself am a believer in free speech the British on the whole are the same, the law however draws the line at inciting hatred, something Savage does quite regularly. Incidentally it is the liberal voice in the UK that fights for free speech it is the reactionary right that demand curbs on what the imams say that lead to this kind of stupidity.

It interests me that you put so much time into championing a man who is a darling of the far right movement in the US. Is this man really a champion of yours, a man who believes only white skinned Europeans should be allowed in to the US. I mean you know the decisions to put him on this list is weird but for you to be championing him is kind of weirder.

Sam said...

Oh and by the way to define the UK a county that lost half a million people to the war against the Nazi's as the appeasers it unpleasant and myopic. My Grandfather died in the war, we in this country sacrificed our lives and economic power your insinuations are unpleasant at best. Most countries in Europe did did not want a repeat of WWI and would have done anything to avoid it but when it came to stepping up to the mark that is what we did. The appeasement voices that went on beyond the declaration of war were a hated minority.

RonMossad said...

Hi Sam and welcome to the side.

Before I get into your comments I want to address what you've said about timeliness. Just because an injustice began occurring a few months or even years or even decades ago doesn't mean we should forget about it. Not nearly on the same level, but also an injustice is what is happening a young man named Gilad Shalit, who has been a hostage now for over three years. This too has been a long time...should I forget and just "move on" from that as well? One of my heroes (that's right MY heroes) was Martin Luther King, who I'm sure you know said "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere" - well this is an injustice being perpetrated against Mr. Savage and therefore must be fought at every opportunity until it is rectified. Everyday he is still banned is a new story as far as I'm concerned.

Now, onto what you've said.

it just happens that when you try and define preaching hatred in law it can become a wide net.

If you want to define "preaching hatred" it's not as hard as you think. For starters, an imam is a RELIGIOUS LEADER. People listen to what they say as the word of God. Michael Savage is NOT. He is an entertainer. Like Sean Hannity. Or Jon Stewart. Or Howard Stern. All very different personalities, but all offensive at times. What they say, is NOT the same as what a religious leader or elected official (who has a responsibility to lead people) says. Different situation entirely.

Another way to differentiate between "hate speech" and regular speech is to eliminate the concept. Anything I say is speech. Leading a riot is incitement. Incitement is a problem. Speaking is not. Are these imams inciting people to go out into the street an riot? Do they have a documented history of doing this? Are they DOING something. That's the key, the difference between TALKING and DOING. To my knowledge Savage has never incited a riot or been responsible for any violence whatsoever...these imams have been inciting riots and terrorism all over the world for centuries.

These guys promote violence, terrorism, riots. Savage promotes peaceful protest IF THAT. He almost never tells his audience to DO anything other than boycott something. Sorry buddy, it's not as hard to draw the line as you might think.

Here's the line, are you ready?

Saying "I don't like Muslims" is speech.

Saying "Go KILL Muslims" and having people act on it is incitement.

Got it?

Incidentally it is the liberal voice in the UK that fights for free speech it is the reactionary right that demand curbs on what the imams say that lead to this kind of stupidity.

It's irrelevant who is behind this because it's just as wrong with the right does it as well as the left. However, I have to tell you that you're wrong as Jacqui Smith is a member of Labour not any "reactionary right" - I don't know what you're talking about. In fact, most Freedom of Speech issues these days come from Political Correctness nonsense which is almost ALWAYS generated by alleged liberals.

Is this man really a champion of yours, a man who believes only white skinned Europeans should be allowed in to the US.

Clearly you've not listened to his show with any regularity. Stop listening to what his critics tell you he says and start listening to what he actually says
and you may get a better picture. That being said, you apparently missed the ENTIRE point of my article which was to say that whether I or you or anyone agree with him is IRRELEVANT. Discriminating against someone for speech is WRONG no matter what they say. Take action against ACTION not words.

RonMossad said...

to define the UK a county that lost half a million people to the war against the Nazi's as the appeasers it unpleasant and myopic.

I'm sorry if its unpleasant and I'm sorry for your loss of your grandfather but the reason why you lost your grandfather and half a million other British citizens is because your leader, Neville Chamberlain was a naive fool who tried to appease the Nazis (along with the rest of the cultured and enlightened Western European nations). If clicked the word "appeasement" you would have followed a link to my explanation of the topic. Here it again so you don't have to scroll all the way back up to the top.

but when it came to stepping up to the mark that is what we did.

Too late my friend, too late.

The appeasement voices that went on beyond the declaration of war were a hated minority.

That's great that once the bombs started to fall that the appeasers became a "hated minority" but prior to that Churchill was treated as a "reactionary right" extremist. Keep doing it and we'll all find ourselves dodging blitzes and bombs all over again.

Ron Russell said...

I agree Ron and do support Michael Savage completely. I live in the rare part of America that has tasted defeat and occupation and as a consequence is one of the strongest defends of a strong military and a strong Jewish state. Many in England before that nation entered into WWII after the invasion of Poland were appeasers as were many in America before Pearl Harbor. Great post.

RonMossad said...

Thanks Ron. Shame more people don't get it. Even if you didn't support Savage's viewpoints or politics, he'd still be entitled to his opinion. What he says is no more inflammatory than that fat oaf Michael Moore. You don't see him being banned in any Western democracies though...