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Friday, May 11, 2007

America the not-so-beautiful

So much for the ideals of free speech in the land of the brave, when a civil servant condones graffiti debasing a public figure, as reported here.

A billboard in Baltimore of Rush Limbaugh was defaced this week and a spokesman for the city agency responsible for cleaning up graffiti said he liked it that way.

That graffiti "artist" is nothing more than a vandal with a political opinion. And that a public official, paid by taxpayers, would publicly condone an act of vandalism because he shares that opinion, is irresponsible to the extreme.

The issue to me is not Rush Limbaugh and his on-air views. The issue is that intimidation is so fashionable in western society that the term "civil servant" is becoming an oxymoron.

I have never listened to Rush Limbaugh (or any other American political talk show host ... I prefer ChickChat myself) but I do know that he has his detractors.

So what. So do Howard Stern and Al Franken. These guys are paid, and paid well, to attract as large a listening audience as possible for advertisers to "reach out" to between on-air rants. Obviously, that audience includes both the vandal and the public official in this story.

Because we live in such a "monkey-see monkey-do" society, however, this on-air audacity is creating an unfortunate and unpleasant trend whereby venom and vitriol are replacing respect and restraint not only in the public discourse but in society at large.

We can only hope that citizens who actually take talk show hosts and other entertainers seriously are not the canaries in the coal mine of a collapsing civil society, as Limbaugh suggests. Altho you do have to wonder about people who condone everything from vandalism to attempts at murder ... as long as "their side" is "winning."

But in the end, no one wins. As history has shown us, a society dominated by such sentiments is easy pickings for tyrants and totalitarians. And as the present is showing us, war really is hell.

The moral of this story is: It all starts at home, folks. If you want peace, then spread peace. Show the world, and especially your political adversaries, how to "overcome."

Here's a suggestion, tho. Try doing something more meaningful than committing or condoning an act of vandalism against a radio personality you dislike.

As this article illustrates, you're just giving more ammunition to the other side.

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