Tag Archives: Jon and Kate

Do Racists Have a Right to Speak?

Thursday night I did a segment on BBC Five Live centered around a guy named Nick Griffin. For those Americans who don’t know who he is, Griffin is the head of the British National Party.

He’s also a member of the European Parliament.

To put it bluntly, Griffin and his party espouse a crude form of nationalism that has been called racist, Anti-Semitic, Islamaphiobic, homophiobic (gee, have I left anything out?), you get the picture.

Nick Griffin
Nick Griffin

Earlier Thursday, Griffin appeared on the BBC program “Question Time”. His appearance sparked angry protests, with about 25 people breaking through barricades at the BBC’s London TV studios. Suffice to say Griffin was taken to task for his views, so much so that he’s complaining about the program, and demanding to come back on in a different format. Ironically, the show drew four times as many viewers as normally watch it, the Jon and Kate effect, if you will.

So what was I asked to talk about on a BBC radio show? The links between Nick Griffin and our own home grown racist-Anti Semite, David Duke. They are linked, through an appearance they made together back in 2000.

David Duke chilling out with Nick Griffin
David Duke chilling out with Nick Griffin

They’re also linked by a shared desire to achieve their racist ends through the acquisition of political power. Duke, you may remember, is the former member of the KKK who went on to become a member of the Louisiana state legislature. He also made unsuccessful runs for President, the House, and Senate. Duke understood. as does Griffin, that wearing Klan robes and reading Mein Kampf  won’t win the kind of support necessary to create the lily white world they want.

So they use the tools at their disposal. They run for political office, and demand fairness and accuracy in reporting their philosophy from a media both claim is dominated by Jews and other liberals. The question becomes to what extent do they have the same right to speak as anyone else? Are protesters acting properly when they demand that Nick Griffin not be allowed on the BBC? Does giving the Griffins and David Dukes a platform in the mainstream actually lend credibility to their organizations and views?

My older brother Clayton (who passed away a year ago tomorrow- RIP) once told me you can’t be halfway for the First Amendment. His position was that the cure for racist speech was better speech to drown it out. I have a hard time disagreeing with this line of thinking. Once you start saying people have no right to express their thoughts, no matter how obnoxious, where do you draw the line?

You tell me. Should racists like David Duke and Nick Griffin be given mainstream airtime?

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How Badly Do You Want to be on TV?

For a while there, I was going to studiously avoid writing (and hopefully reading) anything about the “Balloon Boy” story that seemed to capture the nation’s attention for a time last week. Silly me. This thing has turned into a choreographed train wreck that now threatens to engulf the Heene family of Colorado just like they allegedly suckered the media. And for what? A shot at reality television? Pullleeeeze!!!

In coverage best resembling the OJ car crawl of days gone by, the media and law enforcement conducted a gigantic aerial and ground pursuit of a balloon supposedly containing six year old Falcon Heene. Anyone who followed that coverage saw and heard breathless anchorpeople speculating whether the child was still alive, and at the same time interviewing various authorities and “experts”, most of whom were as clueless as they were.

Before getting back to the substance of this story, let me vent a little about the cable news networks’ increasingly common practice of talking to people who admit they don’t know what they’re talking about. Everybody from Wolf Blitzer on down is doing it, and it’s a colossal waste of time, not to mention an insult to the intelligence of viewers. It became a hallmark of the Heene story, and somebody with half a brain in these cable newsrooms ought to learn a lesson from it and stop already. But they won’t.

Okay, back to the Heene saga. The cops are now saying that family patriarch Richard used his own child to further his bid to score a reality television show. But wait, his family was already on one, some program called “Wife Swap”, weren’t they? Maybe the plethora of these programs (By way of full disclosure, the only reality show I watch is “Jerry Springer”. Why not head straight for the bottom?) gives just about everyone the hope they can cash in like Jon and Kate, or the winners of “So You Think You Can Dance”.

My question is this. Is reality show fame worth being charged with three felonies and a misdemeanor? And, while we’re at it, cynically taking advantage of your own kids? As some in the media have proclaimed, the Heene family has already given the nation a reality television episode, and I’m not talking about “Wife Swap”. Here was this balloon, floating through the air like a prop from an Ed Wood movie, with questions about whether a six year old tragically fell out of the thing before it landed.

And now we’re being told the whole thing was a hoax. Which brings up the question, how far would you go for a shot at TV fame and fortune? You tell me.

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