In what one could only describe as a convergence of circumstances which benefit sound reasoning, arch-conservative (although I think “conservative” is too tame a label) and demagogue extraordinaire Glenn Beck shocked his viewers on his Fox News Channel show yesterday when he announced that his show on the network would end later this year. As a result of a combination of the increasing divisiveness of his conspiracy-laden far right-leaning rhetoric, plummeting ratings, and an increasing number of advertisers jumping off the sinking ship that is his show, Fox and Beck opted to practice the better part of ideological valor and part company, although it is unclear which party initiated the separation (funny thing is thought, the word “amicable” has not even been mentioned in the reports surrounding the affair). During his run on Fox, Beck—in spite of his millions of loyal viewers—has often found himself the target of mainstream as well as leftist criticism as a result of his often incendiary remarks. But despite the controversy which continues to orbit both his words and his media presence, he was and still remains the darling of Tea Party activists, as well as others with less vehement ideological leanings.
Glenn Beck, during one of his sarcastic promotional photo ops.
Who would have thought…in a nation full of right-wing as well as left-wing lunatics, I guess even vitriol has a ceiling!
Ignore That Previous Statement…Thou Will Judge!In yet another instance in a long list of proofs that religion and stupidity are a dangerous mix, controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones publicly last month burned a copy of the Quran, the sacred book of scripture among the world’s billion or so Muslims. According to Jones, his reasoning (or lack thereof) was “to raise awareness of this dangerous religion and dangerous element.” Jones went further in defense of his actions, citing that "We decided to put the Quran on trail…I was the judge but I did not determine the verdict. I was just a type of referee so that people got their time to defend or condemn the Quran….a ‘jury’ of people from all over Florida debated the radicalism of Islam, and the ‘Quran was found guilty.’" (http://abcnews.go.com/CleanPrint/cleanprintproxy.aspx?unique=1302180053583&pfurl=http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=13281689).
In response to this, what adherents to Islam deem as sacrilege of the highest order, violent protests have erupted in Afghanistan, culminating with the deaths of 11 people, including an attack on a United Nations compound where 7 UN workers were killed. Jones is no stranger to controversy. This action was actually a postponement of his previous threat to burn a copy of the Quran on the anniversary of the Sept 11th terrorist attacks last year, but chose not to after intense criticism and public pressure which included a personal plea from President Obama. In response to the deaths in Afghanistan, the Florida pastor has remarked that he feels that he bears no responsibility…of course. He’d rather bear the notoriety of publicity, not the burden or responsibility for his actions.
In most cases, the Constitution asserts that both freedom of speech and religions are absolutes, even demonstrative speech such as flag burning and religious ethnocentrism such as asserting that “My God can beat your God up!” But there is also that caveat/exception about shouting fire in a burning theater. And a religiously intolerant Southern American religious figure (for want of a better term) burning a Quran while Westerners are working in a hostile environment, which is the ancestral home of the religiously xenophobic Taliban amounts to literally shouting fire and a theater (of war). One has to wonder what similar level of outrage was going through Jones’ mind when Robert Mapplethorpe sank that crucifix into that jar of urine back in the 80s and called it “art?”