We know we can't yell fire in a crowded theater. Or incite to riot. Or threaten the president.
Comments posted on articles about the murders of or attacks on those on the registry make it clear that there is an element out there willing to encourage and praise such illegal vigilante activity, up to and including murder.
But from recognized radio personalities?
A portion of the Kimberly and Beck show from September 19, 2013, has these persons verbally high-fiving it with a caller who is expressing joy at a neighbor's death as a result of his house burning. Kimberly and Beck were encouraging all she said. Whichever of the two is the female seemed especially delighted that he might have been murdered, wondering aloud if someone might have tied him to the bed and set it on fire.
According to the broadcast, the man who died, Robert Harris, was on the public sex offender registry. He committed a sexual crime in 1993. These radio "personalities," one of them, with the other making grunts of agreement, said, "They never are rehabilitated." Since he has not re-offended in the 21 years since his original crime, for which he served his punishment, the ignorance of that remark is obvious.
It is disgusting that this hate-mongering and the dissemination of incorrect information was allowed to be made over the air. Among other comments, they said that he "got what was coming to him." That is the talk of vigilantes. He served his court-assessed punishment and was living a law-abiding life. Are they suggesting that private citizens have the right to mete out punishment over and above what the courts deem appropriate?
The radio station has received emails expressing consternation and condemnation. Due to the lag-time between when we discovered this abuse of public broadcasting and when it happened back in September, the station managers obviously feel our concerns are moot and warrant no response.
But what if their programming encourages more attacks on registrants? What if their hate-mongering finds fertile ground in some unstable mind and sends it out in search of a registrant to harm?
What if the cost of free speech turns out to be more lives?