Sunday, April 13, 2014

When is free speech not free?

~~by Shelly

We know we can't yell fire in a crowded theater. Or incite to riot. Or threaten the president.

What about gloating on air at the death of someone we don't even know because he is a registered sex offender? What about encouraging hate-mongering and violence against people who have paid their debts to society and have integrated into society as law-abiding citizens?

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?


  1. I seen and heard this and cried my eyes out. How can people be so blatantly mean? It is beyond me

  2. For those who control what the public hears through their broadcasts, moot today? The world still has access to that broadcast day-after-day. I would question whether, that is what they want?

  3. There is another aspect to this.. what about the mentality of the audience who seek out this kind of "entertainment?" I believe they are the same types as those who, in earlier generations, would form a lynching party without benefit of the facts or any kind of hearing. I am appalled at the television shows we are bombarded with today that perpetrate the idea that there are "monsters" everywhere and it is acceptable to
    do inhumane and illegal things to them and, by the way, their families. This mentality doesn't want to hear facts and truth, they get a thrill out of the horrible lies and myths journalists and "personalities" spout. The arsonist who set that fire is a murderer, why is there no public outcry against that??

  4. In all fairness, Margaret, there is no evidence it was arson. Remember, this happened six months ago; verifying the facts of the incident is difficult, and I haven't had time yet to dig deep. If a reader wants to do that and bring us up to speed--you have my blessings!


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