Monday, November 01, 2010

Extremist rhetoric - being generated by "both sides"? Ted Nugent edition (UPDATED)

Juan Cole points out in Ted Nugent vs. Jon Stewart: Fumigating the Democrat Rats vs. Can’t we all Get Along? Informed Comment 11/01/2010, one side's rhetoric is sounding considerably nastier than the other's.

He passes on the news from CNN about one-time rock star Ted Nugent used explicitly eliminationist language against Democrats at a rally for the Republican Senate nominee in West Viriginia, John Raese, in a closely-contested race. Republicans love to whine that the mean libruls are trying to take away their freedom of speech. But anyone who wants to imitate Nugent's rant might want to check on the law first. As a general rule, a call for civil violence is protected under the 1st Amendment if it's not an immediate and specific call for violence, as in "Kill that guy in the blue hat right there!" Nugent actually mentioned specific names of Democrats who needed to be exterminated. I'm sure that if he mentioned the name of someone like the President currently under Secret Service protection in that context, he would get a not-very-friendly visit from them. People do go to prison for threats to kill individual politicians. Update: After listening to the full CNN tape, he mentions Nancy Pelosi by name, and it's hard to see how anyone could hear what he says here and not think he's referring to Obama as one of the "rats"; he talks about the White House and then about how we the public let the rats move in. I actually would be surprised if the Secret Service didn't at least take a close look at that.

Our star pundits seem to agree that "both sides" in American politics are contributing equally to extremism. If our Pod Pundits agree, I suppose it must be true. Still, things like this have to make you wonder. Ted Nugent is within the mainstream of today's Republican Party. Where he gave this speech was at a rally for the Republican Senate candidate in West Virginia, in a tightly contested race. Nugent is also a favorite speaker at NRA conventions - the NRA that Tea Partiers think is dangerously *moderate* on gun issues.

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