Stopping truth at the border: Banning Michael Savage from Britain
By Selwyn Duke
When I awoke last Tuesday morning, I ambled over to the computer, as is my wont, and made my usual cyber rounds. I logged on to the Drudge Report and, lo and behold, saw the following headline, "RADIO HOST MICHAEL SAVAGE BANNED FROM UK FOR 'EXTREME VIEWS'...." "Wow," I thought, "Britain strikes again."
The prohibition is the handiwork of England's Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, who included Savage on a list of 16 unwelcome individuals whom she wanted to "name and shame." According to Beverley Rouse writing in The Independent, Smith says this is "so others could better understand what sort of behaviour Britain was not prepared to tolerate."
Yeah, such as telling the truth, I suppose.
Believe it or not, I can't really say I'm surprised at Smith's actions. I keep my nose to the news, and nary a week goes by that I don't read about a couple more examples of political correctness on steroids coming out of formerly Great Britain. If you think I exaggerate, try these on for size: The country's National Children's Bureau, funded mainly with government money, issued anti-racism guidelines stating that if a toddler says "yuk" in response to foreign food (it's rumored that most U.K. toddlers say yuk in response to British food), it could be a sign of "racism." Then there was 14-year-old schoolgirl Codie Stott, who was arrested and jailed on a "racial offense" for requesting to be in a discussion group with English-speaking students. English in England? What an outrage. And if that makes any Brits' blood pressure rise, never fear, because certain local governments are using taxpayer funds to encourage chip shops to use salt shakers with fewer holes, which, supposedly, will reduce sodium consumption. Hey, you can't make this stuff up.
So, if it's any consolation to Michael Savage, I would say that cause for alarm would be if Britain's 1984 government endorsed him. I mean, Britain's Jacobin jobsworths have clearly lost hold of their sanity as the nation has gone from empire to about to expire, from rum and the lash to leather bars and the leash.
Really, though, this story strikes pretty close to home for me, as I make regular appearances on Savage's radio program "The Savage Nation." So, I have to wonder, will I next have the honor of being banned from Nanny State Central? After all, I'm to the right of Savage on immigration and am known for acid-penned commentary. And what about Savage's 10 million listeners? My guess is that about 9 million of them agree with his "extreme views." Will they get the boot, too? Alas, we'll probably just have to accept the humbling reality that we're too small for Orwell's children abroad to trouble over . . . for now.
Yet, comedic tone aside, this is no laughing matter. As Codie Stott and many other "hate-speech" law victims around the Western world prove, the left is determined to stifle dissenting views. And labeling Savage a persona non grata is an example of this. I will point out that if you peruse the 16 banned individuals on the Home Office's list, it's a what's-wrong-with-this-picture experience. Savage is lumped in with neo-Nazi and terrorist murderers simply because he espouses unfashionable positions. Moreover, the Home Office wrote that he was "seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts and fostering hatred which might lead to inter-community violence."
Now, the above is a bald-faced lie. I have listened to Savage's radio show for years and can say with assurance that nothing is more contrary to his personality. He is passionate, he does wear his heart on his shirtsleeve – and he can administer a good tongue lashing – but it's not in his heart to incite violence.
Yet critics will say that Savage's commentary can raise ire. And it's a point Michael himself cedes, as he has said that while his views are "not violent in any way," they "may be inflammatory." But is this to be condemned?
Remember that just as physical inflammation can have a positive effect by helping to fight infection, inflammatory words can help combat political and cultural infections. And think about it: Was Patrick Henry not inflammatory when he proclaimed "Give me liberty or give me death"? Why, it was the Founding Fathers inflammatory words that sparked the American Revolution and birthed our nation. Was one of the greatest Englishman to ever live, G.K. Chesterton, not inflammatory when he said, "It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged" (I wonder if a vision of the future, of Jacqui Smith perhaps, inspired him to thus lament)? He sure was, and in today's 1984 Britain, the jolly, rotund philosopher might be charged with hate speech and inciting violence.
The point is that inflammatory rhetoric is used by commentators of all stripes. This is for a simple reason: Virtually all opinions on matters of import are inflammatory to a degree. Why do you think we have the saying "Never discuss religion or politics"? Anytime you express any opinion – especially on matters that lend meaning to people's lives – some will side with you and others will oppose you; it is by definition divisive. But how will people react? Well, whether they're inspired to virtue or incited to violence depends on the person more than the positions.
So, obviously, it doesn't matter whether views are inflammatory or not. The critical factor is whether they're true. Yet, to leftists, who are moral relativists, Truth means nothing. Thus, they simply define anything contrary to their agenda as out-of-bounds.
For this reason, we saw the San Francisco Board of Supervisors issue a resolution condemning Michael Savage for "hate speech" while saying nothing about vile college professors Bill Ayers and Ward Churchill. And, hewing to the mainstream-media meme of blaming talk radio for violence, Bill Moyers did a segment titled "Rage on the Radio – What happens when America's airwaves fill with hate?" In it he discussed Jim David Adkisson, the man who opened fire on parishioners at a Unitarian church in Knoxville, Tn., in July of last year. Moyers mentioned that a copy of Savage's book Liberalism is a Mental Disorder was found in Adkisson's apartment, and the implication was clear: Talk radio hosts use their tongues irresponsibly and incite violence. Ah, the perils of inflammatory prose.
Yet, Moyers didn't do a feature on how Al Gore's book Earth in the Balance – with certain passages highlighted – was found in the possession of Ted Kaczynski. Now, in case that name has faded into the past, he was none other than the Unibomber, the friendly neighborhood liberal who mailed off homemade explosive devices, murdering three innocent people. Yet will Gore be banned from Britain as someone whose words can foment violence? I suspect not, as Gore didn't inflame the right people: Newspaper editors and media talking heads.
However, should these esteemed newsmen ever resolve to connect the carbon-credit con man with the Luddite bomb man, I have a title at the ready: "Blood and Gore – What happens when environmental extremists take to the pen?" And there are other stories to be explored as well. The media could draw a connection between Colin Ferguson – the black Long Island Railroad gunmen who targeted whites – and the kind of rhetoric disgorged by a Reverend Jeremiah Wright in a report called "Rage in the Pulpit – What happens when black churches fill with hate?" But I won't hold my breath waiting. Far more likely is that I'll be called a hater for daring to criticize black churches.
So my complaint is not that leftists observe what is inflammatory. It is that they're numb to what should be inflamed and what should be soothed, to what is true and what is a lie. It is that they have thrust us into what George Orwell called "a time of universal deceit," where "telling the truth is a revolutionary act." This is why we have Canadian "human rights tribunals" (talk about a euphemism) that have ruled that Truth is not a defense against a hate-speech charge. I guess that the Truth will set you free, but not in Canada.
This all reminds me of Charles Robert Jenkins, an American soldier who spent 39 years in captivity in North Korea. Why? Well, listen to what he said about the communists: "In North Korea, when you lie they think you are telling the truth, and when you tell the truth they think you are lying. You learn real quick to say no when you mean yes, and yes when you mean no." The further a society drifts from Truth, the more it will hate those who speak it. This is the real problem Michael Savage has. And it's the problem we will all have, increasingly, unless we're willing to live those fashionable lies – or able to defeat the fashionable liars.
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