Archive for March 7th, 2010

When somebody writes something that makes you laugh out loud, it should not go unrecognized. John Kenney, in today’s New York Times, does just that.

I was driving on Loma Larga in Corrales when I heard the caller to KKOB say what so many others had only hinted at in the past year or so. I don’t remember what the “topic” of the moment was during the Jim Villanucci show that day. I’m not sure it makes a difference when the callers call. They tend to say whatever it is they want to say, regardless of the “topic.”

This one said he had a solution to America’s problems. He said we needed to send two or three million Americans to Washington to take care of the “problem.” Villanucci asked him what he meant. He said again that Americans needed to take care of the problem. Villanucci again asked him what he meant. Take care of the problem how?

The caller said: “Kill em! Kill ’em all! Take ’em out!”

I pulled over to the side of the road and listened for a few more minutes. In the past, I’d heard other KKOB callers hint at assassinating the president. It was not uncommon. But this was the first time I’d heard anyone come right out and say it.

I sat on the side of the road wondering how the assassination suggestion (demand?) made it on the air. I’ve been in those radio studios. I know they have a little button that may be used to engage the delay that prevents anyone from using George Carlin’s famous Seven Words. Those words might get the radio station a hefty fine from the FCC.

But encourage people to assassinate the President of the United States? No little button for that. That goes on the air.

Villanucci pleaded with his listeners not to say such things. But he didn’t do it because  such things are vile. He said he didn’t want listeners saying these things because he was afraid he’d hear from the Secret Service, as he apparently has in the past.

KKOB assuredly is not alone in the country when it comes to such daydreams. We all know talk radio is nearly 100 percent right wing. It commands the airwaves. We all know that rage and anger are the primary entertainment tools for talk radio. The problem is that the unhinged among us sometime take their cues from such encouragement.

In a Washington Post story on John Patrick Bedell, killed at the Pentagon after opening fire on police, Mark Potok, author of a Southern Poverty Law Center report on violent militias in America, said: “People are bringing completely groundless conspiracy theories into the mainstream, and they are doing it for purely opportunistic reasons. To some, it may be only a ratings game, but the danger is that some people actually believe these tall tales and a few will actually act on them.”

Then we have Joseph Stack, who had a complaint with the IRS. So he flew his airplane into an IRS building and in the process killed a Vietnam veteran nearing retirement. One Republican congressman came close to calling him a hero.

We’ve gotten to the point now where we put this stuff up on billboards, literally. On the blog, The Daily Beast, a slide show of hate billboards underlines the point.

Add to that the leaked Republican PowerPoint presentation encouraging fund raisers to use fear as a selling point and to paint Democrats as “evil” and a question arises: What the hell are we doing to ourselves?

It’s been awhile. September, I think. Liz reminded me often that it had been a long time since I posted anything on the blog. Then Frank, a cousin in Connecticut, e-mailed and said something about … September, I think.

Then I started to hear from former readers of the column I wrote for 28 years in the Albuquerque Journal. Are you going to blog again?

I don’t know that I have an explanation for why I stopped. Maybe because I’d grown tired of hearing the sound of my own voice. And you don’t have to look around the Internet much to see that we are not suffering from a lack of opinions. We seem to have enough to go around.

A good deal of the “blogging” I was doing didn’t involve the soap box factor anyway. It consisted of linking to news stories that caught my eye, a kind of amateur “aggregator,” if you will. A handful of friends can tell you all about that. Blog or no blog, they are the frequent recipients of these “aggregations.” (Isn’t it fun to make up words as you go? But then I’ve been away. Maybe they’re the commonly accepted currency now.) The chances are good that the “aggregations” will continue in this space, assuming of course I can remember how to link.

So I’d been thinking about warming up the blog again.

Then came that afternoon I was driving around Corrales and the West Side, tending to errands, channel surfing on the radio, tuning in for a moment to KKOB to hear what they were exercised about that day.

That’s when I heard the caller to the Jim Villanucci show say of the President of the United States and any other Democrat the caller disagreed with: “Kill ’em! Kill ’em all! Take ’em out!”

For about week, the memory of it rolled around in my head and wouldn’t go away. Finally, I thought: OK, I’ll blog.