Today over at Media Matters John Hamiliton has a piece titled, Progressive Hunter about how "Glenn Beck’s chalkboard drove Byron Williams to plot assassination."
It’s rather chilling. My friend David Neiwert of Crooks and Liars gives some more context to the violence of Beck follower Byron Williams in this post.
One of the commenters, Dr. Dick, asked this question that a lot of people ask.
"How to hold inciters of violence accountable. How to do that without violating free speech protections?"
I think the key is to move the issue away from the "free speech" issue, especially the First Amendment. Why? Because there are a lot of people on the left who get their backs up at any hint of limiting anyone’s speech.
How many times have you heard, "I don’t like what he has to say, but I’ll defend to the death his right to say it!"
That makes them feel good. Many are proud of their, "Let the Nazis march in Skokie" values. They can be a radical defender of the First Amendment. Good for them. You then ask them for a solution they will say stuff like, "The answer to speech you don’t like is more speech." Yet another platitude.
I often ask them if they are familiar with the observation of one possible limit to speech, the "don’t falsely yell fire in a crowded theater" view. "Well, I guess it’s okay to limit that." but even then, some of them don’t like to think about limiting anyone saying anything. It’s because they put themselves in the position of the person being limited and they worry that they will be next. In some cases they are correct. When the government wants to get someone for ‘incitement to riot" they go after the left and attempt to tie them to terrorists.
If you object to Beck’s violent rhetoric and think it is dangerous you need to act. Think about what matters in our world today. Money. Think about what companies care about. Making money and building their brand.
You want to have an impact on Beck, Fox and their violent rhetoric? You look at ways to make it unprofitable. . . .
Where does Fox’s money come from? Advertisers. The group Color of Change and the leader of Stopbeck understood this. I understood this when I alerted the advertisers of K S F O of the violent rhetoric of their hosts. And as we saw last week in the New York Times the work of Color of Change and Stopbeck has had a big impact. 296 advertisers have said they won’t be on the Glenn Beck show. That is huge. People should know that it wasn’t a boycott that convinced these advertisers to leave, they decided themselves based on the evidence that Beck was bad for their brands. Many corporations don’t like to be associated with a race-baiting extremist who spouts violent rhetoric at some of their customers.
Losing money is one of the biggest sins in the corporate world. Unless there is an ROI that has been explained to the shareholders, or a sugar daddy absorbs the loses, Beck will not last on Fox. Eventually he has to be profitable. Murdock may try and hid Ailes’ sugar daddy subsidizing of Beck for awhile but big institutional investors don’t like being lied to about revenues.
Right now Roger Ailes is juggling the Fox books quarter after quarter because he sees Beck as providing an ROI for the Conservative Movement or the Republican party. He might even know that as long as Beck is targeting liberals and non-profit groups like the Tides Foundations they won’t be coming after the top 1% who have destroyed the economy and cost people their jobs. (As a side note, do you think that if Beck named a more accessible bankster and corporation than Soros he would be allowed to keep talking about them? He would be hauled in to a room like Howard Beal in Network and told, "You will atone!")
The rest of the shareholders of NewsCorp might not want Fox to keep losing all that potential revenue Beck is eating up with his "empty calorie" shows with no ads.
Beck will never be held accountable for the violence he incites in others. The free speech absolutists will ensure it, as will the people on the right making excuses. Therefore those of us who believe it is important to do more than simply condemn violent rhetoric need to look in new directions to have an impact.
I’ve found that causing a financial impact is the most powerful of our tools. One of the old saws about dealing with criminal behavior that seemed to be supported by millions is to remind people of how the Feds got Al Capone. Tax evasion. If you want to have an impact on someone as dangerous as Glenn Beck in a world where most of his speech is protected, look at other areas to have an impact. As I said over and over, "He might have a right to say what he is saying, but he doesn’t have a right to get rich doing it."
You don’t need to think "outside of the box" to have an impact on these people, you need to think "inside the wallet."