Sunday, February 04, 2007

No. Just NO.

Okay, WHY is Bill O'Reilly a scheduled speaker at a fundraiser for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children? Isn't this the same scumbag who said that Shawn Hornbeck must've enjoyed spending four years as the captive of a psycho kidnapper? Which Mensa candidate invited the guy? And what do you think John Walsh has to say about all this?

Joann Donnellan, a spokeswoman for the group, says that O'Reilly is still scheduled to appear at the fundraiser, despite the Hornbeck flap.

Donnellan said Wednesday that O’Reilly’s invitation was accepted in November to help raise awareness on the issue of missing and exploited children. She said the invitation to speak to the group still stood.

“We thought he would be an interesting speaker,” she said.

Donnellan said the organization, as well as the public and O’Reilly, do not know all of the details surrounding Shawn’s abduction.

“Kids do what is necessary to survive,” she said. “In the media, we hear, ‘Why didn’t he do this? Why didn’t he do that?’ This has to play itself out and we have to give him time to heal.”

Excuse me. Ms. Donnellan? O'Reilly did not ask why Hornbeck didn't do this, that, or the other thing. Here's the exact quote, with Bill facing off with Greta van Susteren:

O'REILLY: This is what I believe happened in the Hearst case and in this case. The situation that Hearst found herself in was exciting. She had a boring life. She was a child of privilege. All of a sudden, she's in with a bunch of charismatic thugs, and she enjoyed it. The situation here for this kid looks to me to be a lot more fun than what he had under his old parents. He didn't have to go to school. He could run around and do whatever he wanted.

VAN SUSTEREN: Some kids like school.


VAN SUSTEREN: Some kids like school.

O'REILLY: Well, I don't believe this kid did. And I think when it all comes down, what's going to happen is, there was an element here that this kid liked about his circumstances.

Let's not pretend that O'Reilly was asking thoughtful questions about Hornbeck's life in captivity, okay, Ms. Donnellan? Let's not turn it into something it is not.

It's the same logic trap that Ann Coulter's apologists fall into. When she made ugly personal attacks on the "Jersey Girls," some conservatives pretended that Coulter had some "larger point" when she called these widows harpies who enjoyed losing their husbands. Take Mary "GOP Stooge and Proud" Matalin when she whined:

You lefty crazy people run around, calling us "extra chromosome" and "Hitlers" and "Nazis" and everything, and nobody says anything. She calls somebody a "harpy" and you'd think that, you know, the whole world was on fire.

Translation: "WAAAAAAAAH! The liberals are bein' mean to us! Waaaaaaaaah!"

That's a straw man argument. I don't recall these widows calling anyone Hitlers. I suspect the Matalins and the Coulters are angry because, even though these widows lost their husbands on 9/11, this did not translate into undying support for all things GWB. I'm sure right-wingers are also angry because the widows pushed for a 9/11 commission and dared to criticize the Bush administration. Thus, they tried to take Coulter's "political pornography" (TM Franken) and pretend it's something it isn't. I'm sure Matalin knows what Coulter's real point is, but it's easier to play the IOKIYAR game than criticize someone on your "team."

As Dave Neiwert wrote four years ago:

One of the important things I learned as a cops-and-courts reporter lo these many years ago was something about crime victims: That they often make themselves vulnerable to violent crimes because they are not prepared to deal with people who are sociopathic, or who exhibit antisocial or narcissistic personality disorders, or in some cases outright psychoses. That they project their own normalcy onto these other people -- they really cannot believe that someone else would act in a way substantially different from their own decent, sane base of operations.

In a way, I think this is a large part of what is happening to our national body politic: People in key positions of media and conservative ideological prominence (Coulter, Limbaugh, even Bill O'Reilly) exhibit multiple symptoms of being pathological sociopaths, either antisocial or narcissistic, or a combination of both. And not only their fellow participants in the conservative movement, but mainstream centrists and even liberals are unable to figure out that there is something seriously wrong with these people because they are projecting their own normalcy onto them. They cannot perceive because they cannot believe -- that, above all, these people are not operating within a framework guided by the boundaries of basic decency that restrain most of us.

Neiwert is absolutely right, and the blatherings of the wingnutosphere have gotten uglier and more repugnant and more indefensible with each year. It is worth noting that any left-wing counterparts to Limbaugh or O'Reilly are so obscure and so far on the fringe that the wingnuts have to manufacture left-wing media bogeymen (Ward Churchill, anyone?). I have not seen Ward Churchill invited on talk-show panels or given seven-figure book deals or signed up for newspaper columns. He has not been embraced slavishly by the left wing. I don't remember James Carville coming forward to say Churchill had a "larger point."

One of the first steps in answering the right-wing freak show is to stop pretending they're something they are not and stop pretending they have some "valid point" or "insights." They don't. They're sociopaths and should be regarded as such. And that goes for principled conservatives as well as liberals and centrists. Right-wingers should stop making excuses for these people.