Actually, I want to distinguish four different categories of public discourse:
a) civil and respectful ( a rare commodity these days);
b) harsh but in bounds (like the readers who called me a hypocrite);
c) harsh and out of bounds (attacking somebody's personal appearance or mental capabilities), and
d) harsh and way-out-of-bounds (hate speech; encouraging violence or bigotry.)
So, by my tally, Coulter and Savage do come off as worse offenders than Franken and Keillor. But I am trying to keep an open mind. I have heard a lot of accusations about hate speech from the left, but so far I have seen very little evidence. I invite readers to send their worst examples of out-of-bounds political commentary (specific examples, please; not just second-hand allegations) from Franken, Moore, Keillor, Coulter, Hannity, etc. to www.startribune.com/ethics, where we can continue the conversation.
Well, here's some examples that should meet your criteria, Mr. Iggers. First from Randi Rhodes, broadcasting on Air America radio last May:
Comparing Bush and his family to the Corleones of "Godfather" fame, Air America host Randi Rhodes reportedly unleashed this zinger during her Monday night broadcast: "Like Fredo, somebody ought to take him out fishing and phuw. "
Rhodes then imitated the sound of a gunshot.
In "Godfather II," Fredo Corleone is executed by brother Michael at the end of the film.
Or perhaps the Kill Bush items that were until just recently for sale at CafePress. Again, from Michelle Malkin.
Or, this Air America broadcast (again on the Randi Rhodes show) where:
Government officials are reviewing a skit which aired on the network Monday evening -- a skit featuring an apparent gunshot warning to the president!
The announcer: "A spoiled child is telling us our Social Security isn't safe anymore, so he is going to fix it for us. Well, here's your answer, you ungrateful whelp: [audio sound of 4 gunshots being fired.] Just try it, you little bastard. [audio of gun being cocked]."
The audio production at the center of the controversy aired during opening minutes of The Randi Rhodes Show.
"What is with all the killing?" Rhodes said, laughing, after the clip aired.
"Even joking about shooting the president is a crime, let alone doing it on national radio... we are taking this very seriously," a government source explained.
White House Spokesman Scott McClellan called the clip "very inappropriate and over the line."
Once again, via Michelle Malkin.
Update: We also shouldn't ignore that fellow in charge of the DNC, who said:
"I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for, but I admire their discipline and their organization," the failed presidential hopeful told the crowd at the Roosevelt Hotel, where he and six other candidates spoke at the final DNC forum before the Feb. 12 vote for chairman.
- Howard Dean, 29 January 2005
(via Say Anything).