Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Muslim Mad-ness II: Not with a bang but a whimper

Local story. Worldly implications.

I've been following this story from the first moments of coverage. Now it looks like it is coming to an end.

Quick recap for those who don't like clicking:
Early on January 20th, 2007, three Palestinian students were beaten by Guilford College athletes (football players) as the athletes used anti-Muslim slurs. Two of the students went to Guilford College; the other one was visiting from NCSU.

Since then, the coverage has waned and the story itself has fizzled into the world of "um, okay, whatever." As the stories of what happened started to clash, divided camps emerged. The FBI was looking into possible hate crimes. Those who saw the issue as an overall culture of violence became active and NCSU hosted a Stop the Hate public forum to openly discuss the issue. Students walked out of class in protest. A Guilford College professor spouted off in the local paper. And the right wing took some suspicious characters on campus asking about the football players as Muslim Hit Squads.

Finally, the Greensboro Police finish their probe, saying they haven't found any further information. Six students faced charges of assault and ethnic intimidation. But the DA was waiting on Guilford College to conclude their investigation. And waiting. Greensboro police drop the charges on two of the students because - according to the assaulted students - they did not participate in the beating. Guilford College finally has something to say about the "Bryan Hall Incident." As of last week, the Palestinian students have offered to drop the charges if the athletes would apologize. Three of the four football players have done so. One is left.

What happens to a story, to a case that starts with football players beating on minorities, using racial slurs, FBI, college, and police investigations that turns it into the jello-kneed "um, sorry" that it has become? Why am I disappointed that everyone took some time off, reflected on the situation, and cooler heads prevailed?

Because I smelled blood. Because I was picked on by football players in my younger years. Because I burst into a shrapnel-spitting anger-ball when ignorant bigotry rears its ugly head.

Because I don't know that this is the best result. It is clearly the best result for those involved: Palestinian kids look good, football players verbally repent, and it's over. But is it the best result for the viewers, the attendees in the bleachers trying to glean a lesson from this?

I guess so. Why? Because any ignorant person who needed to learn a lesson (whether that humility or jail time result from ignorance) dismissed the story with a "Fuckin' Ay-rabs" and flipped back over to WWE the day it broke. The people still watching already know the lesson, but the stands are almost bare. Everyone's long gone, hot dog parchment paper blows past three Palestinian kids in the middle of the muddy field, and --

MSNBC Google Sued by Viacom

Holy shit! No more Comedy Central on YouTube? What the hell, dude?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hannity Shenanigans - Attacking Joy Behar

The genesis of this post was catching a caller, a "university professor" bitch slap global warming on the show. Got me some access, some mp3's, transcribed them. Why not get some mileage out of this? Why not go weekly?

Welcome to Hannity Shenanigans. I'm betting I can come up with one thing per week that pisses me off about Sean Hannity's radio show. And, of course, I'll share it with you.

This discussion tirade about Joy Behar came from Thursday, March 8th in the third hour. And it's probably going to piss you off. Let's take a look:
SEAN: I have yet to play the Joy Behar wishing - you know - having delight over Dick Cheney having health problems. This, this is just the latest in a series of her attacks. Next.
Let me play, for example, Joy Behar. This is how bad this show is and this is how sorry I feel for Elizabeth Hasselbeck.

JOY (rec): I know that Dick Cheney is in trouble now, which is a, a delight for me. And I think it's not a coincidence that he has a blood clot this week, which is Spanish for, ah, you know, I'm going to go down next so I think I'll retire. I think he probably, you know, psychosomatically might have a blood clot. Who wouldn't have a blood clot after the lying that he did? Talk about a backup.

SEAN: Che- Go back to the beginning of this, just the first line. 'Cheney is in trouble now which is a delight for me.' Talking about the fact that he has a serious blood clot in his leg. Listen to this.

JOY (rec): I know that Dick Cheney is in trouble now, which is a, a delight for me.

SEAN: Dick Cheney's in trouble in his health. Do you know how serious these blood clots are? As a matter of fact, what was the name of the, the NBC reporter who died from - David Bloom. That's the exact same thing, when he was - remember, he was cramped up in that tank for such a long period of time, blood clot ended up killing him. And she's well, Cheney's in trouble, that's, that's great for me. Now this is the same woman that says the Bush administration are murderers, listen to this:

JOY (rec): I don't want to add fuel to the fire, but I don't know what it's going to take for people to really wake up and understand that they are liars and they are murderers -

SEAN: They're liars and then murderers, talking about the Bush administration. Then Joy Behar actually speculated that someone gave Senator Tim Johnson - remember after he had his, his medical problems and stroke, that it was man-made.

JOY (rec): Is there such a thing as a man-made stroke? In other words, did someone do this to him?

SEAN: And she once compared Donald Rumsfeld to Adolf Hitler.

JOY (rec): ...you have to put, you have to put like a Hitler type, like you put Donald Rumsfeld there or something.

SEAN: You know, I'm going to tell you, if conservatives - and this goes into what we're planning for Sunday night on, on Hannity's America here...the ten worst things liberals have said and gotten away with.
What is actually happening here
Joy Behar's comment, specifically about Cheney being in "trouble," is directed at the speculation, after the Libby verdict, that Cheney is next up on trial. She is pleased because she - as many other Americans - believe that the vice president belongs in prison. Her comment about the blood clot referred to her own speculation that Dick can see the writing on the wall and is feigning illness in preparation to flee to Mexico before he gets popped, much like you cough through the second half of the day if you're planning to call off work tomorrow. And her final comment is a suggestion (based on ?) that the stress caused by his lying could have manifested as a blood clot in his leg, which is called psychosomatic.

This is all very straightforward. Joy Behar was wallowing in some Schadenfreude, but the misfortune Joy was finding, um, joy in, was the legal implications of the Libby case, not laughing about a blood clot that we are all aware can become deadly. Not one of these realities about her comment was referenced.

What Did Hannity Do?
Hannity played the audio once. Then he told his zombie audience what she said and what to think about it. He said she was taking pleasure in Cheney's ailments. He questioned what kind of human being would ever do such a thing, that blood clots are dangerous and kill people. Then he played other quotes from Joy without any context.

Joy's Quotes
Joy called the administration murderers. Maybe a little extreme, but not completely off the mark. Then again, I don't know what she said other than those few words or even what the conversation was dealing with. Joy suggested someone may have done something to cause someone else to have a stroke. Two sentences? I can't even understand how this is relevant and have no background to make it even remotely negative. Joy made a reference to Rumsfeld as Hitler-esque. Shooting from the hip, but not enough to condemn the woman.

The Hannity Playbook
This is what Hannity does. He played a quote. He mis-interpreted it in such a way as to confuse the issue and paint the speaker evil. He calls her a horrible person. He plays other quotes, some without context or relevance. After each one, he reinforces "she is a bad person," if not in language, then in tone. And he pins the tail on the donkey not by concisely wrapping his point in iron-clad logic or rhetoric, but by generalizing it to how bad all liberals are and dove-tailing into a promo for Sunday's show, where he'll show you exactly how bad all liberals are.

This is basic control-the-masses psychology. Say something that's not directly apparent or clear, hook into a pre-conditioned response or emotion (hate 'em them damned liberals), reinforce, rinse, repeat. It's Sean Hannity's Mental Masturbation, and it goes a little something like this (CYA note: speculative fiction, no basis in reality):
SEAN: Joy Behar wants baby Jesus to cry and Mexicans to take our jobs. Here's a quote.

JOY: I like puppies.

SEAN: Jeez, I can't even believe liberals can be like this. I don't know how they can act with the confluence of the mass media without digging into their liberal incredulity and flash bang the politics of war when we're standing at the front lines supporting the troops and trying to keep America the place of freedom it may happen to be for all eternity.

LISTENER: Whut did 'e just say? Freedom?

SEAN: Liberals are the devil. And it astounds me that anyone could be that heartless. Join us Sunday, and I'll prove it more.

LISTENER: I get it. That Joy Behar is a fuckin' tramp. Fuck liberals. Woohoo, Sunday night!
There is spin and there is a blatant lie. This is the latter.

Woohoo! Sunday night! Get your disinformation scramblers out and take a gander. I've already got the popcorn in the microwave.

UPDATE: Fantastic Horror! As usual, Crooks and Liars got'cho back, and with video to boot. Delicious.