The Glenn Beck Update: O Glenn, Where Art Thou?
Pundit-provocateur Glenn Beck has suddenly been catapulted into the skydeck of American fame, thanks to the earnest efforts of left-wing activists to deprive him of his sponsors. But the man himself is nowhere to be found.
I tuned in to his morning radio show hoping for a juicy, over-the-top Beckian response to all the recent hubbub. Where was he? Why was I hearing the bland generic voice of a substitute host?
Beck is on “vacation,” we’re told. The blog TVNewser believes that Beck’s bosses gave him the week off to let the heat die down. Another account, fresh from one of Beck’s assistants, insists that the vacation was announced internally a month ago and just happens to be, y0u know, a weeklong, garden-variety summer vacation. Nothing unusual about a summer vacation in mid-August, is there? Even after half the American Left stomped on his fuzzy head, and his capitalist sponsors nervously deserted him like rats from a tilting ship.
The sponsor abandonment count is now up to twenty, including the latest defectors: Best Buy, Travelocity, CVS, GMAC and Walmart (yep, they’re a single word now, having done away with the twinkly star that came between the Wal and the Mart). ColorOfChange.org, the black activist group that initiated the de-sponsoring of Beck, seems to be proud of its exploits, pointing to coverage in The New York Times (We’ve made it!) and displaying the names of the former sponsors like trophy heads.
The debate continues to rage over at HuffingtonPost, and I’ve done my best to tip the arguments toward the center. In response to an article that characterized Beck’s anti-Obama rant as “hate speech” (to distinguish it from “acceptable” forms of dissent), I retorted:
Ever heard of the free markeplace of ideas, folks? A fundamental tenet of classical liberalism, it places faith in the wisdom of the people to reject ideas worthy of rejection. (Granted, it might overestimate public wisdom, but it’s still a noble and valid priniciple.)
Throughout the current Beck brouhaha, the left has attempted to assume control over the process. This is precisely what has been driving the right to paranoia: the notion that American leftists in power, like the Bolsheviks of yore, would ultimately censor all opposing viewpoints. Political correctness was the fairly innocuous first step; now we have left-wingers referring to opinions they don’t like as actionable “hate speech.”
But what IS hate speech? Does all criticism of “protected” minorities fall under that banner? Is it still OK to heap insults on unprotected groups, like white people, men, and Christians? You simply can’t control public opinion without letting your own prejudices upset the natural balance of ideas.
I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind over at HuffingtonPost. But if I can make one or two citizens of the left think about their prejudices for a few extra seconds, I’ll be satisfied that I’m doing my duty as a moderate activist. (What a concept.) Now I’ll have to go work my persuasive powers on some of those frenzied right-wingers while Glenn Beck is away.