Saturday, March 18, 2006

Idiot O'Reilly's Legacy

My post on Bill O'Reilly versus Judge John Connor received an avalanche of comments. OK, I got two, but that's a comparative avalanche.

The two responders, in trying to refute me, verified what I have been arguing about in terms of the destruction of political discourse in America by the likes of conservative talk radio and the Faux News Channel.

Both responders saw the argument as one where I was attacking Bill O'Reilly because he wants long sentences for sex offenders. In addition, it appears that both failed to see my own position on sex offenders.

What I object to is O'Reilly using a powerful media platform to go after an individual, especially one who did his job. To repeat -- the prosecutor did not press for jail time and said rehabilitation was a possibility. The range of punishment for the two counts that the defendant was facing included straight probation to 20 years. Revenge is not listed as a criterion for sentencing. The defendant got a long probationary period, one year's house detention, mandatory counseling and other restrictions designed to keep him away from children until he is seen as not being a risk. Judge John Connor gave a sentence that was not out of the range of his discretion. He did his job.

The sentence may not have been popular. Whether or not it is just will take time.

As I indicated, I am an ardent opponent of the death penalty. I am just as strong an opponent of the death penalty as O'Reilly is an opponent of lighter sentences for those who sexually abuse children. The difference between O'Reilly and myself is that if I had the media platform he did, I would not be going after the judge in FL who upheld the jury's recommendation of the death penalty. The judge did his job. So did Connor.

My biggest problem with O'Reilly is that he has a lot of media power, but does not wield it with responsibility.

The following quote from Edward R. Murrow, from his McCarthy broadcast, sums up my position probably better than any other:

"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men — not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular."


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