Letters to the Boston editor, February 3, 2006

Shrill O'Reilly
By PHOENIX LETTERS  |  February 2, 2006

With left-of-center entities like Air America performing below expectations in the marketplace and newspapers with progressive editorial pages like the Boston Globe seeing declining circulation, the only way for liberals to get their message to a significant audience is to go on conservative-leaning shows like The O’Reilly Factor and Hannity and Colmes (see “Hostile Encounters,” January 20). It makes sense for liberals to try to get in on the action, positioning themselves as the “loyal opposition.” Even lefties who can’t stand O’Reilly understand that they can have more influence as his sparring partner than they can in an op-ed piece published in a newspaper that has lost its influence. In so many ways, it seems that going on O’Reilly’s show is the only way that liberalism can remain a “Factor.”

D. R. Tucker
Boston

Mark Jurkowitz gives O’Reilly much more credit than he deserves. I don’t find the tall but clearly unathletic O’Reilly “physically imposing.” And given the massive amount of help he gets from the current administration, billionaire Rupert Murdoch, cronies, false opponents, and an increasingly undereducated and misinformed public, it appears more accurate to regard him as just another foot soldier for government-promoted misdirection, inequity, and intolerance.

Moreover, the powers-that-be have orchestrated cable television programming so that viewers’ thoughts can be shaped in uninterrupted turns by the likes of O’Reilly, Chris Matthews, Sean Hannity, Joe Scarborough, and a cadre of so-called “analysts” and “experts” who seem to appear interchangeably on all of the shows. Things are so contrived that even the unpopular Tucker Carlson and Robert Novak can switch from one “competing” network to another precisely because they collude with the dominating gust, while the more-humane Phil Donahue and Aaron Brown disappear, unable to find new ports. Few folks note the intentionally consistent meta-message across these shows that favors increasing federal-government powers, seemingly endless criminalization efforts, ever more police and militarization, Christianization (often labeled “democratization”), and fierce anti-libertarianism.

Ivan Smason, PhD, JD
Santa Monica, CA

Right on rights
Politically speaking, I’m pretty conservative. I think neither Roberts nor Alito are that right-wing. Ironically, when I’m at the police academy for my annual in-service training, most instructors think I’m the most liberal cop they’ve ever taught. They’ve seen me in the classroom standing up for both the First and Fourth Amendments. I drive the instructors crazy with my liberal views on rights. But civil libertarian Harvey Silverglate seems all bent out of shape over Trial Court chief justice Robert Mulligan’s perceived censorship in the courtroom (“The Mayor Starts Peace With More Speech,” January 20).

I agree with Silverglate that Mayor Menino’s plan to seize those “Stop Snitchin’” T-shirts was both a dumb and unconstitutional suppression of speech. I also agree that the answer to bad speech is good speech. However, plans by Chief Justice Mulligan to ban the T-shirts from the state’s courtrooms are hardly unconstitutional. If folks want to wear ’em when they go shopping, that’s fine. But if you walk into a courtroom wearing one to disrupt court proceedings and intimidate other folks, the ban makes all the sense in the world. The same goes for cell phones with cameras.

Mulligan acted rightly. This is not state-sanctioned censorship, it is basic common sense. I agree with the mayor’s decision not to seize the T-shirts. People have a right to sell and buy them. This is still America. The mayor and Mulligan seem to be protecting the same rights. His honor the mayor gets it, Silverglate says, and his honor the chief justice gets it — so says me.

Sergeant Sal J. Giarratani
Metro Boston DMH Police Department
North Quincy

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