Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Idiot Speaks

It's being widely reported that Pat Robertson said the U.S. should assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Unfortunately, Robertson isn't just a nutcase walking around with a bottle of Ripple and a sign proclaiming "The End Is Near."

This idiot preacher who claims God talks to him is a fundamentalist Christian broadcaster with a huge following. He's even had presidential aspirations. More than that, he's considered to be a key leader of a not inconsiderable part of the conservative base, and some conservative Republican politicians think it's risky to cross him.

Robertson's primary soapbox is The 700 Club, a weekday TV program that claims to have a million viewers a day. Among his various loopy ideas is that followers should pray for vacancies on the Supreme Court. In practical terms, of course, that means someone has to die or at least become seriously ill. Odd sentiments for a Christian, it would seem.

Senior Administration officials and their spokesmen, along with major Christian religious leaders, have been quick to dissociate themselves from Robertson's statement. They should do more. They should say bluntly that he's a nutcase who doesn't speak for conservatives, Republicans, or the vast majority of Americans. I think that's true, and I'm sure that most of his followers are wondering if Ol' Pat has finally gone too far around the bend.

Of course, Hugo Chavez is also a nutcase, and what makes things worse is Venezuela is a significant country that provides about eight percent of the U.S. oil supply. However, Chavez and Venezuelans should rest easy. It's been illegal (by Executive Order) for the U.S. to engage in assassinations since the early 1970s, and we don't do it. Even if, as they say in Texas, someone "needs killin'."

The media, of course, is playing Robertson's idiotic statement for everything they can get out of it. This includes "thoughtful" analysis of every old incident they can dredge up in which the U.S. allegedly assassinated, attempted to assassinate, or covertly engineered the downfall of foreign leaders. Not only is this irrelevant, it undermines the government and the country at a time when we least need it. But, I guess that's the point.

Let's just step back and take a breath. Robertson is an idiot, and idiots say stupid things.


Anonymous The Bastard said...

Dismissing comments from this man as just words of an idiot is as reckless as the comment Pat made. This man is a leader and as a leader should be held accountable. Where is the boycott of ABC and it's sponsors for hosting this moron? Oh that's right he only suggested assasinating someone, that comes no where close to Microsoft supporting gay rights!!!

The plug needs to be pulled on this man. No boobs at the super bowl but you can go on a nationally televised TV show and declare the assassination of a foreign president? Where is the fine? Where is the FCC to investigate inappropriate use of the airwaves and broadcasting hate speech!!!!

6:33 AM, August 24, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

The funny thing about free speech is that it's, well, free. There are some problems with your argument, though. This wasn't "hate speech" as it's normally defined. But it certainly was stupid speech, and I think a boycott against media outlets that carry "The 700 Club" would be perfectly justified. That's also free speech, by the way.

10:39 AM, August 24, 2005  
Blogger Francesca said...

Yeah, what The Bastard said!

Unfortunately, Robertson has a lot of followers who probably agree with him and haven't thought this recent asinine and dangerous comment through.

Aren't comments like that (advocating an elected official's assasination) somehow criminal?

10:59 AM, August 24, 2005  
Anonymous Kevin said...


The simple fact of the matter is that Robertson DOES speak for a rather large swath of conservatives, the vast majority of whom are Republicans.

That certain administration officials and certain self-appointed conservatives leaders have mildly distanced themselves from ol' Pat doesn't mean squat. It's the stunningly obvious thing for them to do, politically.

If Robertson's viewership drops dramatically over this incident then and only then would I be willing to accept that what he said really wasn't inline with what a huge swath of conservative Republicans think. I won't hold my breath, though. I didn't see an appreciable drop in his popularity after he suggested that it might be a good idea to NUKE the State Department building in DC. Although that might have had more to do with his Southern base and the fact that the Sec. of State at the time was a black man.

1:55 PM, August 24, 2005  
Blogger carla said...

The funny thing about free speech is that it's, well, free. There are some problems with your argument, though. This wasn't "hate speech" as it's normally defined. But it certainly was stupid speech, and I think a boycott against media outlets that carry "The 700 Club" would be perfectly justified. That's also free speech, by the way.

Robertson's statements about Chavez are the same kind of free speech as Janet Jackson's nipple. Janet underwent a serious rightwing hazing, CBS was fined and congress held hearings. The FCC went absolutely apeshit.

Robertson gets off with a slap on the wrist and a hearty "it's free speech" while the White House gingerly tries to distance itself via Rumsfeld. It's noteworthy that the major religiopolitical organizations are mum as well.

3:15 PM, August 24, 2005  
Blogger Dr. Forbush said...

You know, George W Bush is an idiot and he says idiotic things, but we have to live with the things he says. It turns out that George W Bush admires Pat Robertson and sometimes gets ideas from him.

That’s why we need to care about what that idiot thinks. He talks to other idiots that influence the government and actually write the laws. The Right Wing majority owes its beginnings to this guy and his 700 Club. We need to make sure that the million viewers that vote the Republican block know that Robertson has a couple of screws loose. Maybe they will think twice next time that they go into the ballot booth.

They probably won't, so we need to make sure that the more moderate Republicans like yourself don't give carte blanche to the radicals in your party...

7:11 PM, August 24, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Kevin and Carla, I'm certainly not one to defend Robertson. I think he and his ilk, such as Jerry Falwell, are all idiots. The fact is, Robertson's following in recent years has declined somewhat, and that's encouraging. I don't really think that most of the people who could be called "followers" would agree with his suggestion that Chavez should be assassinated. Fundamentalists of that sort are already close to the edge, I know, but I don't think most of them would follow Robertson over the cliff on something like this.

Some major religious organizations actually have stated their disagreement and disapproval. As I said, I'd be more comfortable if they, and the Administration, would condemn his statement in very strong terms. He's a nutcase, and they should say so.

I agree that what he said is a lot worse than what Janet J. showed at the Super Bowl. To the extent that publicly licensed TV and radio outlets are involved, the FCC ought to be on them, too. But as far as simply saying it, that's free speech, and even idiots have it.

Francesca, I think a lawyer would tell you that mere speech, however disgusting, is protected. In order to break the law, one must incite a riot, engage in a conspiracy in which at least one conspirator takes an overt action, communicate a meaningful threat, etc.

7:13 PM, August 24, 2005  
Anonymous fred schoeneman said...

Yeah, Robertson's a tool, but who cares? Let him say what he wants. If Chavez takes umbrage, or wants to use it as political leverage, let him. But Pat doesn't speak for me, or for America, just himself.


9:41 PM, August 24, 2005  
Anonymous The Bastard said...

You know after my first comment I couldn't help but think if Pat got a call from Rove asking for a "favor" of sorts.

I mean it just seems like to much of a convenient distraction when all eyes should be on Rove, DeLay, Supreme Court nominations, getting rid of Reality TV.

To convenient I tell you!!

Quick ::duck:: here comes another distraction.........

12:46 AM, August 25, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Just as an update, Robertson has now apologized for his comments, after first trying to deny that he literally meant "assassination." Personally, I don't think he would have apologized if he hadn't gotten some heat from folks in his corner.

Dr. Forbush, I forgot to comment earlier on your observation that I'm a Republican. Wrong. Read more, and you'll know. I'd suggest reading Liberal or Conservative?

Bastard, thanks for your theory of diversions. Come to think about it, the tsunamis, all those hurricanes earlier in the year...I can see Rove's hand in all of that! (I'm trying to be funny; if you weren't, I'd suggest getting back on your medication.)

5:58 AM, August 25, 2005  
Blogger The Libertarian Republican said...

Jesse Jackson has aligned himself with a leader hostile to the United States and individual rights. He is seemingly oblivious to a constitutional right that has protected his civil rights-related speech over the decades of his public advocacy. And yes, Mr. Jackson, there is a difference between a foreign policy discussion and Janet Jackson's exposed breast vis-à-vis a “wardrobe malfunction” (although Mr. Jackson apparently believes that Robertson is a boob, he errs by claiming that the Super Bowl and 700 Club snafus should be treated the same way).

The United States has attempted to assassinate political leaders of other countries several times in the past. Indeed, the CIA attempted to kill Cuban dictator Fidel Castro eight different times between 1960 and 1965. So Robertson's statement is not outside the scope of discussion, it's just not good policy. Notice that everyone is saying how stupid Robertson is, but not explaining exactly WHY. That's because it's the mob mentality beating up on Robertson.

Whatever one may think of Robertson’s statement, which he later cowardly denied he said and then apologized for, defenders of freedom must stand by Robertson’s right to say such words and condemn any suggestion by Chavez or Jackson that Robertson ought to be held criminally liable for his statements.

More on this and cases analyzing Robertson's right to free speech, go to

12:09 PM, August 31, 2005  

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