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Private Economic Retaliation Against Speakers (Here, Commentators) Based on Their Speech:

As promised, here's another excerpt from my new Deterring Speech: When Is It "McCarthyism"? When Is It Proper? (93 Cal. L. Rev. 1413 (2005)); I omit the footnotes, but they're all in the PDF; if you wonder whether one of my assertion is well-supported, please check the footnotes first to see if they may answer your question. Last week, I blogged excerpts on economic retaliation against speakers who are entertainers; next week, I'll probably blog excerpts on economic retaliation against "ordinary employees," who are neither entertainers nor commentators:

Six days after the September 11 attacks, Bill Maher, host of the TV show Politically Incorrect, was discussing the oft-repeated claim that the terrorists were cowards. Not so, Maher said, agreeing with one of his guests, conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza. Maher went on:

But also, we should—we have been the cowards lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly. You're right.

This won Maher no friends. Several stations pulled his show briefly. Nine months later, the show was canceled, possibly partly because of this incident. And responding to the Maher incident, then-White House spokesman Ari Fleischer famously said that "all Americans . . . need to watch what they say, watch what they do." Fleischer almost certainly wasn't threatening legal retaliation against Maher—but I suspect that he welcomed the outcry against Maher's remarks and the nongovernmental retaliation that Maher faced.

Yet of course commentators have long known that they "need to watch what they say" on television or in print. Their employers, after all, are watching what the commentators say. The employers rightly want to avoid using their networks and their newspapers to spread ideas that they strongly disapprove of.

The employers may be quite willing to carry some views that differ from their own; even newspapers with clear editorial policies may want to have a mix of views on their op-ed page. But some views doesn't equal all views. Few media outlets want to carry—and place their own imprimatur on—all possible views, no matter how rude, despicable, or foolish the views may be. And of course the public also watches what commentators say, and the employers watch what the public thinks.

Certainly the experience of Jimmy "the Greek" Snyder, a CBS commentator fired for making racially offensive statements in a TV interview, made this clear. (Snyder's comments weren't explicitly anti-black—he condemned white athletes, not black ones—but they were seen as offensive chiefly because they asserted that blacks' athletic ability flows largely from slavery-era breeding practices.) Those who needed more evidence that commentators "need to watch what they say" got it when CBS News suspended Andy Rooney for allegedly remarking in a magazine interview that "most people are born with equal intelligence, but blacks have watered down their genes because the less intelligent ones are the ones that have the most children. They drop out of school early, do drugs and get pregnant."CBS rightly didn't want to be seen as approving such views, and thus the network took steps to dissociate itself from those who promoted them.

Ari Fleischer's remarks, in fact, criticized ethnic prejudice as well as perceived contempt for our soldiers. On September 17, 2001, Representative John Cooksey said in a radio interview, "If I see someone that comes [into an airport] that has a diaper on his head and a fan belt wrapped around the diaper on his head, that guy needs to be pulled over and checked." At a briefing a week later, a journalist questioned Fleischer about Cooksey's statement, asking whether the president had a message for "members of his party . . . about this issue" of anti-Arab speech. Fleischer said that the president was disturbed by Cooksey's remarks; and then, a few questions later, Fleischer again condemned Cooksey, at the same time as he condemned Maher:

[QUESTION:] As Commander-in-Chief, what was the President's reaction to television's Bill Maher, in his announcement that members of our armed forces who deal with missiles are cowards, while the armed terrorists who killed 6,000 unarmed are not cowards, for which Maher was briefly moved off a Washington television station? . . . .

MR. FLEISCHER: I'm aware of the press reports about what he said. I have not seen the actual transcript of the show itself. But assuming the press reports are right, it's a terrible thing to say, and [it's] unfortunate. And that's why—there was an earlier question about has the President said anything to people in his own party— they're reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do. This is not a time for remarks like that; there never is.

Now as it happens, Fleischer may have erred in relying on press reports, if those reports tracked the questioner's characterization of Maher's statement. Maher didn't condemn the "members of our armed forces who deal with missiles" as cowards. He said that we are cowards, and, in context, it seems likelier that he was condemning our then-existing practice— i.e., the country's practice—of fighting terrorists using missiles rather than ground troops. Maher, I think, got a bum rap for what he said; in the tense and emotional time following the attacks, his remarks were misinterpreted.

But other people did not get a bum rap. New York Times editorial cartoonist Ted Rall was rightly condemned for a cartoon that cruelly mocked the widows of those killed on September 11 and the widow of Daniel Pearl, the murdered Wall Street Journal reporter. The Times and other papers pulled that particular cartoon, and properly so. If I were an editor, I wouldn't run Rall's cartoons at all, given the nastiness he has proved himself capable of. This editorial decision is no more reminiscent of the "House Un-American Activities Committee" than is the firing of Snyder. Newspapers and TV networks are entitled not to carry views and speakers that they find contemptible.

A year later, MSNBC talk-show host Michael Savage got what he deserved, too. Responding to an insult from a caller, he asked whether the caller was "one of those sodomists"; when the man said yes, Savage said, "You should only get AIDS and die, you pig." MSNBC promptly fired him, and rightly so. Do such firings make commentators "watch what they say"? You bet. Yet media outlets such as MSNBC are nonetheless entitled to refuse to carry speech that they find repugnant.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Private Economic Retaliation Against Speakers (Here, Commentators) Based on Their Speech:
  2. Private Economic Retaliation Against Speakers (Here, Entertainers) Based on Their Speech:
Craig Oren (mail):
I don't think Ted Rall is a New York Times cartoonist; I associate his work with the San Francisco Chronicle. Every so often, the Times might on Sunday reproduce one of hs cartoons.
1.26.2006 7:09pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Uh-oh -- sorry about that; wish I'd corrected that before the article went to press .... Ted Rall's site claims that "He was one of the New York Times' most reprinted cartoonists in 1997, 1999 and 2001, but I agree that he was a cartoonist whose work sometimes ran in the New York Times, not precisely a "New York Times cartoonist." Craig, thanks for the correction.
1.26.2006 7:32pm
Splunge (mail):
Wait a minute, Professor, are you saying we should just let individuals make up their own minds about what kind of speech they like and don't like, and let them decide for themselves whether they want to support or discourage it with their buying, selling, or business decisions? Why, you might as well suggest we elevate the rights of mere individual persons over The Good of The People.

Besides, what will happen to our commitment to DiversityTM if we don't have some kind of effective government process in place to prevent Bad Speech and protect Good Speech?
1.26.2006 7:33pm
Kent Scheidegger (mail) (www):
I don't think Maher got a bum rap. If the network kept his show for another nine months, they were not dropping him for the remarks. Ultimately, it is all about ratings, and if a show isn't pulling the ratings that the network thinks another show can pull in that time slot, it gets dropped. If people tune out a commentator because they don't like what he says, that's how the marketplace of ideas works.

I found Maher's show offensive from the beginning because of its title. Politically Incorrect, by definition, is contrary to Politicially Correct, which is conformity to the view of the left-wing orthodoxy that dominates academia. The ironic term comes from an infamous memo by an educrat who was completely oblivious to his own hypocrisy and provided the smoking gun to prove what we had all known for some time. Left-winger Maher should get his own term to express his position and not confuse issues by using an existing term in a way contrary to its established meaning.
1.26.2006 7:46pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Now as it happens, Fleischer may have erred in relying on press reports, if those reports tracked the questioner's characterization of Maher's statement. Maher didn't condemn the "members of our armed forces who deal with missiles" as cowards. He said that we are cowards, and, in context, it seems likelier that he was condemning our then-existing practice— i.e., the country's practice—of fighting terrorists using missiles rather than ground troops. Maher, I think, got a bum rap for what he said; in the tense and emotional time following the attacks, his remarks were misinterpreted.
But also, we should—we have been the cowards lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly. You're right.

Mr. Maher seems to be comparing "those" who fly airplane into building containing non-combatant (not cowardly - ie. brave) with "those" who fire cruise missiles (safely) from 2,000 miles away into military targets (cowardly -ie. not brave). (Actually the Tomahawk's range is substantially less but it doesn't matter as it not like personally flying the missile into a building.)

Actually, Mr. Maher deserves his "rap", as he is definitely comparing the military act of launching missiles (cowards) with flying an airplane into a building (brave). I suppose he felt the same for the Japanese Kamikazi (brave) compared with the B-29 crews that bombed Japanese cities from high out of range of most Jap AAA and fighters (cowards) or Navy battleship crews who fired their 16" batteries some 25 miles away (cowards) into Jap gun emplacement with substantially less range on an island being invading (brave). At least the Kamikazes attacked military targets, unlike the "brave" al Qaeda (most of whom probably didn't know they were on a one-way trip).

Bill Maher is an idiot, with the "moral compass" of a "mushroom".
1.26.2006 7:57pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Why, you might as well suggest we elevate the rights of mere individual persons over The Good of The People.

Are you suggesting that "rights of mere individual persons" may be exercised counter to "The Good of The People"?
1.26.2006 8:01pm
Steve Plunk (mail):
Since when is it cowardly for a country (us) to enact foreign policy through military action while minimizing it's own casualties? Cruise missiles were designed to accomplish military goals while keeping our people out of harms way. That's not cowardly, it's humane and prudent.

Maher spoke without thinking just as junior high student might. That is why he deserved the backlash, he just didn't think.
1.26.2006 8:04pm
strategichamlet (mail):
Prof. Volokh - When you talked about economic retaliation for entertainer's speech you talked exclusively about entertainers who were popular and then suffered for things they said outside of the context of their work. I am curious as to your thoughts on when retailers/distributers drop entertainers for their actual work. This would seem more troubling since in the first case the entertainer has to already be a sucessful celebrity for people to respond to their comments, but in the case I laid out if any company with an ideology controls a significant market share of the retail/distribution of books/film/music/etc. they can close the gate on certain types of speech, rendering it unprofitable before the public has a chance to voice their opinion. Obviously this has happened with Blockbuster refusing to stock films that do not have a MPAA R rating or lower or Walmart stocking censored versions of cds. To me the most troubling part is that customers don't always know they are buying a "sanitized" product. Obviously this is legal, but I find it troubling especially considering the continuing merger of the media industry into fewer and fewer companies. Do you address this type of speech restriction in your paper? What are your thoughts on it?
1.26.2006 8:09pm
The NJ Annuitant (mail):
It is absurd to think that any member of the public needs to tune in to commentators that are objectionable or simply dull. All of our actions have consequences in the minds of other people. We all have the right to vote with our dollars and with our time.
1.26.2006 8:11pm
Pooh (www):
As a longtime Maher viewer, I think the point he was trying to make was about the overly dismissive nature of the "cowardly" tag. As well as demonstrating that it depends on whose ox is being gored. Were the hijackers actions evil, egregious, unconscionable, barbaric and utterly indefensible? Obviously. But personally cowardly? No.
1.26.2006 10:34pm
llamasex (mail) (www):
I find it a bit funny to have all this from someone who sits behind the protection of tenure. As well as someone who hosted the posts of someone who posted behind a false name until he got tenure.

I don't disagree with the meat of what you say, but there does seem to be something wrong with organzied efforts to attack shows/people. Alot of the time you have pseudo-outrage brought on by people who aren't viewers of the show. Just people who have political goals of trying to silence the "other side".

I think there is a difference between Joe Bob watching Bill Maher, hearing something offensive, and going I am going to write a letter as well as stop watching his show. Compared to Tag=along-annie who goes to silencethoseleftist.com and sees tonights target is Bill Maher write letters to ABC to get him off the air. The latter as you admit lead to Maher getting a "bum rap".

Now I don't think I would go as far as suggesting legal protection for commentors, I just think "McCarthyism" comes from organized efforts, not personal outrage. That is the key difference.
1.26.2006 10:38pm
unhyphenatedconservative (mail):
Pooh,
The terrorists thought that their actions would end them up in heaven, being serviced by dozens of virgins. Their deaths were not in any sense a sacrifice (as in actually protesting against their corrupt leaders and getting thrown in a dungeon). So in what way were they not cowardly?
1.27.2006 12:29am
ivy (mail):
There's one thing I've noticed that seems to be rarely discussed. And that is when Members of Congress criticize commentators/citizens for statements made. For example, I remember one time when Harold Ford, Jr. appeared on one of the news talk shows. If I remember correctly, he was on to talk about Rush Limbaugh's statements about Donovan McNabb (at least I think it was McNabb.) Ford flatly stated that Limbaugh should be fired. At the time, I wondered if that was appropriate. Certainly, it seemed okay for Ford to criticize or disagree with Limbaugh's statement. But is it crossing the line for a member of Congress -- a branch of the federal government -- to call for a private citizen to be fired from a job for such statements? It seems to me that it's fairly routine for members of Congress to do that -- yet no one ever seems to notice or question whether that is inappropriate.
1.27.2006 12:31am
Wintermute (www):
In many of these instances, there is at least a grain of truth in what is said, which in fact is what gives these statements the power to offend rather than being easily dismissible as nonsensical expressions of pure lunacy.

The urge to suppress speech rather than address it is an ugly and evil expression of intellectual insecurity; but then, history is replete with such behavior on this, the planet of the apes.

Perhaps it is better to have media outlets with different philosophies, tolerant of bold expressions of view, rather than only "mainstream," "objective" media which often prove to be intolerant of ideas outside what is currently "politically correct." Certainly we have had partisan organs in our nation's past; their utility was ultimately endorsed by no less that Thomas Jefferson. I have been pondering this issue myself lately; viz. my recent posts Journalism 101 and Partisan Parrots &Trolls.

A truly liberal network mirroring Fox News is probably overdue, leaving a tripartite setup with a home for everyone; and individuals can channel-surf among them, hear it all, and decide "what is truth" for themselves.
1.27.2006 1:45am
Splunge (mail):
Are you suggesting that "rights of mere individual persons" may be exercised counter to "The Good of The People"?

Yes.
1.27.2006 7:02am
Brutus:
Were the hijackers actions evil, egregious, unconscionable, barbaric and utterly indefensible? Obviously. But personally cowardly? No.

Hijacking a plane full of unarmed civilians and flying it into a building full of unarmed civilians strikes me as extremely cowardly. The Fedayeen who charged our tanks and Bradleys in Iraq - those guys had balls.
1.27.2006 7:42am
Bob Bobstein (mail):
Hijacking a plane full of unarmed civilians and flying it into a building full of unarmed civilians strikes me as extremely cowardly.

I don't like Bill Maher, and I like terrorism even less. But as Prof. Volokh points out, Maher was agreeing with Concerned Alumni of Princeton alum Dinesh D'Souza on the point that however atrocious their actions were, the terrorists were not timid or cowardly. It takes some courage to rob a bank, too, it doesn't mean it's something we all should or do uphold as a model. Regardless of the motivations or ideology underlying it, it take some degree of individual courage to storm a plane, then steer it into a building.

I always thought Jimmy the Greek got a bad rap-- wasn't he just throwing stuff out in responding to a question as to why black athletes are so ubiquitous at the highest levels? I might be misremembering this, or what exactly he said. And wow, Andy Rooney and Michael Savage are off their rockers.
1.27.2006 8:47am
farmer56 (mail):
Look. Bill has a boss. The boss covers his own ass. Bill is stupid. Being on TV is not a right. Bill shit in his own nest. If bill is insured his position on TV. So am I. When do I get mine?

And....

Using Bill's logic, (which he never stepped away from) strapping a bomb to your chest and blowing up childred waiting to go to school at a bus stop makes you a hero.
1.27.2006 9:05am
Bob Bobstein (mail):
Using Bill's logic... blowing up childred... makes you a hero.

That's where you're wrong(est), farmer56. While courage is generally a positive thing, it can be put to use to a negative end. As I wrote above, it takes some amount of courage to rob a bank, but that doesn't mean that robbing a bank is something we all accept as good. Maher never called the terrorists "heroes," he just agreed with D'Souza's point that they cannot be described as cowards.
1.27.2006 9:14am
strategichamlet (mail):
llamasex - I agree 100%

farmer56 - "hero" is not the antonym of "coward", "fearless" would be closer. If the terrorists are so cowardly then why are we afraid of them?
1.27.2006 9:18am
farmer56 (mail):
So let me get this right. I must be having a bad day with anologies

I am couragous to grab a girl in a dark parking lot and rape her. But, a coward, to shot her with a rifle, from a mile away?

Did I get Bills thought right now? Thats what he said, right?
1.27.2006 9:45am
Neal Lang (mail):
As a longtime Maher viewer, I think the point he was trying to make was about the overly dismissive nature of the "cowardly" tag. As well as demonstrating that it depends on whose ox is being gored. Were the hijackers actions evil, egregious, unconscionable, barbaric and utterly indefensible? Obviously. But personally cowardly? No.

Perhaps it might have helped if Maher had first made the point that the terrorists were "evil, egregious, unconscionable, barbaric and utterly indefensible" before he went on compare their "bravery" to of military's "cowardice". I still believe he is a moral midget, and it gripes me that if I want to watch the re-runs of the "Sopranos" I must finance his inane BS.
1.27.2006 10:37am
Neal Lang (mail):
As a longtime Maher viewer, I think the point he was trying to make was about the overly dismissive nature of the "cowardly" tag. As well as demonstrating that it depends on whose ox is being gored. Were the hijackers actions evil, egregious, unconscionable, barbaric and utterly indefensible? Obviously. But personally cowardly? No.

Perhaps it might have helped if Maher had first made the point that the terrorists were "evil, egregious, unconscionable, barbaric and utterly indefensible" before he went on compare their "bravery" to of military's "cowardice". I still believe he is a moral midget, and it gripes me that if I want to watch the re-runs of the "Sopranos" I must finance his inane BS.
1.27.2006 10:37am
Neal Lang (mail):
Now I don't think I would go as far as suggesting legal protection for commentors, I just think "McCarthyism" comes from organized efforts, not personal outrage. That is the key difference.

Of course, history and Venona Project intercepts (NSA Surveillance of the 40s, 50s and 60s) proved that "Tailgunner Joe" was right. BTW, the Hollywood "Blacklist" was a private, industry measure that Joe McCarthy had little or nothing to do with.

I get the impression from many here that the idea of "Free Speech and Press" applies only to the unpatriotic. Where did you ever get that idea from? Your college professors, perhaps?
1.27.2006 10:46am
Neal Lang (mail):
But is it crossing the line for a member of Congress -- a branch of the federal government -- to call for a private citizen to be fired from a job for such statements? It seems to me that it's fairly routine for members of Congress to do that -- yet no one ever seems to notice or question whether that is inappropriate.

When you consider that Congress controls the budget of the FCC, I would suggest that a congressman's musings carrying much more weight with ABC than "Joe Six-Pack", when comes to hosts on "Monday Night Football".

BTW, I thought Limbaugh was way off base in his evaluation of Donovan McNabb was totally wrong - as this great QB proved by the way heroically played despite a painful injury that could have lead to "career ending" complications. That said, like asses, everyone has their opinions that they are entitled to, including Rush. Maybe if ABC kept him doing the color for Monday Night Football it wouldn't be leaving them next year.
1.27.2006 10:57am
Neal Lang (mail):
The urge to suppress speech rather than address it is an ugly and evil expression of intellectual insecurity; but then, history is replete with such behavior on this, the planet of the apes.

Unfortunately toleration of the inane opinions of Bill Mahr "is an ugly and evil expression of" a masochistic personality.
A truly liberal network mirroring Fox News is probably overdue, leaving a tripartite setup with a home for everyone; and individuals can channel-surf among them, hear it all, and decide "what is truth" for themselves.

If it is "a truly [Leftist Elitist] network" you are seeking, have tried CNN, MSNBC or PBS. BTW, the term "Liberal" has been usurped by the "Leftist Elitists". The fact is that our Founding Fathers were the "Liberals" of their albeit "Classical Liberalism". In fact, in 1775 in the New World the conservatives were known as Tories.
CLASSICAL LIBERALISM: A term used to describe a political philosophy commonly held in nineteenth-century England and France but now undergoing a renaissance in the United States. Classical liberals advocate free markets, a vibrant array of nongovernmental institutions (such as civic groups, schools, churches, etc.), and minimal tax-financed government services. Classical liberals firmly believe that both persons and property should be protected from physical harm. They also emphasize the strict enforcement of contracts. Classical liberals, following Lord Acton, consider liberty to be the highest political value but not to the point of becoming a worldview. Examples of classical liberal thinkers include Frederic Bastiat*, Lord Acton*, Alexis de Tocqueville*, John Locke*, John Stuart Mill*, and Friedrich Hayek*. From: Dictionary of Key Terms for a Free and Virtuous Society

Those Patriot "Classical Liberals" would have told you, incidentally, that the truth is unchanging and did not depend on the network for its veracity. In fact, they founded this Nation on the bedrock of "Self-evident truths" - something that we, especially a Supreme Court majority, seem to have forgotten.
1.27.2006 11:15am
strategichamlet (mail):
I think Rush was in the studio. It was Dennis Miller who did color for MNF and was canned after a year. As I recall neither was at all well liked since they weren't particularly knowledgable about football. Miller was a failed attempt to bring more appeal to MNF after it had been declining in viewership for years. Also note that MNF is going to ESPN (owned by ABC) while ABC gets sunday night football, previously on ESPN so all we're talking about is an in-house night swap.
I agree with you about McNabb though, the fact that he led his team to 5 straight playoff appearences including 4 straight NFC championship games and 1 superbowl appearence while having substandard offensive skill players should be able to quiet any accusations about his talent or leadership (and would if he played anywhere but Philadelphia).
1.27.2006 11:21am
Joshua:
Bob Bobstein wrote:
I always thought Jimmy the Greek got a bad rap-- wasn't he just throwing stuff out in responding to a question as to why black athletes are so ubiquitous at the highest levels? I might be misremembering this, or what exactly he said.
My problem with Jimmy the Greek's observation is not that it was racist (which it really wasn't). My problem with it is that he was apparently endorsing human eugenics (i.e. selective breeding) as a legitimate means of improving the species (or at least the athletic subset of the species). As Prof. Volokh pointed out, Snyder did not intend his remark to be either a condemnation of eugenics, or of blacks who were (however involuntarily) engaged in it. He intended it as a criticism of present-day white athletes for not engaging in eugenics themselves.

At the time of Snyder's remark, the eugenics angle was mostly ignored amid the predictable cries of racism, but it is at least as troubling. Even if Snyder's remark did not warrant his firing over the latter, it did over the former. CBS did the right thing for the wrong reason, IMO.
1.27.2006 11:22am
Neal Lang (mail):
Are you suggesting that "rights of mere individual persons" may be exercised counter to "The Good of The People"?

Yes.

I challenge you to show where one Founding Father agrees with your contention.
1.27.2006 11:25am
Neal Lang (mail):
The Fedayeen who charged our tanks and Bradleys in Iraq - those guys had balls.

Actually, after witnessing the effects of the first to try such tactics, the rest were insane:
insanity, n.

1. Persistent mental disorder or derangement.
2. Unsoundness of mind sufficient in the judgment of a civil court to render a person unfit to maintain a contractual or other legal relationship or to warrant commitment to a mental health facility.
3. In most criminal jurisdictions, a degree of mental malfunctioning considered to be sufficient to relieve the accused of legal responsibility for the act committed.

As Forrest Gump's mom said: "Stupid is as stupid does!"
1.27.2006 11:31am
Joshua:
strategichamlet: Actually Sunday Night Football is moving to NBC, not ABC. Super Bowl XL will actually be ABC's final NFL telecast; starting next year Disney's NFL presence will shift entirely to ESPN - and neither Miller nor Limbaugh will be anywhere in sight (thank goodness).
1.27.2006 11:35am
Bob Bobstein (mail):
Thanks, Joshua, for the perspective on Jimmy the Greek. I evidently forgot (or never got) exactly what he was trying to get at with his comments.
1.27.2006 11:40am
farmer56 (mail):
Not quite sure how this thread evolved into pro football, but, I'll play.

Miller, and Limbaugh, both have a great grasp of the game. qote me some things that would prove otherwise. The reason neither lasted on air is a simple reason. Neither would bow at the feet of persons like Terry Bradshaw, and their ilk. Someone like a Bradshaw did their past job in a great fasion, but, Hey they are not really knowageble of what the profess to speak of.

I loved MNF with the 'great' Howard. I loved during the time that Alex Karras was doing the color. That was delicious.

Examples;

Howard; "Well we are midway through the third quarter and they are looking at 3rd down and 8. I see a screen pass to their great tight end."

Karras; Ahh, no, Howard, if you have been paying attention you would have noticed that the left tackle has been dominating his man for the whole game. I'm thinking pulling the right gaurd to kick out the linebaker will at least go for a first down and could be broken for a big gainer.

Friendly banter

Ball snapped. pull the left gaurd kickout the linebaker gain 33 yards.

Why do commentators get fired? Pissing in the stars drinks. If you had a desire to understand the game of football, listen to Alex Karras on MNF He just had no desire to bow at the ego of pampas asses.
1.27.2006 12:17pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Neal Lang wrote:

Perhaps it might have helped if Maher had first made the point that the terrorists were "evil, egregious, unconscionable, barbaric and utterly indefensible" before he went on compare their "bravery" to of military's "cowardice". I still believe he is a moral midget, and it gripes me that if I want to watch the re-runs of the "Sopranos" I must finance his inane BS.


OT: why not just buy the series on DVD? It costs about as much for a season of the Sopranos $40-50 as it does for a month of cable plus you can (re)watch them at your leisure without having to finance Maher's garbage.
1.27.2006 12:24pm
Sigivald (mail):
Farmer: Don't confuse "courage" with "honor" or "goodness".

It is more courageous to rape someone at knifepoint than to shoot them from half a mile away, because the former is a greater risk to your life than the latter; she might shoot you.

In the case you outlined, of course, neither case is honorable or good; but this does not affect the matter of one act taking more physical courage than the other.

That was, as I understand it, the actual basis of Maher's complaint. (Though I submit that it's not actually cowardly to fire missiles, but certainly it takes more physical courage to fly a plane into something, as the former is at effectively no risk to the actor, and the latter will result in certain death.)

I repeat, the matter of courage vs. cowardice is not the same as good vs. bad, or right vs. wrong.

(Unrelatedly, there's an even better reason for a paper to not carry Ted Rall's cartoons - they're not very good, on any level, and are unlikely to gain one any readers at all.)
1.27.2006 12:29pm
CJColucci (mail):
How much more mileage can we get out of a law review article that, for all its footnotes, says nothing more than Yogi Berra said: "If people don't want to come to the ballpark, you can't stop them."?
1.27.2006 12:42pm
Bob Bobstein (mail):
farmer56: Alex Karras on MNF... had no desire to bow at the ego of pampas asses.

I thought Cosell was Jewish, not Argentine.
1.27.2006 12:51pm
Neal Lang (mail):
I think Rush was in the studio. It was Dennis Miller who did color for MNF and was canned after a year. As I recall neither was at all well liked since they weren't particularly knowledgable about football.

As I recall Howard Cosell originally did color for Monday Night Football from its inception until 1983. Of course, the fact that he was even less knowledgable about football than either Miller or Rush didn't stymie his career. People who enjoyed and had some appreciation of the game would turn down the sound, in order not get upset by Howard's evident lack of knowledge. Despite this handicap, Howard Cosell enjoyed a long and rewarding career on Monday Night Football.

As far as verbal gaffs go, especially ones with a potential racial implication, I don't think any could top Howard Cosell's description of an exciting play in a Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys game when he referred to Redskins wide receiver Alvin Garrett, who happens to be black, as a "little monkey": "Look at that little monkey run!" This cost Howard his job on MNF after months intense public pressure over the offhand comment.

Personally, I found the banter between Howard Cosell and any number of former football player hosts, such as "Dandy Don" Meridith, to be pretty humorous. My favorite involved Howard and former Detroit Lions defensive lineman Alex Karras (MNF color host 1974-1976 - 4 time Pro Bowler). After a particular savage hit, one of the players was slow getting up and Cosell made the "off the cuff" remark: "That didn't hurt him.", to which Karras immediately responded: "Howard, how the hell would you know!" In fact, maybe that is real secret to Howard Cosell's Monday Night Football success - he provided necessary "comic relief".
1.27.2006 12:53pm
Neal Lang (mail):
I thought Cosell was Jewish, not Argentine.

Not only Jewish, but a lawyer as well. BTW, why can't a Jew also be Argentinian?
1.27.2006 12:58pm
farmer56 (mail):
Sigivald

You are tying to make an excuse for a person that is neither smart, or funny.

Your basis is that dying is a courageous act. No dying is not courageous. Dying in the defense of someone, or something, or some principle, that is courage. For you to equate killing a plane load of people and the men women and children that are targeted has not a single thread of courage.

How can you think of the lose of life on sept 11th and attach the word courage.

My sister-in-law just lost a battle with cancer. She showed courage. A Close friend died trying to rescue a man from a sewer pit. He had courage. It would be best if you would stop trying to equate the premeditated murders of innocents with courage.

I do not understand your point. Please. do explain. I was going to say stop posting , because I am so upset. But, Please , do explain to me how you put murder and courage in the same sentence?
1.27.2006 1:00pm
Neal Lang (mail):
OT: why not just buy the series on DVD? It costs about as much for a season of the Sopranos $40-50 as it does for a month of cable plus you can (re)watch them at your leisure without having to finance Maher's garbage.

I'm too cheap, I guess! Do your realize how many seasons there are? When you consider the monthly cost of HBO - well - it would one heck of lot of monthly "HBO" fees to offset the complete series. I suppose that's what comes from being a "beancounter" by trade!
1.27.2006 1:04pm
farmer56 (mail):
Hey Bob!

I guess I will take my inability to type, any day, rather than your inability to recognize a typo.
1.27.2006 1:05pm
farmer56 (mail):
Hey Bob what about my point? Did you have thought? Or, your just a language teacher want to be, that lost your read pencil. MY point. Alex Karass was one of the best football commentators of all time. He did not last because he crossed paths with the 'great' Howard, and it cost him a job.
1.27.2006 1:09pm
Jeek:
the terrorists were not timid or cowardly. It takes some courage to rob a bank, too, it doesn't mean it's something we all should or do uphold as a model. Regardless of the motivations or ideology underlying it, it take some degree of individual courage to storm a plane, then steer it into a building.

No, because they knew that airline doctrine was NOT TO RESIST the hijacking. How much courage does it take to take control of people you know won't fight back (and in the case of the people in the buildings, can't fight back)?

It takes no great courage to kill yourself, especially if you believe you're going to paradise as a result. Most of the hijackers were just along for the ride, anyway - they went where the pilot took them.
1.27.2006 1:21pm
Bob Bobstein (mail):
Jeek: It takes no great courage to kill yourself,

All that Maher said was that he agreed with D'Souza that the terrorists were "not cowardly." I think we'd both agree that, if some of the terrorists had decided at the last moment to turn and leave the airport, that could be classified as a loss of nerve, as wussing out (assuming it wasn't the result of a moral epiphany).

Certainly, neither of us would put "courageous" as one of the top 100 adjectives to describe the 9/11 terrorists.

farmer56: I guess I will take my inability to type, any day, rather than your inability to recognize a typo.

I was making a small joke, I didn't expect or want you to take offense.

farmer56: Did you have thought? Or, your just a language teacher want to be, that lost your read pencil. MY point.

Umm, you may want to try decaf before posting next time. As to YOUR point, Karras was before my time. I absorbed a deep dislike for Cosell from my dad, so I'll agree with you that Karras was much better.
1.27.2006 1:58pm
Neal Lang (mail):
It is more courageous to rape someone at knifepoint than to shoot them from half a mile away, because the former is a greater risk to your life than the latter; she might shoot you.

Really! I never considered a rapist pretty cowardly, as I did a petty thief or armed robber. Frankly, it takes way more corage to get and keep a job, or clean up your act so you can interact with opposite sex in situations not involving a weapon.

As for the courage to "shoot (someone) from half a mile away", before you dismiss the courage that it takes to be a military sniper I suggest it might be appropriate to read something about it. I recommend: Marine Sniper Charles W. Henderson -the story of Marine Sniper, Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock, exploits in Vietnam. The "pucker factor" for Marine "Scout/Snipers" is quite major and few men have 'nads to even try it.
1.27.2006 2:00pm
Neal Lang (mail):
I absorbed a deep dislike for Cosell from my dad, so I'll agree with you that Karras was much better.

Interesting, my dad, who played "ironman football" in the 1920s for the Frankfurt (Philadelphia, PA) "Yellowjackets", the team that represented Philadelphia in the NFL before the "Eagles", during the era of the Pottsville (PA) "Maroons", the Canton (OH) Bulldogs, NY Titans and many of the team you would recognize today - was someone who would turn down the volumn on his TV set in order to watch Monday Night Football without the distraction of Howard Cosell.
1.27.2006 2:11pm
farmer56 (mail):
Bob; Sorry, I accept. I will try the decaf thing. Just a few samll points. 9-11 and the courage of the murderers have not a single breath of similarity.

The vast majority get a paycheck from someone. That someone has the right to refuse you a paycheck.

Bill's paycheck was largely dependent on what the 'people' thought. This is not a freedom of thought fight. It is a piss off your boss and get fired, fight.

And, I so wish I had the ability to get to you a game or two of Cosell and Karras were teamed up. TO me. And it must be 'just me' I find this to be some of the funniest TV ever.
1.27.2006 2:49pm
farmer56 (mail):
Boy I hate this.

You are defending Bill Mahr. Bill did use the word curagous to define the the muderous cowards that killed more than 3000 people. Bill called those animals more curagous than those men and women of our armed forces that risk their lives everyday do defend your and my kids. Those are his words. Bill should cough up an apology. he has not. Bill thinks that the persons defending our butts are cowards. No! He actually said that the men and women denfending my children are a coward, and hijacking a plane and killing thousand of innocent people are curagous.

Wow this is so hard to see in print. It does define how moraly bankrut some people have become.
1.27.2006 3:07pm
dweeb:
OK, on this coward v. courageous thing. For one minute set aside moral judgment about the mission in question.
Assuming all other factors (who is the target to be blown up, and why) are equal, which is more brave - pushing a button from a position of relative safety, or riding the delivery system right into the target? Instead of terrorists, recall Slim Pickens struggling in the bombay of a B-52 to un-jam the doors, and then having no choice but to ride the bomb down. In terms of sheer willingness to risk one's own safety for a cause, REGARDLESS OF THE MORALITY OF THE CAUSE, the terrorists were willing to accept more personal risk than our pilots are. As to whether that's more righteous or smarter (NOT!), I don't recall whether Mahr actually said anything about that.
1.30.2006 1:53pm