By Phil Valentine
Talk Show Host
Cumulus Media Networks
NASHVILLE — We should’ve seen it coming but it was so insidious that we hardly noticed it. We had our antennae up for political correctness. I guess we never even factored in being afraid for our lives.
The recent events in the Middle East have given many of us pause to scratch our heads and marvel at the utter naivete of an administration whose embassy in Cairo issues a preemptive press release condemning a movie no one had ever heard of in hopes of appeasing the barbarians at the gate. Surely, we thought to ourselves, the Neville Chamberlain Society wasn’t running the whole country.
It’s one thing to fear for your life in the midst of radicals who would just as soon slit your throat as look at you but here in America? More specifically, in Sacramento?
This whole paper tiger of a movie, “Innocence of Muslims,” started out being an excuse – a scapegoat – but has now become its own cause against the infidels. Those of us whose whole existence hangs by the time-worn threads of the First Amendment naturally bristle when anyone gets too close to its fragile framework. Many a talk show host has walked that line. A few have crossed it. The penalty was sometimes your livelihood. The rules have changed. Now it’s your life.
I’ve often joked that the only two groups we in talk radio can get away with offending are the deaf and the Amish. Other offenses might require throwing yourself at the mercy of Jesse Jackson or apologizing to some LGBT group. Now there is an offense from which you may never come back and that is offending a Muslim.
The director of that horribly acted movie has had to take his family and hide thanks to CNN doing a little bird-dogging for the terrorists. Those of us who have stood and watched and heretofore never had a desire to burn a Koran can now hardly keep our trembling hands from the match. But most of us dare not for fear that some crazed Islamist extremist would be lurking in the night to brutally butcher our family.
That is the textbook definition of being terrorized. For, you see, terrorism’s target is not the dead. It’s the living. It’s to change behavior. It’s to change policy. It’s to force whole societies to relinquish long-held standards of freedom in order to comply with the radical wishes of the terrorists. And America has complied.
God bless Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty. They were suspended from their jobs with KSTE in Sacramento because they issued a challenge to their listeners to “flood the world with cartoons, movies and songs saying bad things about Muhammad until they finally grow up. In other words, free speech.” Indeed. Free speech. When our president publicly apologizes for a movie he has never even seen, we have lost free speech. When he asks YouTube to review the trailers of a movie critical of Islam, we’ve lost free speech.
When a radio company suspends talk show hosts because they strike back at those who threaten our basic freedoms, we’ve lost free speech.
But, at the end of the day, who can blame them? The comments of a couple of talk show hosts aren’t worth possibly being blown to bits. Right? In other words, we enjoy the luxury of our freedoms but, unlike our founders, we’re no longer willing to die for them. Which begs the question, do we really deserve them?
Aside from Armstrong and Getty, we should all be ashamed of ourselves.
Phil Valentine is a nationally syndicated talk show host with Cumulus Media Networks. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.