Glenn Beck has certainly gotten a lot of disrespect on this blog (less than he certainly deserves), but it’s probably not particularly helpful to attack individuals in such a manner. He’s just a television pundit, after all. I have to admit, though, it’s really easy to do. And, unfortunately, he reaches a lot of people with his faux libertarianism (shooting untried suspects in the head has nothing to do with the philosophy). That could make him a potentially dangerous person, so it might be fair to say his statements deserve careful attention and scrutiny.
crying talking head has, in the past, criticized international law. Opines Beck, “Once we sign our rights over to international law, the Constitution is officially dead. When you say things like, ‘We are not going to put the Constitution behind international law,’ you say that in the international court, if you say that on the floor of the United Nations, you are a freak show.” So what Beck is arguing is that when we adhere to international law and regulations, we are ignoring our U.S. Constitution. He continues, “Let me tell you something. When you can’t win with the people, you bump it up to the courts. When you can’t win with the courts, you bump it up to the international level.” Words of wisdom? In literature, you’d call that foreshadowing.
So what does Mr. Beck do when he doesn’t like a satirical Web site about him being published on the Internet? You probably guessed it: he filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization to have the site taken down. The site in question is http://glennbeckrapedandmurderedayounggirlin1990.com, a purely satirical Web site that mocks Mr. Beck’s style of argumentation. Writes the authors of the Web site, “We’re not accusing Glenn Beck of raping and murdering a young girl in 1990 – in fact, we think he didn’t! But we can’t help but wonder, since he has failed to deny these horrible allegations.” Perhaps we could argue that it’s in bad taste, but I think it’s abundantly clear that it is Constitutionally protected speech. Mr. Beck and his lawyers know this too. That’s why they aren’t filing a libel suit against the Web site’s owners. They know the authors of this site are Constitutionally protected. They know they wouldn’t “win with the courts.” So, as Mr. Beck declared with great prophetic wisdom, “you bump it up to the international level.” Yeah, that’s one way to stifle free speech you don’t like.
As an example of the type of parodying the site does, here is what Mr. Beck said in an interview with Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim in U.S. Congress: “No offense and I know Muslims, I like Muslims, I’ve been to mosques, I really don’t think Islam is a religion of evil. I think it’s being hijacked, quite frankly. With that being said, you are a Democrat. You are saying let’s cut and run. And I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview because what I feel like saying is, sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies. And I know you’re not. I’m not accusing you of being an enemy. But that’s the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way.” Well, perhaps, posits this Web site, Mr. Beck should prove to us that he has not “raped and killed a young girl in 1990.” They know he didn’t and aren’t accusing him of it, they just want to get to the bottom of it. Of course that’s not really the case. No one actually believes that, as the site explains; it’s created to show how “Glenn Beck definitely uses tactics like this to spread lies and misinformation.” As Mr. Beck asks, “What’s wrong with asking questions?” In the legal response to Mr. Beck’s complaint, the Web site’s lawyer writes that the site “has merely presented Mr. Beck with a mirror. If Beck does not like what he sees, the Respondent is not to blame.” (The Web site’s legal response is down due to traffic; but if you do get the chance to read it, do so. It’s quite genius.)
On a much serious but unrelated note that deals with rape, however, the Huffington Post published a story that I found quite disappointing. The Huffington Post points to a horrific story of a young woman, Jamie Leigh Jones, who was gang-raped by her coworkers at KBR, Inc., a subsidiary of Halliburton. She was then locked in a shipping container for over a day, without food or water. KBR/Halliburton’s defense was that the horrendous attack was considered an injury “arising in the workplace” and was therefore necessary to be adjudicated through private arbitration rather than through courts. The Department of Justice agreed. In September, however, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Jones. Al Fraken, the new U.S. Senator for Minnesota, passed a new amendment, heeding Jones’ calls, that calls for punishing contractors that “restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.” It passed, but not unanimously. Thirty Senators (all Republican, surprise) voted against the amendment to Defense Appropriations bill. The Huffington Post link lists those Senators. They really ought to be ashamed.