Adam Baldwin linked to this MSNBC clip with a succinct tweet, “Spot the morons/cowards.”
All due respect to Adam, but his understatement is almost a scandal. We’ve posted a lot of incredibly stupid sound bites from MSNBC and other places around here, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a dumber exchange. I don’t know who the guy is making the astoundingly obtuse comparison between Jerry Falwell and a bunch of cold-blooded murderers but, as incandescently stupid as that analogy is, it’s eclipsed by Wagner’s smug, knowing nods as he talks. If I follow her response correctly, she’s saying that we focus on anti-Muslim blasphemy disproportionately because it is so much more “controversial” and “incendiary.”
Well, uh, yes. I guess that’s true. But the reason mockery of Islam is more controversial is because people get killed over it! To compare Falwell’s lawsuit to these murderers isn’t just astoundingly, jaw-droppingly, stupid. Doing so misses just about every important moral, legal and factual distinction that one can miss. But Wagner doesn’t think that’s good enough. She had to take it a half-step farther and really emphasize how unfair it is that people make it seem like only Muslims are thin-skinned about such things. (I will indulge as a matter of charity, that Wagner merely misspoke as she tried to couch reality in MSNBC-friendly euphemisms. “Controversial” and “incendiary” might be her way of saying “barbaric terrorism.” But even if that’s the case, it doesn’t excuse her from failing to respond to this idiotic comparison with the words: “How dare you sir, that is outrageous.”) I was never a huge fan of Falwell’s, but I always thought his lawsuit had some merit, and was at least understandable in human terms. Also, for what it’s worth, I don’t think it had much to do with his religion. He filed a personal defamation lawsuit, I’m pretty sure. But here’s the thing: When he lost the lawsuit you know what he did? Nothing. Oh I’m sure he griped about it. Wouldn’t you? What he didn’t do was lead a goon squad to Hustler’s offices murder Larry Flynt and his staff. That’s a pretty meaningful distinction, I think.