Randi Rhodes, Orwell's 1984, & The Ministry Of Truth genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Ministry of Truth?

The internet is abuzz with reports that Air America Radio personality Randi Rhodes will be off the air while she recovers from injuries she sustained last evening.

There are conflicting reports on how Rhodes sustained her injuries. According to a fellow Air America personality, Jon Elliott, Rhodes was the victim of an attack while she was walking her dog. That statement led to immediate speculation that the assault upon Rhodes may have been politically motivated; making her the victim of a hate crime.

The following is from the Air America blog:

Air America host Randi Rhodes experienced an unfortunate incident hindering her from hosting her show. The reports of a presumed hate crime are unfounded. Ms. Rhodes looks forward to being back on the air on Thursday.

As the story has continued to unfold, the following alternate explanation comes from the New York Daily News:

Air America radio host Randi Rhodes is temporarily off the air, but claims she was brutally attacked near her Manhattan apartment are bogus, her lawyer and a police source said today.

A police source said Rhodes never filed a report and never claimed to be the victim of a mugging. Cops from Manhattan's 17th Precinct called her attorney, who told them Rhodes was not a victim of a crime, the source said.

Rhodes' lawyer told the Daily News she was injured in a fall while walking her dog. He said she's not sure what happened, and only knows that she fell down and is in a lot of pain. The lawyer said Rhodes expects to be back on the air Thursday. He stressed there is no indication she was targeted or that she was the victim of a "hate crime."

The network released a statement that said Rhodes "experienced an unfortunate incident."

"The reports of a presumed hate crime are unfounded," the statement read by a receptionist at the network's New York offices said. "Ms. Rhodes is looking forward to being back on the air on Thursday."

First and foremost, I hope Rhodes is recovering from her injuries and will soon be able to resume her work at Air America. With that said, I have to admit that I find the speculation and the commentary related to the incident sickening. In a country we contend represents the best of the civilized world, the truth of the matter is that there is less and less civility to be found.

Honestly, the stories making headlines in the last couple weeks highlight the endless bickering which has come to typify our political discourse...a discourse that has deteriorated into hate filled diatribes designed to destroy the "enemy" regardless of the facts or the likelihood of collateral damage.

In a country which goes out of its way to revile terrorism and the terrorists who carry it out, we are on a fast track to fomenting the anger and animosity which is the hallmark of these hate groups. We are on the precipice of virtually every event being filtered through one of the two polarized political templates...whether warranted or not.

As I've read the various comments on the Rhodes incident, I noticed several sites mentioned the murder of Denver talk radio personality Alan Berg in 1984. I was a fan of Berg's radio program and I remember my feelings of sadness upon hearing of his death. While no one was ever convicted of the murder, it appears that a white supremacist group called The Order may have been involved in Berg's death.

In 1984 Berg was undoubtedly abrasive...but he was also eRudyte. He loved the debate and he routinely savaged those who were unable to elucidate their position on the subject at hand...but I don't recall that he engaged in the organized political rhetoric that dominates today's dialogue. Alan Berg was his own man and the views he held were his own convictions. His contact with listeners was heated but his positions were more than hyperbole. The innuendo of swift boating wouldn't have appealed to Berg. If he believed in something, he didn't just seek to discredit his opponent by raising doubt, he sought to sink the boats of those who disagreed with him and he did so with a full frontal assault which was replete with an arsenal of tangible evidence.

As I draw comparisons between the Alan Berg era and the current political environment typified by the debate on Randi Rhodes, one thing becomes abundantly clear...a murder which what was likely carried out by a fringe group in 1984 is today apt to be committed by an otherwise ordinary citizen.

Let me be clear. I don't offer such conjecture in support of the assertions that the Rhodes incident was politically motivated or a hate crime. In fact, we simply don't know enough about the incident to draw any conclusions...which is integral to the argument I seek to make. I offer my thoughts as evidence of an environment where we're too willing to jump to conclusions and far more focused upon escalating animosity than encouraging deliberate debate.

While the Alan Bergs of the world were content to live in isolation on a virtual island rather than compromise their principles...today's provocateurs will willfully compromise principle if they can be convinced it may lead to a world that is populated with malleable minions...virtually programmable robots who have had their ability to reason replaced by a susceptibility to subjective subterfuge. The Randi Rhodes incident is simply the vehicle upon which this manufactured reality is built.

In the ultimate of ironies, Alan Berg died while opposing the silencing of societal critics and promoting the open exchange of ideas in the year (1984) we associate with George Orwell's famous tale (1984) of a world dominated by the deceptive efforts of the "Ministry of Truth". Some three decades later, we live in a world inhabited by individuals who willingly embrace one of the available ideologies of insinuation with nary a passing consideration of our proximity to the truth.

Is it possible that what Orwell warned would result in "the individual person's subordination to the Party collective" has come to pass? On days like today, with stories like this one, my answer is yes.

Tagged as: 1984, Air America Radio, Alan Berg, George Orwell, Jon Elliott, Ministry of Truth, Randi Rhodes, The Order

Daniel DiRito | October 16, 2007 | 11:37 AM
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1 On October 17, 2007 at 10:42 AM, Ben in Oakland wrote —

"'What is Truth,' said jesting Pilate, and wouldnot stay for an answer.

"Words mean exactly what I say they mean. Nothing more. And nothing less." Humpty Dumpty in alice in wonderland.

"We live in a world inhabited by individuals who willingly embrace one of the available ideologies of insinuation with nary a passing consideration of our proximity to the truth." Daniel Dirito.

True words, Daniel. I think a good portion of this can be laid to fear, and the people who use fear to advance their agendas. When fear is the primary motivator-- fear of the other, fear of death, fear of buring in hell for ever, fear of gays, fear of the unknown, terrorists, arabs, non-christians, you name-- truth and fact must struggle for air.

My favorite: fear of god. the same God who allegedly loved us so much that he committed suicide to atone for his mistakes. The Catholic church tells us that god loves us and is merciful "to those that fear him." I've heard it many times in Church. Does this make the slightest bit of sense.

And of course, the republicans have used fear for years to get people to vote against their economic well being. government sponsored health insurance? That's socialized medicine, and WE CAN"T HAVE THAT!


2 On October 17, 2007 at 2:30 PM, Ben in Oakland wrote —

Fear sells big time. Just had a telemarketer recording (I guess they never heard of the national Do Not Call Registry) tell me that this was my final notice, and if I didn't activate my extended warranty coverage, I would loose it-- with appropriate consequences. They didn't really threaten, but there seemed to be a vague one there, and they certainly implied that THIS REALLY MATTERS.

Fear sells.

Thought Theater at Blogged

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