High entertainment value

Saturday’s shootings in Arizona are certainly troubling, but not surprising. I’ve run into several people who apparently don’t realize that some of the biggest voices screaming from the fringe don’t worry at all about what they say, and even less about how they are heard.

But not realizing that three of those big names are little more than charlatans (or grifters) isn’t reserved for the mentally ill or poorly educated. Spewing hateful rhetoric and misinformation has high entertainment value and is very profitable. Why dial it back?

There is a ready audience of people who read narrowly and think even more narrowly. Is it the fault of a talk show host when listeners  don’t understand that they stir the pot of hate with a pack of lies, distortions, provocative slurs, and violent rhetoric? Couple all that with a meager understanding of the U.S. Constitution … in its entirety … and one has an explosive and polarized climate.

Ms. Palin and Messrs. Beck and Limbaugh certainly can’t be blamed for the shootings in Tuscon. But they can be blamed for using their voice to help create and maintain a political soil so toxic that distorted thinking finds much nourishment. They differ little from others who radicalize the easily influenced.

The rest of us see what they have to say for what it is.

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