Erik Rush may have rendered himself irrelevant in the world of
commentary, but that won't stop him from doing as much damage as possible to
the dignity of responsible opinion.
Shock to the Boston Marathon explosions was still in the air when that tweet was posted and it may have been the cause for President Obama's call for calm, not jumping to conclusions - or rushing to judgment.
When one person tweeted, "Are you ALREADY BLAMING MUSLIMS??" Rush responded:
He later tweeted that he was being sarcastic , writing:
It didn't help, moreover, that Rush's responses to critical tweets were just as vitriolic as his initial "jokes."
The Rush To Defend Sarcasm
As with any shocking public assault of any person or group, the resulting controversy will become more interesting than the assault itself: who will distance themselves and who will defend? Will FOX News (he's a contributor) produce a non-coverage of the incident? Or will some of its members issue a whispered mea culpa? Will colleague Ann Coulter cheer? Such blatant "sarcasm" will need bold and fierce defenders. Coulter, for example, could certainly empathize with Rush for making a "joke" that's deemed offensive to many.* Of course, this may be one incident Coulter would be wisely to sit out, but if the Coultergeist smells publicity ...
And since Erik Rush aided organizations like the Family Research Council with his anti-gay remarks, will Tony Perkins defend his remarks under the protection of free speech. Or freedom of religion, for Islamophobia is indeed a religion. Just ask Pam Geller.
Defending offensive people (especially intentionally offensive people) is always risky: in America, backlash can occur at any time, especially when it comes up against another American axiom - innocent until proven guilty. Rush's statement immediately made Muslims the underdog at a time of unexplained crisis and America always tries its best to root for the underdog. Furthermore, Rush has made his living out of pummeling the left and the liberal populace, taking the credit for "breaking" the story about Obama's ties to controversial pastor Jeremiah Wright.
Is Responsible Opinion Dead In The Age Of Twitter?
In an era when media like FOX News has rendered dead responsible journalism, it might be argued that responsible opinion has also been aid to rest. Responsible opinion could be defined as that opinion which is intelligently put from a respected podium and accountable for its words - and their effects. Social media like Twitter, however, has given the podium to everyone, and while the intent of dialogue is honest, the cacophony if unaccountable tirades and hate speech is deafening.
And Erik Rush's hate tweet was heard over it all.
Which is why it matters. News commentators like Rush already have a podium from which to blast outrage, so when one climbs atop the Twitter pile, it is heard by more people - and effects more people. It outrages more people and inflames more hatred - in both directions. It is not merely a spark to more discussion, it is a statement to incite violent anger on both sides of the sociopolitical spectrum.
It is too bad that Erik Rush doesn't consider himself accountable for anything he says and that he is free to be as "sarcastic" as he wishes. Hate speech is like that. One can only hope that he will held accountable by everyone else ...
... some day.
*During National "Coming Out Day" Coultergeist suggested that there be a national "Fathers disowning their sons day."