By Jackson Thoreau
On a recent drive from Texas to Washington, D.C., I ended up in the
area of Tennessee where conservative officials in one county voted
unanimously to charge gay people with "crimes against nature."
Then they asked the county attorney to find a way to enact a law that
banned gays from living in the county. After tons of bad publicity, the
Rhea County officials rescinded their vote and claimed it was a
I'm used to running into such bigots. After all, I lived most of my life in Texas. In 1988, I sat through a debate of Republican Texas governor candidates in which one, the Rev. W.N. Otwell, actually proposed sending all the gay people in the state to one county to be quarantined. To their credit, none of the other Republican candidates in that room seconded the motion, although no one, except yours truly [who did so in print the next day], condemned the idea.
Otwell has since moved on to protesting women who become preachers and gays who become Republicans or who attend Major League Baseball games. He also advocates that men should rule over women and that people should be segregated by skin color. I guess that shows how far the Republican Party has come since 1988.
Anyway, by the time I neared Rhea County, I had listened to every tape of Springsteen, Seger, Petty, and others that I had. I had discussed the finer points of maneuvering a car through an early-morning traffic jam with my four-year-old son who kept me awake from the back seat.
So dreadfully, I tuned in to the radio and could only find trite country songs or right-wing talk shows, even on FM. I heard one rabid DJ bark that Susan Lindauer, the Maryland former journalist, congressional aide, and peace activist arrested by Bush/Cheney/Ashcroft for supposedly taking bribery money from Iraqi officials [hey, shouldn't Cheney and Rumsfeld and others be arrested for that?], should be put to death without as much as a trial.
I almost changed the station right there, then I heard that Watergate crook G. Gordon Liddy was up next. I had never listened to his show before, and I had nothing better to do while driving 1,300 miles, so what the hell, I thought.
The first thing I noticed about Liddy was that his voice sounded kind of wimpy. It wasn't the gruff, hard-edged voice I expected from someone who used to stick his hands in candles, burglarize offices, and slip LSD into Democrats food for fun.
Then he called Kerry an anti-war activist in the same vein as Lindauer, with the implication being that he committed treason, and I knew that was the same man who went to Club Fed for four years for burglary, talking about bombing liberal think tanks, and other crimes. After several callers criticized Kerry for supposedly committing war crimes and worse-- it's amazing that Republican hypocrites can criticize someone who could have dodged the draft but didn't and became a Vietnam War hero, and not say anything about someone who used his family connections to dodge the draft to get into the National Guard and went AWOL - I got on my cell phone.
Between jabbing Kerry for supposedly trying to live off his wealthy wife Kerry worked all his life and was well off enough before meeting Teresa - and ignoring Bush, who was a drunk until age 40 and has lived his entire life off his wealthy father, Liddy asked callers to state their opinions about what should be done to make sure Super Bowl viewers who are used to seeing scantily-clad cheerleaders dont see any more of Janet Jacksons breasts.
It took me two tries, but I actually got on the air. I was kind of shocked I expected only to give my two cents to some volunteer administrative type. But when I got on the air, I knew I had to say what no one else on this show would say. Someone had to do it.
As I dodged 18-wheelers and Confederate flag-laden pickup trucks while pushing 80 mph, I told Liddy that if the FCC was going to do something about the supposed obscenity during the halftime of the Super Bowl, it needed to do something about the obscene lies told by Liddy and others on such right-wing radio shows.
"I think your comments about Kerry are more obscene than the Janet Jackson thing," I told Liddy.
After he paused to make sure I wasnt kidding, Liddy retorted that showing breasts on TV was obscene "by definition," but that comments, even mistruths, said over the radio were protected by the First Amendment as "free speech." I argued that obscenity was in the eyes of the beholder, and he replied that his statements about Kerry were true, that he was at anti-Vietnam War rallies with Jane Fonda and financed by her.
I all-but yelled that Kerry was never that close to Fonda, that at least one photo showing them together was a fake, that his comments linking Kerry to the arrested anti-war activist were grossly unfair. "At least Kerry went to Vietnam, unlike Bush, who used his family to get into the National Guard and then went AWOL," I stated, as he pulled the plug on me, thanking me for my comments, the last of which probably were deleted from the show.
Whatever. "Free speech," my ass.
I turned the radio off and drove on past Right-Wing Rhea County in silence. I thought of a thousand other things I would have liked to have told Mr. G. Watergate Convict, not the least of which was to remind listeners that they were hearing all those lies from someone who was convicted for such things as drugging the food of respected Democratic Senator Edmund Muskie, who had a public emotional breakdown that ended his 1972 bid for the presidency.
But there's only so much you can do, especially when the FCC allows conmen like Liddy and Oliver North to regurgitate their obscene lies on national radio shows. And especially when the White House, the Congress, the Supreme Court, and much of the media were controlled by the same type of Neanderthals who tried to keep teachers from teaching evolution eight decades ago, and who were back in the limelight trying to push society further into the dark ages.
I did the only thing I could do and motored on towards the light.
Jackson Thoreau is an American writer and co-author of We Will Not Get Over It: Restoring a Legitimate White House. The 120,000-word electronic book can be downloaded on his Internet site at //www.geocities.com/jacksonthor/ebook.html. He is working on another book, The Strange Death of the Woman Who Filed a Rape Lawsuit Against Bush & Other Things the Bush Administration Doesn't Want You to Know. Some chapters from that can be read at //www.geocities.com/jacksonthor/know.html. He can be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.