That's what I suspect when I see this infuriating clip at Below the Beltway in which Huffington blathers on about how Beck's advocacy might fall into an exception to the First Amendment akin to the famous (and usually incorrectly cited) "shouting fire in a crowded theatre" analogy.
Make no mistake: I don't find it particularly difficult to imagine Beck someday reaching the point where he's openly advocating imminent and likely violence sufficient to bring him under the Brandenburg exception. I could see him doing it either to pander to audiences and whip up ratings, or because he's actually just that nuts. But whether you think Beck is an artist in the tradition of Andy Kaufman or a genuine extremist, nothing he's said has come close to falling within any applicable First Amendment exception. The only proper response to him continues to be return speech in the marketplace of ideas, including but not limited to argument, ridicule, and various forms of shunning including boycotts.
Huffington's argument plays directly into Beck's hands — it could hardly be any better for him if he'd scripted it himself. Beck's position, and that of his media counterparts, depends upon the assertion that conservative ideas are constantly in danger of censorship. Usually Beck and his ilk support this argument by conflating criticism and censorship — as when Sarah Palin suggested that journalists threatened her First Amendment rights by suggesting that she was engaging in negative campaigning. But here Beck can point to Huffington as an example of a media figure openly suggesting that his speech falls outside the protection of the First Amendment. She's putting money in his pocket.
Given Huffington's long record of feckless nonsense, I suppose I should not be surprised. Note, for example, her creation of that notorious graveyard of good sense The Huffington Post, the citadel of crystal-fondling anti-science, where a guest column by Roseanne Barr or Rosie O'Donnell can actually improve the average quality of argumentation. But still. She's an old pro at political rhetoric. What was she thinking?
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