I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…
As a Minnesota Senator once said, “Rush Limbaugh is a big fat idiot.”
But we’d be bigger, fatter idiots to criminalize the kind of rotten, ugly speech that some people think led a mentally ill Arizona man to murder a 9-year-old girl and complain to his Congresswoman via a bullet through her brain.
For the record, I don’t think Limbaugh’s vile political discourse (and it’s extremely charitable to call it that) had anything to do with the events in Tucson, though for once we have an assassin who thought enough of himself not to put a bullet through his own brain, and maybe we’ll find out otherwise.
I do think the Limbaughs, Becks, and other Savages of this great nation do have an impact on other mentally ill persons (Limbaugh likes to call them dittoheads), and have a better than average chance of helping push one of them into murdering the current President of the United States. Still, I think the Constitution of the United States is more important than any one of its Presidents (particularly that one that seemed to emerge full-blown from the cover of Mad Magazine).
We can’t (well, we can, but shouldn’t) legislate away rotten, ugly people. We could be more adult, perhaps, and just not listen to them. It isn’t as if they’re ranting in the street at an intersection we have to pass every day on the way to work. We don’t have to tune in. And maybe if we put more available genius into educating, inspiring, and giving our people — not hope, we’ve had a bellyful of hope, not even sustenance enough to give anyone gas — but a decent chance to make a decent living, more of them wouldn’t tune in, either. And then the free market would take care of the Limbaughs, Becks, and Savages — they’d all be busy scrawling on cardboard signs, and we would indeed see them at some intersection on our way to work.
But let’s not throw those big fat idiots in jail; our jails are full enough.