General Question

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Does Bill O'Reilly bear any responsibility for those who commit crimes based on his hateful rhetoric?

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100 Answers

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I think the guy is an irresponsible journalist (if you want to even call him that) but people are still solely responsible for their own actions.
At the same time, when does free speech cross over into yelling “hijack” on a crowded airplane? (metaphorically speaking)

SirBailey's avatar

I’d NEVER compliment him by calling him a journalist. And considering he’s been around for years, and only one crack pot killed a doctor O’Reilly spoke bad about, then it’s clear it was the crack pot who was at fault.

Mr_Callahan's avatar

Is this a hypothetical or can you actually reference a crime that has occured, allegedly?

Aethelwine's avatar

He’s not the only irresponsible journalist, you know. The person responsible is the person that committed the crime.

MrMeltedCrayon's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic: Oliver Wendell Holmes once said “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.” Free speech is great and all, but it can be just as much of a weapon as a fist or a gun (which I figure is what you were getting at. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).

Is Bill O’Reilly responsible for the murder? I’m not sure. He’s a hateful, old, judgmental bastard, or, in the very least, would like people to believe he is. After all, it helps with the ratings. I wouldn’t call him a journalist, so much as an entertainer; people love to hate and he helps facilitate that. Whether or not his bullshit contributed to the murder’s decision to go through with the killing is hard to say.

Personally, and at the risk of sounding holier-than-thou, I don’t see how O’Reilly can sleep at night.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@Mr_Callahan One Dr. Tiller, a professional who performed late term abortions was a target of Mr. O’Reilly frequently referenced him as “Dr. Killer” or “Tiller the baby killer”.

Dr. Tiller was murdered recently by a fanatic. Dr. Tiller was a very high profile person because of O’Reilly’s frequent references on his Fox show.

DeanV's avatar

Nah. He’s a total idiot, but I don’t think his bullshit alone could raise people to do things like that.

archer's avatar

hard to believe that this is even a serious question in the land of the 1st amendment.
accurately describing tiller is not a crime, nor does it instruct anyone to commit a crime.
good grief, this is bonehead simple common sense stuff.

DeanV's avatar

“Accurately describing Tiller”
Wow.

Whether you agree with this man’s motivation or not, calling him a mocking “Tiller The Baby Killer” is no way to treat him.

CMaz's avatar

No. Mr. O’Reilly is perfect.

MrMeltedCrayon's avatar

@archer: I’m sorry, but have you seen O’Reilly’s show? He does nothing but spit venom, to the point where you’d have to be in a coma to not take any word that comes out of his mouth with a grain of salt. If you want an accurate description of someone, Bill O’Reilly is about as terrible as you can get as a source.

@dverhey: I thought the same thing. Highfive!

DeanV's avatar

Highfive!

archer's avatar

my comment was in response to the quoted accurate description of tiller by o’reilly. i don’t view truth as “venom”.

archer's avatar

fierce opposition to evil is not “hateful”

archer's avatar

y’all evidently fiercely oppose o’reilly. are you therefore “hateful”?

archer's avatar

hate is another of many words being drained of power and meaning by extensive misuse and misapplication

oratio's avatar

@archer Well, degrading, slandering and aggravating animosity against a person for – amongst other things – his occupation, is what defines Hate Speech. It seems to me that this doctor never broke the law, but had the misfortune to catch the attention of a program looking for ratings among certain groups in society. It feels like O’Reilly is walking on a thin line there.

fireside's avatar

@archerfierce opposition to evil is not “hateful”

The problem here is what constitutes evil.
Who gets the authority to judge on that or act as executioner based on that judgment?

Steven0512's avatar

That’s like saying guns kill people instead of people kill people. Let’s hold the actual criminals responsible instead of an old guy with a TV program.

DeanV's avatar

“hate is another of many words being drained of power and meaning by extensive misuse and misapplication”

I agree, but when you are going to make that point next time, try not being a complete hypocrite.

archer's avatar

@dverhey how so a hypocrite?

archer's avatar

it is true that the evil tiller engaged in is sadly currently legal. it is no less evil.

archer's avatar

just as the legal evil of slavery was addressed, so should this one

archer's avatar

@fireside re what is or isn’t evil. we all have the moral and civil responsibility to “judge on that” as you put it, but not obviously to act as “executioner”

DeanV's avatar

“good grief, this is bonehead simple common sense stuff.”
“accurately describing tiller”

Saying O’Reilly’s hateful “Tiller The Baby Killer” description is accurate, and then saying everybody who disagrees with O’Reilly is so called hateful sounds pretty hypocritical to me.

Granted, I don’t think O’Reilly’s words lead people to kill either, I just think you have brought completely different topics into this thread.

archer's avatar

by your logic, if o’reilly were shot tomorrow, you would have to accept responsibilty based on your expressed opinions of him here

archer's avatar

i didn’t say “everybody who disagrees with O’Reilly is so called hateful”

fireside's avatar

@archer – do you feel that O’Reilly uses the power of his podium and national reach in a responsible way to encourage his viewers to weigh both sides of the issue in order to give his viewers the best chance to uphold their moral and civil duty?

Or do you think he might lead people to make judgments that are in line with his opinion?

When he has guest speakers on who disagree with him, do you think he treats them properly?

archer's avatar

it’s not up to people hired to express their views to represent the views of others

DeanV's avatar

Alright. I misread that. But you did imply such a thing above with “y’all evidently fiercely oppose o’reilly. are you therefore “hateful”?”

Or at least that’s how I interpreted it.

archer's avatar

the “power of the podium” is his to use as he likes, just as is the case with olberman, mathews, maher….etc

archer's avatar

yes i said that to illustrate the bias that you were applying to o’reilly because of your disagreement with him. in other words, somehow his fierce oppositon is hateful but yours is not. nothing wrong with fierce opposition, yours or his.

archer's avatar

i think a lot of the problem that folks have with o’reilly and some others is that he is unapologetically male, something that makes this currently feminized culture nervous and uncomfortable. he says what he means, what he feels directly, absent the pc nonesense.

Aethelwine's avatar

@archer “somehow his fierce oppositon is hateful but yours is not. nothing wrong with fierce opposition, yours or his.”

I agree with this statement 100%

DeanV's avatar

I see how my opposition could be hateful, but my problem is not with Bill O’Reilly, but his approach to journalism. In my opinion, journalism should be as non-biased as possible, and Mr. O’Reilly seems to throw that out the window. My problem is with he goes about showing his opinions, not with his opinions themselves.

I guess I have an issue with people calling other human beings “Tiller the Baby Killer” on national tv.

archer's avatar

o’reilly is not a journalist.
but that was exactly what tiller was. what’s worse, the killing, or naming the killer?
could you perform an obortion of the type that he perfomed? crush the scull of a living child?

archer's avatar

you have to understand that the type of abortions he perfomed, most abortionists refuse to do

archer's avatar

i think i read that there are only two others in the country

oratio's avatar

@archer Did he break the law? If you have a problem with the law itself, you don’t go after people who follow it. You argue for changing the law.

DeanV's avatar

O’Reilly, although he may not be a journalist is still held to a professional standard.
And although that may be the truth, national tv is not the place for silly and insulting little rhymes. That, in my opinion, abuses the standard.

archer's avatar

eliminatioin silly and insulting rhymes would eliminate 80% of programming

fireside's avatar

Actually, I decided to go find an O’Reilly video link and this one seems pretty respectful of the issue. he also encourages viewers to contact the Governor with their disapproval.

DeanV's avatar

“eliminatioin silly and insulting rhymes would eliminate 80% of programming”

No. Just Comedy Central.

archer's avatar

@oratio you would have been of little use during the civil rights struggles

DeanV's avatar

“You would have been of little use during the civil rights struggles”

And neither was Martin Luther King Jr, was he?

oratio's avatar

@archer Thank you. I am sure you think you would have been.

archer's avatar

“doctor tiller’s abortion clinic show” that’s an odd phrase

archer's avatar

@oratio well i certainly wouldn’t have demanded that commentators of the time refrain from expressing criticism of those legally oppressing my fellow americans

DeanV's avatar

Who’s legally oppressing who? Can you help me with what you’re saying there?

archer's avatar

never mind it’s been dealt with

DeanV's avatar

Has it?

archer's avatar

you’re unfamiliar with the civil rights act and etc?

DeanV's avatar

I am perfectly familiar with the civil rights act. Are we talking about that or Bill O’Reilly? Because I don’t see Dr. Tiller oppressing any rights.

archer's avatar

@fireside thanks for the vid. i hadn’t seen it. don’t have tv

oratio's avatar

@archer Abortion must be regulated by law, as everything else, but your arguments are quite biased as you forget another important right. Pro-life is also quite anti-woman. The law protects womens right to chose. That’s what you are attacking.

archer's avatar

@dverhey please reread my interaction with oratio

archer's avatar

@oratio to call pro life “anti woman” is absurd

archer's avatar

most women are pro life and if it were put to a vote abortion, especially late term abortions as tiller did, would be make illegal

oratio's avatar

@archer Most women? You are saying that these laws don’t have the support of the majority of the people? What are you basing this on?

archer's avatar

roe v wade was judicial activism. a law legalizing abortion woul have never made it through congress and a presidential signature

Mr_Callahan's avatar

Since no one forced this Dr. to be on O’reilly’s show, no you cannot hold O’reilly accountable anymore than you would if O’reilly had been the target of a far left extremist. These people put themselves out there and must hold “themselves” accountable.

archer's avatar

anyway the topic here was originally about o’reilly, tiller, and infanticide. early term abortion is a different matter. i disagree with it too, but i at least have some respect for those who somehow genuinely feel that life begins at some undefined but later point.

oratio's avatar

@archer And the rest of the whole west world has been forced to have the same legislation? By a minority of the people?

archer's avatar

i wasn’t commenting on “the whole west world”

fireside's avatar

This issue is not as cut and dried as you seem to be making it, archer. The polling shows a pretty even split, which is probably why there has been no movement either way politically.

“A year ago, Gallup found more women calling themselves pro-choice than pro-life, by 50% to 43%, while men were more closely divided: 49% pro-choice, 46% pro-life. Now, because of heightened pro-life sentiment among both groups, women as well as men are more likely to be pro-life.”

“Men and women have been evenly divided on the issue in previous years; however, this is the first time in nine years of Gallup Values surveys that significantly more men and women are pro-life than pro-choice.”

Poll Graph

archer's avatar

of the type of abortion in discussion here the polls indicate overwhelming opposition

archer's avatar

america may be devolving, but it hasn’t completely lost its soul

archer's avatar

i got to go people. thank you

oratio's avatar

@archer No, but you are saying that it is murder, and that the laws protecting womens right to chose, has little support by the people in the US. The same legislation that has been deemed necessary in all countries of the western world. Is it just America that is in error here in your opinion?

archer's avatar

my position is as regards the morality of abortion and infanticide and is universal and not restricted to any nation.
got to go

SuperMouse's avatar

@archer it is pretty clear reading through this thread that you are not here to answer the question posited, you are here to spread your pro-life viewpoint. The fact of the matter is that Mr. Bill O’Reilly has a show on a network that presents itself as Fair and Balanced and is not – by any stretch of the imagination. Mr. O’Reilly even has the unmitigated nerve to refer to his own show as a no spin zone while lambasting this doctor, consistently willing our president to fail, and very recently badmouthing Joy Behar for pointing out that a Muslim woman in her audience was most likely not a terrorist.

Does he bear some of the responsibility for this doctor’s murder? Absolutely he does. As do other yellow journalists and the National Right to Life Committee who coined the term “partial birth abortion” (per NPR) for a legal medical procedure. Oliver Wendell Holmes argued that free speech should be restricted when it poses a “clear and present danger” (his “falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater” quote), I would argue that hate-speech such as O’Reilly’s presents a clear and present danger to doctors, women, and anyone working for, or affiliated with Planned Parenthood or other woman’s advocacy groups. Scott Roeder presented a clear and present danger to Dr. George Tiller.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

unfortunately it’s not illegal to be a douche bag…

bea2345's avatar

Thank you, @SuperMouse . A speech may have a consequence unintended by the speaker; but incitement, in any language, is incitement. My country has a useful expression, “Conduct calculated to lead to a breach of the peace” – there is such an offence. Our radio programmes can be quite unbuttoned, and Mr O’Reilly’s speech – I heard it on YouTube – might not get him arrested. It would certainly attract the attention of the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, which has the power to discipline infractions, up to and including loss of one’s broadcasting license. Did Dr. Tiller do late term abortions? so what? At the risk of infuriating the pro-lifers, that is not the point. O’Reilly voiced an opinion that was likely to, and may have been intended to, inflame the more unstable of the pro-lifers. Of course he has some of the responsibility. BTW, that is not a defense to murder (unless the killer is clearly a candidate for the insane asylum).

archer's avatar

responders.

archer's avatar

@SuperMouse i am here, as you and everyone else, to participate by responding and offering opinions on a broad array of topics, and am not “here to spread [my] pro-life viewpoint.”

my main reason for responding had nothing to do with abortion directly. it had to do with the issue posed by the question, namely, are commentators culpable for the actions of criminals who victimize persons criticized by the commentators.

if someone robbed a bank, killed a politician or priest, i would likewise comment that any who had publicly criticized any of these persons, groups, or institutions would not have culpability or responsibility for criminal behavior that victimized any of these persons, groups or institutions.

your faulting me for including my opinions regarding abortion is unreasonable

Bluefreedom's avatar

Bill O’Reilly bears the sole repsonsbility for being an insufferable prick and terrible journalist. It doesn’t help either that FOX News completely and totally sucks.

SuperMouse's avatar

@archer when you bring your opinions about abortion into the debate and continue to use them as support for argument, it is absolutely reasonable for me to discuss those opinions. Did I fault you? No. I merely pointed out that you seem to hold opinions that color your views on this subject, are clear in your many responses, and that you quite possibly have a second agenda.

If a public figure consistently incited anger against the institutions or folks you mentioned and that anger helped spur the perpetrators to act, they certainly would have at least some responsibility for the acts.

Mr_Callahan's avatar

Tell us how you really feel Bluefreedom. (: I like O’relly as a show man , he’s very amusing, but clearly too f*****g far right for me.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

Bill O’Reilly, like Rush Limbaugh, or even Jeff Foxworthy for that matter, is an entertainer. None of them should be taken as serious journalists in any way, shape, or form. Whether an entertainer spews hate, fear, cruelty, silly fart jokes or the relationship betweeen rednecks and how many dead cars are in your yard, none can be held responsible for the actions of a truly sick person performing an act of terror upon another. Killing an abortion doctor is an act of terrorism. Not all terrorists wear turbans and shout Allah Akbar, you know. We have our very own brand of home-grown terrorists right here in America. The fact that they hide behind the Christian bible makes them no less dangerous than those that hide behind the Qu`ran.

We are all responsible for our own actions. The only thing Bill O’Reilly is responsible for is being another loud-mouthed douchebag on Faux Network.

archer's avatar

you seem to hold opinions that color your views

@SuperMouse wow, now there’s some remarkable insight.
in terms of getting into a debate about abortion i only did so as the comments moved in that direction. my early comments that revealed my position on abortion had to do with my opinion regarding o’reilly’s description of tiller. i said i thought it was simply accurate from his perspective, and therefore not made as incitement.

i think you would agree that avoiding comment on abortion in discussing this story would be virtually impossible, and that there is no reason why one should.

SuperMouse's avatar

@archer, I’m not sure why you decided to go with sarcasm there, but ok…

Since you understand and agree that it is difficult to avoid bringing abortion into the conversation, you probably should also understand that my pointing to your views on the subject was not about “finding fault” with them, but making the point that they would cause you to agree with Mr. O;Reilly. If you agree with him, you are more likely to be sympathetic to his plight.

archer's avatar

not at all. as i said the crime could have been any other and i would have the same viewpoint.

the sarcasm was deserved for your pointing out that i, like everyone, have “opinions that color my views”

and the “finding fault” was with your accusation that i “am “here to spread [my] pro-life viewpoint” and not in my merely stating my viewpoint appropriately.

SuperMouse's avatar

Using the word infanticide and referring to the murdered doctor as evil tiller was only for the sake of “merely stating” your “viewpoint appropriately”? Couldn’t you have done that without the incendiary terms and the libel?

So if Mr. O’Reilly’s rhetoric had incited any other crime, be it murder of a soldier, or rape of a woman, or whatever, you would still believe he has no culpability? In my book someone who’s sole purpose is to incite people to hate has to be responsible when that is exactly what those people do.

archer's avatar

…someone who’s sole purpose is to incite people to hate…

Couldn’t you have done that without the incendiary terms and the libel?

now you’re back to being amusing

SuperMouse's avatar

I would argue that O’Reilly’s sole purpose in talking about this doctor and calling him things like “Tiller the Baby Killer” is to incite people to hate the man.

Now you’re back to being sarcastic.

fireside's avatar

I would agree that O’Reilly was just trying to incite hatred against the doctor.
Upon rewatching that video, he uses the words kill, slaughter, killer and murder over and over. I think there were 7 or 8 instances in the first 60 seconds.

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