The War Against Meaning
by Pamela Troy | Jan 8 2007
A blogger called Spocko recently took on San Francisco’s local right-wing station, KSFO by drawing attention to some of their more – let’s just say “outspoken” – radio personalities. To be precise, Spocko provided advertisers with audio clips of some of their DJ’s riper comments, pointing out to Britesmile, for instance, that they might not want their product being pitched by someone who had just finished talking about tracking an emailer down and “doing something unpleasant to his cojones.” http://www.glcq.com/sprocko/cojonesbritesmile.mp3
That was one of the milder examples. Other audio clips that Spocko harvested included Melanie Morgan suggesting that Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, be dug up (she died in 1994 from breast cancer) and “kill(ed) all over again,” http://www.glcq.com/sprocko/digupcarson.mp3 Brian Sussman telling a caller to prove he’s not Muslim by saying “Allah is a whore,” http://www.glcq.com/sprocko/bsallahis.mp3 and Melanie Morgan, Ann Coulter, and “Officer Vic” yakking it up over a supposedly hilarious imitation of NYT editor Bill Keller being slowly executed in a defective electric chair. http://www.glcq.com/sprocko/jokingkellerex.mp3
Spocko’s blog was shut down after the ISP got a cease and desist order trumped up by KSFO’s lawyers. The reason given by KSFO is that the use of audio clips violated copyright, even though the clips fall well within what is understood to be Fair Use. I think it’s more likely that the clips endangered his blog because they were effective. VISA and MasterCard had already pulled their advertising, and apparently more were considering doing the same.
There is, at least for now, a happy ending to this story. Another, braver, ISP picked up the account, and www.spockosbrain.com is now back in business.
This is only the latest development in what amounts to an ongoing, decades-long war waged by the right against the actual meaning of words, sentences, entire paragraphs. Anyone who has engaged in online political debates is familiar with the tactic of derailing a conversation about some offensive statement from Coulter or Limbaugh by attempting to sidetrack the discussion into an argument about grammar and syntax. “You’re twisting their words” is the usual complaint. Some of these attempts are so ridiculous that the listener or reader is forced to conclude that the right-winger is arguing in bad faith.
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