When Chris Seaton told me that a radio producer was interested in his doing a show, I shared his excitement. Aside from being a criminal defense lawyer and contributor at Fault Lines, he’s got a wicked sense of humor.
If those words, “sense of humor,” are unfamiliar to you, it’s something people used to have that made people laugh and think. It was rarely politically correct or deeply sensitive to things that might hurt people’s feelings. It’s no longer allowed in some circles.
Chris’ producer, Aaron Campbell, also had a sense of humor, which brought the tolerance police down on him at Knoxville’s “community radio” station, WOZO, 103.9 FM. The station was born of pirate radio ironically called KFAR, Knoxville’s First Amendment Radio. The FCC shut it down, burned its content and banned its pirates. So, like good pirates, they reestablished themselves under dark of night and cool ‘nyms like DJ Angel.
That same DJ Angel, whose real name is Angel Ibarra, was the guy who, with muscle in tow, punched Campbell and uttered one of the seven words you can’t say on TV during a live broadcast. Campbell brought a comedian on his show who told a joke that offended Ibarra’s very tolerant and progressive sensibilities. So, Campbell got beaten for it. This makes perfect sense if you understand how tolerance works these days.
Chris made it through three segments of his “Sit Down with Chris Seaton” before tolerance came at him with a vengeance.
Her earlier twits called Chris racist and sexist for not adhering to the official language of feelings, and so “left, right or center,” you have to be progressive, or Hitler. Yes, Godwin’s Law, but she and other deeply tolerant folks demanded that WOZO ban Chris.
The initial reaction was what one might hope for from a radio station born of pirates. Aaron Campbell met with Margot Miller, one of the tiny station’s top DJs, and part of its “conflict response team.” Margot told Aaron there was no violation of station rules, that she understood what Aaron was doing with the fourth hour, and not to worry because it appeared as if a very vocal minority was trying to get the shows taken off the air because we did better than every other show on WOZO.
The reaction was, according to Campbell, gratifying.
It was nice to finally have someone at the station understand what we were doing. It was good to see someone realize we were listening to what our audience wanted and give them that in some fashion. I was really happy to know Margot had my back and that we weren’t doing anything against the station’s rules.
Unfortunately, gratifying doesn’t mean it wasn’t short-lived. After a meeting of the more enlightened DJs, Ibarra, Pan Walker, Chris Irwin, and Jon Stewart, who share a different sensibility about free speech and diversity of ideas, plus apparently hate anybody who has the sense of humor they lack, they arrived at a different decision. Stewart called Campbell to drop the hammer:
You guys are done. It’s better if you take your shows elsewhere, because you are no longer welcome at WOZO. Effective immediately, That Midday Show [Campbell’s show] and The Sit Down with Chris Seaton are suspended from WOZO until the March meeting of the station DJs. I wouldn’t hold my breath, because you’re probably going to get banned. You and Chris Seaton are also banned from WOZO premises until the March meeting.
And so it goes. No, this is not a First Amendment violation, even though this low power local indy station is licensed by the government. They, meaning whatever management structure was put in place when a gang of DJs decided to take the leap, can decide who gets airspace and who doesn’t. And if they don’t like the message Chris or Aaron put out, particularly if they hate it so much as a matter of their love of tolerance that they would punch a DJ on air for it, they can ban him from their air and their premises.
But this reflects the problems faced by those who want to hear ideas outside of their bubble. Or those who want to offer those ideas, especially if they’re delivered with a dose of humor. Before the dopes respond, “but conservatives do this TOO!!!,” perhaps so, but then, your argument is that you, the deeply tolerant and far wiser, more caring, more righteous, are justifying your actions by those you despise.
If your argument in favor of censoring a guy like Chris, of silencing his ideas because they offend your sensibilities, is based upon the concession that you are no different, and certainly no better, than those horrifying people you hate, then at least you get points for not being a hypocrite. The problem is that you lose points for being no different than those you call evil, whom you rely upon to justify the virtue of your beliefs. You can’t have it both ways. If what they’re doing is bad, then it’s bad when you do it as well.
It doesn’t matter whether you, or I, agree with Chris’ commentary. It doesn’t matter if his words stray from the approved progressive lexicon. That’s what makes free speech free. That’s why makes the progressive DJs who want to scream “aaargh” and wear an eyepatch disgraceful little liars. First Amendment Radio? Don’t defile the virtues embedded in the Constitution, you fragile teacups.
At the WOZO blog, the feelz of the crowd in control were made plain.
At noon on a rainy Friday last week, surrounded by sycophants, weaklings and crooks, Donald Trump assumed the Presidency of the United States of America. Narcissistic reality TV star, business failure, self-confessed sexual predator, boorish ignoramus who can’t even quote “Two Corinthians” to a Bible college correctly. “Rain Wound,” indeed.
Of course women know a thing or two about being lied to and manipulated by men, which is maybe why we saw the biggest one-day nationwide protest in the history of the United States on Saturday: an estimated 2.9 million people marching against Trump, demanding basic respect, dignity, and human rights.
Fair enough. There are many people for whom these highly partisan words strike home. That they can’t bear up to disagreement, to the words Chris Seaton utters, however, reduces them to a sham. If your politics can’t withstand scrutiny, the criticism of those who don’t blindly embrace them, then you’re just fooling yourself. And if that hurts Angel Ibarra’s feelings, he can just bring in a guy to punch some tolerance into the other guy to win his point.
As for Chris, he’s still writing for Fault Lines. It’s not political, but it will be a platform for all perspectives of criminal law. And, hopefully, it will keep its sense of humor.