Communications and Society blog: By and for students in Marist COM 201

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Bill O’Reilly Incites View Crew Over Mosque Debate

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Fox News anchor and conservative political commentator Bill O’Reilly has a history of steaming people  with his controversial statements, but for The View Co-hosts Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg, he has finally gone too far. On October 14th, O’Reilly appeared as a guest of the popular ABC morning talk show, sitting down with executive producer Barbara Walters and co-anchors Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Elizabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd to discuss his new book, Patriots and Pinheads. In the midst of his critique of the Obama administration, he pointedly alluded to one of the most heated current controversies involving religious freedom and cultural sensitivity – the building of the Islamic community center and mosque scarcely three blocks from the World Trade Center site at Ground Zero.  In his customarily blunt way, O’Reilly deflected opposing arguments expressed by Behar and Goldberg by positing statistics that 70% of Americans do not want the mosque to be built at Ground Zero out of respect to their loved ones who died there. But O’Reilly continued to make the ultimate commentator’s  faux pas when, during a heated moment, he exclaimed that “Muslims killed us on 9/11!” without qualifying his argument by differentiating between the Islamic faith and the extremist and radical terror groups. Although he later issued statements apologizing for his rash indictment of all Muslims, Behar and Goldberg were significantly enraged by his condescending tone and “bigoted” attitude that they briefly stormed off the set.  Although a frustrated Barbara Walters successfully managed to diffuse the situation by scolding both parties and advocating an environment of mutual respect where opposing views can be discussed constructively without people flying off the handle, the story continues to leave a ripple in its wake.

I think the ultimate question here to be addressed is: How far does our right to freedom of speech extend when we consider the potentiality of it enabling us to express biased and bigoted views ? Although we are allowed to express our opinions in a democracy, should there be a personal liability for qualifying what we say? If we do not qualify circumstantial groups and situations, do we not run the risk of lumping people into a general category and stereotyping them all by false pretenses?  It was an easy slip of the tongue for Bill O’Reilly to make. Personally, I do not believe that he meant to lump all Muslims into the category of “terrorists” but rather, in the heat of argument, forgot to self-monitor his speech.  This is a problem that affects not only high end politicians and public media figures, but even trickles down to affect students like ourselves. If we do not learn how to construct rational arguments by compiling information, formulating our ideas and presenting them in a firm but respectful manner, one that asserts our stance but recognizes the differing views of others, who is to say that we won’t end up making similar obnoxiously indicting remarks that may stereotype and negate our views of other people, events and ideas?


Written by stephdadamo

October 27, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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