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Bill O'Reilly, Conservatives, and the Culture War
May 4, 2004
By Scott C. Smith

It's interesting to observe how conservatives react to certain situations. Take Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl. During the half-time show, she performed a number with Justin Timberlake. At one point Timberlake pulled off an article of Jackson's clothing, which happened to be a piece that covered a breast, and for about one second an image of Jackson's breast was beamed around the world.

Conservatives blew a gasket. They were greatly offended and lit up the CBS switchboard with complaints. Indignant conservatives demanded action and immediately got the federal government involved, through the Federal Communications Commission. The Jackson breast exposure was, in the eyes of right-wingers, another example of how the secularists were trying to take over America in an ongoing culture war.

What is this culture war? Well, if you go with the conservative interpretation, it's an ongoing campaign by secularists to bring smut and other objectionable programming to the masses. Such as the blink-and-you-miss-it display of Janet Jackson's breast.

I discovered long ago that, on television, for instance, I have the ability to actually alter what I see. For instance, if I turn on Hannity and Colmes and Sean Hannity says something stupid and offensive, I can actually grab my remote control and change the channel. It's easy. Here's the secret: you punch the button on the remote marked "channel up" or "channel down." Or, for variety, you can punch the "on/off" button and actually turn off the television. A radio or stereo may not have a remote control, but it does have the buttons and knobs that easily allow for quick channel changes. Try it sometime.

Bill O'Reilly is really offended by the runaway secularists that have, I guess, taken over the world. O'Reilly frequently refers to the culture war. Actually I think it's more accurate to say that Bill O'Reilly whines about the culture wars. All the time, it seems. To O'Reilly, the culture war is between the evil secularists (liberals, of course) and the traditionalists (conservative Christians, for the most part). O'Reilly is so obsessed with the culture war that he's now devoted a segment to it on his show, The O'Reilly Factor.

For instance, on the April 16 Factor, O'Reilly's culture war segment was about the Girl Scouts and their involvement with Planned Parenthood. And as further proof that the Factor is not fair and balanced, the guest was Jim Sedlak of the group Stopp International, a group dedicated, as they state at their web site, to defeating Planned Parenthood.

In the interview, Sedlak made the claim that at a conference co-sponsored by Planned Parenthood and the Girl Scouts, a book was given to every conference attendee "in the sixth through the ninth grade." Of course, Sedlak doesn't make the distinction: was the book forced on every attendee between the sixth and ninth grades, or was it available to attendees between the sixth and ninth grades if they wanted a copy?

O'Reilly was upset by this: "I'm stunned. I mean - I don't understand this - why would the Girl Scouts be involved with sex education anyway?"

I don't know, Bill. Maybe it's because the Girl Scouts can do whatever they want to? If the Boy Scouts can dictate who is eligible for membership into the Scouts, and can discriminate based on sexual orientation, the Girl Scouts should be free to set their own programs and agendas. If they want to associate with Planned Parenthood, that's their choice. Just like it's the Boy Scout's choice to decide who joins. O'Reilly supports that decision.

I'd go as far as to say that O'Reilly is highly paranoid, perhaps deranged. On the March 4 Factor, O'Reilly and his guest, Byron York of the National Review (quick: guess what political philosophy is espoused by the Review. Did you say conservative? You're right!) discussed President Bush and Bush's failure to take on the culture war. You know, because he has more important things to worry about, like his re-election and, I suppose, the war on terror. O'Reilly was indignant over Bush's failure to take part in Bill's delusions: "This is not some little thing. I mean, these people are socially engineering the country to be a totally different country. And they see weakness on the traditional side. And they're moving fast."

I think Bill might be on to something. I could have sworn I saw a social engineer trying to slip some subversive literature into my mailbox. No, it was just the postman with the latest TV Guide. Fox (you know, the network that Fox News is a part of) has some great programming, like The Swan, which takes women with low self-esteem and, through plastic surgery and other means, transforms these "ugly ducklings" into beautiful "swans." And the most beautiful of the "swans" get to participate in a beauty pageant! Bill, I think it's time to fire off a Talking Points memo and complain about your network's programming choices. Otherwise, God help us, Fox will offer up My Big Fat Obnoxious FiancÚ II. Or some show about animals attacking people.


Scott C. Smith is a freelance writer from Beaverton, Oregon. Scott writes a column from a liberal point of view, which appears at progressive web sites such as Democratic Underground and CounterBias.com. Scott also writes for his web log, What's In Scott's Head, at scottcsmith.net

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