O'Reilly, Conservatives, and the Culture War
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
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
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
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
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
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