Defending Don Imus

My identity does not wither in the face of an attack by a degenerate like Sid Rosenberg. I am not going to convince others who are predisposed to believing him to change their minds by shutting him up. I am far more likely to get them to change by talking to them and opening up their minds.

The Israeli-Palestinian issue in particular raises a lot of tempers and gets people to say a lot of awful things, but it's a critically important conversation. I would rather have some people go over the line in discussing it than have people not discuss all of the underlying issues for fear of offense.

And believe me, if you censor it, it won't be the Israeli point of view that gets shut down in this country. Let people speak openly, so we can at least have the conversation.

Are there limits? Yes. There are hardly any black and white issues in the world. You have to find the right balance. In the case of free speech, that balance should be tilted all the way over to one side because there is hardly anything more important to an open society than open dialogue. But in this, as with everything else, there is a limit.

Cenk Uygur is the main host of "Young Turks" on Air America Radio.

Of course everyone will disagree on what the limit is and we will eventually come to a rough consensus as we do in democracies. My take is that we shouldn't ban anyone from the airwaves unless they are overwhelmingly and habitually over the line, 100 miles over the line. Call it the Ann Coulter Test.

So, if Sid Rosenberg and Rush Limbaugh don't go over the line, who does? I can name only one person that currently goes on-air that crosses the 100- mile line. Ann Coulter.

As if her past comments weren't enough, she just took a swipe at genocide -- because it isn't quick enough. She followed that up by advocating the killing of innocent civilians in Iraq to terrorize the population. But this is tip of the 100-mile iceberg with Coulter.

I want to make some quick distinctions here though. Fox News Channel is different than Don Imus. The difference isn't that Fox is more racist, it's that it is more deceptive. People listening to the Imus show know exactly what they're getting. Fox, on the other hand, lies to its audience and its peers and pretends to be something it's not.

I would defend Fox's right to broadcast its opinions to my death. But I love that the Democratic candidates are not going on Fox to hold their presidential debates. Just because it should be allowed to broadcast, doesn't mean that you have to watch it or go on its station. Until Fox drops its completely disingenuous claims about being an objective news channel, no one should take it seriously.

The Democrats would never have their debate on Rush Limbaugh's show and they should never have it on Fox News Channel. On the other hand, if the Republicans want to hold their debate on Fox, that makes sense to me. There's nothing wrong with Fox's existence. There is only something wrong with the rest of the news establishment pretending it is a legitimate news station.

I have also spoken out against Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va., who has made some terrible anti-Muslim comments. I think he should at least be censured by Congress. Goode is a public representative. He doesn't just speak for himself. His job is to speak for all of us as our representative. If he is openly hostile to some of his constituents because of their identity, then he is not fulfilling the requirements of his job.

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