Sunday, September 23, 2007

Talk Radio Not Up to Jena Challenge

The racist prosecution of six black youths in Jena, Louisiana was the subject of one of the most successful civil rights protests in years last week, focusing the national and international spotlight on an unfortunate but all too frequent misuse of the criminal justice system. Naturally, Milwaukee’s own race-baiting wing-nuts were right out front, attacking the leaders of the protests and blaming the victims.

Over on right-wing radio station WTMJ, supposedly legitimate public-policy egghead (so christened recently by Marquette University) Charlie Sykes was playing his usual smear-the-messengers-so-we-don’t-have-to-deal-with-the-issues game. Jim Rowan noticed that Sykes called two historic figures who, unlike Sykes, have actually done something positive with their lives – civil rights leaders Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton – "race pimps" for daring to challenge the Jena outrage. Nothing new here – I caught Sykes calling Sharpton a pimp back during the Imus imbroglio and my post was widely ignored. So, I guess this is something that the mainstream outrage-spotters are willing to let go, if only to protect their spots on Sykes’ TV panels. Besides, at least Sykes was familiar with the subject of his comments, having pimped for the GOP for years.

Over on WISN, Mark Belling was in full I-don’t-care-if-you-call-me-a-racist mode, calling the Jena kids "thugs" (like he knows) and blaming the struggle for justice in Jena as the "pathetic" result of nostalgic longing by "idiots" who missed the ‘60s. In one of the more outlandishly stupid examples of wishful thinking in recent years, know-it-all Belling offered this: "By the mid-1970s, all the legal racism in America was pretty much done-away with." Wow, really? This completely insupportable claim ignores the treatment of crack cocaine (used by blacks) more severely than powder (favored by whites, who can afford it); the disproportionate use of the death penalty on black defendants; high percentage of blacks in prison; the fact that blacks are still far more likely than whites to get stopped just driving down the street, etc. The criminal justice system has been regularly used to accomplish what cannot be done by Jim Crow or Bull Conner wannabes, especially in racist backwaters like Jena.

Not satisfied to pretend well-established racial problems in the criminal justice system don’t exist, Belling decided – as he often does at the mere suggestion of African-American temerity – to add racist insult to injury. Belling suggested that, rather than marching for justice in Jena like a bunch of ingrates, blacks should turn on people in their own community. "Why not do something gutsy like march in front of the homes of some of these mothers who have eight kids by eight different fathers and aren’t paying attention to any of them," said the exaggerating, ignorant Belling. "...whose notion of a family is to simply pop out a bunch of kids and turn them to the streets and allow the gang members to raise them?" Why not, indeed? Thus the classic racist notion of poor black women "popping out" children is introduced into a discussion of justice in Jena. "Dealing with the pathologies of urban America is hard; Jena is easy," he said. Well, Jena isn’t that easy for him. He can’t deal with any subject involving black Americans without promoting racist canards that would only be welcome in the coffee shops of white Jena.

While taking friendly calls from places like Oshkosh, Brookfield and the South Side – "How can we look at members of the black community as equals?" wondered the chump from Oshkosh – Belling, obviously on a roll, wouldn’t (perhaps couldn’t) stop there. He also had the nerve to speak on behalf of Martin Luther King, Jr. MLK "would not have rallied behind a bunch of guilty kids", claims Belling, forgetting that King himself was a frequent victim of the criminal justice system, "guilty" as he was of being uppity. "Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application," he famously wrote from the Birmingham jail. While his focus was on the civil rights denied in the South, King’s world view was not limited to that issue. He would have recognized the injustice in Jena – and, certainly, its relation to the deep South’s historic racism – just like he recognized the futility of the Vietnam war just before his death.

As if twisting the King legacy beyond recognition wasn’t enough, Belling couldn’t help but draw attention to King’s "problems in his personal life", just in case you were thinking of throwing some King back in his face. "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity," King said. Now, run tell that.

Paul Soglin had a brief moment of attention last week when he said on his blog that "the problem with Milwaukee is talk radio. So long as Charlie Sykes, Mark Belling and Jay Weber dominate the discussion on crime and poverty, there is little hope for Wisconsin's most important city to work its way out of its troubles." He’s right, of course, and the "discussion" of the issues presented by the Jena prosecutions are the perfect example. Sykes, Belling and their ilk are comedians, entertainers. They don’t give a damn about crime in the city, blathering on about it only to patronize their angry-white-man demographic by talking about how bad and irresponsible blacks and their leaders are.

In Jena, Louisiana, we see the legacy of historic racism, now filtered, however clumsily, through the heavy-handed use of the criminal justice system. Milwaukee’s legacy of racism also survives, no longer through the vehicles of segregated schools and Harold Breier, but now through loud-mouths on the radio, who continue to poison the environment with racist tripe. It’s not helpful, to say the least, but as long as they are offered forums at Marquette, columns in local newspapers and TV shows, it is those who facilitate their poison and advertise on their shows who really bear the responsibility for the lack of progress in a city that needs unity while Belling and Sykes promote division.


krshorewood said...

You are right that these guys don't float past the level of comedians, but the problem is their audience that take them seriously and vote accordingly.

Jay Bullock said...

Then there's James Harris, who sounds just like Belling. "MLK is rolling over in his grave!" Harris says.

I wonder if Harris knows it was white kids that put those nooses in the trees.

illusory tenant said...

You're obviously not hip to the musings.

Anonymous said...

Mike, you are one angry person aren't you? I mean, you have a point in many of your posts, but your anger level seems to be turned to maximum.

What's the deal?

Anonymous said...

Wait a sec, isn't the Jena case about a group of kids who beat up another kid? Shouldn't that be the issue?

I don't care what color skin anyone had.

I get that some idiots decided to hand nooses on some tree that was evidently sacred but what about the kid who got pulverized? Shouldn't he be the one seeking justice? Isn't he the victim? I don't get it.

I'm not sure why Mike is going off the handle, but I guess when he has the chance to label conservatives/republicans as racists he practically salivates as he types.

Anonymous said...

Mike, why not write about the case itself, since you're a lawyer, and quit focusing on what Belling/Sykes/Harris are saying? I would think that with your expertise in a courtroom that you could give us some insight into the charges, chance for aquittal, etc. But instead you focus in on 2/3 people who could give a crap about you. Odd indeed.

krshorewood said...

The deeper this gets the moroe represhensible it becomes, but of course Belling, Harris, Sykes don't want you to get deep nor does the Journal help.

Turns out the charges against the black kids are pretty outrageous. Beating a kid with Nike's and calling it "assualt with a deadly weapon?" Taking a shotgun away that a white kids was pointing at the blacks and calling it "theft?" White kids attacking blacks and not getting charged at all?

Let's at least hope these guys don't know the facts andd leave it at that. But it could be argued that Syke's and Belling's basic racism would prevent them from looking any further. Of course we know that Jessica "McBride of Chucky" is just plain nuts.

Harris on the other hand seems to be the local head of the Clarence Thomas franchise.

Paul Krugman does a great job of covering the racism that lies beneath --

James Rowen said...

I think the local talk radio context is fine to include, and thank you for the link.

For years, talk radio hosts had a relatively free ride, with little in the way of accountability being offered or expected.

They were and are on the radio, on TV, in print, and on the internet.

But the internet gives us the means to unmask and correct them - - while we focus on the larger issues, too.

Mike Plaisted said...

I have to say, Anony, that the blatent racism displayed by Belling and Sykes, et all, does get my blood boiling a little more than their usual schtick. It's not that I have "the chance to label conservatives/republicans as racists"; it's that the wing-nuts take the chance, whenever they can; to play the race card; to call black leaders pimps; to talk about black women "popping out" babies -- even getting callers to question whether blacks should be treated equally. The talk-radio comedians in Milwaukee do a lot to poison the politcal well, but their racist tangents are easily the worst of it.

So, I call them on it, and I don't see any reason to be nice about it. As a nation, we have yet to deal at all with the issue of race and in Milwaukee, we will never be able to as long as these guys patronize Milwaukee's racists and its racist past.

Anonymous said...


I think that you miss, or avoid the main thrust of the talk-show comments. The point was that it is weak, pathetic even, for Sharpton and Jackson to rush off to the cameras in Jena while they never address the problems of the black community--black on black violence, teen pregnancy, under-education. They are frustrated like you. Did Jackson and Sharpton come to town to protest the special-olympian who was mudered? What about the gang rape? Why were these cases not important enough for them? The perps were black too.
Its that simple. Jackson might have done something, but all Sharpton has done is parley the lies of tawanna Brawley into a political career--really a media career because all either does is chase cameras.

Maybe you could list a few of their concrete accomplishments? Rev. Dr. King, won the heart of a divided nation, after all.

Fianlly, you miss an obvious point or two. As a lawyer you should know that the initial charges of a DA often change. And while attempted murder is extreme in this case, there would never have been a conviction. Battery is another matter, a lower threshold for the jury. Finally, while hanging a noose is scum-bag behavior (for which more than a three-day suspension is warranted) it is still not as serious as jumping someone.

Keep going, however, with your campaign to recind the freedom of speech. This part is proceless:"it is those who facilitate their poison and advertise on their shows who really bear the responsibility for the lack of progress in a city that needs unity while Belling and Sykes promote division." Yeah, right.

Other Side said...

Right on, Mike. FYI: The hysteria of wingers like Patrick is what's priceless ... campaign to rescind freedom of speech. Too funny!

AnotherTosaVoter said...

Mike, you said,

"As a nation, we have yet to deal at all with the issue of race..."

See, you lose some credibility with ridiculous statements like this. Yet to deal at all with the issue? You cannot be serious.

But forget even this specific issue, all your posts are in this vein, using terms like "wingnuts" every chance you get. Is matching their vitriol helping the political dialogue? I ask you this specifically because you're an attorney and so I'd assume you're accustomed to keeping your cool when you'd like to pop is this your chance to vent?

I take this position with folks on the right as well.

Anonymous said...

And the wing-nuts on the left don't use the race card at every opportunity? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

So are you now labeling those businesses who advertise on Belling and Sykes racists?

Does it ever end with you Mike? Your hatred is some of the scariest I have ever seen out of a liberal. I mean I know you're a liberal and all but this is even bad for a liberal.

Anonymous said...

Mike cannot hold in his rage, hatred, and anger when it comes to Republicans, Bush, Fox News, Cheney, Belling, Rumsfeld, Sykes, Rush, Petraeus, NRA, Rove, Hannity, The 1/2 Hour Newshour, Sheriff Clarke, Walker, Reagan, Gingrich, Condi, Clarence Thomas*, McBride, Green, Guiliani, James T Harris, Tommy Thompson, et al....

Mike Plaisted said...


I'm not missing the "thrust" of the talk-show comments about Jackson and Sharpton at all. They mean to disparage anyone who would dare to lift up the poor and disenfranchised, and if it means calling them racist terms like "pimps", well, they'll do that. I think I hit their nails right on their pointy heads.

Jesse Jackson has done more to help real people in the black community than anyone I know. Jackson was a hero of the civil rights movement, at King's side when he died, and his campaigns for president in '84 and '88 were revolutionary, forever changing the definition of what is possible. His work in communities throughout the nation and as a spokesperson on African-American issues has often been a beacon of light in dark times. His accomplishments put cheap punks like Sykes and Belling to shame.

Al Sharton is another matter -- he made the mistake of believing Brawley's claims and that does not eliminate the good he has done in New York City. After being the most interesting person in the race in 2004, he has evolved into a quite effective national leader on civil rights issues.

Is there something about the black-on-black crimes in Milwaukee that is not being done? Are investigations not being done, people not being prosecuted? I think the authorities are doing the best they can, which is pretty good. Everyone in the gang rape was brought to justice, and then some. Jackson and Sharpton make noise when the powers that be abuse that power. Except for a bunch of cops beating the shit out of Frank Jude, what has that got to do with what is going on in Milwaukee?

The DA in Jena took a fight where the white kid ended up in the hospital for a couple of hours and created an attempted murder charge out of whole cloth. I'm not willing to let juries sort things like that out. Would the DA have charged the white kids under the tree with attempted murder if they beat up a black kid with the nerve to approach their racist turf? Are you kidding me?


The businesses that advertise on right-wing radio may not be racist, but they support racist right-wing radio. They bear some responsibility for that. I don't support any business I hear advertised on right-wing radio. My choice. It's funny -- you say right-wing radio is the product fo the marketplace, and then are SO offended when I suggest moving the marketplace in another direction. Make up your mind.

They can say anything they want on their stupid blogs (instead of running e-mails from Clarke and Walker, Sykes doesn't even bother much anymore), but radio poison is another matter -- government-regulated for a reason. Radio speech is not a matter of free speech, it's a matter of a dominant-by-nature media that has been hijacked by a bunch of racist twits.

And, Anony, what is the point of insisting that I'm filled with hatred and anger? I am passionate about what I believe, but let's pretend I am hateful and angry -- does that mean I'm wrong somehow? Why don't you address the actual arguments I'm making and quit trying to personally disparage or minimize me? The problem is -- you can't. And that make you, what Anony? Angry, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

You are invariably wrong. Does this carry over into your legal career or is it just a matter of your media criticism?

Anonymous said...

won the heart of a divided nation

Like hell he did. He was accused of precisely the same things as Jackson and Sharpton and much, much more. Read the archives of the National Review.

What he did was force a realignment, breaking up the coalition of New Dealers and racists, the latter of whom who promptly defected to the GOP. They're still there.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Gnarly. Those not old enough to remember those days do not know of what they speak -- as when MLK spoke, he got the same treatment that his successors do today.

History matters. If you weren't there to live it, folks, you could look it up before claiming to know what it was like.

Mike Plaisted said...

Thanks, Anony 9:44, for that insightful analysis.

Indeed, gnarly and Anony 11:18, MLK was the target of the same sort of losers in his day, and worse -- he was getting snooped-on by the FBI.

Anonymous said...

Business who advertise on Belling and Sykes are not supporting racist radio you wing-nut dolt. They choose to advertise on the stations with the highest Arbitron ratings. Why should they advertise on radio stations with LOW ratings? You would never make it in the advertising world, your clients would fire you instantly, stick with lawyering/ambulance chasing.

Make up my mind about what? Radio is driven by the marketplace, it's called RATINGS. If your show isn't highly rated, it most likely won't last long (except of course NPR which you and I pay for through taxes).

You know, a lot of what I see on TV is poison to me so why can't government invoke some sort of fairness doctrine for that? Doesn't the FCC regulate those airwaves?

Me? Angry? I'm happy as can be. I don't have to rely on others to support me, I don't whine that government isn't doing enough for me, I work hard and EARN my money and give back what I can after the Feds/State take their egregious amount, I don't blame others for things that go wrong in my life, I believe in God (gasp!), and do what I can to make my family happy. On top of that, I live in the greatest country in the world where I enjoy freedom unparalled to any other country. What would I possibly have to be upset about?

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out that FBI snooping into MLK continued with snooping into the livs of his family, his successors. . . .

Anonymous said...

Along with advertising there is PR -- and Anon 1:28, you are wrong if you think that good companies don't take care about being judged by the "company they keep" in their advertising. Apparently, you have missed the coverage of advertisers pulling out of shows such as, oh, Imus. . . .

As for the FCC, you apparently also missed coverage of its deregulation.

Btw, Mike seems to get happier with every one of your posts, giving him more fodder for fun. So keep it up, since you care so much about his happiness.

Anonymous said...

Check this one out, from Sen. Macaca's former mouthpiece:

Reagan launched his 1980 campaign at the Neshoba County Fair. The Neshoba County Fair is not in Philadelphia, Mississippi. It's near it, certainly, but about 10-20 miles outside of Philadelphia.

True, that. Kolmeshöhe Cemetery isn't actually in Bitburg, either. The fact Reagan spoke less than a mile from where the bodies were found is beside the point.

Fair dinkum. It's way out of bounds to call these people wingnuts.

Anonymous said...

No question PR is huge in advertising. Belling took a very minor hit in advertisers pulling out when he used the "w" word on his show. But the bottom line is that advertisers want results from where they place their advertising.

I guess you and Mike won't be riding a Milwaukee County Transit bus anytime soon, they advertise on conservative talk radio so obviously they support racism in an indirect way so you'd better not patronize MCTS.

No kidding the FCC is deregulated. But please tell me a non taxpayer-funded television show/station that survives without advertising dollars? Kind of explains why a lot of shows get cancelled if they can't pull an audience.

Mike is happy? You could have fooled me. His hatred of many conservatives is seething and is readily apparent in his writing. He hates anyone on conservative talk radio as he spends soooo much time writing about it and saying how they're all racists. Man, life is too short to be that negative. Even when Clinton was in power I still led a very happy life and just laughed at all of the pratfalls and poor decisions he made.

Mike perfectly mirrors the wing-nut left in their obsession with hating GW Bush, it masks out any other influence. To me, that's funny, and yet sad...I almost feel bad for poor Mike Plaisted.

Other Side said...

If life is too short to be that negative, then why comment here? I think that was the argument you, or one of the other anonys used.

You could spend more time grazing if you commented less frequently. What was it you suggested as a reason ... oh yeah, your hate must overwhelm you. Baa baa.

Mike Plaisted said...

Anony 2:34, etc.:

Gee-ad, man, what is your deal? Do you know the difference between "hate" and "oppose"? Are the wing-nuts really so fragile that any challenge to what they are doing -- never to them personally -- is "hating"? Like Bush, I don't know or care enough about them enough to hate them. Unlike Bush, I give them credit for knowing better and criticize them for patronizing their their target demographic. I don't know whether they are racists or not, but they say racist things. I am trying to draw you out to discuss what about what Belling and Sykes say is not racist. Instead, you go off on these know-nothing tangents about me personally.

I not angry or hateful. I'm having a great time getting my nose under the tent and tweaking these wimpy wingnuts who are not used to being challenged. I do a little victory dance everyday I think I moved the needle a little closer to reality.

I'm fairly accomplished professionally, have a wonderful son, write well, sing OK (see me live in person this Saturday at the East Side Market). If I cared whether there was a god or not, I'd love him or her to pieces. I also love the good ol' USA and wouldn't live anywhere else on the planet.

Opposition to the forces that drive Bush and the wing-nuts is a powerful, positive thing. I am living the life, my friend, on the positive, permanent side.

Anonymous said...

No, PR isn't "in" advertising; they are separate functions, both results-oriented but . . . oh, forget it. You don't want to get it.

Anonymous said...

Boy, blacks really have some great heros these days to rally behind in the name of "civil righs" and "oppressive, racist America":

The brave "Jena 6" who attacked and beat (unconscious) a white kid.

Poor Michael Vick - the Don King of dog fighting and dog execution.

The idiot stripper/prostitute in the Duke rape hoax who was promised a college scholarship by Jesse Jackson, regardless of whether her story turned out to be true or not.

And, of course, OJ Simpson, a double murderer set free by a jury (causing blacks to dance in the streets) simply because he was black and the victim was white.

Anonymous said...

Mike, wouldn't you prefer to live in a country where universal healthcare is the rule and the rich are taxed a majority of their money (which is directly given to the poor with no questions asked) and the radio airwaves are full of liberal talk only?


Mike Plaisted said...

Yipes, Anony.

No one that I know is defending Michael Vick or the woman in the Duke case. I'm certainly not. As for O.J., he was found not guilty because the prosecutors screwed up and made the case about a bunch of extraneous stuff that Cochran could knock down. He's not a hero to anyone but, for some reason, Marcia Clark is. But support for any persectued black person MUST be support for any black person that has ever been arrested? Sure. That makes sense. To a racist.

As for your assumptions about my preferences:
1) Universal Health Care. You bet. That would be every other country on the planet except for the U.S.
2) Progressive tax? Sure. Rich taxed at >50% and the rest distributed to the poor? No one but you has ever said or thought that. Don't be a dick. Oops, too late.
3) Radio full of liberal talk? Sounds boring to me. Not that anyone has ever suggested that either.

Are you enjoying this straw-man bullshit? Because you really are getting annoying. Why don't you go camp out on someone else's blog or, better yet, get your own.

Anonymous said...

Nah, it's more fun blog posting to a dick like you. (You said it first, not me)

Liberal radio talk boring? But wouldn't that be fair to balance out the right wing controlled media, you know, NBC, CBS, Fox, ABC, etc.

So if America is so great and you love living here yet they don't have the universal healthcare that you want and the rich don't pay more than 50% in taxes, then why not move to a country that has all of that?

Oh, and when are you going to write about this?

Other Side said...

I warned you, Mike. You can block trolls very easily. Just contact Google blog administrators.

This clown adds nothing.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's probably best to quash anyone who doesn't agree with you, it's the American way. You need to make sure the liberal echo-chamber is devoid of any contradicting thought.

Other Side said...

No. Just you, troll. Patrick and the others provide interesting commentary with their opposing points of view. You contribute zero.

Troll, you complain about liberals shutting off contradictory views. It has nothing to do with that. It has everything to do with rude and nonsensical behavior.

Heck, you only have to look to Boots and Sabers for an example of someone who got fed up with a troll and suspended said troll's commenting privileges.

FYI: Boots and Sabers is one of the most conservative blogs, and the troll whose privileges were suspended was also conservative, and also a jerk in that blog administrator's mind.

Of course, all of this is up to Mike. This is just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

No, you don't like me because I disagree with almost everything that Mike says...Patrick (and others) will occasionally agree with Mike on something small and will also kiss his butt, I don't do that, not my style.

I cannot believe the amount of child-like name-calling that goes on here. I only joined in on it because it seemed like that's the only way you and Mike know how to communicate with conservatives. Calling us dicks, trolls, racists, etc. Love that maturity from grown men!

If Mike and you don't like me or what I have to say, then don't address my comments, it's quite simple.