Stinky’s Denial Rebutted
Author’s note: Michael Savage, a conservative political commentator, is one of 22 people barred from entering the United Kingdom for fostering extremism or hate. Sixteen of the names on the UK’s list were made public in early May 2009. Mr. Savage was interviewed sometime later. His views are reproduced faithfully here. However, we introduced a new interviewer to ask the questions, a zealous, if inexperienced television host who shows perhaps more gusto than style.
Interviewer: Sir, thank you so much for joining us today.
Stinky: It is an honor and a pleasure, Sir. I have you to thank.
I: Stanley Stinky is one of the few people who require no introduction, but since I have to at least act like I’m earning my living, Mr. Stinky, permit me to give a little background as to why I importuned you to appear on my show today. Mr. Stinky has been banned from entering the United Kingdom! Shocking, but true. And that allows me, if you will permit, Sir, to get right to the meat of the matter.
S: I always do.
I: Boy, do you ever! Now, not to be too direct or too—
S: You can’t be too anything with me. Say it.
I: Love that style! That blunt jab! The feint and thrust! The impudence! The impertinence! Okay, here goes. Sir, as I just mentioned and, frankly, the reason I was desperate to have you on my show was to get your reaction, up front and in your face, to being banned from entry into the United Kingdom. How does it feel?
S: I was shocked, angered. How in the world could I be linked with known murderers, people who have been put into prison for years for killing people, people who espouse the overthrow of your government openly, when I am simply speaking, talking for 15 years on the radio, writing best-selling books. It was shocking to believe this was coming out of England, a country I have always loved and admired, specifically for its freedoms.
I: What do you say to the reasons behind the ban: that the things you say foment hatred, engage people in spreading hatred as well?
S: Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.
I: Like leprosy?
S: Pardon me?
I: I was just trying to make the point that there are some things no one would consider beautiful: rotten fruit, burned corpses, or a harelip. Now I don’t think anyone would say a harelip is beautiful, do you?
S: We’re talking thought, not physical deformities.
I: So you do agree that a physical deformity can’t be considered beautiful! And if any beholder did, it would nevertheless be correct to restrain that beholder from fully enjoying his or her object of beauty—the harelip—by preserving harelips in infants. Because as you rightly say, a harelip is a deformation. It prevents a child, an individual, from forming words well, from speaking clearly—you see, I am working myself back to thought because speech is the expression of thought, wouldn’t you agree?
S: Of course.
I: I can’t tell you what an honor it is to have you on my show. Doesn’t the audience agree? Let’s hear it for Stanley Stinky. [Loud, long applause.] So you were saying, Sir?
S: I wasn’t saying. You were saying.
I: Not again! I get so enthusiastic about your cause. Just having you here! I apologize. What were you going to say? Not about beauty being in the eyes of the beholder, of course, but you were working up to something.
S: There are millions of people who agree with my point of view. Not only in America but around the world. Now you can take sound bites from an individual and turn them into anything you want. But if you actually listened to what I said about these things, it might be a different individual that you’re hearing.
I: You mean like cocksucking sonofabitching kinky-haired whore? Not that’s out of context, isn’t it?
S: I don’t know which show that home secretary heard or when she heard it but I’m not broadcast in England so obviously she was been given some selective sound bites by individuals who detest my points of view and are trying to skewer me.
I: You must have said ‘She is a cocksucking sonofabitching kinky-haired whore,’ right? I mean, there was a whole sentence in there. That was the context and they stripped it right out!
S: That’s not freedom of speech nor is that fair, but that’s not the issue. The issue is that in America the first amendment was written to protect offensive speech. We don’t need a first amendment to protect polite speech, do we? I mean, everyone engages in polite speech. What do we need protections for? It’s speech which provokes thought that is considered offensive and hateful by those who disagree with you, isn’t it?
I: I would say offensive speech doesn’t provoke thought at all, but the emotions. It gets people all riled up. You’re either insulting them or someone else. So your listeners are either getting insulted or passively engaged in listening to you insult someone else. That doesn’t sound healthy to me. Sound like a reasonable assessment?
I: So you don’t agree with me.
I: Did I offend you?
S: Of course not.
I: Well, I’m glad. Obviously, expressing an opinion contrary to your interlocutor’s doesn’t have to cause that person offense.
S: Of course not.
I: However, if you needed to start a fight with someone, would you say ‘Pardon me, Sir, but do you mind if I get by’? Or would you say, ‘Hey asshole, get out of the way’?
S: Probably the latter.
I: The latter is more offensive, I guess?
I: But the essential point of both statements is the same? That you’d like to move past that person.
I: So you can say the same thing politely or offensively?
I: You said the first amendment was to protect offensive speech. But I am confused as to why since, as you just attested, the quality of being offensive has no essential part in freely expressing ideas. Speaking one’s mind can be done skillfully, adroitly, eloquently, in a way that expresses an idea well and, as a result, does in fact provoke thought. Or it can be done offensively, which does not provoke thought but the emotions, which often clouds thought. Let’s do a thought experiment: Hey you motherfucking aboriginal shithead, I think it’s going to rain.
S: I beg your pardon?
I: I was only trying to provoke you to think about whether you should take an umbrella with you for your walk. Did my message not get across to you?
S: Not this time. No.
I: There, you see? That’s my point. In any case, I hope I didn’t offend.
S: Is it time for a commercial break?
I: No, not yet. You were saying?
S: I would have been saying if I ever got the chance that this whole thing is only speech we’re talking about. Not the acts of murderers. And for the UK to lump me in with murderers is defaming me. It’s libeling me.
I: Slander’s okay, though, isn’t it?
S: How do you mean?
I: I mean like when you called that liberal congressman a slimy, booger-eating, alcoholic sodomite, one of the sound bites cited against you as damaging speech fomenting hatred.
S: You can do anything with sound bites.
I: What context was that sound bite taken out of?
S: I’m sorry. I can’t recall every word I’ve ever uttered. You have to remember I’ve been on the radio for 15 years, written best-selling books …
I: So, Mr. Stinky, what are you going to do about this ban? You said in your show you’re going to sue?
S: We have six or seven attorneys in London who are very anxious to take my position, but I don’t want to have to go there. That home secretary made a mistake. She was not given the full picture of Stanley Stinky. I suggest that she reconsider, remove my name, send a letter of apology, and I will rapidly consider dropping, number one, the libel suit, and number two, the call for a travel ban by my listeners. I don’t want to have to do this, but I have eight to ten million loyal listeners. If I say, folks, don’t go to England, don’t buy British goods, don’t buy the Jaguar, don’t buy the pint, let’s see what happens.
I: And that is something you’re prepared to do?
S: I will do what’s necessary to defend my name and reputation.
I: You are saying, then, that you are prepared to retaliate, and can.
S: I don’t want to go there.
I: But you say you are ready to tell your listeners to take up your cause by boycotting England.
S: Let’s just say, if I say it, let’s see what happens.
I: Isn’t that what they’re banning you for, Sir?
S: If I don’t get an apology—but, ah, what specifically do you mean?
I: For fomenting among your listeners bad opinion and destructive actions targeted specifically against someone you perceive as a your personal foe?
S: Call it what you like. I worked all my life to build my name and reputation. I’m not going to let it get dragged through the mud by that lunatic.
I: I mean, don’t you defeat your own purpose by this threat?
S: I am defending my good name.
I: Anyway! Mr. Stinky’s time is getting short, dear listeners, and his very busy schedule begs for his attention, so let me recap for you. This entire outrageous scandal is only all about speech, the speech of Stanley Stinky, as Mr. Stinky—the third-highest rated radio show host in the United States—has told us right here. But, in saying it is only about speech, Mr. Stinky is surely putting one over on us and not letting us in on how much he knows about his business. He’s been in it for—you’ve just said yourself, Mr. Stinky—15 wonderfully successful years. And he has just revealed to us that through a word from him, he can mobilize eight to ten million listeners to boycott UK goods.
S: I have eight to ten million loyal listeners, yes.
I: Yet he protests that speech cannot be lumped together with acts, that he as a radio show host cannot be categorized with murderers and terrorists; that he may say bad things, but he doesn’t do them. No, he asks his eight to ten million listeners to do them, and oh it can get bad then. One cranky baby in the ward can be a headache, but ten million? We’ve got Calcutta! Anyway, I have to concur wholeheartedly with Mr. Stinky on that. Speech being an expression of thought—we hope, ha ha—and thought being the primary motive instrument of humankind, speech is the foremost instrument to cause others to act, in other words, to bring about public action, mass action, if you will, anonymous action, in other words, riots, demonstrations, movements, cultural upheavals, and let us not speak the word, wars. A powerful weapon, indeed, and one that cannot be lumped together with mere action. However, let me qualify: We’re talking about skillful speech, incendiary speech, perhaps, yes, perhaps even offensive speech. What Mr. Stinky failed to say, however, what he stopped short of saying and perhaps I was guilty of cutting him off—for which I apologize, but Mr. Stinky certainly does provoke me to thought—was that speech is much more powerful than a single act. And if a person has eight to ten million loyal listeners—listeners who have proven themselves to be individuals compelled by offensive language (otherwise they wouldn’t be loyal listeners of Mr. Stinky, would they?), who espouses ideas through offensive formulations—remember, you said it yourself, Mr. Stinky—the first amendment (along with the others) was introduced to the first United States Congress by James Madison, strongly propounded by Thomas Jefferson, and ratified by three-fourths of the States in order to defend your right to use offensive speech—we can deduce that the power of such a person’s speech is magnified to the degree to which it is broadcast, that it swells until it is eight to ten million times more powerful than the naked word spoken. Those speakers also command income. To spend or not to spend, what sayest Stanley Stinky? You, Sir, are one of the biggest moneymakers, do not try to deny it and never mind how you do it. Damn quality, trash objectivity, sunder fact from fidelity, hit low, play foul and what do we have? Stanley Stinky and his Stinky Nation, a show for those who like to sharpen their razors at home and flash them in the dark. Just one more tidbit, Sir, one last item of burning curiosity for myself as well as for my listeners: Why did you change your name from Stanley Eggsucker to Stanley Stinky?
S: Had a better ring to it.
I: It didn’t have to do with words or meaning or fomenting anything, I take it?
S: Certainly not.
I: Just the sound made a difference to you.
S: Had a better ring to it. Is it time for a commercial break?
I: Time for a commercial break! But don’t bother coming right back, folks, because Mr. Stinky will be gone. By the way, Mr. Stinky, Jaguar is owned by an Indian company now. You wouldn’t be trying to dent that helpless mammoth intentionally, would you? Can we just tag that collateral damage?