Who got hung, Karyn?
Between them, Karyn and Adrian make two defences of the content of Tuesday night's show. Adrian argues that the nature of the show reflected the open, democratic qualities of Radio Live talkback, and denies that Karyn and her co-host Andrew Fagan should be criticised for refraining from questioning the opinions of their callers. For Adrian, Tuesday night was not about 'wrong and right, black and white' but about 'learning, expanding, and entertaining the mind'.
For her part, Karyn argues that she knew that the opinions of her callers were nonsense; she only let the conspiracy theorists go unchallenged because she wanted to 'give 'em enough rope' to 'hang themselves'.
I think that Adrian's argument is mistaken, and Karyn's argument is transparently dishonest.
I share Adrian's enthusiasm for open, democratic debate on talkback radio and elsewhere. But genuine debate about important and highly sensitive issues like genocide and war has to be grounded in an understanding of basic facts. It is necessary to make a distinction between facts and interpretations of the facts, and to insist that certain crucial facts are not as open to debate as interpretations of those facts inevitably are. It is one thing to argue about the causes of Hitler's persecution of the Jews; it is another thing altogether to deny that this persecution took place. It is one thing to discuss the reasons for the 9/11 attacks; it is another thing altogether to deny the most basic facts about these attacks, by alleging they were the result of some sort of Jewish conspiracy.
I don't object to Radio Live hosts letting anti-semites talk on air. I do object when the hosts don't intervene when their guests try to lie their way around basic historical facts that set the parameters for rational debate. As I've said during discussions on this blog about the myths of a pre-Maori people, the falsification of history inevitably poisons political discussion.
Karyn's claim that she was merely giving her callers 'enough rope' flies in the face of the record of Tuesday night's conversations. Karyn not only listened uncritically to her anti-semitic callers - she appeared to be taken in by some of these callers.
After one anti-semite recommended Antony Sutton's bizarre Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler, which blames Jewish bankers for the Holocaust and calls for state monitoring of Jewish groups in contemporary America, Karyn looked the book up on the internet, read its publisher's blurb, and said that it looked 'very interesting'.
Karyn and Andrew's conversation with an anti-semitic caller named 'Peter' is also worth discussing, as an example of their credulity. Here's a transcript of a part of the beginning of Peter's call to Radio Live last Tuesday night:
Karen: It's 9.19. Hello 'Peter'...
'Peter': Hello...A lot of people just don't realise what happens - Adolf Hitler, before he went mad, he actually created credit to fund the projects in Germany just like the Labour Party created credit to build state housing in New Zealand. So it was also about money. He obviously went mad, and lost it. But before he went to war, and did stupid things, he would have gone down as a great leader...'
'Peter' went on to make a series of criticisms of current Finance Minister Michael Cullen, whose cowardly appeasement of Jewish bankers apparently contrasts poorly with the deeds of Michael Joseph Savage and Adolf Hitler.
Neither Andrew Fagan nor Karyn Hay had anything to say against Peter's praise for a leader who was sending hundreds of thousands of Jews, socialists, and other 'undesirables' to concentration camps long before he supposedly 'went mad' and started World War Two. Andrew responded to Peter's arguments by saying, without a hint of sarcasm, 'with your body of knowledge mate you've got to go into politics'. Karyn also commented on 'all the factual information' in Peter's comments, saying that 'my frontal lobe has reached my knees'.
Were Karyn and Andrew really trying to give 'Peter' 'enough rope' to hang himself? It seems to me that if he hung himself, he hung Karyn and Andrew, too.
I'll comment on the real identity of 'Peter' and the agenda he brings to Radio Live in a later post. In the meantime, I wanted to thank the bloggers and commenters who have joined me in calling on Karyn and Andrew to pull their socks up and engage their brains.
And if anyone's after a sane take on the current financial crisis, they could worse than this.