How to try Bill O'Reilly for Dr. Tiller's murder

Regarding Bill O’Reilly’s campaign against George Dr. Tiller, as reported by Gabriel Winant at Salon, a recent precedent exists for a civil lawsuit against O’Reilly.

If you have read the book A Hundred Little Hitlers: The Death of a Black Man, the Trial of a White Racist, and the Rise of the Neo-Nazi Movement in America by Elinor Langer, you’ll no doubt agree with her (though no white power advocate, she) that the godfather of American white power, Tom Metzger, was railroaded. But this Wikipedia passage accurately explains in brief how he was convicted:

The group was eventually bankrupted as the result of a civil lawsuit centered on its involvement in the 1988 murder of Mulugeta Seraw, an Ethiopian man who came to the United States to attend college. In 1988, white power skinheads affiliated to WAR [White Aryan Resistance] were convicted of killing Seraw and sent to prison. Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a civil suit against him, arguing that WAR influenced Seraw’s killers by encouraging their group East Side White Pride to commit violence.

At the trial, WAR national vice president Dave Mazzella testified on how the Metzgers instructed WAR members to commit violence against minorities. Tom and John Metzger were found civilly liable under the doctrine of vicarious liability, in which one can be liable for a tort committed by a subordinate or by another person who is taking instructions. The jury returned the largest civil verdict in Oregon history at the time—$12.5 million—against Metzger and WAR. The Metzgers’ house was seized, and most of WAR’s profits go to paying off the judgment.

More at Memeorandum.

9 replies »

  1. I’m not an attorney, Russ, but I suspect that editorial comment is fairly well protected by law. My best guess is that this isn’t really an option, but I would be very interested if someone who is an attorney chimed in on this.

  2. I’ve always wondered how it was possible to jail people like Manson without jailing people like O’Reilly.
    Manson, who is crazier than hell and should have been locked away somewhere, never actually killed anyone…He just worked a bunch of brainwashed people into a lather and sent them to kill someone.
    O’Reilly and his ilk never actually kill anyone, they just work brainwashed idiots into a lather and they go kill people.
    I fail to see the difference.

    Edited to add: By which I mean I don’t see where editorial opinion ends and intentionally working people into a froth to go kill the “enemy” begins.
    How much dehumanization is allowed before it stops being editorial and becomes an urge to violence? What part of “X is a nazi!” and “God wants that person to die!” isn’t aiming crazy people at a political opponent?

  3. By trying Bill O’Reilly for murder (by proxy as it were) would be trying free speech itself. Look, I hate Bill O’Reilly but if we silence him it’ll only be a matter of time before the tables get turned and silencing leftist critics will become the norm.
    I realize how incredibly stupid this sounds at the outset but think about it awhile: Bill is a piece of s—, but I’ll defend his right to be a piece of s— to the death.
    Gee, I wonder if he’d do the same for me?

  4. To me, O’Reilly’s comments do not have the clarity required to make him guilty of the offence of inciting homicide.

    In order for free speech values to remain protected, any kind of metaphor, ie. “blood on his hands” has to remain lawful. Only if there were a direct quote, ie. “he should be killed by a patriotic American like my listeners” should the matter become criminal.

    On the other hand, O’Reilly certainly has some moral responsibility for the way he has used his power, and his wilful blindness to the likely, and now acheived, result.

    In a decent world, his employers would say “enough!” Instead, they are likely to be pleased at the “controversy” which can be expected to boost ratings.

  5. Tom: Telling someone “Abortion is murder. The bible says an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” isn’t using freedom of speech. It’s telling someone to go kill someone. (I’m talking about the anti-abortion websites more than O’Reilly here.)
    Since *all* speech must be protected, should we remove the ‘conspiracy to commit’ from the laws? After all, they’re just talking about murder, not actually committing it.

  6. I think there should be consideration of legal action against Operation Rescue for their part in Tiller’s murder.

    In their “Tiller the Killer” video, after the section “You may be the difference between life and death for a child” and before “They’re killing babies here,” the video displays a screen which reads: “Together, we can put an end to George Tiller, Abortion and these horrific crimes.” (at 5:31)

    Not: “Together we can put a stop to George Tiller, …”

    but: “Together we can put an end to George Tiller,”

    The video is a fantastic bit of marketing, with driving headbanger music and strobe light effects.

  7. Hucklebee made a comment when he heard some chairs tipping over on stage during his campaign that ‘that’s Obama diving to avoid a bullet”. Palin and McCain incited harm to Obama by encouraging (by not stopping them) from saying things about Obama like ‘he should die or be killed’. Only after public outcry for their ambitions did they apologize … oh, they didn’t notice…yeah, right. . O’Reilly incited his ‘sheep’ to not feel sorry for this ‘baby killer’..and how the list of hate mongers go on…guess you want your kids listening to that and you wonder why there’s school shootings…. And…Hillary made a parallel between timing of the California primary, Bobby Kennedy and Obama….careless probably, but what was she thinking? Desperate to win like everyone else??? What we have here, and I’m a little amazed that the so-called medical profession called Psychiatrists haven’t stepped in and profiled these people for the public to analyse…these people have severe personality disorders called social psychopaths. Perhaps it’s not difficult for me to understand why we don’t do anything about them … Americans did vote GWBush into office, not once, but twice. It’s going to have to be up to the young people of this country to take matters into their own hands and say enough is enough. I think they’ll want to protect their kids against listening to this hate talk more than my generation, whom I don’t think gives a damn about their kids…Look at the environment, the run down schools and the health care system…they could give a damn what the future is for their kids but I think the young parents have much more going for them and more brains than the boomers ever did. Another interesting side of psychopaths is how they twist the truth…this can be seen by some Republicans who called Sotomayor a racist, all because she said, and I’ll paraphrase, ‘that having a rich Latino background will bring another perspective into to the court which is differs from a white male’. I’ve heard so- called experts say that that statement is racist..on NPR news no less…and I was shocked. Doesn’t anyone see that someone who grew up in the projects, is Latino would have a different perspective than a white, middle-class male? How stupid are we…do these so called ‘experts’ have lead poisoning? I thought it was a truthful statement and I don’t see anything racist about it…but we let Rush and O’Reilly and McCain and Palin and Hucklebee, etc…insinutate blatant racism and that’s okay…we make excuses for them. We have a problem Houston.

  8. It’s a mistake to blame the boomers for Bush or for the state of the country. I’m a boomer. I, and most of the boomers I know, voted against Bush – twice. The real problem was that the younger generations did not vote…for anyone. They couldn’t have cared less who ran the country. They had no historical perspective and it took 8 years for them to appreciate the results of their apathy and finally get off their collective ass. I have three children, all in their 20’s, and it was like pulling teeth to get them to go to the polls.