Jun 7, 2009

Geoff Nunberg on the Business Model of Incendiary Speech

From the San Francisco Chronicle

Slaying prompts close look at incendiary speech

By Joe Garofoli

Three days after the killing of Kansas physician George Tiller, who performed late-term abortions, Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly referred to Tiller the same way he had for years: "Dr. Killer." As in "Tiller the baby killer."...

The comments have sparked outrage from experts in ethics and hate speech who say the TV show host's use of such strong words may have played a role in Tiller's slaying last Sunday....

Still, even if the speaker is a media personality working a shtick, "there is a moral responsibility when people like O'Reilly crank up the anger and indignation in order to sell soap," said Geoffrey Nunberg, a UC Berkeley linguist and author of "The Years of Talking Dangerously."

"Let's face it," he said. "There is a business model built on people getting to watch."


Last updated:

October 4, 2016