The nature of free speech is that its boundaries will always be tested. Michael Savage–the nation’s No. 3 “conservative” radio-talk-show host behind Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity–is in business to test those boundaries. Hardly any group outside the Savage-defined mainstream is safe from his venom–not liberals, not gays, and, especially, not Muslims.
On his radio show, Mr. Savage has elegantly declared, “I’m not gonna put my wife in a hijab. And I’m not gonna put my daughter in a burqa. And I’m not gettin’ on my all-fours and braying to Mecca. And you could drop dead if you don’t like it. You can shove it up your pipe. I don’t wanna hear any more about Islam. I don’t wanna hear one more word about Islam. Take your religion and shove it up your behind. I’m sick of you.”
Whether or not Mr. Savage means all this charming rhetoric, he enthralls a listenership of 8 million on some 400 stations. Enter the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is urging sponsors to flee “The Savage Nation.” With its boycott call–as all-American as the civil rights movement–CAIR seems to have drawn blood: A few advertisers have bailed, costing the show, by its host’s reckoning, a million dollars. In turn, Mr. Savage is suing the group because without permission it used audio clips from his program allegedly to make money.
While Mr. Savage is free to say almost anything on the air, his sponsors are scarcely obliged to bank-roll nasty demagogy. If too many toxins pollute our civic culture, and if they are spread by the mass media, one way to reduce the poison is to be discerning about the use of ad dollars.
Nothing on “The Savage Nation” elevates, enlightens, or refines. Nothing on the show begins to solve the nation’s myriad problems. Dead air is about all it deserves.