Last week, the liberal radio talk show “The Young Turks” defended Geico announcer Lance Baxter, who was fired for leaving a voice-mail message at FreedomWorks asking how many of its employees were “mentally-retarded.” After playing a clip of the message, co-host Ana Kasparian commented on how calm the voice-mail message was. Host Cenk Uygur applauded Baxter, saying his question was a fair one.
Cenk: I love this guy. Okay. I mean, this is my kind of guy.
Kasparian: That was the calmest voice-mail ever left on someone’s voicemail.
Cenk: And he just inquired. He just wants to know: what percentage are mentally retarded? You can call them back and say zero percent. He just wants to know. It’s just like Fox News, okay. He’s asking a question, okay. What percentage? It’s a fair question. We may disagree with the percentage. But the right-wingers didn’t see it that way.
Damn right they didn’t see it that way!
First of all, just because Baxter left a “calm” message doesn’t mean it wasn’t offensive. I could easily call up Cenk’s radio show and—in the calmest, most soothing voice—tell him to shoot himself in the foot, set himself on fire, jump off a building, and—if he’s still living—crawl into the street and get run over by traffic. Calm doesn’t mean inoffensive.
Second, when does asking a non-profit political organization how many of its employees are mentally-retarded constitute a fair question? It’s not a question one normally asks. Would it also be a fair question to ask “The Young Turks” how many of its employees are mentally-retarded? (Obvious answer: all of them!)
I also “love” how they defend him as a “private citizen” partaking in his freedom of expression, and how they wouldn’t hound somebody who left a hateful message on their radio show. Never mind that Baxter, being the announcer for Geico, is a celebrity, and thus a public figure not entitled to the same level of privacy as a random caller to a radio program.