Rhetoric can kill


Candace Chellew-Hodge, a former co-worker with Sean Hannity of Fox News, has written an open letter to him, and to all in the media, which reflects on the role that rhetoric has played in leading to the shootings in Tennessee this past Sunday.

You can find coverage of the story here (Detroit News) and here (The Associated Press).

The letter opens:

I don’t know if you remember me, Sean, but I worked with you in Atlanta in the early 1990s, right as you got your big break with FOX News. I was an anchor and reporter (under the air name Candace Petersen) at WGST, your last low level stop before hitting the big time. I remember your last night on the air before you left for the big leagues. I approached you in your office, a cramped back room that I’m sure resembles a hovel compared to your FOX digs. I asked if you, during your last show, would tone down your rhetoric against gays and lesbians—stop demonizing our community for just one night. You refused. You explained to me, as if I were a child, that to do so would be to let your audience down. They expected you to go on the air and rant about how liberals, minorities, women and especially gays and lesbians were ruining our country. You simply had to oblige.

Even though you explained it simply, I still didn’t understand. Your Girl Friday—your most trusted assistant on your show was a young lesbian. She admired you, for some strange reason, and you two were close friends, lunching together, spending time together outside of work. You didn’t seem to have a problem with this particular lesbian. She wasn’t the one you kept blaming on the air for the downfall of democracy. No, you had two different lives then—one on the air, where you performed your outraged conservative act and one in real life, where you enjoyed your lesbian friend and seemed like a decent, sane fellow.

I don’t know if you’ve bought into your own shtick or not these days. If you truly believe half of what I could manage to read in your book (thank God the quote I found was in the early pages), I feel sorry for you. I don’t know how a person who obviously has no problem with homosexuality in their friends (or used to have no problem, anyway), can rant about how disgusting homosexuality is on pages 156 to 157. (Many thanks to your editors for the index.) I would call you a hypocrite, but if you’ve become a true believer, I guess the label no longer applies.

I hope you are not too far gone, your conscience too eaten away with greed, to understand the violent and vile object lesson that Mr. Adkisson has provided for us in Tennessee, because it’s a lesson you need to learn: Our words matter. Our words have power.

You may read the full letter here.

The Huffington Post has an essay as well.

It of course bears pointing out that Sean Hannity and his colleagues are not the only parties that have allowed the pot to boil over in the media lately. There’s plenty of blame to go around. Perhaps this letter can serve as a reminder to all that, as author points out, “Our words have power.”

Jesus had something to say on this. (Matt 15: 18-19) St. James puts it a bit more bluntly. (James 3:8)

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5 Responses to "Rhetoric can kill"
  1. There are _no_ indications in any reports from Tennessee so far that Mr Adkisson is (or ever was) mentally ill.

    What are we to do in our churches? Install armed guards? Check congregants for weapons?

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  2. We have an armed off duty officer at the church on Sunday mornings. The original purpose was due to the crime in Miami, though sadly we may also need to protect ourselves from the drones created by the hate-filled conservative media (ie Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, and Michael Savage...).

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  3. I can't help but wonder if this story might be able to make it to Lambeth so that the hate-filled rhetoric we hear from a handful of some who have chosen not to attend Lambeth (and even some who have) can be addressed in whatever document or covenant or additional instrument might be created. It's far more important than a gay bishop.

    Marc P Vance

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  4. This man apparently had a history of marital violence and alcoholism.

    He was having a hard time finding work.

    And, he found, with the direction of Hannity, O'Reilly, etc., his scape goat for all his ills - Those faggots. Those liberals. DEFEAT them.

    Did Hannity make this man do what he did? Did he create this man's illness? No - but he certainly set the fuse to this powderkeg,igniting it as surely as if he'd set a match to it.

    When we incite people to "do" things - we never know exactly who is doing the listening, or interpreting what exactly is being said should be "done".

    The same folks who read the bible quite literally, for various reasons, may be among those same folks who read a call to action literally.

    Eileen Schilling

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  5. Candace Chellew-Hodge is behind the outstanding LGBT Christian website Whosoever

    So Sean Hannity is a hypocrite, as well as a (for-hire) bigot: knock me over w/ a feather...

    JC Fisher

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