Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Sir, I agree to this Constitution, with all its Faults, if they are such; because I think a General Government necessary for us, and there is no Form of Government but what may be a Blessing to the People if well administered; and I believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a Course of Years, and can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the People shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.”     Benjamin Franklin,    Final Speech at the Constitutional Convention

October 22, 2007

Bill O’Reilly’s Ignorance on Display

by Stephen Littau

This 5 minute video clip from Bill O’Reilly’s The O’Reilly Factor is a little old but I just discovered it at the website. In this clip, O’Reilly confronts Reason Magazine’s Jacob Sullum who just wrote the book Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use. While don’t agree that recreational drug use is a positive thing, Sullum makes other very good points regarding the problems associated with the war on (some) drugs (I also suspect Sullum chose this provocative title to bait the media into bringing attention to his book. Good move!)

Anyone else notice how Mr. O’Reilly cut off Sullum when he had a valid point or would simply dismiss it as “spin”? I would so love to see O’Reilly debate Sullum or someone else who has a firm grasp of the issue in an Oxford style debate (such as NPR does in its Intelligence Squared program). In a format where O’Reilly cannot shout down, cut the mic, or interrupt his opponent, he would be torn to shreds by someone like Sullum (and thus very entertaining to observe).

I was also very annoyed when he described Mr. Sullum as “libertine” even as Mr. Sullum explained that liberty and responsibility for one’s own actions are inseparable. It seemed to me that they actually agreed that individuals should be free to do as they wish, provided that they do not infringe on the life, liberty, or property of others (though I think this was lost on O’Reilly).

Would you like some “no spin” facts regarding the war on (some) drugs Mr. O’Reilly? Here’s some statistics from the Federal Bureau of Prisons on the makeup of the prison population. You tell me if drug prohibition has not contributed to our problem of overcrowded prisons.

Types of Offenses

Drug Offenses: 98,675 (53.5 %)

Weapons, Explosives, Arson: 26,676 (14.5 %)

Immigration: 19,589 (10.6 %)

Robbery: 9,405 (5.1 %)

Burglary, Larceny, Property Offenses: 6,836 (3.7 %)

Extortion, Fraud, Bribery: 8,201 (4.5 %)

Homicide, Aggravated Assault, and Kidnapping Offenses: 5,580 (3.0 %)

Miscellaneous: 2,082 (1.1 %)

Sex Offenses: 4,835 (2.6 %)

Banking and Insurance, Counterfeit, Embezzlement: 987 (0.5 %)

Courts or Corrections: 753 (0.4 %)

Continuing Criminal Enterprise: 572 (0.3 %)

National Security: 99 (0.1 %)

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  1. Even while acknowledging that authors want publicity for their books and ideas, I cannot understand why any intelligent, reasonable person with a strong argument would ever go on the The O’Reilly Factor. The host is an intellectually dishonest, melodramatic bully who misquotes, misinterprets, and refuses to listen. He’s the adult version of a temper tantrum.

    “The spin stops here”, my ass.

    Comment by Brian T. Traylor — October 22, 2007 @ 3:46 pm
  2. Personally, I loved the part where he offered Sullum “the last word” and then made two more derisive at the end.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — October 22, 2007 @ 6:12 pm
  3. “The host is an intellectually dishonest, melodramatic bully who misquotes, misinterprets, and refuses to listen. He’s the adult version of a temper tantrum.”

    That is exactly why I won’t watch that clip or any other clip of that show (or that station for that matter). I will, instead, go to and pay the $8.00 for a used copy and judge Mr. Sullum’s arguments for myself. The mere sound of Bill O’Reilly’s voice is enough to drive me insane without adding his illogical and ignorant comments to the mix.

    What’s scary is that his show is the highest rated cable news show. Hopefully, the almost half-million 25-54 year old viewers will be too brain-dead to bother doing anything meaningful (like writing their congressmen or voting).

    Comment by Justin Bowen — October 22, 2007 @ 9:50 pm
  4. Man that O’Reilly is a loudmouth.. “37 million people !!”

    “1 million dead on the roads !”

    Ohh the humanity. I must be correct !

    Comment by Jono — October 22, 2007 @ 11:23 pm
  5. “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”

    - Joseph Goebbels

    Comment by Akston — October 23, 2007 @ 12:10 am
  6. People tend to forget that the O’Really Factor and other Fox Views shows have a high viewer count because the commentary is so twisted that it’s comical. The loyal listners are the same crowd that can’t help themselves from reading the tabloids in the checkout line; they want to see a two-headed goat. Shrill Bill O’Reilly is a freakshow.

    Comment by Martigan — October 27, 2007 @ 1:05 pm

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