An Indiana man convicted of setting fire to a mosque in Ohio told a judge on Wednesday that he committed the crimes because Fox News and conservative talk radio had convinced him that “most Muslims are terrorists.”
Randolph Linn, 52, accepted a plea deal in which he pled guilty to all charges in connection to setting a fire in the prayer room at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo on Sept. 30. Under the deal, Linn is expected to serve 20 years in prison instead of 40.
Linn explained to the court that he had gotten “riled up” after watching Fox News.
“And I was more sad when Judge [Jack] Zouhary asked him that, ‘Do you know any Muslims or do you know what Islam is?’” one mosque member who attended the hearing recalled to WNWO. “And he said, ‘No, I only know what I hear on Fox News and what I hear on radio.’”
“Muslims are killing Americans and trying to blow stuff up,” Linn also reportedly told the judge. “Most Muslims are terrorists and don’t believe in Jesus Christ.”
Sure it isn’t the first time we have heard such things. Countless times, when the authorities bust some person or group planning to bring down the government, we find out their reading material includes Bill O’Reilly, Michelle Malkin and Rush Limbaugh. The hatred spewed by these right wingers has been breeding this kind of behavior for years now, and it has got to stop.
It’s interesting that this happens while our nation is in a big debate over our constitutional rights. What Republicans fail to realize is that with those rights comes responsibilities. Sure, you have a right to arms, but if you use those arms to cause harm or damage to others, then you face punishment. The same must be said about our right to free speech.
Numerous times I have cited that yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater will land you in cuffs for inducing panic. Calling a school and telling them there’s a bomb in there will do the same. There are lots of examples where trying to exercise free speech can lead you to legal problems. Perhaps its time that spewing hatred, like Fox News does, leads to those repercussions.
So while we are discussing our second amendment rights, let’s take time to remind people that enjoying rights means engaging in responsibility. We will probably end up seeing our 2nd amendment rights filtered more, following Sandy Hook. Do we really want to see our first amendment right stripped down because these right wing hate mongers are more interested in fame and money than they are the consequences of their words? I certainly don’t.