June 17, 2003

Bill's Hissy Fit

Someone published something on the Internet about Bill O'Reilly that turned out to be a misrepresentation of the facts. Now Bill is ranting about the problem of people publishing without "restraints":

The reason these net people get away with all kinds of stuff is that they work for no one. They put stuff up with no restraints. This, of course, is dangerous, but it symbolizes what the Internet is becoming.

To quote Glenn Reynolds, "Well, boo-freakin'-hoo!". Never mind that the untrue factoid originated in a newspaper, it's the Internet that is the problem for celebrity big shots like Bill.

Reynolds has the story, and links to other reaction, the best of which is from James Lileks. , who responds to O'Reilly's statement that "the Internet has become a sewer of slander and libel, an unpatrolled polluted waterway, where just about anything goes." :

And you, Mr. Man of the People, Mr. People of the Man, Mr. Street, Mr. Champion of the Little Guy, Mr. Giving-It-Straight, want the Internet to be patrolled? Note: on most unpatrolled polluted waterways, everything does not go. In such a place things are dumped over the side, and after a moment bobbing unnoticed on the surface, they sink to the bottom.

As a demonstration of the "danger" of the Internet, O'Reilly tries to link an obscure published error about his radio show affiliates to the fact that a Boston child rapist/murderer got the idea for his crime from a NAMBLA website accessed from the library. Lileks responds:

Ergo, we should shut down Massachusetts. Or Boston. Or the library. No? Just the internet? Probably so. I live in fear of the day I visit a website that gives me the idea to abuse and kill a child; I’d be powerless to resist such a command, because I saw it ON THE INTERNET.

And hey, don’t forget that Factor website.

As I suggested in an earlier post, Bill needs to get over himself.

UPDATE: The blogosphere responds. Eugene Volokh's take.

Posted by dan at June 17, 2003 1:10 PM