Wednesday, April 1, 2009

End of the Road?

"There is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes."

-- Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Two and a half years passed between the first time I wrote about Zeb Bell on this blog and the second time when I, like many progressive bloggers, picked up on the controversy surrounding Bell and his guest's racist commentary on then candidate Barack Obama. More and more I am realizing why I allowed myself two and half years free of Zeb Bell and his despicable antics.

The cost of monitoring hate speech is so much greater than the time required to simply listen for its utterance. Hate speech erodes the soul, regardless of whether or not it is directed specifically at a person.

I've not talked about the personal cost of monitoring Zeb Bell much, mostly because I try to deny that it affects me at all and I'd rather not give Mr. Bell the satisfaction, but the cost is great. I've heard bloggers refer to the hatred of Zeb Bell and his listeners existing in our backyard, obviously symbolizing the existence of hate here in our state, but for me the hate speech truly is emitting from my back yard. The Mini-Cassia area was my home for a majority of my life. It is where I was raised, it is where my closest friends were raised, many of whom still live there, and it is where my family continues to live. What isn't being said publicly about bloggers on the air throughout Zeb's show is being said privately. All of which reaches me, as I suspect it does other bloggers like Gary Eller, via various sources.

What Zeb Bell thinks of me, his disdain for all that I stand for and believe and his contempt for the work I do exposing his hatred, racism and bigotry, doesn't matter nearly as much to me as do the opinions of my friends, family and neighbors. In the last ten months I've heard every imaginable comment about my role in the Zeb Bell page. I've been reminded of what Zeb Bell does for the community, aside from the hatred he lets permeate it. I've been told I'm a coward, not only by Bell, but a few of his listeners, even a few of my friends. I've had to listen to the most disparaging comments leveled at my character and the remarkable character of the editor of the MountainGoat Report. I've had family members tell me I hold a grudge against Zeb, an unhealthy one at that. I've had friends stop speaking to me over this entire endeavor. And I've lost things in this battle I can barely say aloud, much less articulate in print.

Why suffer the cost? Why risk the berating I will continue to receive from the likes of friends and family members who ideologically agree with Bell? Why fight a battle that is immensely personal to me and absolutely irrelevant and indistinct for Bell? These are questions I've not only been asking myself several times daily for the past few weeks, but fairly regularly for the last ten months.

The only conclusion I've drawn from the last two weeks without the morning routine of listening to "Zeb at the Ranch" is that I am much less reactionary. In the past few weeks I've seen other blogs, blogs that only mentioned Zeb once or twice over many months, reference Zeb as well as reference the work put into the Zeb Bell page, often solely crediting the superb vigilance of the MountainGoat Report and rightfully so, far more frequently. What we were saying for months is now being echoed in the blogosphere in ways we hoped for from the beginning.

For all I've concluded, I haven't been able to convince myself that this is the end of the road for me as far as the Zeb Bell monitoring is concerned.

I know that the Zeb Bell page and the future of documenting hate speech is in very capable hands. I just don't know if I'm ready to let go and hand the battle off to people far more articulate and eloquent than I. Part of me believes that this is where the blogosphere battle with Zeb Bell began and I belong in that battle, but what of the other part of me?

1 comment:

Deborah Silver said...

Tara,
Could you please call me? I am working on something-or planning on working on something in response to Zeb's hate filled show yesterday.