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MCCULLOUGH: Nugent no worse than Maher

Nate McCullough

Nate McCullough

Ted Nugent is not going to kill the president.

Nugent may, in fact, be a little nuts. But to condemn his "Braveheart" metaphor as a literal threat against Barack Obama is kneejerk political grandstanding.

Should the Secret Service remind Nugent that it takes all threats -- implied, subtle, metaphorical or otherwise -- against the president seriously and that maybe he should phrase his rants a little more carefully in the future? Certainly. But the calls for his head by Democrats are just more of the same double-standard.

If you're not up to speed, in a speech to the National Rifle Association convention last week, Nugent said, "We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November." Nugent's over-the-top call to arms may come off as irrational, but any rational person would see the statement, in context, for what it was: a reference to Republicans winning the presidential election. Nugent did not, as far as I know, advocate actually chopping off anybody's head.

In the same speech, he also made the slightly more ambiguous statement that if Obama were re-elected, Nugent would either be "dead or in jail." I wasn't even sure what he meant by that last one, but I took it as maybe paranoia, Nugent being fearful for his own future under another four years of Obama, more proof that he's a little off-kilter and everything he says should be taken with a grain of salt.

Off-kilter and homicidal maniac are two different things of course. But that didn't stop the politically correct crowd, the thought police and the chronically offended from all immediately condemning Nugent as being as crazy as his nickname -- Motor City Madman -- implies.

I love Ted Nugent's honesty and passion for America. And in his job as a board member of the NRA, can anyone argue with the statement that he is preaching to the choir when he stirs the crowd at the convention?

But let's not forget what he really is -- an entertainer. A rock star. He plays music and makes reality shows for a living. And in that business, publicity of any kind helps.

In that respect, Nugent is no different from Bill Maher, who tells jokes for a living. Controversy keeps people watching Maher's show and attending his stand-up concerts. Yet Maher draws little or no fire for some of the nasty things he's said about Republicans, and women in particular. A lot of what Maher says you can't even print in a family newspaper.

But just like Nugent, Maher is entitled to his opinion. And as long as we have the stupid campaign finance laws that we have now, Maher is entitled to back the candidate of his choice -- Obama -- with his million dollars.

In fact, two things bother me more than either man's statements: 1. The tendancy for uneven application of outrage, i.e., conservatives nearly always being called out louder than liberals, and 2. the ever-increasing erosion of free speech.

The remedy for bad speech is always more speech. I would much rather live in an America in which every nut, whether right-wing or left-wing, was subject to the same level of public scrutiny and outrage. But we don't and we have to work on changing that.

But I don't want to live in an America in which certain people are barred from the process based on what they say. That's not a right-wing or left-wing thing.

It's an un-American thing.

Email Nate McCullough at nate.mccullough@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.