Sunday, November 17, 2013

Bill O'Reilly and His Comments on Drones: A False Characterization?

My erstwhile right-wing friend took umbrage at an alleged act of slander in a meme (see below) that I recently posted on my Facebook wall, concerning Bill O'Reilly's support of drone attacks. He asked why O'Reilly wasn't directly quoted, as if a word-for-word quote would reveal that he wasn't, as this meme suggests, condoning or indifferent to civilian deaths.  

While it's true that the meme doesn't consist of a verbatim quote, this is arguably not the fault of the meme creator, Exodus Assembly, but is due to O'Reilly's inarticulate way of expressing his argument.  Below is the video clip where O'Reilly defends the use of drones (fast-forward to 2:48), followed by a transcript of his actual words.

I support the drone strikes. Okay? So if somebody comes to me with evidence that civilians are being killed in the drone strikes, my rationalization is what are they doing living with the Taliban and the al Qaeda guys? What are they doing around ‘em? So, they’re dead. I’m not gonna really lose a lot of sleep over it.

Call me crazy, but O'Reilly's words don't seem very, let's say, meme-amenable. Nevertheless, the meme expresses the same exact points and spells out their logical implication (of course, I would have probably sought to prevent the charge of misquoting him by not using the first person).  He not only implicitly doubts that civilian deaths result from drone attacks, but even attempts to rationalize them if they do, opining that because they live in close proximity to the "Taliban and al Qaeda guys", their deaths are not worth losing sleep over.  

No, this meme quite accurately paraphrases O'Reilly's comments on drone strikes.  Of course, I think it's best to give O'Reilly the benefit of the doubt and assume that he would express more compassion if he realized that living near the bad guys doesn't necessarily mean that one supports or sympathizes with them.  

* Please click here for a not-too-civil exchange I regrettably had with an angry critic.