Friday, June 02, 2006
Not Good Enough

I've had it up to fucking here with Leon Gray.

Now, in spite of my blog-origins, I'm not actually much of a connaisseur of talk radio, including the liberal variety. Oh, sure, I listen to Air America now and then, mostly when something specific is going on. (And whenever I drive my mother's car, I'm always careful to leave it selected on her radio -- my way of saying "good morning, mother dear!") I like Rachel Maddow although I'm rarely up early enough to listen to her (and my tolerance for politics is at its lowest in the morning.) I like Randi Rhodes; I like Sam Seder (and I want badly to like Janeane G. as a radio person, but find it tricky to do so.) I listen to Mike Malloy when I'm in that pit bull frame of mind. Al Franken is fine, I guess, though I won't cry when he moves on. Jerry Springer is an embarrassment.

But Leon Gray is just a disgrace.

Gray is our local AAR afternoon drive-time guy, squatting on top of one hour of Randi Rhodes and two hours of Majority Report. I wanted to like him; I tried hard to like him. He covers the black demographic that AAR has left largely uncovered and which is so important in Memphis. Even though his show always comes on just when Randi's getting to something really interesting, I acknowledge the necessity of some sort of local presence.

And I just want to say, before I get into this, that I really don't care to play the "more liberal than thou" game. I prefer to give people credit for doing what they can at any given time; in spite of what some would say (hi Mom, hi Koba) I'm not particularly radical. But Leon Gray isn't remotely liberal enough to have earned his spot on the radio, ostensibly speaking for me.

For example, he's hopeless on gay issues, falling into that mildly revolting "gays stole the civil rights movement from the blacks" camp (as if only one group can be fighting for civil rights in the United States at any given time.) He tends to talk a lot about stuff of which he has no meaningful knowledge. He puts forth some of the most uninformed opinions I've ever heard emanate from a leftish mouth. He's often dismissive not only of gay rights, but of immigrants' rights, reproductive rights and women's rights. But the thing that always makes my gag reflex kick in is his woeful, embarrassing lack of scientific knowledge.

Listening him talk about evolution v. creationism always makes me vomit in my mouth a little bit. When Tiktaalik made its first public appearance, he talked nonsense about it for several minutes before admitting it might be evidence in favor of evolution -- clearly oblivious to the fact that evolution is already well-established with or without fossil evidence. (The fossils only illustrate what DNA has long since confirmed.) I was waiting for someone to call in and point him in the right direction, but nobody ever did.

The worst thing ever -- the incident that first put a bad taste in my mouth -- was his devotion of a good hour of his show to some local quack. This guy came on the air and started talking about his "treatment facility." I never quite caught what the nature of his treatment was, but it started out being good for allergies, and as the show wore on and Gray's credulity showed no signs of faltering, it expanded until it was also a cure for nicotine addiction, dandruff, dry skin, hyperactivity in children, diabetes, arthritis, and every kind of cancer. In other words, it was 100% pure snake oil. And Leon never so much as questioned the line of bullshit he was feeding to his audience.

My request is a fairly simple one: I want a local liberal spokesman who's actually well-versed and well-informed on the major cultural and political issues of the day. I want him to have his own opinions, but I also want him to embrace the widest possible range of ideas and perspectives. I want him to loathe Bush and oppose the administration and its evil little minions vigorously, but if he's going to do that job well, he's going to need a much better grasp of history, science, and logic. Being black and disagreeing with Mike Fleming is a good place to start, but surely there's a well-spoken black liberal in this town somewhere who actually knows what the fuck he's talking about.

I don't think it's too much to ask. You can't be anti-gay and pro-ID and speak for me.
12:27 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
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