Ted Nugent Shows How Metaphors Can Cross the Line

From time to time, conservatives like myself become irritated with comedians like Jon Stewart who occasionally make truly offensive remarks, then play the “Hey, I’m a comedian” card to deflect criticism away from what they said. I do believe that as a rule of thumb, the rhetoric of people who make audiences laugh for a living probably should be taken less seriously than that of other public figures. Still, there are times when the lines of civility are so vilely crossed that the “Hey, I’m a comedian” defense just doesn’t wash. If you’d like some of the more notable examples, simply do a Google search on Bill Maher and Sarah Palin, or David Letterman and Sarah Palin, or Louis CK and Sarah Palin, or any other liberal comedian who has let their derangement with Mrs. Palin morph from humor into downright deviancy.

Comedy isn’t the only fuzzy area out there when it comes to evaluating whether or not rhetoric is genuinely over the top. Another realm sometimes worthy of critique is that of the metaphor. Metaphors are typically mundane – an easy way of presenting a point in perspective. And yes, they’re sometimes prone to silly, disingenuous intrepretation at the expense of the people who use them. We see this sort of reaction in the world of politics all the time, where people accuse ideological opponents of making outrageous statements when in reality, they’re merely using a metaphor to make a contextual point.

One of my favorite examples of this came right after a speech former Democratic Senator Zell Miller delivered in 2004. Miller broke ranks with his party and spoke at the Republican National Convention in support of then president, George W. Bush. The speech was comprised of stinging criticisms that Miller directed at Bush’s opponent, Senator John Kerry, for Kerry’s numerous attempts to cut military spending. After Miller listed all of the weapon systems Kerry had voted against, he said, “This is the man who wants to be the commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces? U.S. forces armed with what, spit balls?”

Later that night, Miller appeared on MSNBC where he was interviewed by Hardball host, Chris Matthews. In one of the goofy on-air statements that Matthews has become known for, he asked Miller multiple times if he believed, “truthfully, that John Kerry wants to defend the country with spit balls.” The insinuation, of course, was that Miller was a crack-pot.

Miller angrily blasted Matthews for the game he was playing, and even challenged the host to a duel over the feigned ignorance he was displaying toward a remark that clearly wasn’t meant to be taken literally. It was an entertaining segment to say the least.

A more malicious example came in the wake of the Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords shooting in Tucson, Arizona. The liberal media repeatedly tried to tie Sarah Palin to the violence by pointing out her metaphorical and symbolic use of the commonly-used term, targeted districts, which was featured on one of Palin’s websites. The website included Giffords’ district on a map of the United States with a cross-hairs symbol over it. Somehow, in the minds of the media elite, that was enough evidence to suggest that Palin might have been a motivational co-conspirator to the shooter – an assertion that was nothing short of asinine.

With all of that being said, there is indeed a line that can be crossed when using metaphors, much in the same way that comedians can cross a line when they interchange humor with vile social commentary. And when that happens, it’s not wrong for people to take exception and react seriously to such rhetoric.

I believe that rock star, Ted Nugent, crossed that line with comments he made recently about President Obama.

A fierce Second Amendment advocate, Nugent was speaking at the National Rifle Association last weekend when he made the following remarks regarding President Obama’s 2008 election victory: “It isn’t the enemy that ruined America. It’s good people who bent over and let the enemy in. If the coyote’s in your living room pissing on your couch, it’s not the coyote’s fault. It’s your fault for not shooting him.” He also stated, “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.”

The incident got the attention of the Secret Service who opened an investigation into Nugent, much to the anger of many conservatives who are standing behind the rock star and declaring the investigation to be politically-motivated.

I’m not one of those people. Nugent was wrong in saying what he did.

My opinion certainly doesn’t stem from anything personal. I’m a fan of Ted Nugent’s work. I think Stranglehold is one of the coolest sounding Rock anthems ever. When I was a teenager, I caught one of his guitar picks that he threw out to the crowd at a Damn Yankees concert, and I rubbed it in my friends’ faces for the rest of the night.

I think it’s important in situations like the Nugent incident that people use the  The Mirror Test and ask themselves if they’d feel differently if the situation was reversed. For the conservatives who are backing Nugent, how would you feel if it was Bruce Springsteen who made these same comments regarding President George W. Bush? Be honest.

Now, I don’t believe for a second that Ted Nugent poses any kind of physical threat to the president, but I do believe that the Secret Service has an obligation to investigate potentially dangerous rhetoric targeted at the President of the United States. In my opinion, comparing the president to an animal being shot, even in a metaphorical context, should send up a red flag. And by adding that he’ll either be “dead or in jail” if the president is re-elected, without clearly elaborating on his meaning, Nugent pretty much invited an investigation upon himself. He doesn’t get to play the metaphor card on this one.

I don’t see the investigation as politically-motivated in any way. The Secret Service has a very difficult job to do. Their longstanding history of looking into violent rhetoric obviously supersedes the Obama administration.

In the end, I’m sure the “investigation” will amount to little more than an amicable conversation between the Secret Service and Ted Nugent. The incident itself, however, has become political ammunition for liberals to paint Obama’s opposition, once again, as gun-toting, irrational extremists who are fueling hatred against our president.

If Ted Nugent truly believes that the key to preserving our country’s freedom is to unseat Obama in November, which I have no doubt that he does, he should choose his words more carefully. The ones he chose last weekend only hurt that cause.

Author Bio:

John Daly couldn't have cared less about world events and politics until the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks changed his perspective. Since then, he's been deeply engaged in the news of the day with a particular interest in how that news is presented. Realizing the importance of the media in a free, democratic society, John has long felt compelled to identify media injustices when he sees them. With a B.S. in Business Administration, and a 16 year background in software and web development, John has found that his real passion is for writing. His first novel, entitled "From a Dead Sleep", is now on sale! He lives in Northern Colorado with his wife and two children. Like John on Facebook. Follow John on Twitter.
Author website: http://www.johndalybooks.com/
  • Mr Smith

    LOL 2 years after Obamas re-election Ted is still alive and not in jail. Guess that makes Ted a blow hard. Come on Ted kill yourself or do something to go to prison for so that we don’t think your a blithering idiot.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pearl.polanski Pearl Polanski

    Ted’s metiphors. Not so good. In the end, Braveheart aka William Wallace was hung and quartered….and Scotland lost it’s independence. http://i45.tinypic.com/doursx.jpg

  • A Woman

    Didn’t Mr. Nugent also say, “I’m serious as a heart attack.” I would think that’s what grabbed their attention as well.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003680186401 Dan Foley

      Later he also said he’s the guy who wrote “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang…” 
      Which is much less serious than a heart attack

  • Roxiebell

    I couldn’t disagree more with you and after going through what the liberals and Democrats put GWB and the entire country through during his Administration I could care less what is said about BHO as its no where near as bad as what was said about GWB. A movie was made on how to “kill” Bush for crying out loud,  so I say “give it a rest” already about what Ted said as its not nearly as bad in comparison and  And if its good for one then its good for another is what I say.

    The Socialist Dems, progressive liberals and the corrupt lame/shame media have literally waged war on this country since 2000 and we are more divided now then we were during the revolution and it will take decades to ”fix” the Democrat/Obama MESS and we can’t fix it and give our kids a chance for a decent future if we fall back on the “above it all” strategy and try to be “civil” to the UNcivil. If “God willing” we can fix the mess then there will plenty of time to bring back civility (and sanity) but right now we’ve got to fight fire with fire.

    JMO

  • KLBMAC

    Again we get to see MORE of the rhetoric TONIGHT as Jimmy Fallon (a flaming Liberal) goes one of the MOST Liberal colleges in the country, UNC Chapel Hill to do his show. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I’m tired of these so-called comedians doing Obama’s job for him. Why? Because He’s done such a POOR JOB FOR THE LAST 4 YEARS!

  • Bruce A.

    Good article John.   If the so called hate speech is to be turned down then both side must do it.  What ever happened to honest debate or disagreements in the US?

  • Drew Page

    Any defense of Ted’s remarks will hurt the efforts of those trying to get Mr. Obama’s opponent elected.   Ted needs to redirect his passion in a more positive way.   Ted, you can come on strong for Mitt.  Make public appearances in support of Mitt.  Tell everyone who will listen why Mitt is the better choice.   You will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003680186401 Dan Foley

    A lazy Sunday afternoon is a delightful time to enter the comment pages of Mother Jones on the Ted Nugent matter: http://wfnt.com/adventures-in-la-la-land-ted-nugent-mother-jones/

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003680186401 Dan Foley

    Well said Mr. Daly.  The only other thing you might have touched on is the outrage his comments have sparked in Indonesia: http://wfnt.com/ted-nugents-comments-to-nra-upset-suburban-indonesians/

  • Roadmaster

    The Nuge has been around long enough to know what is acceptable speech about the Prez, and what is not.  He went off half cocked on this one, but his explanation after the fact was effusive with praise and respect for the office, as it should be.

    Public figures need to guard their mouths closely, lest their foot comes near it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.o.r.jackson Mike Jackson

    I couldn’t agree more John.  Ted totally blew this one and big time.  Granted, he poses absolutely no threat to the president, his choice of words could inspire others to take action.  Not good in any event, regardless of persuasion.

  • http://shawmut.blogspot.com/ Dave O’Connor

    If we look at this in perspective, Nugent has already been bagged. So, at worse, his market share will grow and he’ll pay more taxes (another downside), but he’ll have earned well. But, I bet if Queen Elizabeth was offered the choice of one of his albums, recorded in the original or an MP3 of speeches by the “Telepromprompter-in-Chief”, (which he needed a teleprompter in the orinial) she’d go for Ted.
    I’ll go along with the choice of words critique. In honesty, I must.
    But, has the Secret Servce brought in the guy who announced, “They brig a knife, we’ll bring a gun..”
    What’s the more offensive; citing a fear, or declaring gang tactics?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GC36UFUX3FP57OIQ74YHHQUL3M wally

      I agree. I also recall but can not duplicate the words of the union official (United Auto workers) who with the POTUS present stated that some type of warfare was necessary to contain the conservatives on some issue. Can someone elaborate?

      • http://shawmut.blogspot.com/ Dave O’Connor

        As well as young Hoffa’s line in theme “We, Mr. President, are your army” (sic).
        So, on one hand, the liberal power lusters, chant the misery index out of one side of their mouth and want to shout for blood out of the other.
        And, really, those on the misery index serve them as mere statistics; disposable and elastic. As for the army…. When has the uniform born more disdain than when under the thumb of liberals?

  • TERRY FLANIGAN

    BERNIE,  THE CHOPPING OFF HEADS WAS THE ONLY PART I THOUGHT WAS EXCESSIVE.

  • JBubs

    Bernie, your Mirror Test is a strong point, but I can agree with your premise only in part. While I would not accept a similar metaphor about President Bush, President Obama is not the same political animal as President Bush and the metaphor would not fit the same way.  Obama is the most arrogant and radically polarizing president that I can recall in my lifetime, beginning with JFK. More importantly, he has shrewdly spent a good deal of time, money, and energy trying to convince that he is the opposite on both counts.

    • John Daly

       As far as the Secret Service and I am concerned, the content of the president’s character doesn’t matter. They have a job to do.

      • JBubs

        Thanks for responding John, and I agree that the Secret Service has a job to do regardless who holds office. My point however was only about the use of the metaphor that was discussed in Bernie’s piece. But I disagree totally with your view that the content of the President’s character doesn’t matter. Character is all that matters. What can one say about the character of the person currently holding the office who swore to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” yet is on record saying that the very document he swore to protect is fundamentally flawed? 

        • John Daly

           Actually, I wrote the column… not Bernie. I meant that as far as the Secret Service is concerned, Obama’s character doesn’t matter. It absolutely matters in my view of what a president needs to be.

          • JBubs

            Oops! My apology, John! Guess I am not such a careful reader after all. I should have never taken that speed reading course… 

  • genann59

    Gotta agree, again, Mr. Goldberg. When I had read what Mr. Nugent had said, I could understand why they were going in to have a talk with him. It was over the line. In particular the statement that if he was reelected, Nugent would be dead or in jail, sounded like a potential threat, and would call for investigation regardless of who made a remark like that about any president. It is illegal to threaten the president, for a logical reason, people have killed presidents, and, unfortunately, there are those who might think, incorrectly, that they would be serving their country by offing the president, rather than the logical method, voting the man out of office. They are nuts out there who do not think logically, so the Secret Service has to investigate threatening remarks. I imagine Mr. Nugent, a fine man in whole, just got carried away in his speech, and spouted off a little more strongly than he should have. He has never been a man to hold back on his opinions. And even though he had mentioned removing him in Nov. after most threatening remarks, it was the one about what he might do if Obama was reelected that went way over the line and called for investigation. Sorry, Ted, I’m also a fan of yours, but you brought in on yourself, the interview went well, Secret Service closed the case, all over. Be a little more discreet next time, please. Do not help heat up the verbal war that is going on. If it gets too hot, some nutcase might decide to act on his/her own, to the detriment of the entire country.

  • floridahank

    The paranoid American public loves to crucify anybody that makes any negative remark directed towads Obama. Nugent got carried away with this feelings and said something that the Liberals turned into a threat to Obama. 
    Obama has done a great disservice to the USA and Nugent can respond to that — freedom of speech is still one of our rights, but the Liberals will turn it around and read into it anything that  stir up trouble.  Look at all the Leftist trash talk towards Conservatives and you’ll see a huge bias — they have a Slobbering love affair with Obama and will do anything to protect his failing image.
    If the Romney campaign comes up with a strong agenda, Obama can pack his bags and go back to his Chicago cronies. And that can’t be too soon.

  • Iklwa

    Funny thing, it seems I remember liberal entertainers and celebrities threatening to abandon their United States citizenship and move overseas if Bush was elected. No one in the media ever criticized them for being unpatriotic, disingenuous are for using metaphor in an inflammatory way.
     
    I see the left always waving the flag of hurt feelings, feigning ignorance of context and demanding apologies whenever the opportunity rises but never apply the mirror you suggest we use to themselves.
     
    Nugent also said something to the effect that we should ride in there at election time and cut their heads off like Brave Heart.
    He also said that any educated person would not need the metaphors explained.
     
    I agree.
     
    By the way, I’ve been sharpening my “sword” for two years in preparation for this coming November. Perhaps the Secret Service will be knocking on my door next?

  • Mary

    Bernie,
    I disagree with you on this one. Why is it when Jimmy Hoffa’s son said,” Let’s kill the Bastards” referring to conservatives, that didn’t make the news? Liberals can say anything they want and it’s no big deal. I’m so sick of it, the country is to politically
    correct if you ask me. Last week while watching O’ Reilly they had a clip of a female Black Panther using racial slurs against whites. Do you hear about that on ABC,CBS
    or NBC? of course not, why?  The Liberals are crybabies starting with OBAMA!!!
    I stand by Ted Nugent’s right to say what he did. I didn’t take it as a threat.
    SICK, SICK OF THE DOUBLE STANDARD!!!!

    • John Daly

       Bernie didn’t write this one. I did.

      Jimmy Hoffa is a punk for sure, but you’re comparing apples and oranges. He didn’t direct that rhetoric at the President of the United States.

      What IS notable is that after the Tuscon shootings, the media defined metaphors and figures of speeches related to violence as “dangerous”. The fact that they went after Palin for the example I wrote in my column, and left Hoffa alone, is very telling.

  • Michael

    I wish Nugent would not have made the statements that got him in trouble.  They were unnecessary, and all they did was give ammo to Obama supporters and to the crybabies in the mainstream media who would not have the guts to criticize, for example, a Muslim who said anything remotely similar about any American President. 

    Plus, it obligates an already over-stretched Secret Service (despite the news from Colombia) to commit human and monetary resources (your tax dollars) to travel, conduct inteviews of the person of interest as well as interviews of witnesses and associates, and spend countless hours sifting and collating information and writing reports.  It’s just a waste, brought on by someone who said something unnecessary.

    However, that does not mean we need to beat Nugent senseless over all this.  It’s a lesson and a reminder that our country does not take it lightly when someone threatens our President.     

    I do know that Nugent was one of the very few entertainers who traveled to numerous hotspots in Iraq back during the days of some of the fiercest fighting.  He entertained American troops in some pretty hot areas known to be attacked by mortars and rockets on a regular basis.  Most mainstream entertainers don’t want to be caught near the military, much less in a combat zone.   

    For those of you who may be wound very tight over all this, please note that my use of the word “ammo” in the second line of the first paragraph does not mean I expect Obama supporters to shoot Nugent or other conservatives.  I mean, other than the Black Panthers and other assorted gangstas, how many of them even know how to use a gun? ;) 

    • floridahank

      You said, “… to travel, conduct inteviews of the person of interest as well as interviews of witnesses and associates, and spend countless hours sifting and collating information and writing reports. It’s just a waste, brought on by someone who said something unnecessary.”
      There’s so much waste in all our governmental agencies, I wouldn’t worry about them visiting Nugent….I’m sure they “waste” a lot more time on stupid things that we never hear about. 
      I’ll like to know what oversight is being conducted on how much time and money is spent on covering and protecting Obama and his family when they do recreational and vacation events.   So don’t be concerned on a relatively few $$$ being directed towards Nugents situation.

    • John Daly

       I totally agree. Good post.

  • initbruv

    Seems like people are too emotional about their politics. I remember when I was talking politics with a guy during the Bush years and he insisted that Bush was as bad as Hitler. I didn’t like Bush but I thought it was crazy to say. But that’s how a lot of people talk politics these days-with their emotions rather than with their head. We didn’t come this far by being made of sugar and honey, let’s all stop with the melodrama. It isn’t Armageddon

  • OlHarley

    The  “coyote pissing on the couch” line is obviously a threat, or a call, to kill the president. Send him to jail.

    • JohnDalyAuthor

      Oh please. It was no such thing. Not at all the point I was making,
      either. If Nugent was talking about anyone other than the president,
      this would be a non-issue. My point is that the Secret Service has a policy of investigating stuff like this, even if the person is not speaking in literal terms.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Borden/1075346246 Paul Borden

        Hmmm. I think OlHarley was being sarcastic here, or at least that was my first thought, but the problem with the written word in brief comments like this is that the sarcasm doesn’t always come through. Sarcasm, or satire, can be a difficult thing to pull off. Jonathan Swift’s satiric suggestions sometimes were taken literally, I’m sure. Someone in another recent blog suggested there should be some sort of icon, like the :-) for humor, to represent sarcasm. That might help.

        Of course, these days there is always the possibility OlHarley wasn’t being sarcastic.

        BTW, if Nugent instead of suggesting the coyote be shot had simply said it’s “your fault for not kicking him out of the house,” would that have brought about a Secret Service call? I don’t think so, but I guess it could have.

    • initbruv

      Well it isn’t obviously a threat to kill the president. More like sloppy words from a person who people shouldn’t take seriously, politically.

    • Iklwa

      You Sir are a perfect example of my first comment.
       
      Feigned ignorance of context and pleading for blood to silence what you see as a threat to your power structure.
      Both ploys are tiresome.
       
      If only you could have figured out how to call him a rasict…

      • OlHarley

        You know, I have to admit I really can say absolutely nothing in response to this. Congratulations.

    • Roxiebell

      What about the producers of the movie about killing GWB, should they be in jail too?  

      • OlHarley

        Delightfully random. I have this idea I’m reasonably clever, but I don’t understand the connection between this and Mr. Nugent’s remarks at all. What the heck?

  • spo1

    Ted Nugent represents everything that is wrong with the USA. I am somebody who fights against racist fools consciousmc.blogspot.com

    • JohnDalyAuthor

      I’m not sure how my column opened up a gateway to the left-wing race-baiters. Disappointing.

      • initbruv

        Because everything in this country is about attacking the other “team” these days and defending one’s own “teammates”. It’s despicable

    • Iklwa

      Oh goody!
      I just had not read far enough into the comments to find what I was sure I was missing…the race card.
       
      Now I can go about my business happily knowing such as you are guarding the ramparts of social and political correctness.
       
      Perhaps you should apply for a position in the Justice Department. I have a feeling you would blend in perfectly.

  • slyboots2

    here is Jon Stewart himself on the concept of hiding behind comedy: 

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-march-13-2012/the-vulgar-games 

  • NANCYE

    From the article:

    It’s good people who bent over and let the enemy in. If the coyote’s in your living room pissing on your couch, it’s not the coyote’s fault. It’s your fault for not shooting him.” He also stated, “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.

    **********************************
    I said:

    I certainly didn’t take that comment the way some people have chosen to.
    What he meant that if Obama’s not running the country the way you (whoever) wants him to, it’s not his fault.  It’s your fault for voting for him. (Those who did, that is).

    ****************************************

    Nugent said :  *And, if he becomes the president in November, I’ll either be dead or in jail by this time next year.* 

    ****************************************

    I said:

    Not because Nugent would do anything to cause it, but because the way the country will continue to be run by Obama and his minions, he might be dead because it’s cost him his job with no way to make a living.  In jail?  Because he wouldn’t be able to pay his bills.

    ***************************************

    I said:

    Get a life people!!! 

    As for the so-called Secret Service.  Try servicing the president instead of having prostitutes “service” YOU!!!

    • John Daly

       I absolutely believe he MEANT what you said. My point is that you can’t get cutesy with that stuff when it comes to the office of the president. He could have chosen all kinds of language to use in making his point, but he chose the kind of language that opened himself up for controversy.

  • alaskan1st

    How any conservative can back up Ted is beyond me. I could see liberals maybe forgiving him for who he is, but I would think any right minded conservative would want his head on a platter.(metaphor) 

    Can you back a poopy  pantsed, draft dodging, pedophile, poacher? 
    These things he has admitted to. One can only imagine what else he is capable of.

    • Jeffreydan

        Al,

        Want to appear intelligent? For one thing, don’t use “pedophile” to describe a person if you don’t know what the word actually means, which appears to be the case. That’s a serious allegation, and Bernie doesn’t allow anything libelous here.
        Another misperception you might want to address is that present-day liberals would be remotely capable of forgiving a conservative like Nuge. 
       
        And no matter if he truly is the “poopy pantsed etc etc” you’ve rambled, people here understand English enough that you don’t have to include it in every post.       
        

    • Iklwa

      I saw liberals line up behind Al Gore, John Kerry and Barrak Heussien Obama all day long and no one on the left even blinked an eye. Those folks even said what they wanted to do with America!
       
      Ted Nugent is an entertainer.
       
      He has never tried garnering the office of the Presidency or any political office of which I am aware.
       
      Of the two instances, which would you consider to be more heinous?
       
      An entertainer, paid for his colorful character throwing red meat to an audience well prepared for the tirade orA politician making impossible promises while trying to gain control of the world’s most powerful military and economy bent on destroying the very fabric of American society and/or throwing it away?
       
      If one does not have the powers of discrimination (yes, discrimination) to discern reality from fiction or threat of fantasy, best leave big decisions to the adults.

  • Poop

    What happens when, in the future, so many people are saying so many ridiculous things that the Secret Service can’t possibly follow up on them all?

    • Poopy

       They don’t. And then they’ll get blamed for what some idiot who’s successful in doing something stupid does.

    • NANCYE

      That’s because the Secret Service will be too busy entertaining prostitutes.

      * I just couldn’t help myself*

    • John Daly

      My belief is that Secret Service investigations prevent more such incidents from ever occurring.

  • Glen

    What’s good for the goose….  I agree that Nugnet did not help his cause with his remarks.  He acted like a deranged anti-Bush rockstar from a few years ago (boss someone?)

    • alaskan1st

      But I doubt the boss would have crapped his  pants to avoid the draft. He probably had the chance at very young girls but I’ll bet he didn’t take it. I sort of doubt he even hunts. He’s not the NRA board member who poaches at any rate.

      • Glen

        He most certainly is an avid hunter…i  don’t know what you’re talking about?