Last spring a southern Idaho right-wing talk-show host named Zeb Bell made some minor headlines by featuring a conversation on his daytime show in Twin Falls by referring to the "negroid black Barack Obama" and calling Obama's mother "trailer trash" with a fixation on black men. Bell, you may recall, ultimately refused to apologize, claiming the remarks all came from his guest, a far-right nativist well noted for his racial slurs named Frosty Woolridge.
More recently, Bell has been plunging even farther off the deep end, attacking gays and lesbians as the centerpiece of his defense of California's Prop 8, even going so far as to argue that "God's laws" trump the Constitution.
Most notably, he's being openly defiant about the bigoted nature of his broadcasts, going so far as to assemble his audience under the banner of "Bell's Bigots".
The fine folks at Mountain Goat Report and at The Political Game (with a hat tip to 43rd State Blues) have been tracking this disturbing trend for some months now, and as Bell has picked up his volume and gained traction in Idaho, they've assembled a Zeb Bell page with links to the wingnuttery that Bell is spreading apace.
One of Bell's more disturbing rants is straight out of the Christian Reconstructionist handbook:
"Again everything that they say, everything that the left adheres to is anti-Biblical. Are we gonna sit back and just allow the Bible to be thrown away? Allow the Bible and its preachings and its doctrines to be trashed? Everything today it seems like is anti-Biblical. And my point to you and my question to you this morning is: Are we gonna follow God's laws or are we gonna bend and follow human laws? You know, you're gonna have to decide this. If they're gonna call me a bigot for not wanting gay marriage and wanting the respect for marriage as a man and a woman, I'm going to wear the label of being a bigot very, very proudly, and you should too. But do you have the nerve, do you have the backbone to stand up and say "Yes, I'm a bigot, because I want marriage to remain between a man and a woman and sanctify the family situation." What are your thoughts? Are you gonna bend, are you gonna say, "Oh, well let 'em marry whoever they want to?" Give me a call ... Time to stand up folks. It's past time time to stand up, believe me. Give me a call ... if I don't get any calls then I'll know nobody's gonna stand up for it.
And you've gotta love how he whips his listeners into a special kind of frenzy that seems to border on advocating violence:
ZEB: Alright, let me ask you a question, let me ask you a question right there, Randy. Are you ready and are you tough enough to withstand the, uh, public scrutiny if they call you a bigot and a prejudiced, uh, prejudicial person, etc., are you ready for that?
RANDY: Well, this is the thing about...
ZEB: No, no no! Are you ready for it? Are you ready to stand up and be counted?
RANDY: I am, I am. I, let me tell you something. Every day one thought goes through my mind, and I know this sounds, ah, you know maybe a little bit excessive but ah, give me freedom or give me death and that's it. I mean, I will go to the death to save my family, to save my country, to save the rights that I was given to by God, not these filthy pigs who get on TV and blaspheme! I... Jack Black will suffer in hell for this.
A local blogger named Gary Eller observed how disturbing all this is:
My concern with Zeb’s latest rant is that it borders on insurrection, calling on all Christians to replace the Constitution, man’s laws, with the Bible, God’s law. From where I am sitting this is as un-American a statement to make as anything that has ever passed the lips of Jeremiah Wright in his damning of America. When I took my first oath of office, repeating the oath with each military promotion, I never once agreed to defend the bible, it was always an oath to defend the constitution. In fact, it must be remembered that one places their hand on the bible and swears to defend the constitution, they do not place their hand on the constitution and swear to defend the bible. This sequencing alone says all that is necessary in understanding that the constitution, not the bible, is the supreme law of the land. Whenever I hear someone like Zeb Bell suggesting otherwise it makes me feel as though I spent my life combating religious extremists in the wrong countries. The real enemies of freedom now live next door, right here in America.
Mind you, heretofore, most of the truly ugly bigotry emanating from Idaho has been from the racist camps of its northern Panhandle. Now, obviously, it's spreading.