“Enemy of the State”?!

That’s what Sean Hannity called … Sean Penn? And no, he didn’t seem to be kidding. Better yet, proclaiming an “Enemy of the State” each week is going to be a regular feature on the show.

When someone I disagree with says something really, truly, astoundingly, shockingly, double-plus stupid, I’m always just a little bit hesitant to jump up and down on his head, for fear he might be making a joke. So when TPM’s Eric Kleefeld reported that Sean Hannity had started declaring a weekly “Enemy of the State,” I had my doubts. Was it possible that Hannity was just doing a send-up of Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Person in the World” and Duncan Black’s “Wanker of the Day”?

Nope. Watch for yourself. It’s not humor. It’s not deadpan humor. Hannity is just teed off at Sean Penn, who insulted all the honest toilers in America’s sexual-services industry by calling Hannity a “whore.”

Hannity isn’t trying to be funny; he’s just boringly annoyed, and prepared to use a Stalinist/Nazi/Orwellian label to express his annoyance. (Just imagine the outcry from the right if Olbermann called his targets “Enemies of the People,” and contrast it with the deafening silence from that side of the aisle about Hannity’s lapse in judgment.)

Doesn’t Fox News have any any adult supervision at all?

Update Garance Franke-Ruta points out that Hannity isn’t alone in calling political opponents enemies of the country: Fox’s Gretchen Carlson did it to Ted Kennedy. Maybe it was in the morning memo from Roger Ailes. And the Heritage Foundation has invited Dinesh D’Souza to explain that the “cultural left” is the “enemy at home” because Islamic extremists hate secularism, and the left as the carrier of secularism is thus responsible for the 9/11 attacks. This continues the lunatic Right’s thread of argument that goes, approximately, “They hate us for our freedom, so let’s have less freedom and then they’ll love us.”

And once again we hear a deafening silence from those who posed as defenders of “civility” when some of the people at Paul Wellstone’s memorial service booed politicians who had profoundly slandered Wellstone just before his death.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com