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Boulder HS student speaks up on O'Reilly Factor

Reported by Chrish - June 14, 2007 -

Boulder High School student Mansur Gidfar was a guest on Bill O'Reilly's Factor tonight 6/13/07 but after he zinged O'Reilly with his own words O'Reilly, obviously stung by the teen's composure and preparation, spent most of the interview talking himself or allowing the other guest to speak. She, Ellie Lake, is the parent of a girl who is not currently a student but will attend BHS in the fall.
With video.

First O'Reilly used his Talking Points Memo to remind viewers that the panel members were speaking frankly and using graphic language with the teens about sex and drug use, but as he has been doing all along, he took the soundbites out of context. He revisited his outrage that three school officials not only didn't condemn the forum, they defended it. He played clips of remarks made at a Boulder school board meeting last night from students and parents, some who called the forum "enlightened" and others who felt their rights (not specified) were violated.

O'Reilly, who called this a battle in the culture war, said this is what happens when secular progressives gain control: boundaries fall apart and justice is grey, not black and white. He says the Boulder officials involved in this "travesty" should have been fired weeks ago, and warned viewers that "this could happen where you live."

In the Top Story segment he first addressed Lake and asked if the view that the forum was "enlightened" was the prevailing one in Boulder? She hoped not and stated that it is not her feeling. She was bothered by some comments at the meeting last night and singled out the last comment O'Reilly had shown, where one angry man said that first something wonderful happened (the forum) and then something awful happened: Bill O'Reilly whipped up a crowd of hysterical, unreasonable, and un-American adults, using tactics of fear and hate to find villains where none exist (meaning, to those of us following the story, Factor viewers and listeners who were incited to send hate mail). Lake defensively said she didn't think she was hysterical, she thinks she's being a "responsible" parent.

O'Reilly asked her what specifically she objected to at the "exposition," and she replied that all the comments about experimentation with sex, especially same-sex, and drugs. Well wonder of wonders, she is upset about exactly what O'Reilly has been harping about these past few weeks! Exactly! Enlightened? That's the most ridiculous thing she's ever heard.

Finally turning to Mansur (hoping, no doubt, to make "the kid" sweat a while) O'Reilly challenged him: "you got a problem with me?" (Mr. Tough, love your manicure.) Gidfar was ready. He repeated the quote from Joel Becker that O'Reilly has given a lot of play, that he (Becker) is going to encourage kids to have sex and to use drugs appropriately, and the reason he's going to do that is because kids are going to do that anyway. He then read, to make sure he got it right, "As for me, I'm not going to tell you to avoid sex because in the end you will do what you want to anyway," and asked O'Reilly if he recognized it.

Of course, those are O'Reilly's own words from The Factor for Kids.

As Gidfar tried to engage O'Reilly about this apparent hypocrisy, O'Reilly overtalked and said he doesn't try to lecture him or anyone else on what to do in your life. WHAT? WHAT?? Because it was differentiating, he emphasized that he doesn't encourage illegal drug use, as it could get him in legal trouble.

O'Reilly was condescending in asking Gidfar if he did not understand that there should have been someone like him (O'Reilly) to counter the four "irresponsible" "far left nuts" and to tell the kids that it's illegal to use ecstacy (notice how quickly - snap! - he dropped the "sex" complaint.)

Gidfar replied that no one denies that some of the content was controversial, and he doesn't necessarily agree with everything that was said, but what the reaction from the community has shown him is that parents are uncomfortable discussing sex and drugs with their kids, and frank discussion is necessary. O'Reilly overtalked to pooh-pooh, saying it's a personal parental decision. He told Mansur to "trust him", that those four are "loons," and proceeded to ugly, labelling the school officials "grossly irresponsible" and calling again for their firing.

He turned back to Lake, who should be concerned about sending her daughter into a school with "no boundaries." Lake said she's even considered moving (dibs on your house!) but she has raised her daughter "extremely well" and she's more concerned for the kids whose parents aren't as good as she is (essentially). O'Reilly is concerned for the parents who thought the forum was enlightened, because "we're going to have to deal with those kids down the line."

Comments: I've got a few problems with O'Reilly on this one. First, it's a local story and no matter that he tries to make it national news with his boogeyman "it could happen to you," it's an issue for Boulder parents and their kids and school district. O'Reilly used his national editorial platform to sic his right-wing followers on the much more liberal people of Boulder, who have a right to be liberal in America. Notice the frequent use of the "S" word - should - throughout the segment.

Second, teenagers are not idiots. They like to think and talk and entertain different angles, a craft that is steadily drummed out of them/us by the hectic lifestyle we pursue. Let them hear it all, talk about it, and reject and incorporate what they choose. Trying to "protect" them from dangerous ideas is impossible, especially in this day and age, and the fiction that you can selectively funnel in only the "good" information (and who decides what is "good" is a problem with no solution) and voila! turn out a "good" citizen is a Utopian pipedream. Critical thinking requires that the person have various inputs and perspectives and learns to sort things out for themselves, and to ultimately become themselves.

O'Reilly selected this story for the outrage factor, easily achieved by chopping selected soundbites that were concerning. But he served no higher purpose than ratings and hurt a lot of kids and their families in the process.

First video is TPM, second is discussion.