Guest: Brian Anderson, Stacey Honowitz, Ric Robinson, Albert Mohler, Bob Edgar, Jim Wallis, James Dobson
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight‘s top headline, a war of faith erupts in Washington, as religious groups accuse Democrats of being hostile to Christians, while the head of the Democratic Party claims he leads the party of Jesus‘ true values. Are Republicans exploiting God just to win votes or are they just a step ahead of Democrats?
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, where no passport is required and only common sense is allowed.
SCARBOROUGH (voice-over): The battle over Bush‘s judicial picks take center stage at a nationally televised religious conference, where Democrats are blasted for being people against faith and John McCain is called squishy. Now liberal groups are fighting back. We‘ll debate the issue and talk to Dr. James Dobson. He‘s leading the charge for conservative Christians. We‘ll also be speaking to best-selling author Jim Wallis.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
SCARBOROUGH: And police cuff and stuff this 5-year-old girl, as her mother speaks out for the first time. What‘s next, frisking Girl Scouts? It‘s a SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY showdown.
Plus, could the Department of Homeland Security really be letting suspected terrorists out of jail and into your neighborhoods? I‘ve got issues and so will you after you hear this one.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Good evening. Welcome to the show.
Now, yesterday, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist spoke to a religious rally that promised to fight against those Democrats who were declaring political war on Christian judges. The event, called Justice Sunday to Stop the Filibuster Against People of Faith, has provoked a lot of criticism from Democratic leaders and the media.
Conference leader Tony Perkins had this to say at Sunday‘s event.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: The courts have become an enclave for a liberal ideology that seeks to muzzle the voice of Americans. And we believe that we have a voice in this process. Just because we believe the Bible is a guidepost for life does not disqualify us from participating in our government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Now, the event has a lot of people asking whether the Republican Party and conservatives are exploiting God for votes.
With me now to talk about it, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan. Jim Wallis, he, of course, is the author of “God‘s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn‘t Get It.” Dr. Bob Edgar, he‘s a former congressman who is now with the National Council of Churches. And we also have R. Albert Mohler Jr. He‘s the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminar.
Gentlemen, thanks a lot for being with us.
Pat, let me bring you in here first. And we have you on for one reason and one reason alone. In 1992, you had this to say at the Republican Convention. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 1992)
PAT BUCHANAN, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST: There is a religious war going on in this country. It is a cultural war as critical to the kind of nation we shall be as the Cold War itself, for this war is the for the soul of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Pat Buchanan, in 1992 you predict a coming cultural and religious war. It looks like that war is being played out on our television screens every day.
BUCHANAN: Well, Joe, that‘s exactly right. These deep differences we have over right-to-life and homosexual relationships and things of that character are rooted in the deepest religious beliefs of men and women in this country. And I tend to agree with those folks at that meeting at that Highview Baptist Church in Louisville.
The truth is, Joe, on issues of faith and morality, as well as religion and race, the Supreme Court of the United States is the central front in the culture war, who captures that, makes these decisions, and that is why this argument is so intense right now.
Jim Wallis, we found the following video on MediaMatters.org. And it shows Pat Robertson, the host of “The 700 Club,” claiming that God spoke to him and told him he would remove certain judges. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE 700 CLUB”)
PAT ROBERTSON, “THE 700 CLUB”: On—the vendetta against religion in America is about to end. I will remove judges from the Supreme Court quickly and their successors will refuse to sanction the attacks on religious faith.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Jim Wallis, respond to that.
JIM WALLIS, PRESIDENT, CALL TO RENEWAL: Well, Pat thinks God speaks to him often. God is not a Republican. God is not a Democrat. There is nothing wrong with bringing your faith to bear in public life. I‘ve done that all my life, faith and politics.
How you do it is very important. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested, wrote a famous letter from a Birmingham jail. The issue was racial segregation and violence against black people. He never claimed his opponents, the white clergy, were not people of faith. He challenged their faith. He never said they weren‘t people of faith. There‘s nothing wrong with bringing your faith into politics.
When you say the other side are not people of faith, this is a filibuster against people of faith, people of faith can only feel one way about a president‘s judicial nominees, you‘re crossing a line. King never did that. These are important matters, but don‘t say your opponents are not people of faith. That‘s going way too far.
SCARBOROUGH: Jim, do you think—Jim do you think that line has been crossed by this event yesterday?
WALLIS: I do. I really do.
I mean, again, I support people. I defend people. I do it myself. I want to bring my faith into public life. But Martin King never said that those—and this was a big issue—racial segregation and violence is a Gospel issue, but he never said the white clergy who were opposed to him were not people of faith. He wanted to take them deeper.
SCARBOROUGH: Jim, how are they doing that now, though?
SCARBOROUGH: How are they doing that now?
WALLIS: I want those who are doing this to just back off and say, we are doing this because of our faith, but stop saying that Democrats are hostile to faith, that this is a filibuster against people of faith, that those who disagree with George Bush‘s judicial nominations are not people of faith.
That isn‘t true. That isn‘t fair. Let‘s have a better dialogue.
SCARBOROUGH: Dr. Albert Mohler, can you not be a Democrat, can you not be against George Bush‘s judicial nominees and also at the same time be a Christian?
REV. ALBERT MOHLER, SOUTHERN BAPTIST SEMINARY: Well, I think Christianity is defined in the scripture. And where Christians may disagree on many issues related to public policy, economics, taxation, we should certainly stand together on matters of life and on matters of human dignity.
And, you know, we did not say that all those who oppose President Bush‘s judicial nominees are not persons of faith. That‘s not even a phrase that I would use. But there‘s no doubt that some of this filibustering has been directed towards persons precisely because of their deepest Christian convictions, in the case of Bill Pryor, his deep Catholic convictions, in the case of Charles Pickering, his convictions as an evangelical Christian. We didn‘t make up that.
That‘s directly from the transcripts of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
SCARBOROUGH: Give me an example.
MOHLER: Well, you take Judge Pryor. I‘m an evangelical Christian, but I‘m going to speak up on behalf of that man, who is a Roman Catholic, who holds to his church‘s teachings on abortion.
He had a United States senator tell him that he would question his objectivity because of his—quote—“deeply held personal beliefs”—end quote—which are obviously Catholic beliefs against abortion. You had Charles Pickering twice confronted the Senate Judiciary Committee because, when he was president of the Mississippi Baptist Convention, he spoke as a Baptists to fellow Baptists saying the Bible ought to be the standard for our decision-making.
That‘s just normative Christianity. He had that thrown at him and he was asked if he could judge fairly. Well, what‘s the implication of that, but that an evangelical Christian who believes in biblical authority is disqualified from serving on the bench.
SCARBOROUGH: Doctor, Doctor...
MOHLER: It‘s the words spoken by these senators that are the issue here.
SCARBOROUGH: Dr. Bob Edgar, you know, Jim Wallis obviously wrote a book that a lot of Democrats are reading right now. You have Howard Dean coming out talking about now how the Democratic Party is the party of true Christian values. You have Hillary Clinton talking about the importance of faith in public square.
Republicans have certainly taken the lead in act one of using God for political reasons, because they believe strongly that God‘s on their side. Do you believe act two may be the Democratic Party also getting engaged in the politics of religion?
REV. BOB EDGAR, SECRETARY-GENERAL, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES:
Well, Joe, you know that I was a member of the United States Congress and a United Methodist minister at the same time. I believe in the separation of church and state, but not the separation of people of faith and institutions of government.
I agree with Jim Wallis. What happened yesterday, they called it Justice Sunday, but it was really a focus on just us. If you don‘t agree with us, you‘re anti-American and un-Christian. It really smacks of McCarthyism. And I also want to take Pat Buchanan on.
I don‘t think that we ought to be using language of cultural wars. We‘ve got to lower the rhetoric and talk about how we can unify this nation, not how we divide it. And yesterday‘s action divided us. And I think the other point that needs to be made here clearly on the filibuster and the judges, it‘s not a matter of their faith statements. It‘s a matter of their competency.
And the filibuster is not something that blocks completely. In fact, President Bush has received—more than 200 of his judges confirmed by the United States Senate.
BUCHANAN: Joe, Joe—let me respond to that, Joe.
Look, my faith tells me that abortion, the 42, 43 million is the deliberate destruction of innocent human life. It tells me that homosexuality is immoral, unnatural and wrong. That is the view held by the saintly Holy Father we just buried.
BUCHANAN: If the Holy Father, John Paul II, was nominated for a federal appellate judgeship, he would get a unanimous hostile vote from the Democratic Party, which would then filibuster his nomination to the death on the floor because his beliefs are rooted in his religious faith. People who believe as I do are going to be denied by every single Democrat a right to sit on the federal bench because of our beliefs and because they are rooted in religious faith.
EDGAR: That‘s not true, Pat.
BUCHANAN: We all know that.
SCARBOROUGH: Bob, you wanted to respond?
BUCHANAN: Why are they stopping these men?
EDGAR: I want to respond to Pat.
That‘s not true, Pat. People who are—hold the same religious views that you hold have, in fact, been placed on the courts. And the very Bible that you cite also says what you‘ve done to the least of these, our brothers and sisters, you‘ve done unto me. We can differ on whether we support a particular judge, but let‘s not put a group of us in a corner and say, if we don‘t agree—the organizers of yesterday‘s event, that those of us who disagree are somehow un-Christian and anti-American.
BUCHANAN: All right, you hold my views to be extremist views.
EDGAR: I don‘t hold your views, Pat, to be extremist.
BUCHANAN: The Democratic Party does. It says, they hold extremist views on abortion.
The Holy Father, Ronald Reagan and Billy Graham all believe in the sanctity of human life. They were almost all no exceptions made on abortion. Not one of those individuals could get on the Supreme Court.
EDGAR: We believe in the sanctity of life, both before and after birth. And we‘re concerned, as Jim Wallis is concerned, about the poor.
BUCHANAN: It needs to be protected before birth.
EDGAR: This is an issue of the competency of these judges. And the Senate ought to keep the rules in place, not change the rules in the middle of the debate, because a handful of judges were not accepted in this process.
I think that the filibuster is a tool that‘s been used for more than 200 years. It ought not to be watered down simply because the right-wing Christian community didn‘t get their way.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
All right, Pat Buchanan, thanks a lot for being with us. Jim Wallis, Bob Edgar, and Dr. Mohler, please stick around. We‘re going to have a lot more straight ahead.
But, before we go to break, the latest on our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY campaign trying to stop repeat predators. Now, we‘ve been spending a lot of time talking lately about the epidemic of repeat sex offenders preying on children. And we‘re going to be spending more time on that later on in the show.
But, right now, it‘s your chance to take part in our online poll. You can click onto our Web site, Joe.MSNBC.com. Make your voice heard. Take part in our live poll. The question of the night: Will stricter laws stop sex offenders from repeating their crimes against children? That‘s on our poll. Go to the Web site.
But, still, coming up, much more on our top story tonight. This is more than a battle over judges. Pat Buchanan says it‘s a culture war. And next, we‘re going to be talking live to Dr. James Dobson. He‘s one of the warriors from the front line of that battle. Why he says now is the time to fight for conservative judges.
And, for the first time, we are hearing from the mother of a 5-year-old girl handcuffed by the police in Florida, plus a former cop who says the police did the right thing.
Hey, don‘t go anywhere. SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY is just getting started.
SCARBOROUGH: So, tell me, how would you react to seeing your 5-year-old daughter handcuffed and in the back of a police car? You‘re going to be hearing from a mother who knows firsthand.
That‘s coming up.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, welcome back.
One of the featured speakers at last night‘s Justice Sunday in Kentucky was Dr. James Dobson. Of course, he‘s the founder and the chairman of Focus on the Family.
Dr. Dobson, it‘s good to have you back here.
And I want to begin by asking you, why is this issue so important to you, to put this issue on the front burner? And do you believe that God is on the side of conservative Republican judges, to the exclusion of secular Democratic senators?
DR. JAMES DOBSON, PRESIDENT, FOCUS ON THE FAMILY: Joe, I don‘t believe that.
And, in fact, the assertions that were made by two of your guests a few minutes ago have no basis in fact. I mean, you‘ll notice that they never quote people who come from our point of view. We have never said that those who disagree with us are un-Christian and un-American. That‘s just unconscionable to say things like that without saying where it occurred.
In fact, last night, Tony Perkins opened the evening by saying the exact opposite of that. We simply have had the temerity to step into the public arena and let our wishes and our thoughts be known. And we have not put it in these terms that—what was it? I think “The Los Angeles Times” called it a desire for a theocracy. This is baloney. It‘s blowing smoke. It misses the point.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, let‘s talk about—let‘s talk about some steam that you may have blown last night. At last night‘s event, you called John McCain and two other senators squishy. And you also said that Republicans are really good at trembling. Tell them that you will remember how they vote.
If John McCain does not go along with the so-called nuclear option that Bill Frist is talking about employing to drop this filibuster threat against judges, will you encourage conservative Christians not to support John McCain in 2008?
DOBSON: No, I‘m not likely to do that, because Focus on the Family is a nonprofit organization. I might do something as a private individual, but I rarely do that.
And, Joe, I don‘t know if you watched that tape very carefully last night either, because I did not mention John McCain. I just said that there are squishy Republicans. And there are. When it came to the filibuster with regard to marriage, most of these same people waffled and they would not support the things they ran on. And I think the American people, many of whom are values voters, who came out and voted in November, sent our representatives there because they have very strong ideological views.
And if they are thwarted there by a minority, there is no connection between what they went to the polls to say and the Supreme Court or any Supreme Court. We have no ability to affect who sits on the court and what its makeup is. The American people are the government. It‘s a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
SCARBOROUGH: You know...
DOBSON: And if what they say never gets registered, then we‘re powerless.
SCARBOROUGH: Doctor, while you were talking about Republicans and how they—and I—we have talked about this before. I‘m not disagreeing with you. There are a lot of Republicans that say one thing on the campaign trail, then go to Washington, D.C. and completely forget it. I‘m certainly not arguing that point.
While you were talking, though—and I just—I just want to get specific here—there were pictures flashed up of Senator John McCain, senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, and also Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, complete with their phone numbers up on the screen. Are these three Republicans that you believe have backed down from their campaign promises to support conservative judicial nominees?
DOBSON: Well, there are a number of them, Senator Snowe and Senator Chafee and many others, that have not represented what I think are the conservative values that the Republican Party has stood for.
When it comes to life, when this comes to marriage, when it comes to pornography, when it comes to many of the social issues, they seem to either lose their nerve or they don‘t have the conviction to support it.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Dr. James Dobson, as always, we greatly appreciate you coming to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. Thanks a lot.
DOBSON: Thank you, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Now let‘s get back to our panel.
We have Dr. Bob Edgar. He‘s from the National Council of Churches. We also have Dr. Albert Mohler from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. And Jim Wallis, he‘s the author of “God‘s Politics.”
Jim, I want to go back to you to a point I made last hour—or last segment—talking about how Democrats read your book after the election. And it seems that, you know, you have Hillary Clinton going out talking about the need for faith in the public square. And, of course, Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, actually started talking about how the Democratic Party is—well, let me read it.
He made this claim. He said, “We need to talk about Christian values and how they‘re Democratic values.”
Does it seem like the Democratic Party may have learned your lesson a bit too well?
WALLIS: Well, Joe, first of all, we need to have an honest conversation here. Last night, there wouldn‘t have been any problem if people were just saying, because of my faith, I care about these issues.
I‘m an evangelical Christian, too. I am a values voter, too. I care about abortion too. Abortion is a deeply moral issue. The abortion rate is a tragedy in this country. But they did say last night—it‘s in their material—it‘s in what they‘ve said—that those who disagree with judicial appointments are not people of faith. The Democrats are hostile to people of faith. That‘s their language, not mine.
If they hadn‘t said that, this wouldn‘t have come up. I‘m just saying, Brother Al, Brother Jim, let‘s just back off and have a more civil conversation. I care about moral values, too.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, what do you say about—what do you say about—what do you say about Brother Howard, who says that the Democratic Party is the party of Jesus‘ true values. Does that concern you?
WALLIS: You know, I don‘t find either party—you know, Jesus‘ true values are going to confront both of these parties.
Faith should not be fit into categories of left and right, liberal and conservative. True faith is not partisan or ideologically predictable. It ought to be prophetic. So, you know, Christian values would challenge both left and right. Fighting poverty is a moral values issue, too.
Protecting the environment, God‘s creation, is a moral values issue, too. Abortion is a moral values issue. Let‘s have a conversation. But, like Dr. King, let‘s take serious conviction, but not ever say our opponents are not people of faith. If they just back off from that, we can have a conversation, biblically, theologically, and politically.
SCARBOROUGH: Dr. Mohler?
WALLIS: Let‘s have that discussion.
MOHLER: Well, the problem is...
SCARBOROUGH: Dr. Mohler, is it time for that discussion?
MOHLER: Well, I think that discussion is ongoing.
But, again, I have to come back to the fact that words are being put into our mouth that we didn‘t say. And there is a deep cultural, ideological and, yes, spiritual divide here. I speak as an evangelical Christian. The event last night was as evangelicals speaking to evangelicals.
You know, I heard what Dr. Edgar had to say. And, quite frankly, if you put evangelical Christians on one hand and the National Council of Churches on the other, there, you have got the whole culture war, the theological and social divide right there. The National Council of Churches is an open embrace of, frankly, almost every leftist idea that‘s passed along for the last 40 years.
I believe they disrespect Christianity. They‘re for the right to abortion. They embrace homosexuality and an umbrella of other things that evangelicals find directly repugnant.
EDGAR: Joe, let me respond to that. The speaker doesn‘t know the fact that the National Council of Churches has not taken a position on abortion.
We‘re made of 36 Christian communions, including 13 Orthodox traditions. It would be hard for me to look at Coptic Orthodox or Syrian Orthodox or Armenian Orthodox as liberal. I think your friend here has not only misrepresented the National Council of Churches, but I believe that we need to lower the rhetoric and speak truth to both justice and power.
And we have to stop using the language of war. We‘re always talking about wars. I‘m not at war with my evangelical brothers and sisters. We‘re working together on issues of poverty. Many people within the evangelical community, like Jim Wallis, are co-workers with us to try to address the needs of the poor, the needs of the environment, the needs of peace and justice.
And we believe we‘re part of the family of Christian communions, as well as the Southern Baptists are part of that Christian family. But let‘s not put one of those theological positions in a box and say, if they don‘t agree with us, they‘re somehow anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-faith.
The Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church, Reform Judaism, the AME, which is a historic black church, have been outraged at what took place at this “just us” Sunday that took place yesterday. And we just need to find a way to speak broadly with each other about our common respect for each other‘s faith traditions. And we may disagree on a particular judge or a particular policy position, but we don‘t disagree that this United States is based on a respect for a lot of different religious traditions.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thank you.
WALLIS: I was on your radio show just two weeks ago. We had a good conversation face to face about the poor, about the environment, about the ethics of war, about abortion, and family. It was a good, civil conversation.
Neither one of us said, you aren‘t a person of faith. Those things were said. And I just think you have to clarify that we‘re having a serious conversation and we‘re not going to say the other side are not people of faith. If you just say that, we‘ll have a better conversation.
SCARBOROUGH: Dr. Mohler.
MOHLER: Listen, Jim, you know, I did enjoy the conversation we had, but we never said other people aren‘t people of faith. That‘s not even an expression that I use. I believe everyone operates out of a deep world view.
MOHLER: Even an agnostic has a deep commitment to his faith and agnosticism. That to me is irrelevant.
But I respect what you have to say about the need for a civil conversation. I‘m ready for that. We‘re ready for the battle of ideas. But just, please, don‘t put words in our mouth that we didn‘t say.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, we‘ll leave it there.
Thank you so much for being with us. Dr. Mohler, Dr. Edgar and Jim Wallis, a conversation that we will continue having.
Coming up next, police did the right thing when they handcuffed a 5-year-old girl? That‘s what one police officer is telling us tonight. Plus, for the first time, we‘re hearing from the mother of the girl at the center of this debacle.
And, later on, those foul-mouthed kids from “South Park” are doing more than just making your kids laugh. They‘re turning it into a secret weapon against the liberal elite. We‘ll tell you why coming up.
SCARBOROUGH: I know you‘ve seen the video of that 5-year-old girl being cuffed and stuffed in Florida by police. Tonight, something new. You‘re going to be hearing from the girl‘s mother and what she has to say about the controversy.
But, first, here‘s the latest news that you and your family need to know.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, I‘m Joe. Brad‘s got Angelina. And I‘ve got issues.
I‘ve got issues, first of all, with the Department of Homeland Security letting terror suspects skate out of jail. That‘s right. Journalist Joel Mowbray obtained a secret government document that blows the lid off the Department of Homeland Security. According to the memo, the department is suggesting that they just don‘t have enough prison beds to hold all the illegal aliens they snag.
Therefore, only the most dangerous, the rapists, the murderers, the known terrorists will be detained. The list of those who don‘t always face detainment include illegal aliens who—quote—“raise a national security concern based on specific intelligence.”
Now, what that means, sports fans, is, suspected terrorists can walk. But don‘t worry, America. At least the feds are making Martha Stewart wear her ankle bracelet. I‘ll tell you what. I just feel so safe.
And, finally, Arnold Schwarzenegger. You know, this guy has been in so much trouble. He‘s got sagging poll numbers. He‘s got political groups criticizing his every move. And now the governator is making all his enemies‘ job easier. According to “The London Evening Standard,” Arnold recently went on Howard Stern‘s radio show and offered his theory on how to end premenstrual syndrome, saying—quote—“If we get rid of the moon, women‘s, whose menstrual cycles are governed by the moon, will not get PMS. They will stop bitching and whining.”
Hey, Governor, way to make 50 percent of California‘s voting population turn frigid towards you. I don‘t know how it works in Austria, but let me tell you something, friend. Jokes about such matters, not laughing subjects to women in America.
Now, last night, we talked about the story of a 5-year-old girl handcuffed by police officers for throwing a tantrum in school. In a moment, we‘re going to hear the first comments from the child‘s mother.
But, first, just to remind you, the kindergartner‘s rampage started during her self-improvement class, where she was videotaped punching an assistant principal. When the police arrived, the girl seemed very calm. That is, until police decided to handcuff her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. No. No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold her hands together.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go ahead. Don‘t worry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: The girl was arrested, but prosecutors did not press charges. But now the girl‘s mother says she plans to sue these kindergarten cops, these police officers.
Inga Akins, with her daughter, spoke to “A Current Affair.” And this is what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “A CURRENT AFFAIR”)
INGA AKINS, MOTHER: They threatened me with the police, told me, if I didn‘t come pick my child up, That they was going to call the police. And I told them That I was on my way. But when I got there, the police was already there. And she was already in the back seat of a police car handcuffed.
I was angry, because it didn‘t take four police officers to arrest her. They didn‘t even have to arrest her, period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: OK, here‘s the deal. When the police officers, the three police officers arrive, the child is sitting down calmly. And then they put her in cuffs. And then the child‘s already in handcuffs, so why did they put her in the back of a police cruiser?
With us now to try to sort this out is Florida Assistant State Attorney Stacey Honowitz. And we also have Ric Robinson. He‘s the author of “Cop: The Truth Behind the Badge.”
Stacey, let‘s start with you. Do you think the police officers behaved appropriately in this matter?
STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY: I think anybody can look at this tape and tell you that they were overaggressive, overzealous.
And, quite frankly, when you talk about they arrested this child, I‘d like to know what they arrested her for. She was calm. There was no reason to even call the cops to the school to begin with. So, as far as the mother suing, I can see why she would want to. And I definitely think that, in this situation, they didn‘t need to bring police to arrest a 5-year-old child.
SCARBOROUGH: Ric, let me ask you that question. You...
SCARBOROUGH: ... police officer for a long time.
RIC ROBINSON, AUTHOR, “”COP: THE TRUTH BEHIND THE BADGE”: Before you ask me, Joe, Joe, Joe, listen. Listen, let me ask you something. She just said—Stacey just mentioned she doesn‘t know what they were arrested for, yet she‘s an attorney. She was arrested for assault, for battery, and for...
HONOWITZ: But she‘s 5 years old.
ROBINSON: Destroying property.
SCARBOROUGH: Look at the video. She‘s 5 years old.
HONOWITZ: She‘s 5 years old.
ROBINSON: And you know something?
I‘ve read and I‘ve heard—Joe, I just heard you mention a second ago that the girl was sitting there calmly for seconds prior to them taking action. Incidentally, there were four law enforcement officers. One of them was a training officer who was actually directing the action of those police officers.
You know, I can tell you, when I heard about this, the first thing I thought, why in the world are police officers arresting 5-year-old children? Why are they putting cuffs on kindergarten kids? As a matter of fact, why are they even being called for any disciplinary action at a school? And then I saw the video.
I saw a young girl not just throwing a temper tantrum. She was violent. She was going after that assistant principal like a street fighter.
HONOWITZ: She‘s 5 years old. Do you expect a jury to find her guilty of assault?
SCARBOROUGH: Stacey, Stacey, hold on a second, Stacey.
SCARBOROUGH: Look at this video.
SCARBOROUGH: These adults are able to restrain her if they want to.
Who‘s in danger here?
ROBINSON: And then what we‘d be talking about is the strong-arm tactics...
SCARBOROUGH: Who is in danger?
ROBINSON: ... of law enforcement that were manhandling this little child.
What they did—they had three options. They could have turned around and walked away. They could have grabbed ahold of that little girl. Or they could have done the most passive thing they could, restrain her, so she didn‘t harm herself. You see her jumping up and down on the table, on the chair. Her shoes are untied, could fall at any time. They did what they needed to do for the safety of that child.
HONOWITZ: Well, let me ask you a question.
ROBINSON: Now, go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead.
HONOWITZ: Don‘t you think that this child got more aggressive and more upset when she saw three armed deputies with guns and belts and handcuffs take her and restrain her and put her in cuffs? And we‘re not looking about leading her away.
ROBINSON: She was way more aggressive with that assistant principal.
HONOWITZ: We‘re talking about putting a child in handcuffs behind her back and putting in the back of a cruiser.
ROBINSON: Not a good thing. I wouldn‘t want to do that.
I went two decades, thank God, never being in that position. I have also taught school for five years. Thank goodness, I‘ve never had—I‘ve seen anything like that before.
HONOWITZ: You‘ve never seen a child throw a tantrum?
ROBINSON: I‘ve never seen a child that was that aggressive, that was that violent.
HONOWITZ: I find that hard to believe.
ROBINSON: They had to move all of the kids out of the classroom.
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second, please, please.
SCARBOROUGH: Ric, I want to ask you this question. Let‘s take it step by step by step.
SCARBOROUGH: First of all, I don‘t understand. But I‘m not a cop, OK? I don‘t know the rules. I don‘t know the procedures. I don‘t understand why they cuff a 5-year-old kindergarten girl who is sitting calmly in her chair.
But, OK, so let‘s say they did the right thing. They put the handcuffs on her. The next question is, why do you put a Girl Scout, a 5-year-old girl, in the back of a police cruiser after you cuff her?
ROBINSON: Well, they had arrested her. They made an arrest.
ROBINSON: Which again—now, Stacey, you and I may agree to some extent on that particular issue.
But, nonetheless, they took the action they felt was appropriate under those circumstances, not all circumstances, specifically in that case.
HONOWITZ: I can guarantee you, when they look back on the tape and they see what they did, they will say, what were we doing? Why did we think that the prosecutor‘s office would even take a case like this and prosecute a 5-year-old child? There were such less restrictive means of doing something.
ROBINSON: I‘m pretty sure, Stacey, this district attorney doesn‘t want to be known as the prosecutor who put a 5-year-old away. I understand why he took that.
HONOWITZ: No district attorney wants to—it‘s not this district attorney. It‘s any district attorney is not going to want to be known for that.
ROBINSON: They were put in the most difficult of circumstances.
SCARBOROUGH: All right.
ROBINSON: I could tell you, Joe and I, we could have restrained that girl. We could have grabbed her, like getting ahold of a wolf by the ears, something we would not want to do. But we probably wouldn‘t let go. And then you and I would be talking about how rough those officers were.
Or the assistant principal, she could have grabbed that child and held the child and we‘d talking about how she manhandled the girl. Instead, we‘re talking about a little girl who was put in handcuffs who was not harmed.
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s what a police officer told me. If we didn‘t put her in cuffs and we tried to hold her down and restrain her, then we would have been sued for that.
Thanks a lot, Ric. We appreciate you being with us.
Stacey, as always, greatly appreciate you visiting SCARBOROUGH
Now, coming up next, the cartoon “South Park” is often childish, irreverent and obscene. But conservative? You know what? Stick around. You‘re going to be surprised by what you hear right after this break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “SOUTH PARK”)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Hello there, little boy. Do you know who I am?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: No.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: I bet you do.
(singing): I‘m going where there‘s lucky clovers in the...
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Stop that.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Yes, that sucks, dude.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: I‘m Barbra Streisand.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: So?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: So? So, I‘m a very famous and very important individual.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: A popular TV show skewering a liberal celebrity. You know what? That may have been unheard of 10 years ago. But now, thanks to cable news, talk radio, blogs, this type of humor has blossomed onto cable. The elite media regime has started to crack, some say. And others say it‘s a watershed moment in American politics and culture.
That is at least what Brian Anderson, who is editor at “Manhattan Institute City Journal,” has to say in his new book, “South Park Conservatives: The Revolt Against Liberal Media Bias.”
I spoke with him recently and began by asking him, what is a “South Park” conservative?
BRIAN ANDERSON, AUTHOR, “SOUTH PARK CONSERVATIVES”: Well, the way I use the term—and it‘s been floating around out in the culture for a while—is somebody who looks around at today‘s left, who might not be a traditional conservative, but who looks at the political correctness, the anti-Americanism, the elitism, and says that‘s not me; I want nothing to do with that.
And I find a lot of evidence for this on college campuses in the book
and also in this new kind of comedy, which is represented most powerfully
by “South Park” itself.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, a lot of conservatives would be shocked that you talk about “South Park” being a conservative show. I didn‘t watch it for a couple of years. A friend told me, you‘ve got to watch this episode and showed me an episode. And I have not yet seen anything on television that goes after the left the way “South Park” does.
Now, political correctness, of course—well, I‘ll tell you what. Why don‘t we just show a clip of “South Park” to help define what “South Park” conservatives are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “SOUTH PARK”)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Kids, this is the Costa Rican Capitol Building.
This is where all the leaders of the Costa Rican government make their...
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Oh, my God, it smells out here.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: All right, that does it. Eric Cartman, you respect other cultures this instant.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: I wasn‘t saying anything about their culture.
I was just saying their city smells like ass.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Wow. Staying in a place like this really makes you appreciate living in America, huh.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: You may think that making fun of Third World countries is funny, but let me...
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I don‘t think it‘s funny. This place is overcrowded, smelly and poor. That‘s not funny. That sucks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: That‘s the sort of thing you never see on mainstream media. They go after Barbra Streisand. In their latest movie, “Team America,” they actually assassinate every liberal in Hollywood.
ANDERSON: Yes. In Hollywood, basically.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, so...
ANDERSON: In horrible ways.
SCARBOROUGH: So, what‘s going on with this subversive new humor?
ANDERSON: Well, first of all, when you think about the history of humor, the last 30 years, it‘s been mostly directed at conservatives and—you know, at least when it‘s been topical humor.
You think of Norman Lear and “All in the Family” and “Maude.” And, even today, “Will & Grace” or “Whoopi,” which was canceled a few years ago, these—topic humor is always to the left. These guys saw an opportunity. And cable made it possible. This is the kind of show that would have never, never been broadcast on network television.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, what‘s so interesting is, I—when “The New York Times” ran a front-page story a year ago, they were actually talking about how this was a liberal show. It was anti-God. It was anti-religion, and the conservatives were angry. You know, I just—I can‘t figure out how they got it so wrong.
ANDERSON: Well, I mean, on occasion, they do go after the right.
They did a kind of merciless mocking of Mel Gibson.
And, you know, they‘re not equal-opportunity offenders, however. If you really look at episode after episode, they go after multiculturalism, radical environmentalism, hate crime legislation, even abortion rights.
ANDERSON: And when was the last time you saw anything in popular culture satirize something like that?
SCARBOROUGH: And actually making—you talk about environmentalism -
· actually making those people that were tearing down rain forests in South America the heroes of an episode.
ANDERSON: That‘s right.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s show another clip from “South Park.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “SOUTH PARK”)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You white Americans make me sick. You waste food, oil, and everything else because you‘re so rich, and then you tell the rest of the world to save the rain forest because you like its pretty flowers.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: We‘re here live in San Jose, Costa Rica, where hundreds of Americans have gathered for the Save the Rain Forest Summit. Everyone is here so they can feel good about themselves and act like they aren‘t the ones responsible for the rain forest‘s peril.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: It‘s Comedy Central‘s most successful program.
And its demographic cuts pretty young. And, as I explain in this book, “South Park Conservatives,” there‘s a lot of this kind of activity going on, on campuses, too.
SCARBOROUGH: Talk about that.
ANDERSON: Well, Harvard‘s Institute of Politics did a study about a year and a half ago that found that students were actually to the right of the general population in most of their views.
SCARBOROUGH: So, what happens is, they go to class all day. They listen to professors.
ANDERSON: They listen to...
SCARBOROUGH: ... that all have the same opinion, same political correct viewpoint. They get tired of it. They go home at night.
ANDERSON: Well, think about it.
SCARBOROUGH: And they become “South Park” conservatives.
ANDERSON: Yes. Well, there‘s a gun club at Harvard now. And that‘s pretty strange when you think about it.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s very strange.
Well, thanks. The book is “South Park Conservatives.” Thanks a lot for being with us tonight. We greatly appreciate it.
ANDERSON: Thanks a lot, Joe. I really appreciate it. Thanks for having me on.
SCARBOROUGH: From silly to serious. Up next, we‘re going to talking about your anger regarding adults who exploit children. And we‘re going to take that fight to Washington. The very latest on our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY campaign, stopping repeat predators.
We‘ll talk about that when we come right back.
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, you can take part on our live vote tonight and also get the latest details on our SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY campaign, stopping predators. It‘s all on my Web site at Joe.MSNBC.com.
Stay with us.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, as you know, we have started a SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY campaign to protect America‘s children from repeat sexual predators.
Just this weekend, another Florida teacher was arrested for allegedly molesting a 13-year-old student at school every day for months, up to 100 times. Now, of course, that‘s incredibly disturbing, but even more disturbing is the fact that this happens all the time across America. According to a new report, almost one in 10 children are going to be molested by a teacher at some point in their career. And 15 percent of those will be special-ed students.
That‘s just one more reason we are keeping up the fight to do more to protect our children.
Now, your e-mail response has been outstanding. Let me read just a sample of the tons of e-mails we have received.
Judy wrote in to tell me, “If we don‘t protect our children against these deviants, then we are the ones responsible for the ones who are murdered.”
And C.L. writes: “Simply requiring sex offenders to register is not enough. America needs to wake up and do much more about violent crimes against all citizens, and especially violent crimes against defenseless children.”
You know what? I couldn‘t agree more. That‘s why I am taking your e-mails to Washington this Friday. And I am going to demand that politicians step up and do more.
There‘s still time to have your voice heard. You can click on my Web site at Joe.MSNBC.com. Make your voice heard and also take part in our live vote.
We‘ll see you tomorrow night.
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