Fox host Sean Hannity dismissed the murder convictions of a Minnesota homeowner who used excessive force in killing two teenagers who broke into his home, claiming with exasperation, "They broke into the guy's house."The case was that of Byron Smith, who after his house was burglarized set a "trap" for the neighborhood teen he suspected of being the culprit by moving his car away from his house, hiding in the basement and waiting for them. Sure enough, one broke in and headed down to the basement: Smith shot him twice, bringing him down, then told him "you're dead" before shooting him in the face (Smith taped the entire episode, presumably so the world would later praise his banter.) He moved the body and reloaded his gun; after 10 minutes the teen's friend/partner came looking for him:
Kifer’s footsteps are heard on the stairs and she calls out quietly, “Nick?”He reported the shootings a day later.
Then comes the sound of more shots. She falls down the stairs. “Oh, sorry about that,” Smith tells her. She screams, “Oh my God!”
Then more shots. Smith tells her, “You’re dying,” and calls her a “bitch,” the AP reported.
After more labored breathing and another dragging sound, Smith calls her “bitch” again. He told authorities that after he moved her, he noticed she was still gasping and didn’t want her to suffer, so he fired under her chin with a 22.-caliber handgun, according to a report in the Pioneer Press. The Star Tribune reported Smith told investigators the last time he fired was “a good clean finishing shot” and “she gave out the death twitch.”
Finishing both teens off execution-style rather than calling the police or ambulance was not a dealbreaker for the Fox News host. His only stated complaint was with the use of language.
Sean Hannity covered the case on the April 30 edition of his Fox News program. While Hannity said he didn't like the fact that Smith had called the slain teens "vermin," he nonetheless questioned the verdict because "they broke into the guy's house." Hannity also suggested that "the judge in that case didn't give all the facts to the jury," and asked, "How could it be premeditated when they broke into his house?" When Fox's Geraldo Rivera expressed disgust at the "coup de grace" shot that killed Kifer, Hannity responded, "You know what, it's easy to say after the fact, 'I wouldn't.'"This does seem to be the America the NRA is hoping for; one in which you don't just get to defend yourself, but execute the neighborhood kids yourself because hey, they had it coming. And now we've got one of the top show hosts on a news network suggesting that maybe that's not so bad—maybe we shouldn't be judging this guy so harshly because wouldn't you maybe do the same thing, studio guests? (One of said guests declared that Smith should receive the Medal of Freedom for his act, so Sean Hannity isn't even the worst person on the set.)
Am I the only one in America who finds it damn odd that you can (finally, these days) get yourself kicked off network television for making racist comments, at least sometimes, and there has for many decades been an entire system set up in case someone says an uncouth word that needs to be bleeped out, but we regularly have discussions in which show hosts piffle at taking up sniper positions against government officials because hey, government bad, or discussions over whether or not you ought to be able to shoot an already-wounded 17 year old girl under her chin to "finish" her if she's in your basement, and nobody in the big leather chairs bats an eye? There's no "oops" button for that one? No "Cheney switch" that cuts in when someone on the television reveals that yes indeed, shooting the teenagers in the head sounds like a reasonable idea, so long as you don't call them bad words while you're executing them?
Our national tolerance for ideologically backed psychopathy is very, very strange. Our national willingness to egg the most unstable and violent people in America on by showing their acts approvingly on network television, calling them patriots and heroes, plainly implying to all the other violent people that if they had an armed standoff with federal officials trying to enforce certain laws or if they too had a neighborhood burglar they thought they could "finish," they could be called patriots and heroes too—that doesn't seem a bit nuts to anyone else?