I had meant to post this yesterday, but got distracted - that's not uncommon anymore.
Last night marked the 25th anniversary of the assassination of radio talk show host, Alan Berg. He was shot 13 times in the driveway of his Denver condo by two gunman who didn't take kindly to Berg's ideas.
I remember it distinctly. RC and I heard the news driving home from a fast food pickup at Quiznos. His condo was a short couple of blocks from our apartment and Berg was a Denver fixture, so we were both shocked.
Berg was irrascible and not terribly likable - a curmudgeon of the first order, rarely qualified with "lovable". Bogosian based his play, and subsequent film, Talk Radio, on Berg and his death. Berg railed against all, but in particular against the far right. He would berate those who not only disagreed with him, but also those who could not develop any coherency of thought.
Despite his cranky reputation, my mother, while out dining alone one night and waiting for a table, was invited by Berg to join him. My mother, gregarious soul that she is, agreed, though she didn't recognize him (he was after all, on radio). She said he was a charming gentleman and witty conversationalist. He paid for her meal and thanked her for the company - he apparently hated eating alone.
In 1987 two white supremacists were convicted of violating Berg's civil rights (the Denver DA refused to prosecute for murder saying the charges would not hold up in court). Both were members of The Order, a splinter group of the Arayan Nation that had targeted Berg after he had ridiculed them. According to Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, that ridiculing moved Berg to the top of a hit list that included TV producer Norman Lear; a federal judge from Kansas; and Morris Dees.
One of the men convicted, David Lane, repeatedly denied his involvement, but in a jailhouse interview shortly before his death in 2007 Lane said, "Regardless of who did it, he has not mouthed his hate-whitey propaganda from his 50,000-watt Zionist pulpit for quite a few years...and that's a blessing."
We too, have martyrs to free speech.
RIP Mr. Berg
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