Case #3.18: "Next Victim"

Someone has called into a college radio station and is telling Striker the DJ, "You're filth." Striker cuts off the call. The next caller tells Striker that the U.S. should legalize drugs. Striker asks, "Will somebody please put the '60s out of their misery? We let the pinkos get totally out of control because we felt sorry for Kennedy getting shot." The caller asks, "How can you say that?"

Striker tells the caller that he's having another acid flashback and to "gather up your paisley, your bong, and your Grateful Dead records and get the hell off the planet." He cuts off the call and says, "Next victim." Caller #3 wants to talk about genocide and doesn't give his name. Striker starts addressing him as The Mad Rabbi. He asks why people always bring up the Holocaust: "Is it because the Jews control the print and media in this country?" Sign this guy up for Crowder's Commandos. "Or is it because the Jews own all the banks in this country? Or we need the Israelis to do our dirty work in the Middle East?"

The voiceover of the show plays as Striker steps out of his shower at home. Caller #3 calls him a fascist. Striker goes out to his garage and opens the door, not noticing that someone has painted a swastika on it. Striker's voiceover tells everyone to stop feeling guilty about the Holocaust because America didn't cause it. Just as he backs into his driveway, the hood of his car blows off. He gets out and then the whole car explodes. The heat from the fire melts the spray-painted swastika. Theme song.

Judy, Booker, Harry, and Doug sit listening to a tape of one of Striker's recent shows. He's verbally abusing everyone who calls in, ranting about everything from Japanese people to how bogus sexual harassment is. Fuller reads the report about the small car bomb that was used. Striker is involved with a campus group called United Front, which preaches Zionist conspiracy theories and the superiority of Aryans. Booker thinks Striker probably associates with them as a ratings gimmick. Booker is being sent to the radio station as Striker's replacement. "Good choice," says Doug.

Fuller drops a stack of hate mail on the desk; most of it came from another campus group called S.A.R. (Students Against Racism). Judy will investigate that group's leader Michael Capeman. Harry and Doug are her backup. Fuller reminds everyone that Striker has rights to his opinions.

On campus, David from the United Front is in the quad campaigning for Student Board. Judy asks for a pamphlet. David's assistant obliges; the brochure cover says KEEP AMERICA WHITE AND BEAUTIFUL. Judy rips it up. Michael pulls her away, saying attention "is all these jerks want." 

Booker meets the dreadlocked station manager Roy, who's been told Booker hosted a radio show called "Got a Problem?" at his last school. Roy instructs Booker to take things to the limit, "get these people frothing with hatred." It's a ratings game. Booker goes on the air, taking over Striker's show "Backtalk." 

Booker gets his first caller but has trouble working the phone system and accidentally hangs up on the person. A girl calls in, saying she's afraid of asking her crush out because she's overweight and doesn't want him to laugh at her. Booker starts off trying to actually be helpful. Roy mock-yawns at him from his booth. He cuts off the caller and mimes for Booker to pick up line 3. 

Line 3 is a caller speaking mangled Ebonics who's angry that Striker did a show about black people not being able to speak proper English. Booker says, "I never--" The caller is even more pissed, thinking Booker called him the "N-word." Booker looks up; the caller on Line 3 is actually Roy calling from his booth. Booker says, "I don't know what to call you. One day it's 'colored,' the next day it's 'Negro,' the next day it's 'black'." And he goes on from there. Roy gives him the "okay" sign and mouths, "Perfect." Booker's phone is lighting up.

Michael and Judy walk across campus. He's not running for Student Board because "you can't change society from the inside." A guy with a portable radio runs up to him, asking if Michael has heard the new guy on KTMB? He tunes the radio to Booker's show. They listen for a minute. "That's great," says Michael, "They replace a lunatic with a moron." 

At the radio station, Roy makes another practice call to Booker, asking why Europeans hate America so much. "How many times do we have to liberate those people before their cab drivers pay us some respect?" asks Booker. A succession of real callers follows: a girl offended by TV shows, a guy wanting to talk baseball, and a guy who mentions an oil spill in Alaska. Booker says, "Next victim," shutting down every caller. The next call he takes is someone asking why Orientals are bad drivers. Answering that will certainly make Booker popular at the office for a while.

That night, Booker looks uneasily around as he leaves the radio station. He's being followed by a group of people. It turns out to be David and his cronies. David compliments Booker's show and offers to buy him a drink. 

The next day, Chrissy the overweight girl calls the show again. Booker tells her, "The reason your boyfriend's not interested in you is 'cause you're a big, fat pig." He hangs up and shoots down several more callers. To fill up airtime, Roy tells Booker his theory about Elvis: "[He] never sang on any of his records. It was Colonel Tom Parker, who felt he didn't have the physique to pursue a theatrical career." One of the callers is semi-threatening, but Booker continues the show.

David's having a big get-together of some sort while his parents are out of town. Back at the radio station, Booker says he'll be at a campus rally to announce his endorsement for Student Board President. He gets punched in the jaw by Michael. 

At the Student Government rally, a girl finishes her speech. Booker is booed as he goes to the podium to introduce the next candidate, David. Some people are holding signs with slogans like NAZIS OFF CAMPUS. Booker berates some more callers on his show. He reads a legal statement that the opinions expressed are not those of the station's management, "but then again, maybe they are."

In the squadroom, Booker warns Judy to be careful around Michael because he could be dangerous. Judy is offended by Booker's show. Booker says she's taking her role too seriously. She grabs her coat and leaves.

Someone calls the show wanting to talk "on the level," sort of claiming to be the son of the devil. Booker offers to broadcast from Hell to interview the kid's dad and "all the greats." "See you there," says the caller before hanging up. Booker looks spooked, realizing Roy's booth is empty, so he's not pulling another prank.

Judy meets with Michael. He shows her a flyer that says SMASH RACISM, SUPPORT S.A.R. She says, "Punching [Booker] was kind of extreme." Michael wishes he'd broken Booker's jaw to keep him off the air. There's a stack of files on the desk, each one on a so-called fascist. Judy thinks it's an invasion of privacy. Michael argues that the United Front has files too. He's getting suspicious about Booker's background and wants Judy to spy on him.

At the radio station, David takes calls along with Booker. David believes that black people have been bred for athletic superiority for 200 years. Michael calls in, upset as always about David's views. Booker offers to let the two debate on his next show. 

Michael tells Judy he's disappointed in himself for "stooping to the level of a couple radical Nazis." As if there are Nazis who aren't radical. He goes on: "These guys are psychopaths in preppy clothing. I have no qualms about whether they live or die." Judy looks slightly worried. Booker tried to warn her. Michael says the whole thing will be settled the next day.

At United Front's open house night, David introduces Booker to Councilman Peterson. David says his supporters have doubled and "it's only the beginning." "David has a very promising future in politics," praises Councilman Peterson. His victory would pave the way for like-minded individuals on other campuses. David doesn't think Striker really supported the cause; he just liked hearing his own voice. People shout compliments to Booker on his way out. 

Judy meets Booker at a gazebo in the park. He tells her that Striker and David had a fight. "So you think David tried to blow Striker up?" asks Judy. Booker isn't sure and doesn't want to tell Cap'n Rufus until he sees how close he can get to David. Judy tells Booker that Michael's been threatening him, so she's coming to the radio station to make sure he doesn't try to hurt Booker.

Booker introduces David and Michael on the show. Outside, the bomb squad inspects Booker's car. The debate quickly gets heated. Michael gets out of his chair, rushes over to David, and hits him in the face. Booker breaks up the fight. Roy orders Judy, Michael, and David to leave. The phone lights up. "Come on, Dennis," Roy hisses, "Dead air, let's go." Booker sits down, puts on his headphones, and answers a call. The same guy who claimed he was related to the devil says something creepy again. 

The show ends and Roy comes in. Booker can't believe he let the fight happen: "That had to be the ugliest garbage to ever go over the airwaves. It makes me sick." Roy says they just made college radio history. Though black himself, the ugly things David said about black people aren't fazing Roy. Booker says people believe crap like that and act on it. Roy reminds him it's all about ratings and listeners. He tells Booker to lighten up; the show will do great things for his career "and you didn't even have to get blown up for it."

Booker goes to visit Striker in the hospital, where the DJ is recovering from burns he got when his car blew up. Booker asks bluntly, "Was this an accident or a publicity stunt that went wrong? You didn't mean for that explosion to melt your face, did you?" Striker still has his voice and "everybody in America wants to hear me tell the truth. Everybody needs a target for their hate. That's why they listen to my show. Truth is a perception. There's a lot of losers in this country and I'm just reaping what they've sown."

At the radio station, Roy instructs Booker to build on last night's momentum. Booker sits down and lights up a cigarette. "Tonight, we're gonna talk about pain and we're gonna talk about fear," he says. "...You're all scared, you just can't see what you're afraid of." He thinks people believe in hatred so they don't have to think their own lives are hopeless; blaming someone else for their shortcomings is easier.

Booker has learned his lesson about telling cruel jokes. He apologizes to Judy, though not directly. He opens the phone lines to people who want to talk without hatred. The phone doesn't light up. I'm honestly surprised Roy didn't yank him off the air before he could mess up the ratings. Judy calls in, but we don't find out what she has to say. End of episode.

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