Remember earlier this month when Al Sharpton appeared on NBC’s Today Show to jump on the Rush-bashing bandwagon? Here’s what he had to say on the subject:

Sharpton mounted his high horse as he proclaimed: “They’re going to have to deal with it, one, because they have really made Rush Limbaugh such a great part of the conservative movement. … You can’t have him as a major spokesman in your movement and then he says something as offensive and misogynist as this and you act like he’s just an entertainer.”

Conservatives immediately pointed out Al Sharpton’s total lack of moral authority on the matter: He has an impressive history of racially offensive and other charged comments. Now, Breitbart.tv has helpfully assembled a montage of Al Sharpton’s worst hits, “The Al Sharpton Hate Files.” Ugly.

Big Hollywood’s John Nolte asks the pertinent question: “Using MSNBC’s own standards, should the man who once said [these things] be allowed to hold a primetime MSNBC slot?”

Nolte continues:

“White interloper.” I don’t even know what that means, but “cr-cker” is a slur against white Southerners — end of story.

We’re all grown-ups here, and I think we all know that “h-mo,” “n-gger,” and “cr-cker” trump “sl-t” any day of the week.

True, Sharpton said these things long before he was on MSNBC. But his history was well known, and the lack of outrage from the left when he was elevated to primetime highlights the hypocrisy of their anti-Rush censorship crusade. MSNBC President Phil Griffin knew that Sharpton said this sort of stuff regularly–that, in fact, such bigotry and radical rhetoric was an integral part of the Sharpton persona. He hired him nonetheless. One has to wonder if Brian Williams, Matt Lauer, and Tom Brokaw are proud.

You know, if the hate weren’t so real and the language weren’t so nasty, this spot-the-hypocrisy game would almost be fun. As it is, it’s heartbreaking. Whatever happened to this popular wisdom?

Sometimes, it’s hard to know where to draw the line. Is it “mean” to call someone “socialist” or “elitist” or “angry”? Was it “mean” of Thumper to accurately describe the way Bambi walked? Is it always good to be nice? Not necessarily. But everybody knows when someone is so far past the line that the line is no more than a dot to him — and that’s Al Sharpton.

Not everyone uses the freedom of speech responsibly — but free speech is and should be America’s public policy. It’s up to individuals to develop their own personal policy as to what language they will and will not use — and to TV and radio networks to establish their own standards. What’s needed to eviscerate the civility debate is little less outward criticism and a little more interior scrutiny.