Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Learn More

Digging into the "Media Violence Fast" website brings one to their Learn More page. This is an important page because it seems to reflect their true intentions: taking down broadcast media, which is overwhelmingly conservative or libertarian.

The rest of the website pays lipservice to some lofty ideal of decreasing violence in general, and keeping children from viewing violence on television. Somehow they manage to combine advocating for families to turn off violent TV shows with fighting against "anti-immigrant hate speech." Curious.

But back to their true purpose. As stated before, the Learn More page lets their cat out of the bag. Take a peek:


What is Hate Speech?

Hate speech takes various forms, from words inciting violence, to those creating a climate of hate towards vulnerable groups. Hate speech has one common outcome: it creates an environment of hate and prejudice that legitimizes violence against its targets. The presence of hate speech so widely in media creates a climate that makes it impossible to have reasonable policy discussions on issues like immigration reform, and cultivates a climate that condones violence against targeted groups.

Categories of hate speech:
  • False Facts consist of incorrect, exaggerated, or de-contextualized facts.
  • Flawed Argumentation is rooted in hidden assumptions, guilt by association, and appeal to fear.
  • Divisive Language creates and/or encourages an “us vs. them” mentality. Hard times often incite blaming “others” as the source of trouble. Catholics, Jews, and African Americans have been routinely targets as scapegoats for those wishing to further their own agendas.
  • Dehumanizing Metaphors evoke messages relating to warfare, heroism, disease, and biblical characters.

(Editorial note: Here comes the good part. All emphasis mine.)

Where can we hear hate speech?

Hate speech is present in every form of media, specifically broadcast media. Between 1990 and 2006, the number of talk radio stations grew from 400 to 1,400. Radio reaches 90% of Americans every week. Michael Savage is the host of the nationally-syndicated radio program The Savage Nation, which reaches 190 million listeners per week. On a recent show Savage said, “Could the [swine flu] be a terrorist attack through Mexico? Could our dear friends in the radical Islamic countries have concocted this virus and planted it in Mexico?” Mexicans are “perfect mules for bringing this virus into America.” (Listen to more here) Similarly, on March 27, 2006, Rush Limbaugh called Mexican immigrants, regardless of legal status, “a renegade, potential crime element that is unwilling to work.” The Rush Limbaugh Show is broadcast on over 600 stations nationwide.

What is the harm of hate speech?

Hate speech influences peoples’ behavior and perceptions. Hate speech in the media has the same impact as effective advertising. The millions spent by advertisers illustrates that the media affect personal attitudes toward products and services. It is unlikely that the media have no similar effect on racial and ethnic perceptions. Because the media has a powerful influence over people’s behavior and perceptions, hate speech may be producing concrete harms. The concrete harm of hate speech is that it incites violence. For example, in June 2006 four teenagers posed as federal agents and asked two Mexican men for their green cards. The teenagers then beat and robbed the two men, while accusing them of stealing jobs from U.S. citizens.

(And finally, their take on the First Amendment.)

What about the First Amendment, doesn’t it protect hateful speech?

The First Amendment does protect even the most vile speech. The government, however, can play a role in compiling statistics and adopting rules that will help members of the public form their own opinions and hold broadcasters and other media outlets accountable for purveying this speech. And, as explained in the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights recent report on hate crimes, “when speech contains a direct, credible threat against an identifiable individual, organization, or institution, it crosses the line to criminal conduct. Hate speech containing criminal threats is not protected by the First Amendment.”


We'll that soak in for a bit.


This blog is a direct rebuttal to the newly formed coalition, So We Might See. From their website: "So We Might See" is an ecumenical, interfaith coalition that educates and advocates for media justice, both within and beyond communities of faith."

Some of their main goals are as follows:
  • Connect the dots between media justice and other social justice issues "so that we might see" and imagine a better world.
  • Conduct internet-driven, media justice campaigns that reach out to faith communities and their members.
  • Use new technology to create and carry out grassroots advocacy and engage in political education.

They ask, in reference to new media, "Who is being left out, left behind and disenfranchised?"

Media justice? Yes, this is a new term to us here at "So We Might Speak" as well.

The "So We Might See" group has put together a new campaign, to wage war against "hate speech" in the media, where the end result is persecuting conservative talk radio and blogs that criticize people and ideas in supposedly politically incorrect manners.

They are trying to encourage people to fast to promote the suppression of free speech, that they deem as hateful. Their first focus? Anti-immigrant rhetoric, regardless of whether or not it is legitimate debate and criticism of policies. From their campaign website:

This year’s focus for meditation and social action is anti-immigrant hate speech, which employs flawed arguments to appeal to fears rather than facts. We hope you will sign up to participate in the 2009 Media Violence Fast, and join us as we take action to end this destructive form of violence.

More important and suspicious is their effort to petition the FCC to conduct an inquiry into hate speech. Might this be the same FCC that now has a "Diversity Czar" who believes in the "Fairness Doctrine?"

Please sign our petition to the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Commerce to ask them to conduct an inquiry into hate speech so that we can better understand it, and to update a government report that collects statistics and information about the connection between hate speech and hate crimes.

In order to take action, we are encouraging you to listen to some speech that you would not typically want to hear. But unless we do not expose ourselves to the vitriolic speech that appears in the public domain, it will be hard for us to marshal our moral outrage and our action.

We here at "So We Might Speak" believe in the First Amendment as it was written. We must protect all speech, no matter how offensive, for someday it may be YOUR speech that is considered offensive. We do not believe in the idea of "hate speech," nor do we believe that any one entity, agency, or person can be so omniscient as to discern whether someone else's words are "hateful." Who decides? To whom are you willing to give this power?

Of course there is speech that is offensive, and individuals have the right to associate or disassociate with those that offend them. However, to give government the power to lay out punishments for people who offend others is preposterous. No one has the right to not be offended. Many of us here at SWMS are offended on a daily basis, but none of us would advocate there be legal restrictions on, or punishments for the offensive speech.

This coalition is made up of people from all political ideologies and religious faiths, including those that are Agnostic or Athiest. We are people that believe in freedom and individual liberty.

George Orwell wrote a story once, about a society in which certain words and thoughts were not allowed. In his story a new language was created so that these prohibited words and thoughts could not even be formed as there were no words with which to form them. That is a nightmare world, and one that we will fight against.

Join us.