In the wake of the crashing failure of that United Church of Christ’s last online petition campaign (“100,000 for Health Care” that they wanted in ten days from September 8-18; they still haven’t gotten to 17,000 yet as of today), they’ve started another one. This one is in connection with the “Media Violence Fast” (AKA “Stigmatize Conservative Political Speech as Hate” Week) I posted about last week. Jeffrey Lord of the American Spectator writes about this one, and its connection with the recent Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunications Lecture at New York’s Riverside Church. He untangles a connection of events and people too lengthy for me to quote here, but comes to this conclusion:
There is an organized campaign now afoot, a carefully planned, well-funded systematic assault on talk radio and Fox News that involves at least seven major liberal American religious denominations. All of whom are apparently planning to spread the gospel that talk radio and Fox News personalities are spreading hate speech. This message will be spread to their parishioners’ children, in adult education materials, in sermons and through lay leaders — people like me.
And to back it up, they are trying to invoke the legal authority of the FCC. After having a cozy, private lunch with a sympathetic FCC Commissioner on September 30.
Now, as for the petition itself:
On behalf of the So We Might See Coalition, we are supporting the requests of the National Hispanic Media Coalition [NHMC] and urge the Federal Communications Commission to open a notice of inquiry into hate speech in the media, and urge the National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA) to update its 1993 report, The Role of Telecommunications in Hate Crimes. We are concerned about this issue because of the possible connection between hate speech and violent hate crimes and the lack of information for members of the public concerned about the issue.
Lord writes with regard to the “So We Might See Coalition” (which consists of the National Council of Churches, UCC, US Catholic Conference of Bishops Office of Communications, United Methodist Communications, Presbyterian News Service, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Communications Services, the Disciples of Christ, and the Islamic Society of North America) that it is funded by three foundations–Ford, Otto Haas, and the Media Democracy Fund, the latter of which is in turn funded by George Soros’ Open Society Institute. The SWMSC are the same people who brought you the ludicrous “Bring Betty Broadband” campaign that I wrote about here and here. The petition goes on to offer an example of what its writers are concerned about:
The possible correlation between hate speech and violent crime gives us great pause. Immigrant, minority, and religious populations are often targets of hate speech before they are subsequently the target of physical hate crimes. 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. This incident occurred after radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh called Mexican immigrants, regardless of legal status, “a renegade, potential crime element that is unwilling to work.”
The quote from Limbaugh is from March of 2006. So something happens three months later, perpetrated by teens who, for all we know, have never even heard of Rush Limbaugh, and there’s supposed to be a connection? This is the best they can do in a formal letter to the Federal Communications Commission? It’s like claiming that because Richard Nixon said John Kennedy would make a bad president during the 1960 campaign, therefore he incited Lee Harvey Oswald to assassinate him in 1963. Or that skinheads hate Jews because bookstores sell Mein Kampf. Mind you, this is the only example of what they are complaining about that they cite.
Hate Speech in the media is a growing problem that must be examined before it can be solved. So We Might See supports efforts to increase the resources available to the public to understand hate speech. As members of the faith community, we will do our part to ask our members to raise their own voices condemning hate speech when they see it and to ask for all citizens to conduct themselves with civility. The appropriate government role is to collect statistics and monitor trends that will provide a broader context when individuals are concerned about what they see and hear on the nation’s airwaves.
Please notice what is missing here: any definition of what constitutes “hate speech.” They have to avoid defining it at least in part because if they did so in a way that indicted conservative talk radio, it would also indict MSNBC and a host of other liberal media. They also avoid a definition because, as with the word “racist,” they want to be able to apply the label to basically any speech that disagrees with their political opinions. For instance, calls on talk radio to close the border with Mexico, even if put in the most respectful and boring public policy terms, would be labeled “hate speech” because it would imply that there is something about illegal immigrants that makes them undesirable entrants into this country.
We commend Assistant Secretary Strickling for inviting the NHMC to present their concerns to NTIA’s Online Safety and Technology Working Group. We ask that you convey our support to that working group for an affirmative recommendation that the NTIA update the 1993 report. However, we hope that NTIA’s consideration of this issue will not be limited to consideration of hate speech’s impact on children. We certainly recognize hate speech’s impact on children but its impact is by no means limited to children.
Because all too many American adults are too stupid to be able to understand the arguments surrounding issues such as immigration, the government must step in to regulate political speech so as to obtain the desired result.
We recognize that the FCC and NTIA are currently engaged in the important and time-consuming work of developing a national broadband plan and distributing the broadband stimulus funding. We hope that this work does not eclipse the important civil rights issues we raise here. A nation that is divided along race and class lines because of hate speech will be less able to achieve equality in any arena, whether in educational achievement, housing, or broadband deployment.
Because if it weren’t for conservative media spewing hate speech, there would be no race or class divisions in America. In fact, if it weren’t for conservatives and their troglodyte ideas, America would resemble the Garden of Eden, or at least would be well on its way toward doing so in this Age of Obama. I guess we know what needs to be done.
(Lord article via Michelle Malkin.)