Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Greetings Vice President's of Marketing!

Yes. Brian Sussman really said all those things.*

Now you have a decision to make. You can say, "The comments of the show's host don't reflect our views." and ignore the clips because you really like the demographics. Or you can say, "It is not acceptable for a radio host to say those kinds of things on a program we advertise on. He can keep saying that, but not on our dime."

You aren't limiting his free speech, just removing your paid support of it. Some other company without your good values can support him. But this is really about YOU. Do YOU want to be associated with these comments? Do you want your company to be associated with these comments? Don't companies usually want to be inclusive of all religions? Usually they AVOID people who make controversial statements. I understand choosing to use a controversial host, but you should at least understand the kind of controversy.

Now I don't have a 100,000 readers who will write you saying they are offended. Why? Because my readers won't waste their time on a 3rd tier radio pundit. Most are busy keeping track of the lies and outrageous statements of 1st tier pundits and our leaders. Secondly, reasonable people who have listened to his quotes are appropriately shocked and appalled and, although they could complain, choose to ignore him and simply change the channel.

I used to ignore these hosts too. I even thought that they were amusing in a crude "Listen to this idiot!" kind of way. I thought that no reasonable person would ever AGREE with the outrageous comments. But sometimes zealots would call up and say, "I agree with you!" That frightened me.

And I realised that by ignoring them in some ways I was effectively saying, "Their comments aren't bad enough for me to complain." But without an active response from rational people they were "emboldened". They figured that if they weren't being boycotted and getting tons of complaints then EVERYONE who listened agreed.

You see, these hosts spend a good amount of time figuring out how to say repugnant things in an reasonable fashion. They use all the tricks of the patent medicine salesman to get people agreeing with their outrageous claims and hate speech. Of course, if you have time and dig under the surface -- the hate, racism and bigotry come through. The lies, misinformation and intentional conflict for conflicts sake are there too.

But then I realized that this kind of willful misinformation and pre-meditated hate speech has a corrosive effect on our national dialogue. Hearing these hosts downplay torture, encourage machine-gun ownership and mocking other religions is not just "all in good fun". They seek to destroy the boundaries of acceptable speech in a civilized society.

Maybe you can hold your nose and said, "For the money this is the best place to be." First, I doubt it. Second, ask yourself, "Do I want to be associated with this man and these views?" You do have other choices. I would recommend Air America's Majority Report, but maybe you don't want to go that route. I will tell you that I have never heard the kind of gleeful hate speech and willful misinformation from them that I have heard on the Sussman show.

There are lots of reasons to advertise on a radio station. I like radio, it is a very personal medium. But sometimes you get suckered into simply looking at the demographic data and you draw the conclusion that there should be no problem with the host or the content of the show. Especially if the show is represented to you as "conservative". Unfortunately conservative values have been bastardized in the last 5 years. So now something that is called conservative or even "uber-conservative" doesn't mean what you thought it meant. It can be a cover for mean spirited, dark-hearted, cruel and mean speech.

In today's world you need to listen to the content of the shows. Simply putting the label "conservative" on a talk show is no guarantee that they are incapable of hate speech. The current reality is they have become the source of the divisive hate speech out there today. When they aren't spewing hate they are claiming they are being marginalized or that "The Left" is the one doing the hating. (It's called projection, and yes, I looked it up!)

Maybe you are okay with hate speech that is directed "jovially" at other political parties, but I doubt you also are okay with hate speech directed toward other religions. Are you fine with speech that reflects a moral code that is violent and anti-Semitic? And remember, hate speech comes in many guises. Sometimes it hides under the claim of "WE are the victims!" They can take a companies desire to be inclusive and turn it into a case of "They are picking on us!"

Finally, you will hear excuses and rationalizations for horrific comments. "I was joking!" or "I was quoted out of context!" And you might even hear from people who agree with his hateful, pro-torture, pro-machine gun ways. You might even covet these people as customers. But there are other alternatives to reaching them. Stop the support of this host. Do the right thing.

* Note to regular readers, this post in support of a letter sent to a few vp's of marketing who advertise on the Sussman show. You probably have heard all the clips already.


PTCruiser said...

I'm e-mailing the advertisers of KSFO now. I meant to do it before in response to one of your previous blogs, but forgot all about it. Thanks for the reminder, Spocko. I'll let you know if I get any funny responses, or any responses at all, for that matter.

11:16 AM  

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