Wednesday, June 10, 2009

More Right Wing Violence: Holocaust Museum Shooting

I was on vacation when Dr. Tiller was shot so I didn't comment. I'll put up a post from Interrobang later to address that. Today someone shot two people at the Holocaust Museum in DC. Coincidentally, I just found out Monday that I had a connection to the Holocaust story that I didn't know about.

Monday I was at the service for my Uncle, a WWII paratrooper who I just found out liberated one of the concentration camps. He submitted a description of his experience to the Holocaust Museum in 1997. When I get a copy of his recollections from my cousin I'll post some of it.

I could do a big post talking about the role of right-wing radio hosts in inciting violence toward multiple people and groups but I've written that post over and over again.

Everyone Talks about Violence on Talk Radio but Who Does Anything About it?
When I heard on talk radio violence directed at others I got so sick of it I did something about the situation. I believed that the constant repeating of anger, hate and suggestions of violence toward others had and has a very real effect on people's thinking. I think it is irresponsible to not vigorously challenge calls for violence on commercially supported broadcast radio. And, because I know how the right wing radio loves to play the courageous protector of "Free Speech", especially when they cross the line with violence, I made a conscious decision to go to the only audience that really cares what they say, the advertisers.

[Side note: How much of an impact did we make on KSFO? I don't know for sure, but this was posted to my blog on Feb. 9 2009 in response to my post about the UUC killings of Jim Adkisson's. I can't confirm the financial figures, but I find it interesting]
we've been waiting for you to get back on the pulpit spocko. i highly doubt that you, your readers, or the media who covered your efforts over the past few years, have any idea how much you affected ksfo. your work cost them millions of dollars in a very short period of time. the long term losses are much greater and will never be recouped. probably tens of millions in future losses.

think about it. 27 big brand advertisers, gone. agency buyers who are familiar with your work don't take the risk exposing their other clients to ksfo so that money is gone. melanie morgan, gone. so much time and energy spent on damage control by sales people and management. the list goes on an on and on. it all began with a few emails to key people and tens of millions of dollars later, we still remain in awe of you.

You see the advertisers are not the government. They aren't radio management (who get higher ratings from a controversial host than one who is rational.) Advertisers can make a business decision and don't have to worry about violating the First Amendment when they pull their ads or tell a host to knock off the violent threats right before they play a commercial for their product. And, if they look at their own internal corporate policies, they often find the hosts are violating their own HR guidelines.

Radio Host's Violent Rhetoric Taints Brands
Can you imagine Mercedes sponsoring a newspaper ad with a photo of Lee Rodgers making this comment, "This call to kill Jews is brought to you by Mercedes"? Then why when Lee Rodgers calls to kill Muslims Bay Area Mercedes still acts as a sponsor? What's up with that? Double standards on who it is okay to talk about killing on the air? You bet. [Audio of Rodgers suggesting that millions of Muslims need to be killed (and he didn't mean terrorist Muslims, just plain ol' Muslims.)]

Note to Bay Area Mercedes, "Dead Muslims can't buy cars.
" Sponsoring a host who calls for the death of potential car buyers is a marketing fail.

Of course what the radio hosts never mention is that they are already regulated by the government when it comes to obscenity and indecency. If there were fines for incitement to riot or suggestions of violence toward others you can be sure that the seven second delay button would have been worn out being used on Lee Rodgers, Brian Sussman, Melanie Morgan and "Officer Vic". A couple of $350,000 fines and they would be off broadcast radio.

It is really only the threat of losing money from their calls to kill people that could have an impact. Especially in a timely fashion. If the left decided to go to the FCC and ask to include threats of violence to the fine list that would be FUN for the right wing. They would get to be "under fire" from the liberals. "They are trying to squelch my free speech!!" Bill O'Reilly would try and rally people on the left who don't know the distinction between commercially sponsored regulated speech that is approved by his management --and unwitting sponsors --and speech that the government is not supposed to mess with as stated in the First Amendment.

Who Supports Violent Threats on the Radio and TV?

There are people on the left who you will hear say, "I don't like what he has to say but will defend to the death his right to say it." I ask these people if they will defend his right to call for someone to be murdered on the air and then give his address and work schedule. Some of them understand the difference in those comments, but others still like to stick to a platitude. Not surprisingly sometimes they are the people who make money off the hosts. "Hey it's just his opinion, he has a right to his opinion."

It is an important education process to help people understand the logic underpinning the rule about falsely yelling fire in a crowded theater. It's about the potential for harm to others with irresponsible speech.

I'm not an scholarly expert like the folks that Joe Garofoli of the San Francisco Chronicle included in his round up story about the topic. I wish that he would have called me because exposing violent rhetoric from right-wingers has been one of my main issues for years. Of course I understand-- quoting someone named "Spocko" from a blog named Spocko's Brain doesn't carry the same weight as Kirk O. Hanson, executive director of Santa Clara University's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics or David Hudson, a scholar for a First Amendment Center. But if, as is often the case in American, you look at the bottom line, I think what I did, and the methods I used are worth discussing. Especially since we did it all legally, using the marketplace and we exposed the hypocrisy of the management that would cry "they have free speech!" on one hand while shutting down my blog with a bogus copyright claim on the other.

The national hosts are more popular and maybe more fun to focus on, but sadly here in San Francisco we have our own radio hosts at KSFO who have called for the violent death of their political rivals, journalists, liberals, democrats and Muslims.


Blogger Jim said...

So 1 neonazi nut shoots people and it's caused by right wing talk radio? I suppose you can also say that liberal bloggers supporting muslims cause american soldiers to die because 1 muslim nut killed an american recruiter:

6:11 AM  
Blogger spocko said...

Jim, Jim, Jim. Come one, you are usually better than this. And usually your reading comprehension is much better. Often you provide me with well thought out rebuttals which offer me a chance to make my points clearer. And in the past I've agreed with some of your points. I'm sorry that you jumped to this argument. I figure you are probably rusty (like I know that I am after my vacation).

As you can see I didn't say that right wing talk radio caused the neonazi to shoot people. I said, "I believed that the constant repeating of anger, hate and suggestions of violence toward others had and has a very real effect on people's thinking."

I still believe that my statement is correct. Unless you believe that people are never effected by what their hear. And I don't think you would argue that.

As for your second comment. Come on, that is a weak strawman. And as to military recruiters being killed? I'm against violence and I don't condone it, and if you can point to suggesting by serious public people on the left calling for Muslims to kill American Recruiters I'd like to see it. On the other hand I CAN provide you with audio clips of Lee Rodgers calling for the death of millions of innocent Muslims. I can provide you with audio clips of Brian Sussman wanting to torture Iraqi's by cutting off their fingers and penis'. I can provide you with audio clips of Sussman agreeing with a caller who wants to send cruise missiles into Mosques.

When Melanie Morgan gathered a bunch of her supporters using her broadcast pulpit at KSFO to have a "show down" at "high noon" with Medea Benjamen of Code Pink during one of her peaceful protests of the military recruiter sites in Berkeley I wrote her management telling them that her language was inflammatory and that gathering a mob to confront a group for a "show down" at "high noon" (Morgan's words) has a high potential for violence. And guess what? Violence happened. One of Morgan's supporters took a knife and slashed the Code Pink banner and then slashed the cord to Benjamen's microphone. A few inches in another direction and it would have slashed the holder's neck. Now, I have talked to a DOJ attorney about his, talked to Medea and talked to the head of the rally who has photos. I have audio of Morgan's comments before that event documenting her comments.

There are people who will say even that isn't enough to show inciting violence to give the government a reason to step in. Okay, fine, but that doesn't mean that the company that funds her can't say, "That is irresponsible and we will be on the hook for a civil claim in someone comes after us."
If the government is afraid to act because of their concerns of stifling free speech then we need to ask the responsible corporations to act. They will act out of fear of lawsuits, but maybe some of them understand the potential for violence and just don't like it for their own brand image.

Michael Rowe has an interesting article over at Huffington Post
That makes the point that, there was "A time when it was expected that citizens would understand the difference between free speech and irresponsible speech."

I don't want to get into the technical and legal definition of hate speech here, but the "falsely yelling fire in a crowded theater" argument has to do with the potential for injury. The FCC has a whole section on inciting violence and what constitutes "fighting words" but they don't have fines. They have left that up to the good judgment of the rational managers of the radio stations. The FCC figures they have their hands full with the obscenity and the indecency rules that they currently spend their time regulating.

Are you actively spending time trying to get obscenity back on the radio so they can have their "free speech?"
Or are you accepting that as something the public can decide to do to regulate its public airwaves?

Thanks for posting Jim, but this is not one of you better efforts.

12:16 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home