Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Hate Speech in the Media: NHMC Update


As you know, Hate Speech in the media continues to be the #1 priority for the NHMC. We receive information almost on a daily basis about anti-immigrant rhetoric broadcasted on U.S. TV and Radio, adding to the “immigration hysteria” that is sweeping the country. NHMC is dedicated to abolishing hate speech from our broadcast airwaves and will continue to monitor these situations with the goal of raising awareness about this growing problem and mitigating hate crimes against the Latino community that, according to the FBI, continue to rise year after year.

Recently, we have witnessed two distinct cases of murderous violence that confirm a direct link between Hate Speech and Hate Crime. One incident took place in Knoxville, when a gunman walked into the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church during a children’s musical and fired three rounds from a shotgun killing two people and wounding six others. Jim David Adkisson, an unemployed truck driver and former member of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne, left a 4-page letter expressing his hatred of the “liberal movement” and stated that since "he could not get to the leaders of the liberal movement, that he would then target those that had voted them into office." Inside Adkisson’s house, officers found books by well-known media personalities associated with Hate Speech, that enjoy huge ratings and bring major revenue to their respective networks, including "Let Freedom Ring" by TV talk show host Sean Hannity, "Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder" by radio talk show host Michael Savage, and "The O'Reilly Factor," by Bill O'Reilly. Adkisson is of course the criminal in this despicable crime, and there is no denying he was influenced by hate speakers.

The second incident took place in Shenandoah, PA where Luis Ramirez, a 25-year old, father-of-two and an undocumented immigrant was beaten to death by up to six teenagers. The teenagers hurled racial slurs as they pounded and kicked Ramirez until he was foaming from the mouth. In fact, Ramirez was stomped so hard, the medallion he was wearing around his neck was imbedded on his chest. Ramírez died two days later, leaving behind his kids and his American-born, non-Latina fiancée. In the beginning town officials called it a street fight that went too far. No official, we imagine, wants the scandal of a hate crime in their community. But thanks to the immediate action and pressure by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the facts soon came out. The teens were heard telling Ramírez to “go back to Mexico,” calling him a “dirty Mexican” and warning other Mexican residents to do likewise or wind up like Ramírez. Three of the teenagers have now been charged with ethnic intimidation. They have all pleaded not guilty.

In our last NHMC newsletter, we mentioned our new alliance with a grassroots coalition of concerned Latinos in the Bay Area, led by Dr. Marcos Gutierrez, that have taken on hate speaker Michael Savage and his ugly rhetoric. Gutierrez and his group Hispanic/Latinos Anti-Defamation Coalition, SF successfully brought over 500 people together last summer to protest the hate speech rhetoric against Latinos on “The Savage Nation” radio show. The protest was levied specifically against Clear Channel as well as the show’s host, Michael Savage. Due to the increase in hateful rhetoric and increase in hate crimes committed against Latinos and Latino immigrants, the San Francisco Coalition is planning another large protest; to be held around their first protest's one-year anniversary. We will report to you the events of the protest in the following edition of our newsletter. Please note: Dr. Gutierrez broadcasts on Radio 1010 in San Francisco and 990 in Sacramento, or you can listen to his shows through his web page MarcosGutierrez.com from 9-11 a.m. and 12-1pm Monday through Friday, California time.

>NHMC is a strong supporter of the First Amendment values of free speech, but it is now time for all of us to hold those officials and business entities accountable for supporting hate speakers while completely ignoring fairness, accuracy and balanced programming. At the top of this list, we encourage you to target network executives and advertisers who need to hear from their customers every time that we are offended by a message full of hatred and reporting inaccuracies. In short, we must let them know that “We are mad as hell and we are not going to take it anymore!” In the two years that NHMC has been monitoring hate speech we have found that the most effective manner to deal with the hate speakers is to contact their advertisers and share with them our grave concerns at their sponsoring of hate speech in media. In that regard we have joined forces with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), who is ahead of the curve in this strategy. We will keep you posted on this alliance as we move forward.

For now, please go to www.latinosagainsthatespeech.org/ and voice your concerns to the supporters of hate speakers. We owe it to the recent victims of hate crimes.

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