LatinaLista — Accusing someone of hate speech can be a delicate accusation to make unless it is blatantly obvious that the intention is meant to incite people to commit violence against others.
Otherwise, it can be viewed as someone’s personal opinion and certainly falls under the category of free speech as protected by the First Amendment.
But what happens when someone’s opinion, that is obviously hateful in nature — meaning that one group is being diminished in some form compared to another — is given an influential platform from which to express these hateful opinions?
By virtue of the fact that the platform is influential — in that it reaches a much wider audience than just a podium in a lecture hall or a soapbox on a street corner where the audience is limited — the argument that hate speech is only someone’s opinion can only be true if it’s countered with an opposing viewpoint. That way, people can see or hear the two sides, or two trains of thought on the issue.
Yet, when a single person is given the privilege to expand upon their hateful viewpoint in denigrating one particular group using an influential platform and without opposition, it ceases to be ordinary free speech.
At that point, it should be seen for what it really is — speech with the potential to influence behavior on a wide-scale basis in a negative way that results in verbal or physical harm to a particular group.
There is a list of cable news and talk radio hosts that fall under the category of using their First Amendment rights on their influential media platforms to spread messages of hate.
Until now, the American public has allowed ourselves to be intimidated into thinking that to object to this expression of speech would be unpatriotic and in violation of the First Amendment.
So, that’s why we continue to see otherwise respectable news organizations renew the contracts of some of the most hateful voices in America. It doesn’t hurt either that these shows’ brand of “hostile news rants” brings in high ratings for those networks either.
But enough is enough.
Thirty-three organizations, have signed a letter sent to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging them to grant The National Hispanic Media Coalition’s Petition for Inquiry into hate speech in media.
The Petition requests that the FCC initiate an inquiry into the extent, nature and effects of hate speech, and explore ways to counteract or reduce its negative impacts. These signatory organizations represent a variety of diverse communities and include: the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC); Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good; the National Organization for Women (NOW); Rainbow PUSH Coalition; and the Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ, Inc.
…The NHMC anticipates that by initiating an inquiry, the FCC will be able to collect necessary data and information about hate speech, raise public awareness of the issue, and allow citizens to comment on the hate speech happening in their communities in an accessible and transparent forum.
If anyone doubts that hate speech runs amok on our nation’s airwaves, then they didn’t see the unbelievable exchange recently between Pat Buchanan and Rachel Maddow.
The Buchanan-Maddow exchange clearly shows that televised hate speech must be tempered with an opposing viewpoint. Also, such hostile viewpoints can no longer be delivered as fact when presented in the context of a news program if that network wants to remain reputable and credible.
The following two videos are a must-watch for anyone who thinks hate speech is free speech when delivered on national television. The first video is the exchange itself between Maddow and Buchanan where it’s obvious that Buchanan has outlived his usefulness for thoughtful, political analysis.
We give kudos to Rachel Maddow for going back and correcting the statements of Buchanan — it wasn’t just needed, it was necessary.
Unfortunately, too many other cable news shows don’t practice responsible journalism when they let their hosts purposely mislead the audience into thinking hateful opinion is fact.
Hopefully, from Buchanan’s example, more networks will realize that these kinds of hosted news shows which are considered good entertainment are spiraling into the most offensive kind of television that are not good for the health of this diverse country.