Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Culture > Language > Hate speech is alive and well on TV — just ask Pat Buchanan

Hate speech is alive and well on TV — just ask Pat Buchanan

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.

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  • cookie
    July 21, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Although Buchanan may have been wrong in some of his summations, I fail to see what he had to say was hate speech or inciting anyone to violence.

  • Horace
    July 21, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    Funny, you’ve mentioned PB in conjunction with hate speech all through your article, and you haven’t deigned to give us an example. Is it because what you’re actually speaking about is speech that you disagree with and not hate speech at all? It’s obvious to most of us that this term “hate speech” is an obvious attempt at quelling opposition to those who speak out against illegal immigration. The Hispanic ethnocentric hate the idea that someone is bringing this subject to the fore, and their arguments for amnesty have no merit, losing ground with the public every day that the truth is spoken, so now they’re attempting to destroy free speech.The last refuge of those with a merit-less argument is hominem attack, precisely what the Hispanic Caucus is doing. These people will lose in the end, exposing themselves as the fools that they are.
    Who know, Marisa, even you are not immune to losing your right of free expression. We all are. That’s why our nation will never permit our government to make what would be the subjective determination of what is and what isn’t hate speech. As a journalist you should know better.
    One more thing, “hate speech”, although objectionable, is not a crime under our laws.

  • ratbstard
    July 23, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Truth is Hate to those who Hate the Truth.

  • Jan
    August 7, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    The article opens by expressing support for Free Speech and then suggests an investigation of people who exercise it. If you investigate please include those who called Bush a Nazi and worst and hung him in effigy. Also please investigate Pelosi who just said that ordinary Americans expressing dissent at town meeting were carrying Swastikas. This is real hate speech. Coming to the reasonable conclusion that illegal immigration is devastating to this country is not.
    Free Speech is sometimes ugly and inconvenient but the first time someone is prosecuted for the words they say will be a tragic day.
    Please remember this saying that was once a cornerstone of our democracy: “I disagree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it”. Would the author of this article defend to the death my right to speak out against illegal immigration? I doubt it.

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