Guest Blogged by Sue Wilson
On August 11, 2009, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, in a unanimous vote, became the first elected body in the United States to stand up to Hate Radio. Their resolution urges "the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to conduct a comprehensive investigation on hate speech in the media, allowing public participation via public hearings, and asks the NTIA [National Telecommunications and Information Administration] to update its 1993 report on the Role of Telecommunications in Hate Crimes."
For two years, San Francisco's Hispanic/Latino Anti-Defamation Coalition (HLADC) has been trying to get some traction on this issue. They've staged rallies against Michael Savage, worked with the Media Alliance, Common Cause and Broadcast Blues to protest hate radio, and supported the National Hispanic Media Coalition's campaign to convince the FCC and NTIA to act. But HLADC leader Aurora Grajedas saw she could better effect national change by working with her own city's board of supervisors. Acting locally is a good lesson for all activists.
Still, there is resistance to any such study, as opponents charge these groups are trying to shut down the first amendment. But let us be clear, Radio Speech is not Free Speech. I will stand by Glenn Beck's right to stand on the street corner and say illegal immigrants should be made into a new fuel called "Mexinol." I may not like it, but I stand by his right to say it. But there is a difference between shouting on the street corner and broadcasting all over the country.
Broadcasting pioneers witnessed the power of propaganda with radio Tokyo Rose, so they worked with government on two key broadcast regulations. First, to qualify for a license to broadcast on the public airwaves, stations had to serve the public interest, which became defined as local news, political debates, equal time, and a rule that said no personal attacks. Second, one person could own just 6 radio stations, nationwide. There were a lot of "street corners" in radio.
Today there are almost none...