Not-so-free speech (September 13 useful idiot round-up)

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September 13, 2012 by Julia

We all know by now that the US embassy in Egypt regrets our free speech.  But did you catch the OTHER stories about people who really don’t like it when Americans exercise their First Amendment rights?  (Note:  Yesterday, I linked directly to the embassy’s statement.  Today, that webpage is missing.  Curious.)

Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi wants to see if he can sue the people who made the infamous Mohammed YouTube video.  MSNBC would take it a step farther and wants the DoJ to charge Pastor Terry Jones with a crime for promoting the YouTube video.  Seriously.  These idiots exercised THEIR freedom of the press to promote the criminal prosecution of a private citizen for promoting a YouTube video to which people on the other side of the world chose to overreact.  Well, MSNBC has the right to speak stupid things, and I don’t regret that–but I also have the right to mock them mercilessly for blaming Terry Jones instead of the actual vandals and murderers, because REALLY?

In the meantime, our government may actually be acting against the people who made the movie, according to Al Jeezera.  We may not be able to trust anything coming out of Al Jazeera (or maybe the US government told Egypt this to try to smooth things over?), but the idea has now been floated in public.  We do know, though, that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs called Jones to ask him to withdraw his support for the video.  Okay, let me get this straight.  General Dempsey asked a private citizen to stop exercising his free speech in support of a YouTube video that was apparantly not the original reason for the protests anyway and which was apparently made by a Jew a Copt a convicted fraudster for unclear reasons (seriously, read the AP article, it’s nuts).  Our tax dollars at work, folks.

Now, it’s not only the embassy attacks that have people up in arms over people who dare to speak freely.  If it weren’t for the violence in Africa, everyone would surely be talking about this egregious bit of requested censorship:

Latino groups Wednesday blamed a surge in hate crimes against Hispanics on harmful stereotypes portrayed on TV and in conservative media and are asking the administration to probe Fox News and talk radio, two media cited by the groups as the worst perpetrators.

“We want the government to investigate this,” said Alex Nogales, president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition. “Unless we start this dialogue, these assaults will go on,” he said, citing a surge in hate crimes against Hispanics.

Also charging Fox News and talk radio with portraying Hispanics poorly, Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., said the administration should provide “protection from the stimuli that is being promoted out there that is causing the correlation between violence, stereotyping and the increasing racism in this country against Latinos.”

There is allegedly a rise in hate crimes against Latinos.  OBVIOUSLY, this alleged rise is specifically due to conservatives who allegedly portray Hispanics poorly on Fox and talk radio–and OBVIOUSLY, it is a crime to (allegedly) portray Hispanics poorly.

When I first read about this, I thought it was a parody.  A racial pressure group wants the government to investigate alleged stereotyping.  There is no allegation that anyone on Fox News or talk radio is encouraging violence, just . . . stereotyping.  “Stereotyping,” if that is even happening, is so blatantly and undeniably protected by the First Amendment that it blows my mind that any American could ask the government to “investigate” and provide “protection” from it.  This isn’t Belgium or Canada, after all; in America, there is no right to be insulated or shielded from offensive speech, but there is an absolute right to make offensive speech as long as that speech does not specifically incite violence.  But this is real!  And even worse, this isn’t even the first time this group has made this request!

In one survey of stereotypes held by 900 non-Latinos, 88 percent said that Hispanics take jobs from Americans, 92 percent said they refuse to learn English and 80 percent believe Hispanics are on welfare. When asked how Latinos are portrayed in TV and film roles, 71 percent said as a criminal and 64 percent as a gardener.

Another survey asked Fox, NPR, MSNBC CNN and talk radio fans about Hispanics. Fox viewers accepted the most stereotypes of Hispanics, MSNBC the least. They also compared Fox’s Bill O’Reilly and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow’s viewers and found that half of O’Reilly’s watchers “think Latinos are on welfare and refuse to learn English.”

The 80-page poll and analysis concluded that “conservative talk radio and Fox News audiences hold significantly more anti-immigrant and anti-Latino opinions.”

So?  No, really–so what?  Nothing in those polls is illegal.  If you want to be a racist (let’s assume for the sake of argument that those opinions are racist), that is PERFECTLY LEGAL.  You don’t get to commit violent acts against anyone, of course, but think all the racist thoughts you want. The First Amendment exists to protect abhorrent speech, not speech we all like.

You might be wondering how in the hell the FCC got involved in this.  That would be the “public interest” standard: if the FCC decides that something is in the public interest, it can start regulating (hence, the Fairness Doctrine).  This applies to everything from mergers to individual television shows.  This is, by the way, terrifying to me.  The last thing I want is the government deciding what speech is in our best interest, seriously.  Now, let’s be real here.  There is NO WAY IN HELL the Supreme Court will allow the FCC to ban offensive speech through the “public interest” standard any time soon (the ability to regulate is subject to the Constitution, after all), but the very thought gives me chills.

In closing, the National Hispanic Media Coalition is not on Discover the Networks, but I did note that it received a grant from the Ford Foundation to promote (are you sitting down?) “Freedom of Expression.”  I couldn’t make this up if I tried, y’all.

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