RESOLUTION: San Francisco Hate Speech Resolution

[SOURCE: San Francisco Bay Times, AUTHOR: Dennis McMillan] 8/13/09

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution, 11-0, on Aug. 11 sponsored by Supervisor David Campos and co-sponsored by Supervisors John Avalos, David Chiu, Chris Daly, Bevan Dufty, Eric Mar, Sophie Maxwell and Ross Mirkarimi, “urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to conduct a comprehensive investigation on hate speech in the media, allowing public participation via public hearings, and asking the NTIA to update its 1993 report on ‘The Role of Telecommunications in Hate Crimes.’”

“An investigation on hate speech in the media has the potential of serving the highest interest of free speech, the First Amendment, and the security of individuals and groups in their persons and in their living environments,” said Aurora Grajeda of National Hispanic Media Coalition. “The Hispanic/ Latino Anti-Defamation Coalition SF applauds the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for standing up to hate media,” she said. Grajeda added, “Tolerance is the presumption of superiority; acceptance is a manifestation of love.”

A recent study from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights has shown a correlation between hate radio and other media and hate crimes.

Concerned organizations and individuals have seen how the volume and virulence in the rhetoric in the most vituperative, slanderous shock jocks, such as local host Michael Savage, continues to rise. A new book by Rory O’Connor, Shock Jocks, Hate Speech, and Talk Radio, exposes these disgusting racists and homophobes. For instance, Savage said, “The bathhouses are filling up, and the sex change operations are speeding up, and God says, ‘I’m going to show you I exist.’ And down came the World Center Trade Towers.” Savage also railed, “Bring in ‘em with AIDS, and show them how multi-cultured you are.”

O’Connor stated, “Hate speech encourages hate action.” He added, “These people regularly engage in hate speech against women, minorities, foreigners, and homosexuals; when society accepts that, it’s a very short step for these people who may already be inclined to violence to think if it’s okay to say it, it’s okay to act on it.” He said we have a “responsibility to protest hate speech.” He said this is not a free speech issue; it is a hate speech issue. O’Connor concluded, “We have to stand up, call it out, and do everything we can to stop this.” “This is hopefully the first of many [such resolutions] throughout the country,” said Inez Gonzalez, vice president of NHMC. “We have seen the anger and hatred that the proliferation of misinformation about health care reform has caused in recent weeks.” She continued, “As President Obama sets out to reform immigration in 2010, let us build media literacy and awareness before Latinos and other immigrants are once again at the forefront of media attacks.”

The Supervisors responded to grassroots activists in the Bay Area who have organized to call attention to the alarming increase of patently false and hateful language in media. For the last three years, the Hispanic/ Latino Anti-Defamation Coalition SF has organized annual protests held at Clear Channel Communications. Clear Channel was selected as the protest site due to the Corporation’s record of promoting some of the vilest purveyors of hate and intolerance, including Michael Savage and Glenn Beck, who denigrate communities, groups, and individuals.

“Hate Speech in media is not only targeted to the Latino community but also to other communities of color, women, the disabled, and gay/ lesbian/ bisexual, and transgender people,” said Gonzalez. “It is a cancer in our society, and it needs to be addressed.” She said government needs to recognize, not ignore, the plight of the people.

The “whereas” portion of the resolution was almost 20 paragraphs long – too much to quote here; but the final three paragraphs further resolve: “that the investigation on hate speech should be conducted in a transparent manner, including public participation via public hearing; and that the Board of Supervisors urges the FCC’s investigation to include the inquiry into the extent and nature of hate speech in the media, the examination of the effects and impact of hate speech, and the relationship between hate speech in the media and hate crimes; and that the Board urges the FCC to also explore options for counteracting or reducing the negative effects of hate speech in the media.” The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is the first elected body to take a stand against hate speech in media. “We are hopeful that more courageous elected leaders will also take a stand,” said Gonzalez.

Click here to read the full resolution.


National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) is a woman-led 501(c)(3) non-profit civil and human rights organization that was founded to eliminate hate, discrimination, and racism toward the Latino communities.
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