An Irregular Column
by Mykel Board
“Without free speech no search for truth is possible... no discovery of truth is useful... Better a thousandfold abuses of free speech than denial of free speech. The abuse dies in a day, but the denial slays the life of the people, and entombs the hope of the race.” – Charles Bradlaugh
[NOTE: Because of the delay between writing and publishing... and because of the (especially American) shortness of memory... the circumstances of this column will probably be forgotten by the time you read it. Even if you don't remember the case... I hope you get the point.]
It was more embarrassing than a hard-on at a lesbian bar. Right there, in the little ads section on the right-hand side of my Facebook page... among the ads specially chosen for me... mixed in with (my favorite) FIND GIRLS WHO LIKE TO DRINK promotion... an ad sponsored by the lefty phone company Credo: Tell Rush Limbaugh's advertisers: Stop supporting attacks on women. It says.
Not being a regular Rush listener, I don't even know that he said anything special until I see this ad. The only way liberals hear about Limbaugh's spew is through fanatical media monitors... guys and gals who listen to everything from the other side... then get outraged by it... professional outragers... call in the protest wagon!
The right-wing has a slew of these I'm-telling-on-you spies. They monitor every TV and radio channel, every website... record everything. They urge boycotts for anything that supports homotude or questions Christianity. Pro-Israelis also have a slew of these fanatics. They urge boycotts for anything nice to Muslims.
Example: when All-American Muslim premiered on The Learning Channel, pressure from the pro-Israel right forced the Lowe's company to drop its ads for that show.
The right-wing Florida Family Association, also pushing advertisers to drop that program, cheered Lowe's decision. The rest of us felt a little ashamed.
Remember Janet Jackson's tit? Hooey, what an outrage. A nipple (and I think the nipple was covered) on TV! Oh no! Boycott that girl!
And The Dixie Chicks... saying something nasty about GW Bush Jr.? Horrible! Boycott them too.
Go to yourchristianspace.com. You'll find a list of “companies that support gay rights,” and suggestions to boycott them...NOW! Before it's too late!
If, in our society, the way ideas can reach the masses is through the support of corporations... and the reaction to any idea we don't like is to boycott those corporate supporters... The corporate world will just stop taking risks... stop supporting ANYTHING that people may not like. The range of ideas will shrink. There'll be nothing but THE FOOD CHANNEL, and JERSEY SHORE. I expect there are people who want to boycott those too.
Listen buckaroos, the antidote to speech you don't like is not to ban it, but to answer it with speech you DO like. When Rush Limbaugh caved in and apologized for calling this Catholic college student “a slut,” Michael Moore tweeted this:
Rush-- as soon as you started losing the big $$ from your hate speech you caved and obeyed the men who pay u. Who's the prostitute now, bitch?
Go Michael! That's the way to answer the bully pulpit. Don't ban 'em. Yell back at 'em!
As of this writing 50 companies pulled their ads from the show. Two stations WBEC in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and KPUA in Hilo, Hawaii stopped carrying the show.
Flash to a Korean bar in midtown NYC: I'm with April, one of my colored pals.
[Note to new readers: I don't get along with white people... especially white Americans. There are some okay ones, I'll admit. I've even met some... but as a group, they give me the creeps. Usually, it goes without saying that I'm with someone of some kind of color... yellow... brown... black... red...but here it's important, so I mention it. You'll see why.]
We talk about Rush Limbaugh.
“Sure,” April say, “let him say what he wants about us... about Obama... “the welfare cheats”... everybody knows he's talking about this,” she points to her brown arm, “but does anyone complain? Naw, no one complains...no boycotts”
I raise my eyebrows, signaling her to continue.
She does, “But let him insult one white girl and POW!! The shit hits the central air conditioning.”
“So you agree with me on this free speech stuff?” I ask.
“I don't give a shit about that,” she says. “What pisses me off is that there's plenty of white women in the 1% and not plenty of African Americans... Colored people to you, Mykel... That fat white guy can say what he wants about US... no boycotts... no demands to take him off the air. But let him insult the purity of one white girl and..”
She snaps her fingers that way that colored girls have of snapping their fingers... making a large Z in the air, and adding a swish of the shoulder... You could just die watching it!
She continues, “you've got Michael Moore tweeting and the president calling her up.... One white girl... Pisses me off.”
Wow! There's a point of view I hadn't even considered. Up to now it seemed just a question of free speech. Give the widest birth to the widest number of ideas. Now we've got class war... or race war... or something. Hmmmm.
Flash back to now: April was right, of course. The Republican War on Women has been the biggest vote getter for the Democrats. Not their war on the poor... their war on Muslims...their war on colored people... their war on the 99%... Nope, people with money can't get behind those things. But a WAR ON WOMEN... that's something Ms.... and Mr. Middleclass can be proud to fight against.
It only confirms what I started out saying. That is, we need the widest possible variety of viewpoints in the media. We need the broadest representation of politics and of people.
Instead of kicking Rush off the air, we should be demanding shows for Muslims. Instead of boycotting Rush's sponsors, we should be urging them to ALSO sponsor THE NEGRO HOUR, ANARCHY AT NOON and MEXICANS TAKE IT BACK. We need MORE opinions, not fewer.
Did you know there was a gay Muslim/Arab organization? Did you know there is a Black Agenda Radio program? They don't have shows on major stations. AOL never supported them, let alone pulled out. Fans of their shows probably don't have enough money to make even the minimum for a Capital One account, let alone threaten a boycott. (Capital One, like AOL, ditched Limbaugh.)
Facebook hosts Somos el 99%, a Hispanic group supporting the struggling barrel bottom. That's it... just a page on Facebook. Where's their corporate sponsorship? Hello Fubu?
How come you never heard of these groups? How come you're not out there demanding a spot for them... on Fox, perhaps?
I'll tell you why. You're too busy protesting Rush. You're too busy worrying about how to LIMIT speech instead of expanding it for EVERYONE.
In Europe, most countries have a strong government-supported PUBLIC broadcasting system. This guarantees free speech across a wide spectrum of speakers. There is no tyranny of the market place on these stations. Marketplace be damned. But in the US, even the weak “Public” Broadcasting System is beholden to corporations to make ends meet. Anything they do is subject to the power of consumers... and their manipulators.
Am I against all boycotts?
Of course not. If a store sells sweatshop clothes... or a cellphone maker uses exploitation factories... or a restaurant steals tips... or a farm or a factory exposes its workers to dangerous chemicals... I say, yeah! Boycott! But the boycott is a tool... like a hammer. You can use it to pound in a nail... or to hit someone over the head. Boycotts attacking speech are hitting someone over the head. You may enjoy seeing it... until the head that's hit is yours.
ENDNOTES: [email subscribers (email@example.com) or blog viewers (mykelsblog.blogspot.com/) will get live links and a chance to post comments on the column]
-->It's about time dept: Awhile ago, I wrote a column talking about how it's time to leave Hitler behind. How Hitler has become a meme, a cliché, and is used to justify the most horrible and inane actions.
We can lock the Palestinians in ghettos... because of Hitler. Hitler was a vegetarian so you shouldn't be. We see pictures of Obama as Hitler on Tea Party posters. My Israeli pal, Nadav, tells me the left in Israel dresses up Prime Ministers in gestapo uniforms-- with little mustaches-- to complain about them.
ENOUGH ALREADY! Let's move on.
Hitler has been dead for longer than 80% of the world has been alive. Get over it! That's what I said in the column.
Recently, I saw a different way that we could kill Hitler once-and-for-all. Make him CAMP... like Che Guevara. That's the second best solution (after just forgetting him, or relegating him to the past... like Attila the Hun).
CAMP is what's going on in Thailand. Colonel Sanders with a mustache and comb-over. Hello Kitty... Mickey Mouse with just-under-the-nose-mustaches. It's so extreme. I love it. It makes the guy FUNNY... KITCH... IMPOTENT. I'll take that over a Hitler-faced Obama (or Netanyahu)any day.
-->Could be good-bye dept: I started writing this before my African trip. I emailed it in from France. Right now there are riots in Senegal, exactly where I'll be going. There's always a chance I won't make it back. Up until the point of my demise, in any case, you can read my travel adventures at: http://mykelsdiary.blogspot.com/
By the way, how much do you hear about Africa on TV in America? Fox... or CNN? Only if it affects “our” interests, then we hear something. Could we have some free speech about Chad? Don't get me started.
-->Happened again dept: The Indiana Star reports that an anti-gay Republican representative, Phillip Hinkle, arranged to pay an 18-year old guy $140 for "a really good time" at an Indianapolis hotel. The two met on Craigslist, and Hinkle "exposed himself" to the guy. The politician has decided not to run for reelection.
Actually, the most disturbing thing about this is how The Indiana Star found the emails that set it up. They seem to be e-spying like in the Murdock papers. Nobody on the left is complaining though. They like the scandal too much... as long as it's THEM, not US. Fuck the rights of the accused. Right? He's on the OTHER side anyway.
-->Try it with the crescent and star dept: The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles has approved a license plate with three crosses and the words "One State Under God." on it. Somehow, the locals say, it's a free speech issue, though this is THE STATE speaking, not some individual like Rush Limbaugh.
I hope others: Satanists and Muslims for starters... demand their own license plates. We'll see how far they get.
-->Tossing out the bad Apple? dept: For the past few months I've been ranting against the fashion that is Apple. Why hit it when so many other targets (like Wal-Mart) are so much easier, and maybe nastier?
The answer, of course, is that the readers of this zine are likely to use Apple products and support all the associated evil. Now, it turns out, Apple might get Obama reelected. (Me? I'm voting for the GREEN PARTY ticket!)
The Wall Street Journal reports that the recent economic upturn-- and fine future projections-- are lies, distorted by Apple.
Says the Journal, Fourth-quarter earnings in the S&P 500 are up over 6.6 percent from the previous year. But if Apple's earnings are bracketed out, the gains shrivel to just 2.8 percent.
If Obama wins on “the economy”... Apple did that too!
-->Isn't Google a good company-- just like Apple dept: This Week Magazine reports that Google has been bypassing privacy settings to track the web habits of people using Apple's Safari browser. Google put cookies on the phones and computers of users, even if they said they don't want to be tracked.
Google says it has halted the practice, but Microsoft charged that Google also circumvented privacy controls on their Internet Explorer... and still does.
-->Tough one to call dept: Church and State Magazine reports Oregon's ban on teachers wearing religious dress has been repealed. Civil rights groups had been fighting against the law, stating that it “denies equal employment opportunity to religious minorities.” Christian crosses have long been allowed, but headscarves and turbans were banned. Sounds like a victory for free religious speech, right?
Hold on: The problem is that the law's repeal could allow teachers to claim any attire as part of their religious exercise, including proselytizing pins and t-shirts. That could be a serious violation of church-state separation, and a toe in the door to allow teachers to preach to students.
I donno about this one, though I'm inclined to say, fuck it. If teachers want, they can wear their What would Jesus do? pins. BUT, students have to be allowed to wear their equally religious What would GG do? pins in reply.