Friday, September 12, 2008

Hate Speech and TVUUC on Bill Moyers Journal

Although some may not consider hate speech as precisely related to polyamory, I believe that it is from the many, many hateful comments routinely made about polyamory where articles on polyamory are published in mainstream online fora. For example, Jenny Block, author of Open: Love, Sex and Life in an Open Marriage, has been called a slut, unfit mother and much worse for opening her marriage and telling her story, even in comments on the very liberal Huffington Post (read Jenny's thoughts about this here) and women's love and sex focused Her article on Tango has consistently ranked as one of the top three most e-mailed articles on that website, with it being the number one most e-mailed for most of that time. There are 230 comments on it on that site and still counting. Fortunately some are supportive, but there are plenty who gleefully hide behind their on-line anonymity and indulge in hate speech they'd never have the nerve to use and never get away with if they were speaking to Jenny face-to-face.

And I can't tell you how many times I've seen similar hate speech used in response to articles published on polyamory in places like the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Sun-Times, etc. These mainstream newspapers are routinely excoriated for focusing on the topic. When the Washington Post published an indepth article on polyamory in February of this year, commenters hotly criticized the Post specifically for the length and visibility of the article. What ticked them off the most was that a large portion of it was positioned on the page opposite the comics section, thus resulting in accusations of "exposing children to unwholesome, anti-family content." Oh puleeze! Give it a break already. (And while you're at it, I recommend reading Judith Levine's excellent book Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex.)

Anyway! I consider all forms of hate speech to be an irresponsponsible abuse of the right to free speech. In further connecting the dots on this subject, you may recall that I posted here several weeks ago about the horrendous, hate speech motivated shooting at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in my home town of Knoxville, Tennessee.

Tonight the PBS program Bill Moyers Journal examines "Shock Jock" media and it's role in the TVUUC shooting. I cannot say how much I applaud Moyers' and PBS's courage in taking on this topic and such right-wing media personalities as Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and (holding my nose) Ann Coulter.

The PBS website blurb on the program is as follows:

What happens when America's airwaves fill with hate? BILL MOYERS JOURNAL takes a tough look at the hostile industry of "Shock Jock" media with a hard-hitting examination of its effects on our nation's political discourse. The JOURNAL traveled to Knoxville, where a recent shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church has left the pastor asking what role hateful speech from popular right-wing media personalities may have played in the tragedy. "A lot of people are hurling insults from the safety of television studios, the safety of radio studio, the safety of cyberspace," says Rev. Chris Buice, "So that's a void in our community — the chance to be in the same room and to have these exchanges and remember the humanity of the person on the other side.

Chris Buice and Bill Moyers are my heroes! You can check your local listings for the time this airs here. I'd love to have your comments, so please stop by after you see this important program and tell me what you think

Post show update: You can see the video of it here.

No comments: