When is Free Speech Hate Speech?

When I read that Michael Savage, a conservative talk show host from San Francisco who spews nothing but hate for women, Muslims, gays and others on the airways, had been banned from visiting the United Kingdom, my first thought was, why don’t I live in the U.K.? Lately, the movement to drop Lou Dobbs from CNN is getting more and more attention. Dobbs “birther” investigation on President Obama has far surpassed the paranoid state and his constant reference to Latinos as illegal aliens who want to mooch off the system and bring back the “reconquista” of “Aztlan” is nothing short of crazy.

There is a fine line between free speech and hate speech. There is also a fine line between advocacy journalism, which Dobbs claims to do, and fear-mongering to the American public. There is also a fine line between being a journalist, and a fact-less talking head. Strip Dobbs of his suit, his calm manner and his cutesy grandpa appeal and CNN is left with nothing but a ratings-seeking-hungry-for-attention-personality. There is nothing newsworthy of this “journalist” or his program. If branding can teach us anything, is that CNN, “the most trusted name for news” is quickly loosing its credibility. Very telling in this matter is our American inability to understand the difference between free speech, hate speech and the true meaning of the first amendment. In Grad school, we have often debated the pro’s and con’s of the height and fall of the newspaper industry, its effects on the economy, society and the journalism business model. However, we keep missing the opportunity to discuss media in general and the many platforms on how news is delivered. If the public is crying for a removal of Lou Dobbs from CNN, shouldn’t we as journalist be just as upset that the craft itself has been reduced to profit-earnings, ad revenues and ratings at the cost of a more ignorant nation? Where is my FCC? Maybe I should make a shirt and sell it.

WATCH Dobb’s History of Hate & Paranoia

*This post was written for a USC course on Entreprenuership in New Media Sept. 27, 2009

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