Hate speech is not protected speech, bucko

UPDATE: Firedoglake runs with the story.

I spent a good, long time yesterday reading this post and its comment thread (Spocko Rocks ABC! Micky (sic) Mouse Blinks!) over at Daily Kos. Here’s the story, in a nutshell: a blogger with the handle Spocko became concerned over the hate speech excreted by KSFO DJs Melanie Morgan, Lee Rogers, Brian Sussman. He started recording some of the more egregious examples and posted them to his blog, Spockosbrain.

So you’ll know what we’re dealing with — and you won’t have to take my word for it that this is hate speech — here’s Lee Rogers talking about a black man in Lincoln, Nebraska:

“Now you start with the Sear’s Diehard the battery cables connected to his testicles and you entertain him with that for awhile and then you blow his bleeping head off. “

Melanie Morgan on Nancy Pelosi: “We’ve got a bulls-eye painted on her big laughing eyes.” She also called for New York Times editor Bill Keller (and nine editors from other newspapers) to be hanged in public.

Lee Rogers on Indonesia: “Indonesia is really just another enemy Muslim nation. … You keep screwing around with stuff like this we are going to kill a bunch of you. Millions of you. ”

And Brian Sussman, in response to a critical caller, demanded the caller to prove he wasn’t a Muslim: “Say Allah is a wh*re!”

Mind you, not all of these are on the same footing. Recommending the torture/murder of a man in Lincoln, or the assassination/lynching of editors and public officials, clearly crosses the line, while Sussman’s crap may not meet the criteria of hate speech. (Don’t know, not a lawyer.)


KSFO is owned by ABC/Disney. One of their lawyers got Spocko’s ISP to shut him down; Mike Stark at Daily Kos picked up the story, and now we have a blogswarm. Read that link above, though — the tale of how Spocko has gone after KSFO by informing advertisers of all this hate speech is inspirational and edifying.

Today, Mike Stark reports on the Spocko blogswarm. Follow me below the cut.

Here’s the rallying cry:

We are tired of being marginalized by fringe kooks like these guys. This clip here, in which they fantasize about putting NY Times Editor Bill Keller in a malfunctioning electric chair, really says it all. These people have set the tone and defined the discourse for the better part of 5 years – or longer. It is a ridiculous thought that these immature and dysfunctional children are given platforms from which their bile and venom is broadcast to millions. This air pollution is absolutely toxic and damaging to the goal of a reasonably harmonious and peaceful society and it needs to be marginalized. Nothing will marginalize it further that making what they say known. Melanie Morgan, Lee Rodgers, “Officer Vic” and Brian Sussman would be involuntarily confined if they uttered these statements on a street corner. Why should they be given 50,000 watts to do it over the broadcast spectrum that belongs to you and I?

And here’s the action plan. Stark’s post today includes a list of the names and phone numbers of KSFO’s advertisers. This is not a boycott, folks — these companies are our allies, not our enemies. If they learn what sort of hate speech their products are becoming associated with, many will drop KSFO. Many already have. (The only pressure the corporate minions understand: money.) Stark also recommends reprinting links to the offending audio clips. El Gato Negro at Online Blogintegrity has obliged. The idea is to spread this stuff all over the blogosphere. This is (based on my reading of the comments at Kos) covered by the fair use doctrine, by the way.

If you want to get a small taste of this hate speech, check out this YouTube video. Or revel in the evil of Melanie Morgan and Ann Coulter contemplating the execution of liberals. Own your evil, people! Wear it with pride!

Yesterday at Online Blogintegrity, El Gato Negro discussed how one commenter, blogicalthought, has been making the rounds, leaving comments on posts from bloggers reporting this story. Is he a shill for ABC/Disney? Who knows — you decide. Here’s blogicalthought at Lost Remote:

So, you have an anonymous blogger who has stolen private ma terial, advocated that others not have the freedom of speech because he doesn’t agree with their views and has basically not only been advocating for facism, but commiting facist acts by trying to deny Americans free speech rights which don’t blend with his own views of what is acceptable.

Which brings me back to the title of this piece. Hate speech is not protected speech. Is that simple enough for you, blogicalthought?

And why aren’t we seeing any legal action against KSFO for their hate speech? Does anyone seriously believe ABC/Disney would want to defend such speech in what would undoubtedly be a high profile case? KSFO’s lawyers would plea out the first chance they got.

Sorry for the long rant, but the subject of fascism gets my blood up. We have a fascist/imperial president who accreted his power thanks in part to the Melanie Morgans and Ann Coulters of this country; and when the wingnuts self-righteously claim First Amendment protection for their spew, the hypocrisy of it all really makes me want to scream.



  1. Walnut says:

    Mickey Maus? But that’s not quite accurate . . . in Maus, the mice were the Jews.

    I’ve got it: Moussolini!

  2. Blue Gal says:

    Thanks for the great post. And Moussolini is the word for this week, fo’ sho.

  3. Misc. says:

    Excuse me, but you do not have the right to decide what is “hate speech” and then say it’s not protected. The Constitution says that Congress shall make NO law abridging the freedom of speech. Do you understand? Just because someone else is hateful and angry, that does not make their speech “unprotected.” Jerks are jerks, but read the Constitution. Don’t yourself become a fascist. The appropriate response to what you call “hate speech” (which is an Orwellian term if there ever was one, but that’s another subject) is public dialogue — not threats against someone’s speech.

  4. Walnut says:

    Egging your listeners on, suggesting they assassinate public figures, is not protected speech. Sorry.

  5. kate r says:

    I like taking action. The steps of ending hate speech through public condemnation (vs legal action) sends a stronger message to mickey.

    where do I sign up to write my outraged blue-haired lady letters?

  6. Walnut says:

    Kate, if you scroll to the end of the Firedoglake post (linked at top of page) you’ll get your marching orders. Additionally, go to Mike Stark’s Kos post and click on the “Spotlight this Post” link at the top of the page. That will take you to a site which makes it easy to send an email to 10 different individuals in the media. I sent one to Keith Olbermann, among others. Very cool tool.

  7. m.suskind says:

    Spent a long time today on exactly this topic: Hate speech is not protected speech, bucko

    The U.S. Supreme Court did rule in 1942, in a case called Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, that intimidating speech directed at a specific individual in a face-to-face confrontation amounts to “fighting words,” and that the person engaging in such speech can be punished if “by their very utterance [the words] inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.”

    The ACLU believes that hate speech stops being just speech and becomes conduct when it targets a particular individual…

    Those who argue for speech codes contend that hate speech is akin to fighting words, a category of expression that does not receive First Amendment protection. In its 1942 decision Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, the Court wrote that fighting words are those that incite an immediate violent response. According to the Court, they “are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to the truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.”

    California, laws may declare hate speech is protected in public, but allows easy prosecution for alleged hate crimes, in verbal form as well in physical form. California law claims hate speech at the workplace does not constitute as “protected speech” and employers have the right to terminate or discharge those who committed hate speech on workplace grounds

    hate speech is defined as attacking an individual on the basis of the other person’s race, color,religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender, or sexual

    KSFO is in violation of this one.

    And finally, a case worth reading:

    U.S. Supreme Court
    R.A.V. v. ST. PAUL, 505 U.S. 377 (1992)
    505 U.S. 377

    No. 90-7675

    Argued December 4, 1991
    Decided June 22, 1992

    I’d like to hear more of your opinions on why Hate Speech Is Not Protected Speech, Walnut

  8. Walnut says:

    Thanks! I appreciate the detailed reply. I’m curious if you have an opinion on the question of why a California DA doesn’t go after KSFO.

  9. m.suskind says:

    i don’t know…. only started looking at it today…. the case against spocko (abc/disney claims he violated fair use practice) is weak. and he was nothing but polite in his letters to the advertisers. but has KFSO violated the terms of its license?

    a fellow named charles outlines it this way


    The public airwaves belong to the American people. Stations are licensed to operate on condition that they serve the community. So, KSFO and ABC are able to make huge amounts of money based on the premise they are doing good for the community.

    Advocating the murder of journalists, threatening politicians, and spreading racial hatred, no matter how obliquely or cutely done, is a disservice to the community. Depending on whether one can detect a pattern, they may even be crimes. We the American people are, in effect, paying for these thugs to broadcast slime.

    BT argues that ownership of content trumps many other rights in the American Constitution, including the right to speak freely, the right of assembly, the right to petition for grievances, and so on.

    This is laughable. KSFO’s “private property” was disseminated on the public’s airwaves. We own a piece of it.

    I will be sending clips of this material to my elected representatives and to the FCC with the request that KSFO’s license be lifted and that the whole licensing process be examined. I hope that KSFO, with its long history of spitting in the face of most of the San Francisco community, is at last put out of business.
    end quote

    what kind of suit does that look like to you?