Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has introduced The Hate Crime Reporting Act of 2014 (S.2219), which is an update to a two-decade-old report on the role of telecommunications—the Internet, radio, and TV—”in encouraging hate crimes based on gender, race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.” It’s companion bill, HR 3878, was introduced by Rep. Hakeem Jefferies. Under these bills, the Obama administration gets to decide the definition of hate speech in the media.
The bill was supported by 45 civil rights and social justice groups, including the very left-of-center Media Alliance.
Markey claims the bill is in response to the recent Kansas shootings outside two Synagogues. The shooter, Frazier Glenn Cross, had already been denied a broadcast platform under current law, so why do we need this bill?
Never let a good crisis go to waste.
The fact that the bills are being pushed through both houses of Congress at the same time should raise suspicions, especially after the proposed newsroom study exposed by an FCC Commissioner in February.
In February, the FCC planned a newsroom survey that presented a serious threat to the First Amendment. The proposal was leaked by Ajit Pai, an FCC Commissioner.
The survey called for a Critical Information Needs Study (CIN), which as part of its conclusions, required researchers to enter newsrooms and inquire about how editorial decisions were made. The study was to include print media over which the FCC has no jurisdiction.
The FCC claimed that “this research can be used to identify and understand the critical information needs (CINs) of the American public (with special emphasis on vulnerable/disadvantaged populations).”
Their categories of “critical information” cover the “environment” and “economic opportunities.” Undoubtedly, issues around the green agenda, redistribution, and income inequality would be covered. Obama’s promise zones are an initiative of the group commissioned to conduct the study.
The CIN study was purposed to consider the question of what station managers, news directors, journalists, television anchors, and on-air reporters need to cover. They would have had to share their “news philosophy,” which must cover critical information needs for the community.
Researchers also planned to probe journalists as to whether or not management rejected stories with critical information, giving one the impression that the FCC hoped to control what was aired.
The survey was postponed to be reworked after a media uproar.
There is no secret that the FCC and Obama Administration want the Fairness Doctrine re-instituted. The American people need to be aware of any intrusion on free speech and the free press in light of this. This bill would put the Fairness Doctrine to shame.
One of the issues that makes this most concerning is the unlimited power it could conceivably give this administration to define what is a hate crime against religion, gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
If Rush Limbaugh says he believes marriage is between a man and a woman, would that constitute the promotion of a hate crime? What about possible lawsuits that could arise if the government declared…say…Fox News a racist enterprise? How will bloggers and alternative media fare? How would it affect coverage of illegal immigration? These bills have the potential to put a chilling effect on free speech.
The bills require a report within one year by the NTIA (The National Telecommunications and Information Administration) with the assistance of the DOJ, the Commission, and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, to be submitted to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate on the role of telecommunications in hate crimes.
How could anything go wrong with those agencies involved, one might ask with some measure of irony.
The report, according to the bill, “shall analyze information on the use of telecommunications, including the Internet, broadcast television and radio, cable television, public access television, commercial mobile services, and other electronic media, to advocate and encourage violent acts and the commission of crimes of hate, as described in the Hate Crime Statistics Act.”
How do you think Talk Radio and Fox News will fare under this administration if they have the power to say anyone is or is not promoting hate especially given their penchant for thinking any criticism of President Obama is racist?
The bill, once passed, would, in the least, send a subtle message to news agencies – you cannot promote those issues the government disagrees with.
President Obama has already made statements to the effect that he would like to see limits on free speech that offends others, which could mean all free speech in the end since all free speech offends someone at some point.
In 2012, when President Obama pretended the attack in Benghazi was about an offensive video, he said this to the U.N.: “In every culture, those who love freedom for themselves must ask how much they are willing to tolerate freedom for others.”
President Obama has intimidated journalists who print articles he and his administration don’t like. Bob Woodward, a left-leaning journalist, was one of the victims.
In May 2013, the Obama Justice Department warned against using social media to spread information considered inflammatory against Muslims, threatening that it could constitute a violation of civil rights. How is that defined, and who gets to define it?
Recently, a Michigan mother, Julie Boonstra, who is suffering from cancer, was in an ad stating that ObamaCare caused her to lose her insurance. A Democratic congressman, Gary Peters, attempted to have the ad dropped, threatening to pull the broadcast license of TV stations that aired it.
There are numerous examples of President Obama and his administration attempting to limit free speech through the DOJ in the Risen, AP, and Rosen cases and with the IRS targeting of citizens with whom they disagree.
There is no good that can come of the bill. It’s completely unnecessary and only meant to control what we see, hear and read.