Monday, October 6, 2008

Michael Savage: Gays Are Ruining The World

During the October 1 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Michael Savage said: "[Y]ou may say, 'Why should we care about homosexuals trying to destroy families through the mock marriage that they perform in order to mock God, the church, the family, children, the fetus, the DNA of the human species? Why should we care about it while we have a financial meltdown?' Because the spiritual side of the downturn on Wall Street is directly related to the moral downturn in the United States of America." Savage also said: "[T]he government has no right to force people to accept homosexual marriage. It is why the West is dying. It is why we're melting down as a nation. It is why there is no -- why we have almost negative childbirth rate except amongst illegal aliens."

Clearly the commentary by Savage is not only homophobic it falls under the category of hate speech.  This man has continually been given license to spew his ignorance and bigotry on the airwaves, and pass it off as legitimate social commentary.  There are many that would call what Savage said despicable but still advocate his right to engage in free speech.

Free speech is an important tenet of a free and just society.  We cannot always be in agreement but suppression of thoughts and ideas, fosters group think and social malaise.  So highly do we value free speech that we have confused freedom of expression with the promotion of hate.  Savage is not merely advocating social dissent, he is targeting a specific group of people as deficient and in some ways diseased.

There can be no rational relationship between the economy and the sexual behaviour of a group of individuals.   Using the potential demise of the nuclear family as justification is also erroneous. His line of thinking assumes that the family is always a positive for all members involved.  It discounts things like child abuse, marital rape, domestic violence, the unequal division of labour and the authoritarian nature of the child parent relationship.  Simply because something is a common occurrence does not necessarily mean that it is a positive experience for all involved.

The 'society' that Savage fears is  dying is the  white dominated, heterosexist  privileged west.  Why else would he be so panicked by the declining birth rate of white women, and deplore that higher birth rate of the so-called illegal alien?  In Savage's mind these babies are not legitimate, and it is not because of the citizenship of their parents, it is specifically due to the colour of their skin. 

Terming gay marriage, a mock marriage is an attempt to delegitimize it as a pair bonding. Savage claims that it  is a threat because it produces no children, but what about couples that are infertile, or  that wilfully choose not to reproduce?  It is further gender essentialist and racist to assume that all women exist to breed perfect white babies for the cause.

It is quite easy to sit and poke holes in arguments made by men like Michael Savage but does that mean we should continue to allow him and men of his ilk to spread their cancerous hatred throughout society?  Speech like this comes at a cost, it certainly is not "free" to the people that are being targeted.  When a  mosque was sprayed with noxious chemicals last week it was a direct result of hate speech being masked as free speech

The right to individual expression should not come at a cost of human dignity  to segments of society.  Though he is not specifically advocating violence, such speech can inspire violence on the part of others by invoking privilege as a natural right.  It is time to cleanse ourselves of this kind of speech.  The perpetuation of hatred and othering is a malignant tumour.  Michael's right for expression should not outweigh the greater good.


20 comments:

Deaf Brown Trash Punk said...

It's Michael Savage we're talking about. He's gone insane way beyond normalcy, so he's in the same league with Ann Coulter, whom nobody takes seriously anymore.

obbop said...

Why are you so full of HATE, womanist-musings?

Accept or deny Savage's opinions but to merely toss obvious knee-jerk rhetoric at him of the same style as the majority of indoctrinated/brainwashed politically correct buffoons does little other than preach to the PC choir.

Charles said...

"So highly do we value free speech that we have confused freedom of expression with the promotion of hate."

No -- so highly do we value free speech that we've accepted the risk of allowing some promotion of hate, rather than shut socially questionable but legitimate speech out of the public discourse.

People on the far right would probably be horrified with many of the ideas you explore here. Should they be pushing the legislature or the courts to ban your speech?

Let's go one further -- should I be banned from saying that young-Earth creationists are batshit crazy and it would be a disaster to vote for the one who's running for vice president, because publicly saying so might prompt a hate crime?

There's a reason we draw the line at literal incitement -- a person saying 'Go out and do violence against these people...' The unpopular and stupid ideas of one era are the brilliant insights of another. Our laws shouldn't be in the business of picking out which will be which, and that's essential for protecting the minority from the majority.

Seriously -- if we were in the business of legislating acceptable speech, do you think your ideas would remain legal for long?

Ouyang Dan said...

People who want to spew bile and hatred like that always cloak themselves in their right to free speech. It's disgusting to do so, to hide behind rights in order to infringe on the rights of others. You are right, he may not come right out and advocate violence, but he is offering an opinion to develop the mindset that will cause such things.

Why people are allowed to publicly broadcast hate under the guise of free speech is something I will never wrap my brain around. I don't care that it's "free speech". It's hate, and hate against already marginalized people has no place in a free society.

Daisy said...

I still can't believe he even has a job after THIS INCIDENT! (about the autistic children) He's a pig!

obbop, full of hate? Renee is merely describing a PIG when she sees one. Why are you so deluded that you can't see a pig when one is right in front of you? I guess you'd like to trash the autistic kids and gays, too? Meanwhile, we have serious problems in this country, but Savage would prefer to scapegoat a sexual minority or DISABLED CHILDREN. You call that political analysis?

If you actually defend this lowlife swine, you're pretty far gone, and don't have the right to say SHIT to Renee.

Charles said...

"Why people are allowed to publicly broadcast hate under the guise of free speech is something I will never wrap my brain around."

It may have something to do with the fact that calling slaveholders pigs was once construed as broadcasting hate under the guise of free speech.

Historical hindsight is 20/20. Sometimes it just burns to allow people like this to keep talking. So? Let it burn. Keeping state power away from our mouths and our pens matters more.

Daisy said...

Charles, after reading your screed, I re-read Renee's post... are you talking about HER COMMENTS? Because you seem to be reading various unsaid things into what she has written. Did she saying anything about forcibly BANNING anything? That isn't how free speech works in our current economic system...I think she means the same thing I do: FIRE MICHAEL SAVAGE'S HOMOPHOBIC, RACIST, REACTIONARY ASS. He is getting PAID BY SPONSORS, and these sponsors need to be held accountable for what they are SPONSORING, exactly as the right wing used to have periodic hissy fits over THE WEST WING and threaten boycotts every damn year it was on the air.

The radio network that hires him, the sponsors who pay for his air time, the publisher that publishes his filth, all need to be held accountable. Don't you agree? Are you saying boycotts and economic/political pressure brought to bear in certain places and times isn't part of the historic American process? Of course it is.

And when did Renee get a daily radio show and book deal to broadcast her views? Comparing her blog to Savage's long reach is a hoot.

(When you get the radio show/book deal, Renee, don't forget your FRIENDS! :P )

Charles said...

Daisy,

I took her classification of his comments as hate speech, along with this secion --

"It is time to cleanse ourselves of this kind of speech. The perpetuation of hatred and othering is a malignant tumour. Michael's right for expression should not outweigh the greater good."

-- to mean that his speech ought to be banned.

I don't disagree that he should be fired, or that his sponsors' products should be avoided.

So, economic pressure, sure. Political pressure? Absolutely not, at least not if we value our own ability to say unpopular things in public, especially things that challenge the status quo.

Comparing Renee's speech to Savage's speech is completely rational if the subject is government censorship. The same laws that protect him or interfere with him, protect her or interfere with her.

Renee said...

I am saying that man should not be given a platform from which to spew his hatred. It is one thing for him to stand on a corner and scream at the top of his lungs that he hates homosexuals but another to be granted the ability to mass distribute such hatred through the airwaves. The very reach of his message is just as problematic as his message.

It is further problematic that companies are profiting off of the perpetuation of hatred.Capitol is gaining and people are dying. When we allow this kind of thing on the air we are legitimizing what he has to say as legitimate social commentary instead of labeling it hatred.

I am a huge believer in free speech, which should be clear from the loose moderation policy I have on this blog however a line needs to be drawn in the sand. When free speech threatens the health, autonomy and safety of others the well being of society is being threatened. Do you think it was accidental that after that horrible movie was distributed that a mosque as gassed?

Charles said...

Renee,

"I am saying that man should not be given a platform from which to spew his hatred."

Okay, so what's the right way to stop it, in your opinion?

"It is further problematic that companies are profiting off of the perpetuation of hatred."

I agree that this is problematic. But not everything problematic demands the intervention of state power, which itself tends to be more dangerous than the dangers we'd use it to fight. State power is a boomerang, and it tends to hit status-quo-fighting radicals far more often than it hits conservative hatemongers.

"Do you think it was accidental that after that horrible movie was distributed that a mosque as gassed?"

Without real evidence of a connection between the two events, I'm unwilling to judge. Acts of anti-Islamic hatred take place all around the U.S. all the time. I don't actually know what caused this one, and neither do you.

Your statement in your post about that movie, that "There is no doubt in my mind that Obsession incited this act of violence", doesn't work for me. I'm a skeptic. It takes a whole lot to remove doubt for me. If the police catch the criminals who committed that act, we may find out that they were prompted by watching that movie. We may also find out that they were prompted by something else. Again, without evidence, I can't say.

Of course, your point stands -- some speech that is currently protected under law can lead to violence. For me, though, this doesn't mean that there's something wrong with the law, because I believe that different laws would be even worse.

FEMily! said...

The reason guys like Michael Savage have a platform is because there's an audience. The reason there's an audience is because we live in a society that hates people who don't conform to the White/male/heterosexual/Christian ideal. The reason there's an audience of people who believe in those norms is because the vast majority of people don't learn about different people and ways of relating to others in an accepting way while still holding your beliefs. And the Republican Party knows that most people have poor interpersonal relationships and insight, so they have pandered to those people and turned them into their most crucial voting bloc. Most of the people in this voting bloc are very religious to the point of being hate-filled and intolerant. So the Republicans have made fundamentalist religion, and, by default, hate, part of their party platform. If you have a philosophy to back your views, that's okay. But if you have a religion to back your views, you're really set to spew whatever kind of hatred you want without anyone being able to object. It's a very sinister cycle.

Renee said...

@Charles...I am sure that you can advocate non intervention because you are not the target of such hate speech. Government has a duty to protect its citizens. Hate speech causes harm even when it is not physically manifested as violence. Have you ever seen the doll test? Young black children have so internalized hatred that they believe themselves to be lesser beings. To claim violence as a measure of harm negates the emotional impact that these messages create.

Charles said...

Renee,

"I am sure that you can advocate non intervention because you are not the target of such hate speech."

Really? That's a pretty big -- and misinformed -- assumption. The last time the KKK held a rally in my home town (4 or 5 years ago, I think), I seem to remember them chanting some fairly hateful slogans about us Jews.

I also remember the anti-rally flyers around town carrying the deadly ironic slogan, "No free speech for fascists." No doubt the irony was lost on whoever printed the flyers.

And yes, this stuff does effect me on a personal level. The last time I quit a job, it was because I got sick of hearing about how our boss was a 'cheap, moneygrubbing Jew' and because I was tired of fielding questions like, 'you guys really don't celebrate Christmas? Oh? That's so sad.'

In any case, while I'm comfortable marching against the KKK, I'm not comfortable with demanding that my city council keep them out of town. Because, then, where do we draw the line? Should we outlaw anti-abortion protests? Should we outlaw the daily protesters outside my town's federal building who carry signs with slogans as varied as 'Bush is a murderer', '9/11 was an inside job,', 'Fight Jewish influence in congress', and 'Zionism is racism'?

If I put a sign on my lawn that says 'Down with state power', is that hate speech? By golly, someone might see that and decide to shoot a federal officer! I might be inciting violence!

I don't trust any government to draw the right line. I don't trust you to draw the right line. And I don't trust me to draw the right line. When you use the blunt weapon of state power to decide who can say what, you have absolutely no idea who will end up being crushed. But there's a damn good chance it'll be you and me long before it'll be any Christian conservative.

P.S.: Yes, I've seen the doll test. I'm not claiming this speech doesn't cause harm. I'm claiming that your solution to it -- government intervention -- is far more dangerous, and will cause far more harm, than the problem itself. 'The Government' is a club, not a scalpel, and you should be well aware that it falls most heavily and most often on those who have the least power.

AR said...

I agree with Charles. Remember that once any discussions enters the political realm, it stops being a question of what people should do and becomes a question of what people should be forced to do by threat of violence, because a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence is what defines the state and gives it authority. This fact, indeed, makes me wonder how you can favor state action of any kind while also claiming to be a pacifist.

It is one thing for him to stand on a corner and scream at the top of his lungs that he hates homosexuals but another to be granted the ability to mass distribute such hatred through the airwaves.

...

When we allow this kind of thing on the air we are legitimizing what he has to say as legitimate social commentary instead of labeling it hatred.


Of course, if we just denationlized the radio spectrum, we wouldn't have the problem of people like this having implicit public approval by virtue of possessing licenses controlled by the FCC.

Anonymous said...

Along with free speech comes great responsibility. We don't live in isolation from one another, and while I am a 100-percenter when it comes to speech, it is disingenuous to claim that speech does not have real-life consequences. (I am not implying anyone here has done that; just something I like to point out to people who dismiss the rantings of someone like Mr. Savage by saying he has the right to do this.)

Charles, I am in agreement with you on some points (knowing damn well the government would turn on progressive voices before they ever would on people like the vile Mr. Savage), but your point on the distribution of the movie Obsession is a little disingenuous. The fact is that broadcast and print media are under no obligation to distribute the filth that is Obsession (and Mr. Savage), so when people might act out on what they read, hear and see they cannot hide behind the First Amendment.

I ask this as someone of Jewish descent (father) - if a similar, deliberately inflammatory video had been distributed about Jews (if it would have been distributed at all in the first place), and there was an immediate attack against children and women at Shul, would you be so quick to dismiss any correlation?

Charles said...

Anonymous,

Your question is perfect due to the similarity of circumstances. In short, yes, unless I had evidence, I wouldn't make such an assumption -- because, similarly to Muslims, Jews and Jewish institutions are sometimes targeted without immediately preceding public speech in the form of such a movie. Thus it's irresponsible of me to assume one way or the other. (Did I mention I'm a skeptic?)

Jumping to conclusions about specific events in the absence of specific evidence is intellectually irresponsible. It fits too neatly into something similar to confirmation bias -- we're all very prone to just assuming that the version of events most in fitting with our preferred ideology 'must be what happened.' Except that often, it isn't what happened, and the evidence ends up going the other way. Not because our ideology is wrong, but because we didn't wait for the evidence to come in before we reached our conclusions.

Look, I'm not saying it was one way or the other. I'm saying that assuming without evidence is a great way to get egg on your face.

GallingGalla said...

I am really on the fence about this, with respect to the views of Renee and Charles.

No-one, including you, Charles, can tell me that Obsession did not have an influence on the terrorists who attacked the Muslims. Maybe it is not possible to make a link between *one particular* instance of hate speech and *one particular* act of hate. But there is no way that you can convince me that the constant drum beat of anti-Muslim hate speech -- enabled by the media that broadcasts and distributes that hate speech -- does not have the effect of encouraging acts of hate against Muslims. Same for any other marginalized group.

It's not just Savage that is the problem, it is the media that gleefully gives him a voice while closing their eyes to his message of hate. It's not just the cranks who produced Obsession that is the problem, it's the newspapers that gleefully distributed literally millions of copies of that DVD. Why do I say gleefully? Because it means profits for these media conglomerates, and that is all they care about.

But in terms of banning hate speech? From my position as a trans woman, I am real uncomfortable with this, and here's why: Who's more likely to get into the position of power that enables them to define what constitutes hate speech - trans folk or transphobic white "radical feminists"? If it is the latter, then they will view me as "a chemically mutilated man", therefore assigning my words that I use to defend my right to exist to the category of "hate speech" (of a "mutilated man" against "women-born-women") and I could find myself in prison. I don't think this outcome is so unlikely, given white "radical feminist" willingness to collude with the religious right when it suits their purposes.

I really don't know what the answer is. I see that the State (at every level, local to federal) has been the primary means of oppression of marginalized groups, so I don't know why I should trust the State to protect me from transphobic hate speech.

Charles said...

GallingGalla,

"No-one, including you, Charles, can tell me that Obsession did not have an influence on the terrorists who attacked the Muslims."

That's true; also, no one can tell you that it did, until and unless the perpetrators are found and questioned (and possibly not even then). That's what skepticism is -- withholding judgment in the absence of evidence.

"Maybe it is not possible to make a link between *one particular* instance of hate speech and *one particular* act of hate. But there is no way that you can convince me that the constant drum beat of anti-Muslim hate speech -- enabled by the media that broadcasts and distributes that hate speech -- does not have the effect of encouraging acts of hate against Muslims."

And I'm not trying to! I agree with you 100% about that. I'm saying that it's unwise to make specific claims about specific incidents without any evidence.

"I really don't know what the answer is. I see that the State (at every level, local to federal) has been the primary means of oppression of marginalized groups..."

Yup.

"...so I don't know why I should trust the State to protect me from transphobic hate speech."

Unfortunately we live in a world of nation-states, and we have to rely on state power to some degree. I think the safest way to do this in the realm of speech is to push for a state that interferes as little as possible in what we are allowed to say. I think that direct incitement to violence is the least problematic standard. Much more than that, and we're in the territory of a state that decides what IDEAS it's OK to talk about -- and it's unlikely that the state agrees with many of my ideas, including my idea that state power is morally illegitimate.

Anonymous said...

On the right to free speech, the basic age old question: Do you have the right to shout "FIRE!" in a crowded movie theater?

If not, why not? Isn't it your right to say whatever you want?

Anonymous said...

Hey I work in an office with a guy who lionizes Savage and listening to him gives him license to be perpetually outraged EVERY SINGLE DAY OF HIS LIFE.

But lets get real here, who is funding this guy? Last time I looked all his advertisers had deserted him.