There’s a plethora of newborn (and, alas, wrong-headed) petitions out there to fight back against Limbaugh’s “slut” and “prostitute” verbal filth — directed at a private citizen, a woman, who dared to stand up before congress and tell what she knew.
You CAN stop Limbaugh. It just takes a small amount of effort and a little smarts in how to apply that effort. To wit:
How To Stop Hate Radio (from 2008)
I may well have coined the phrase “Hate Radio.”
I know this because I searched all the search engines when I started “Stop Hate Radio” in 2001. There was a single reference in a few places: in the mid-1990s a group of minority students in Florida used the term in protesting a Florida sports radio station whose host used disparaging and borderline racist characterizations on a regular basis. The fellow toned it down or was fired, and the term vanished into the ether.
In January 2001, I proposed a campaign at the Democratic Party of Lane County monthly meeting, and produced a brochure, which was adopted by the state Democratic party as a resolution at a meeting that spring that I didn’t attend.
Soon, there was a huge coalition of groups in Portland who issued press releases, and freaked out Michael Savage and Lars Larson, the latter of whom sent me a schoolyard bully letter “inviting” me to come on his show if I “had the guts.”*
(* I had the guts, but he didn’t have the couth, and I ignored Lars. Not difficult to do.)
From January 2001 to 2002, there was a lot a highfalutin’ talk, but no action. Finally, sick of waiting for anything to happen, I registered the domain stophateradio.org and created a webpage.
[* WHOIS: Created On: 29-Jul-2002 14:50:19 UTC ]
By that fall, Michael Savage was off the air, with the local station manager making a bunch of idiotic remarks that they’d been considering the move for a long time, etc. etc. etc. A college group* that was doing protests and media posturings — more noise than action — took credit and it wasn’t worth my time to fight about it.
[* RADIOACTIVE, they called themselves. Get it? Haw Haw.]
But the point was that Gerry Rempel and I had created a simple, workable model for removing hate radio from the local airwaves, and I left the page up as a model. People inquire, but generally they don’t DO anything, and I don’t do much other than refer them to the page anymore. If you want hate radio off the air, YOU have to take responsibility.
I received the following incredibly polite (not) email yesterday (2008):
Stop Hate Radio — What can I do?
Please reply with legal suggestions or similar groups.
To which I replied:
This is a very simple concept that seems to escape groups seeking to stop hate radio.
You don’t have to pay to be insulted.
If someone is advertising on Rush or Hannity (keep it local, national boycotts are a waste of time), then they are paying to insult you, your values and your friends. YOU don’t have to pay for that. Which means that you politely inform local advertisers that you will not patronize their business as long as they’re advertising on …. PICK A SHOW. (In this case, Limbaugh.)
Pick ONE show. (Start with the weakest and work your way up. Don’t start with the strongest.)
A friend and I did it without any help from a lot of highfalutin’ organizations and coalitions — who, we found, were more than happy to get all excited and hold rallies, but nobody had the stick-to-it-iveness to do the work for a week.
(Such organizations tend to be less than useless if they’re all talk and no show.)
Just two people. He would call and politely inform them that he wasn’t going to patronize their store if they were going to insult him. He could take his business elsewhere.
I ran the webpage, and monitored the show targeted (in this case Michael Savage). I put Savage’s most horrible comments on the webpage, and listed his advertisers.
Three months later, Savage was off the air.
In a recession, there are not a lot of businesses who can afford to blow off a significant number of their local customers, and they will pull their advertising.
There’s nothing difficult about this.
Only one word of advice. BE POLITE.
(Oh OK: TWO words.)
It was amazing how quickly the largest stores jerked their ads. It is very simple, takes not much of an organization, and requires no dramatic rallies, protests, etc. The most sensitive nerve in the businessman’s body is the wallet nerve, and it takes very little for the business to freak out and find SOME OTHER place to advertise. It’s just been that no one has held local businesses accountable.
A little bit of patience. A little bit of work, and you can make advertising on hate radio a toxic buy for your local businesses, and the hard core nuts can STREAM it on the internet if they want, but they’ll be off the air in your town. (But be careful, the sword cuts both ways.)
One last thing:
When the Righties start screeching that you’re against free speech (and they always do, trust me), reply that you absolutely believe in Hannity’s right to all the free speech he wants in the unemployment line or the street corner, but radio is *COMMERCIAL* speech, and you and your friends have a right NOT to patronize businesses that pay to insult you.
So simple that even a Republican can understand it.
Hope that helps.
I’ll never hear from them again. So I am telling you how to do it, here, in the hopes that knowing HOW to do it, you’ll WANT to do it, and get off your ass and DO IT.
But, twelve years later, I’m not going to hold my breath.
Go to http://www.stophateradio.org and SEE how to do it. It’s easy. It doesn’t take many people or too much time.
And, trust me, in a recession, it’s easier than ever.
It’s not free speech. It’s COMMERCIAL speech, and the courts have always recognized the limits on the latter. If you were merely to tell his local advertisers that you can’t patronize any store that pays to have you insulted on the air, his local advertising dries up. It only took TWO of us to take Michael Savage off the air in Eugene.*
The trick is to boycott LOCAL sponsors, AND LET THEM KNOW (politely.) The tipping point came when St. Vincent de Paul and Sears yanked ALL their advertising from the local station. Savage was off the air 72 hours later. (And I got a nasty email from Lars Larson daring me to come on his show … “if you’ve got the guts!”)
Boycotting national sponsors accomplishes nothing. A couple might cave (as they did today), but the reason that Limbaugh is on the local airwaves is LOCAL sponsors: your friends and neighbors paying to have YOU insulted and demeaned. Don’t give them the money to do so. But LET THEM KNOW, so they’ve got a chance to mend their ways. Be polite. You will be AMAZED at what you can do.
They will scream “Free speech!” Don’t get suckered in. They have free speech. Just not on commercially-sponsored, publicly-owned airwaves. YOUR airwaves.
[*Alas, the locals went comatose, and Savage slithered back into town a couple years later. Note: I will stand at the bridge so long, holding off Tarquin, but I will not stand alone forever. Sorry. If what Limbaugh did and does offends you — and this is his 25th year of doing it — then please STOP fighting Democrats and fight REPUBLICANS for a change. Seriously.]
A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, a survivor of Texas and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog.