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First Amendment Likely To Suffer in Hate Speech Inquiry, Journalist Tony Mauro Warns in New Speaking Freely Opinion Paper
FOR RELEASE: April 27, 2009
Contact: Richard T. Kaplar
The Media Institute
Arlington, Va., April 27, 2009 – “Hateful speech directed toward Hispanics or any other group should be on the public radar.... But exposing that hateful rhetoric is not the job of the FCC or any other government entity,” contends veteran journalist Tony Mauro in a new opinion paper released today.
Mauro says that an inquiry into hate speech in the media by the Federal Communications Commission would be distracting and unnecessary. “That kind of inquiry can accomplish nothing good, and could lead to First Amendment harm,” Mauro warns. Such an inquiry has been urged by the National Hispanic Media Coalition.
Mauro’s paper, “Policing Hate Speech: Not the Government’s Job,” is the latest in the Speaking Freely series published jointly by The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression in Charlottesville, Va., and The Media Institute in Arlington, Va.
Mauro, who covers the Supreme Court for Legal Times and Incisive Media, fears that an inquiry recommending government action “would chill speech and perversely make heroes out of the bigoted talk show hosts and others who are singled out.”
Mauro notes that immigration policy is the underlying cause of hate speech targeted toward Hispanics. President Obama has criticized that hate speech but sees the remedy as enactment of immigration reform, not an investigation of the media, Mauro says.
“Solve the immigration policy mess. But don’t torch the First Amendment in the process,” Mauro concludes.<
“Policing Hate Speech: Not the Government’s Job” is available from both organizations in hard copy and on their websites: www.tjcenter.org and www.mediainstitute.org.