For Immediate Release
October 9, 2014

Contact:
Kenneth Chan
703-331-4520
press@nrb.org

 

 

 

 

‘Redskins’ Petition Alleges ‘Hate Speech’

Manassas, VA– A challenge to the continuance of the broadcasting license of WWXX-FM over its use of the word “Redskins” not only argues that this word is profanity, but that it is “hate speech.”  Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of NRB, this week wrote to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to urge that he reject George Washington University Law School Professor John Banzhaf’s call on the FCC to begin a formal proceeding to consider “to what extent is it appropriate if not necessary for the FCC to consider if not oversee such ‘hate speech.’”

“Accusing media professionals discussing the Washington Redskins and the fans cheering on their team by name as being filled with violent hate toward Native Americans is unfounded and irresponsible. Religious broadcasters are concerned that a similar 'hate speech' charge will be leveled against them when they proclaim truth from Scripture on controversial issues," comments Dr. Johnson.

In his letter to FCC Chairman Wheeler, Dr. Johnson stated, “What constitutes true ‘hate speech’ is convoluted, yet the connotations of such an accusation are extremely grave.  Sadly, this term has been used recklessly by some in our nation and other democracies in an attempt to expunge opposing viewpoints from the marketplace of ideas.”   

Professor Banzhaf’s petition seemed to admit the haziness of this word by stating, “the general topic of ‘hate speech’ is so broad and complex, potentially covering many different types of words and statements, and many different types of harm as to which the causal connection may be vague if not indeed nonexistent.” 

In his letter, Dr. Johnson continued, “Truly, I have been shocked by stories outside the United States of government-sanctioned censoring and censuring of religious broadcasts in the name of squashing such an ambiguous ‘threat.’”

Dr. Johnson’s full letter to FCC Chairman Wheeler is available below:

Dear Chairman Wheeler:

On behalf of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), I write to you regarding the petition filed in September by George Washington University Law School Professor John Banzhaf challenging the broadcasting license of WWXX-FM, the flagship radio station of the Washington Redskins professional football team.  In particular, I wish to thank you for re-emphasizing in your recent opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times the FCC’s commitment to the free expression principles of the First Amendment, even in the midst of such an extremely passionate and sensitive debate in our nation. 

While most public attention has focused on whether the team name “Redskins” is inherently derogatory and able to be categorized as obscene or profane for broadcast purposes, I am alarmed that Professor Banzhaf’s petition went further by declaring the use of this team name to be “hate speech.”  Such an allegation is very serious, yet difficult since “hate speech” seems to be a nebulous term in our society.  The petitioner himself appears to imply as much by stating, “the general topic of ‘hate speech’ is so broad and complex, potentially covering many different types of words and statements, and many different types of harm as to which the causal connection may be vague if not indeed nonexistent.” 

What constitutes true “hate speech” is convoluted, yet the connotations of such an accusation are extremely grave.  Sadly, this term has been used recklessly by some in our nation and other democracies in an attempt to expunge opposing viewpoints from the marketplace of ideas.   Truly, I have been shocked by stories outside the United States of government-sanctioned censoring and censuring of religious broadcasts in the name of squashing such an ambiguous “threat.”

As the Commission considers the merits of this petition, I urge you, in accordance with the Bill of Rights, to reject this petition’s call for a federal proceeding to investigate “to what extent is it appropriate if not necessary for the FCC to consider if not oversee such ‘hate speech.’”

Thank you for your consideration and your leadership of the Federal Communications Commission. 

Respectfully,

Jerry A. Johnson, Ph.D.
President & CEO

About NRB

The National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) is a non-partisan, international association of Christian communicators whose member organizations represent millions of listeners, viewers, and readers. Our mission is to advance biblical truth; to promote media excellence; and to defend free speech. In addition to promoting standards of excellence, integrity, and accountability, NRB provides networking, educational, ministry, and fellowship opportunities for its members. Learn more at www.nrb.org.

About the NRB Convention

The annual NRB International Christian Media Convention is the largest nationally and internationally recognized event dedicated solely to assist those in the field of Christian communications. The dynamic Exposition consists of around 200 companies and is an active marketplace for those seeking tools and services to expand their organizations. NRB 2015 will be held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, TN, February 23-26, 2015. For more information, go to www.nrbconvention.org.

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