Tapscott: FCC hit with new anti-freedom-of-speech push 

Which of the following statements is true?

A: Common Cause is all about fighting corruption in politics.

B: The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies is devoted exclusively to using credible public policy research to advance the status of blacks.

C: The United States Hispanic Leadership Institute exists solely to encourage greater empowerment and civic responsibility among Hispanics in America.

D: These groups also seek repeal of the First Amendment’s guarantee of your freedom of speech.

The correct answer is D.

Officials with those three groups — and the other 28 leftist nonprofit activist groups that are also members of the National Hispanic Media Coalition — will scream to high heaven about being labeled enemies of freedom of speech. But their recent petition to the Federal Communications Commission proves otherwise.

The coalition asked the FCC last month to move on its official petition in 2009 that the bureaucrats open an official investigation into “the extent and effects of hate speech in the media, including the likely link between hate speech and hate crimes, and to explore nonregulatory ways to counteract its negative impacts.”

That, my friends, is a classic illustration of Orwellian doublespeak. It fosters the illusion that words without action can by definition be criminal, then hides this pernicious notion behind a disingenuous request that a government regulatory agency not regulate an alleged criminal activity supposedly within its purview.

Here’s how the coalition justified its 2009 petition:

“Hate speech against vulnerable groups is pervasive in our media — it is not limited to a few isolated instances or any one media platform. Indeed, many large mainstream-media corporations regularly air hate speech, and it’s prolific on the Internet.

“Hate speech takes various forms, from words advocating violence to those creating a climate of hate towards vulnerable groups. Cumulatively, hate speech creates an environment of hate and prejudice that legitimizes violence against its targets.”

Why is the coalition reiterating its call to the FCC now a year later? Because “over the past year, hate, extremism and misinformation have been on the rise.”

The coalition trots out two proofs of this supposed rise, including the latest Southern Poverty Law Center warning of a 54 percent increase “in the number of hate groups in the U.S.” That warning sounds ominous to those who aren’t familiar with the center.

But, as my Examiner colleague Byron York recently pointed out, the law center issues the same warning on average about every three years. In 1992, for example, it pegged the alleged increase at 27 percent. If law center data was credible, all Americans would have joined “hate groups” years ago.

Second, the National Hispanic Media Coalition said that “just last week,” Arizona’s new immigration law sparked “yet another firestorm of hate speech against Latinos.”

In other words, what the coalition means by “hate speech” is speech uttered by “critics of illegal immigration.” In other words, people who speak favorably of measures like Arizona’s law — roughly 60 percent of the American people, including a majority in Massachusetts — are thereby guilty of criminal acts.

But wait a minute, if speech favoring laws like Arizona’s immigration measure “legitimizes violence against its targets,” isn’t it irresponsible for the coalition to encourage the FCC not to act against it?

The truth is, as the National Hispanic Media Coalition well knows, there’s no such thing as a “nonregulatory” approach to a problem for bureaucrats. What these people on the left really want is to bring down the full force of government to silence those who disagree with them.

That urge is the very heart of tyranny.

Mark Tapscott is editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner.

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