Many years ago, when I first moved to DC, a very popular morning DJ was fired from his job for saying something inappropriate on the air. He was discussing Lauren Hill’s booming success album. She had just been nominated for 10 Grammys and I guess he couldn’t understand why.
Around that same time, a Texas man by the name of James Byrd was killed after being drug behind a truck. He was skinned alive and later died. The men behind his murder were charged with a hate crime.
The popular DC DJ played a sample of one of the most popular Lauren Hill songs. He went on to complain about how awful it was. Right after he finished his rant, he punctuated it with, “It’s no wonder they drag them behind trucks.”
Much of DC went into frenzy over the comment. It didn’t take long for him to lose his job. He was done for. He would never work in DC again.
I remember when he arranged for a public apology at a local church right around the corner from where I worked. I walked over there to check things out. People did show up, but I am certain he wasn’t forgiven. We never heard from that DJ again.
I’m not about to say that what the DC DJ said was even remotely OK. I, too, was mortified by his lack of compassion especially given he was on the air at the time. But given the intensity of DJ Star’s latest on air comments against a rival DJs Asian wife and her daughter, I’d like to see him silenced as well.
“Star: Oh yes, I’ll, I’ll come for your kids. I will come for your kids. I finally got the information on his slant eyed, whore wife. The information on his slant eyed, whore wife.”
“Star: Let me see now, uh, DJ Benji attention! In case you didn’t hear me, I said, I want to put some mayonnaise in between your baby girl’s ass crack and take a bite”
We don’t need voices like that feeding impressionable people everywhere. What’s with all that f*cking hate?
I kind of see the DJ as a victim in an awkward way.
All of these radio stations today are egging on their ‘talent’ to “push the button” and fostering / enticing DJs to do this shit.
I’m not saying that what he did is acceptable and that he shouldn’t be punished – but I think something drastic has to happen to the stations and the industry itself as a form of punishment.
These DJs aren’t stepping out of line, they’re doing exactly what their station management is telling them to do. Its only when the stuff they do hits the TV news, they get fired and the stations say “I can’t believe they did that”
Its a bullshit , ‘saving face’ , argument. They know damn well whats going on, and they knew damn well this is where that dj was headed. They just keep their mouths shut until someone else notices riding the ratings wave.
Isn’t this still free speech? It may not be popular and may be racist, but he’s still protected and able to say it yeah?
And I think he has been fired, but that to me is still crap because the people who seemed to be “enraged” the most about things like this are people who don’t listen to these shows anyway and ruin it for the people who do listen. The stations bow down to the three or four people who complain about it or the watchdog groups who themselves are trying to get publicity.
The Greaseman (the DC DJ) is a horrible boob anyway, and I think that the humor in his horrible comment stems from the sheer inappropriateness (sp) of it. I like to think that things tend to work themselves out. The Greaseman hasn’t returned because he is a horrible DJ, not because people care or remember the comment Unless you were just omitting his name for other reasons, you didn’t remember his name. Opie and Anthony were fired because of their St Pat’s incident, but the public still likes them, hence they are back on terrestrial radio and have been on satellite for years.
Zac, he was offering a cash award to a caller with the whereabouts of the four-year-old daughter. That’s not freedom of speech, that’s endangering and threatening a child. Period.
Plus, the freedom of speech thing? It doesn’t excuse people from acting like raging fucking assholes.
Of course not, but people are still asses. And do you really think that he was going to do anything to his daughter? Im sure you know that alot of DJ’s still have this machismo attitude when they feel like they have been disrespected, which was the catalyst for his comments. Could he have taken the high road? Yes, but I’ve heard many people who have said many crazy things in anger. He definitely attacked this guy where he thought it might hurt the most.
And I know that this type of freedom of speech might be offensive to you but it protects the KKK from marching down main street just as it protects million man marches.
I’m really not trying to come off as an asshole myself but do you even listen to star and buckwild?
The First Amendment protects you from government persecution for speaking your mind as long as the content of your speech doesn’t violate any criminal or civil laws in and of itself. Libel and slander are not exempt from civil liability. Threats are not protected from criminal and civil liability.
Most importantly, though, you are not protected in the private sector. Employment is contingent purely upon your contract and the rules and policies of your employer. The Constitution does not protect you from being fired for calling your boss a dick, or from threatening someone – or for much else.
Zac, I think you are wildly misinterpret ing the Constitution and subsequent caselaw surrounding ‘free speech.’
On the note of whether the guy is actually ‘going to do anything to [the other DJ’s] daughter’ – a threat is a threat. FCC violations are FCC violations.
In regards to Jon’s point from Friday: I don’t care if a station encourages certain types of behavior. I hold people entirely accountable for their choices and to point to a quest for ratings is a huge cop-out.
I would take any sort of threat against my child seriously. Regardless if I thought the person would act on the threat or not.
To address another of Zac’s points, “And I know that this type of freedom of speech might be offensive to you but it protects the KKK from marching down main street just as it protects million man marches.”
The right to assemble is not the same as the right to speak freely. The right of free assembly is invoked when people wish to get a permit for a march, or when they gather in a peaceful fashion in a public area. These are separate portions of the same document.
Keep in mind that both rights are only granted up until the point that something illegal happens. The government cannot prevent a group of citizens from gathering, but they can prevent association with certain groups (those engaged in criminal activity). The government cannot prevent a person from speaking, but it can prosecute you for your speech if you break a law.
I’m so tired of people thinking that the First Amendment means you have carte blanche to do and say any damned thing you please. There is no blanket ‘freedom of speech’ and the term ‘free speech’ is so abused I’d like to make it illegal (hehe).
Seriously, though, study up on this stuff. This is the Constitution, after all. It’s our foundation.
Look I understand that most people don’t want to hear Star saying he is going to bite little asian ass, but are you telling me that he can’t say it? I’d like to think that if the mass public doesn’t like what he said, they’ll stop listening on their own instead of trying to be PC and act shocked for the benefit of not looking like a douche themselves. Everyone has said something in the heat of anger. Everyone. And in some backhanded way we could all be prosecuted somehow for it. Star just had the poor judgement and the wattage to do so on a large scale. To be outraged about it really doesn’t seem honest. Does anyone really think he wants to do what he said? The answer, “It doesn’t matter” is a cop out.
Jonathan is right. These guys are paid to push the envelope everyday and everyone acts suprised when they do. Star is the only one who gets arrested for this? No one at clear channel recieves any punishment?
Obviously I don’t know the law inside and out. But i have enough common sense to know that Star doesn’t hate asians or is a pedophile. I know that his comments were based on this other DJ personally. I also know that he made some bad decisions, but his incarceration is an obvious attempt at trying to please people who don’t listen to him anyway. Councilman John Liu put pressure on the police to arrest him, as im sure his consitutancy put pressure on him.
Threats are threats. Threats are illegal. Illegal speech is illegal speech. When illegal speech is broadcast over the public airwaves, the broadcasters should pay the price.
The airwaves are public, licensed to private companies and regulated fairly heavily. There are lines – no matter how distinct or ambiguous – of decency. When those are crossed, it is in the public interest to punish those involved. The very few companies with a stronghold on our public airwaves should recognize that their ability to exist is a privilege and (in theory) entirely contingent upon the desires of the entire nation. This isn’t about a musician making an album in their own studio. It isn’t a matter of a private press, publishing on their own paper and delivering issues to subscribers. This is an abuse of the public airwaves, and a free-market model that extends into taste-management applies only to the degree that you influnce culture to create a space in which your particular message is palatable. In other words, the parameters of the usage of public airwaves are up to the public at large as embodied (however poorly) by the FCC, and not up to niche fans.
For the record – I don’t believe that being arrested is necessarily appropriate in this case, but, of course, I’m not the D.A.
He will have his day in court and, if no law has been broken, he will hopefully receive an apology.
To play devil’s advocate, couldn’t it be agrued that alot of the things said on Air America are indecent, because they are critical of the presidency? Granted no one wants to make a presidential ass sandwich and no threats are made..
I didn’t say that the DJ should be unaccountable for his actions.
””“I’m not saying that what he did is acceptable and that he shouldn’t be punished – but I think something drastic has to happen to the stations and the industry itself as a form of punishment.”””
What I did say is that I think the station – the management, the producers, and their legal department – should all be held accountable as well. They promoted and enabled this dj and others, and pushed him onwards and egged him on. They’re accessories.
Also to add on the free speech debate – there is a freedom of speech, not freedom of action. Legally, speech doesn’t mean anything you say – because your words can become actions : ie yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, making threats against another, etc.
“To play devil’s advocate, couldn’t it be agrued that alot of the things said on Air America are indecent, because they are critical of the presidency? Granted no one wants to make a presidential ass sandwich and no threats are made..”
Not legally, no. Decency has little to do with criticism of the government. Comparing the two isn’t playing devil’s advocate, it’s grasping at very, very disconnected straws.
I agree, Jon, that the station should be held accountable. Of course, they’ll pay some fines and claim that losing a DJ is being held accountable. It’s bullshit, of course, but so is our airwaves being controlled by, what – two companies?
To clarify the reply to Zac: decency isn’t about the ideas as much as how they are conveyed. If someone looks critically at the government, they’re a patriot. If someone uses the airwaves to make threatening statements and describe clearly vulgar sexual acts, they’re fired.
Quite honestly, I got really sick of looking at their shitty ads anyway. :] Maybe they’ll spend less on crap advertising on the Subway now?
“The president is an ass. He’s screwing the people”
“Did you hear the joke about the president fucking his wife in the ass?”
find/replace “The president” into a marquis de sade novel, act it out on air as a play for children using puppet-like voices
yeah..”Decency has little to do with criticism of the government.”.
Im sure this is your “opinion”. Opinion being the operative word here. I know there are folks out there who think criticizing the government is indecent. It’s all a matter of how far you want to take it. You cant say that the two aren’t related just because you agree with one and not the other. Clearly most of America doesn’t agree with Air America because W is in the White House. And in the post earlier you helped me out by bolding the words “public”, “entire” and “our”..is the majority of this country really the voice you want deciding what’s decent or indecent?
Zac – ‘decency’ as far as the FCC is concerned is a legal term. Whether someone thinks that our right to criticize the government is inherently ‘indecent’ has very little to do with law, with the Constitution, or with this conversation.
‘Clearly most of America doesn’t agree with Air America because W is in the White House.’
That makes zero sense. I think you might be trying to say that the majority of America votes Republican – a fact that is both incorrect and entirely unrelated to Air America.
I think the problem here is that you’re mixing very loose casual language into what is an inherently legal discussion.
You’re not going to get too far when doing so.
A good resource might be the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (I have problems with it, but it frames this conversation somewhat).
Look at Miller v. California as an example of Supreme Court caselaw affirming that indecent speech isn’t necessarily protected speech.
Look at the code for broadcasting indecent language here
Then refer to Justice Warren Burger’s qualifying three criteria of indecency in the aforementioned Miller case:
(copied from the Web):
1. whether “the average person, applying contemporary community standards” would find the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest…,
2. whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and
3. whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
Interestingly (to me), Miller found that there is no need for a national qualifier for obscenity, and that the population covered by the broadcast is sufficient. As I read it, that doesn’t mean that a subset of the audience can find something decent, but does mean that a subset can find it indecent.
Yet another ‘for the record’ from me: I think the criteria for indecency are entirely too vague and don’t agree with the ‘prurient interest’ rule as it’s quite difficult to test. The CDA makes me a little ill, and popular opinion has no place, in my ideal world, in the regulation of non-violent personal speech.
I do believe that threats and harassment should be punished.
“and popular opinion has no place, in my ideal world, in the regulation of non-violent personal speech.”
I want to live in this ideal world. I wholeheartedly agree with you.
“I do believe that threats and harassment should be punished.”
I wish there were some way to keep them from happening entirely. Education? Compassion? Regulation on how many (un)children one can have? (hahahha) Something needs to be done to stop people from operating under no social contract.
Compassion. We lack it.
whatever, I dont care about Star this much. I just can’t stand the notion that this guy is hurting anyone on any level. Any rational person can decide for themselves whether this guy is an idiot or not. I dont need the government to throw him in jail to affirm my beliefs. If no one agreed with what he had to say, they wont listen. If no one listened they wouldn’t be employed. This isnt the first time this guy has been in trouble for making “racist” remarks. He was let go from a station last year. People know what they’re getting.
I do want to point out that the supreme court’s “three-pronged” criteria refers to obscenity not indecency.
sorry, i meant “wouldn’t listen”. and yes the laws are vague, but its so we look at every situation on a case by case basis right?
I didn’t know he was let go last year as well. I’m very uncertain why people want to listen to him. Howard Stern, I “get” he talks about sex and big tits. But, to my knowledge, he doesn’t threaten people on air. He doesn’t spew hate. This guy? He sounds like a moron. The sad thing is, he’ll probably become MORE popular because of this court ordeal.
We’re such a sorry bunch of buffoons. Shame on us. Shame on all of us.
Legally, the two terms are interchanged, Zac. In Miller and the CDA, you’ll see both referenced.
i think that in miller it does say that the two are different, obscenity being a specific term that is subject to the test and indecency being a broader term that isn’t. Also miller refers to material and not speech, unless you want to interpret it that way.
Regarding the materiality of Miller, the FCC v. Pacifica case (the Carlin case), which cites Miller, ruled that speech on radio can be regulated.
The simple fact is that the FCC regulates speech on broadcast media and that the First Amendment provides no blanket protection. Indecency/obscenity and other illegal language results in fines, suspension of license, and, depending on the legality of the language itself, criminal prosecution.
ok i dont think we’re even talking about the same issue anymore.
You suggested that the First Amendment provided protection for Star, and I disagree. I think I’ve been entirely consistent in my comments on the matter.
well, one man’s opinion.
One man, the Supreme Court, the FCC…
Seriously, this is getting goofy. Zac, you came here looking for an argument, discussion, whatever. You seem like you’re finished with it, now. So be it. Just say so.
Either way, one of you throw in the towel. It ain’t worth it. This particular Online discussion has gotten to that Internet wall where it either ends well by ending period or it turns into a pissing contest and quiet frankly, I loathe those type of Internet conversations. :]
Peace out, yo.
im not here for an arguement, i actually come here for the pictures.
Indecency and Obscenity are different legally
Its a gray area between the two, but generally speaking Obscenity is egregiously indecent material (based on local standards) with no redeeming factor and of a sexual nature.
the FCC has claimed the right to regular AM/FM/TV/HAM for 2 reasons (i believe there was a third, but I can’t recall it):
a- its a public resource: there is a narrow band of available frequencies.
b- its freely accessible. anyone can turn on a radio to listen without identification
papers , cable, satellite all are private networks or require purchase which can monitor who buys/sells what.
Zac – you’re all over. Your arguments make no sense. First you attack toby misappropriating the meaning and context of the term indecent and calling fact opinion. Then you start to allege opinion as fact, and then try to support your argument on what you freely admit to as opinion.
Toby wins this one, even though he got obscenity/indeceny wrong. He was less all over and correct more often.