Edited to remove N-word. Recovered from the Wayback Machine.
Lots of people want to go in arms about censorship because Howard Sterns was yanked off of Clear Channel radio stations. I would like to join these people, I really would. I believe that censorship should be personal, practiced by turning the channel. But I’m sorry, I am not going to accept Howard Stern as the poster boy of free speech in this country.
Sure, Stern is offensive to women and minorities, but you don’t have to listen to his show.
Mighty white of you, Micah. Takes a big man to say that. So let’s look at some of the Stern bon mots, shall we?
Stern thinks it’s funny to quote KKK comments online, including:
Some N-words around the country say they will boycott Georgia if the flag still flies,but who cares where a N-word boycotts, who cares where they spend their food stamps and their welfare checks . . .
Most businesses would rather N-words stay away anyhow . . .
N-words cause flies to swarm anywhere they show up . . .
He might as well put a monkey on the high court because
they’re about the same qualifications . . .
N-words have destroyed most of our public schools already . . .
N-words carry their dope to schools . . . N-words carry guns to schools . . .
N-words carry AIDS to school . . .
N-words stink up the whole classroom . .
He has such a great sense of humor. He also plays a game called “What’s my color”, and encourages his listeners to call in with ‘N-word’ jokes. Ha! Ha! What a laugh, Micah.
But let’s not forget his legendary sexism. First, there was the question about why the Littleton killers didn’t rape any of the victims first. In case you don’t know what Littleton is, that’s Columbine High School. Stern said:
There were some really good-looking girls running out with their hands over their heads. Did those kids try to have sex with any of the good-looking girls? They didn’t even do that? At least if you’re going to kill yourself and kill all the kids, why wouldn’t you have some sex? If I was going to kill some people, I’d take them out with sex.
I’m sure he was just kidding. But the Canadian Broadcast Standards System doesn’t think he’s all that funny. I don’t know, what do you think?
Howard Stern: Do you want to talk to a woman who was raped by a psychic?
Robin Quivers: Oh, geez.
Howard Stern: Jillian?
Jillian: Ah, yes, is this Howard?
Howard Stern: Yes, hi, how are you doing?
Jillian: Pretty good.
Howard Stern: So how were you raped by a psychic?
Jillian: It’s not quite that simple. I was dating a –
Howard Stern: Are you good looking, by the way? I mean, just so we have some background, not that it’s relevant.
Howard Stern: But you’re just very blessed with a gorgeous body.
Howard Stern: And your ass is like super firm?
Jillian: Ah, ah, yes.
Howard Stern: Okay, all right. I just wanted to know who I’m dealing with, that’s all. Not that has any relevance on –
Robin Quivers: Not to rape.
Howard Stern: Not to rape, but, you know.
Howard Stern: Would it be rude of me to ask for a nude picture of her?
Robin Quivers: Yes.
Howard Stern: It would?
Robin Quivers: Under these circumstances.
Howard Stern: She sounds really odd. Would you mind? Could you send me some bikini shots?
In response, the following was said on Stern’s behalf from a radio station carrying him:
Howard Stern has made it clear on a number of occasions that he is a comedian and entertainer by trade and reputation. He has also made it clear that his material should not be treated as the social or political commentary of a politician or journalist. He is not a news/trained journalist or talk host dealing with the issues of the day in a traditional open line style of talk programming. Indeed he has never held himself out to be one and is well known to the public as a performer, not a serious commentator.
But the Canadian government has a little regulation about what can be aired. It goes like the following:
A licensee shall not broadcast abusive comment that, when taken in context, tends or is likely to expose an individual or a group or class of individuals to hatred or contempt on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
Does this block ‘free speech’? Sure it does. Am I going to huff and puff and blow this down? Not a bit of it. You want to be free to indulge in hate speech and make fun of rape? Accept the consequences, then.
Not following along with the gang in supporting Stern does generate some internal conflict. I believe that each of us has the right to say what we want to say, even if what we say is offensive to others. But at the same time, I would hope that any free speech I defend is based on honesty, not marketing hype.
Howard Stern is an entertainer, and I use that term loosely, who deliberately uses the most offensive racist and sexist and bigoted material in order to—deliberately to, I want to emphasize this—generate publicity and an audience. He doesn’t do so to make a political point, to fight for a cause, or even because he believes it. He does so, deliberately, to generate actions like that those that happened with Clear Channel.
“Please fire me for my speech’, his actions state. “I haven’t been talked about for the longest time. You all have been talking about Janet Jackson. I want that talk! That’s my talk! That’s my buzz!”
Some say the firing was because Howard Stern talked about reading Al Franken’s book, and saying, “If you read this book, you’ll never vote for George Bush”. After all, Clear Channel stations are known to be very pro-Bush. Aside from the fact that Clear Channel had just been hit with a hefty fine because of another broadcaster and obscene content, and was probably hypersensitive about the contents of the programs it covers, when you have a shock jock like Stern as a hero of the cause, you can never differentiate when the man has been canned because he made a political comment, or because he’s being who he is—Howard Stern, the man who made millions by finding the quickest way to the rawest level of pain within people, and then making it into a joke for the lowest common denominator that is typified by a Howard Stern audience.
No offense Jeff and Adam and Tony and Micah, but your idea and mine about what makes a ‘hero’ differs. A lot.