Savage vs. CAIR: The Battle over Free Speech
My latest SFGate column takes a look at the battle brewing between radio talk show host Michael Savage and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and, in the process, the true nature of CAIR's "civil rights" work in the United States:
Conservative talk radio show host Michael Savage is no stranger to courting controversy. Savage is known for his blunt commentary which at times goes beyond the realm of the politically incorrect into the confrontational. It is a style Savage describes as "psychological nudity" and the opening to his show warns overly-sensitive listeners as much. But, in the process, Savage touches on some fundamental truths that hit home with his fans, while simultaneously motivating his opponents. Whether they love him or hate him, 8 million listeners tune into "The Savage Nation" each week. The fact that the show originates in left-leaning San Francisco only adds to its entertainment appeal.Continue reading "Savage vs. CAIR: The Battle over Free Speech"
Savage's controversial commentary tends to elicit a censorious response. It wasn't long ago that Savage's remarks on illegal immigrants drew the ire of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which, it seems, is always on the lookout for avenues of politically-correct behavior control. Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval introduced a resolution twice this year condemning Savage for "hate speech," a meaningless yet ominous gesture which disregards the concept of free speech. The resolution failed the first time around thanks to the lone dissent of the now-ousted Supervisor Ed Jew, who, in contrast to Sandoval's identity-politics-steeped perspective, stuck with upholding the First Amendment. But in October, the resolution passed, providing a menacing example of government interference, albeit symbolically, in the free speech rights of its citizenry.
Economic punishment is another weapon in the hands of those opposed to Savage's provocative methodology and the Council on American-Islamic Relations is the latest to jump on the boycott bandwagon. CAIR is a Washington, D.C., nonprofit organization that touts itself as "America's largest Islamic civil liberties group." As such, CAIR expressed concern over a number of statements made by Savage on his Oct. 29 program that the group felt were anti-Muslim in nature. In response, CAIR, along with the newly formed Hate Hurts America Community and Interfaith Coalition, has attempted to mount a boycott aimed at advertisers on Savage's show. According to a Dec. 3 CAIR press release, a growing list of companies, including AutoZone, Citrix, TrustedID, JC Penney, OfficeMax, Wal-Mart, and AT&T, have joined the boycott.
But rather than taking CAIR's boycott lying down, Savage is fighting back, in court. Represented by his lawyer, Daniel A. Horowitz, Savage is suing CAIR primarily for copyright infringement. According to the text of the lawsuit, which is posted at Savage's Web site, CAIR "misappropriated" his work by posting the four-minute segment in question at its Web site and including it in outreach and fundraising efforts. Taking it a step further, the lawsuit accuses CAIR of misrepresenting itself as a "civil rights organization" and of "advocating a specific political agenda that is directly opposed to the existence of a free society." While the copyright infringement charges against CAIR may or may not pan out, the broader implications could end up holding the most weight.
Update: Reporter and editor Judi McLeod questions CAIR's claims regarding the companies listed in their press release as having joined the anti-Savage boycott and, in some cases, demonstrates otherwise. Go to Canada Free Press for the details.