In the United States, the radio airwaves are owned by the citizens and broadcasters must apply to the Federal Communications Commission for licenses in order to use them. In order to receive a license, the station must prove their programming is in the “public interest.”
Hate speech is never in the public interest. And hate speech is what Rush Limbaugh spews every day on his radio show, which is broadcast over those public airwaves. The most recent controversy stems from Limbaugh calling Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke as a "slut" and a "prostitute" for testifying in favor of birth control access. In a country where a woman is raped every 2 minutes, characterizing women as ravening sexual creatures is an incitement to violence.
Furthermore, as Women’s Media Center founders Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem noted in an op-ed, these comments are part of a long history of “degrading language Limbaugh deploys on women, people of color, lesbians and gays, immigrants, the disabled, the elderly, Muslims, Jews, veterans, environmentalists and so forth.” Some examples include:
-- Female Cabinet members are "Sex-retaries."
-- "The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies."
-- The National Organization for Women is "a bunch of whores to liberalism."
-- [Said to an African-American female caller]: "Take that bone out of your nose and call me back."
This is not about politics - the Women’s Media Center has a long history of standing against sexism from the likes of Bill Maher, Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz and outlets like Newsweek and The Huffington Post. This is about calling out any speech that dehumanizes groups of people.
The US Constitution guarantees citizens the right to free speech and we at the Women’s Media Center are fully committed to protecting that right. But the first amendment doesn’t guarantee Rush Limbaugh a radio show on which to broadcast hate on the public airwaves. We are asking the FCC to investigate whether or not Limbaugh’s hate speech violates the “public interest” and, therefore, whether or not the stations that air his show should be eligible to renew their broadcast licenses.
We are using free speech to stand up to hate speech. Sign the petition and join us today in taking back our airways.