We Protest Artvoice: A Platform for Carl Paladino's Hateful Speech

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Buffalo residents, artists, writers, teachers, and concerned citizens writing to protest Artvoice’s “WHAT DO WE WANT FOR 2017” list published on December 22, 2016

We, the undersigned, are writing to protest Artvoice’s “WHAT DO WE WANT FOR 2017” list published on December 22, 2016:
http://artvoice.com/2016/12/23/want-2017-lot-different-opinions/#.WF0uRbYrKjS

Among the lists published by Artvoice is Carl Paladino’s heinous, egregious, and hateful wish list. In publishing Paladino’s list, Artvoice willfully provides a platform for hateful, misogynistic, sexist, transphobic, anti-black, racist, and anti-muslim speech and ideology. In publishing Paladino’s list, Artvoice demonstrates a condemnable lack of editorial judgement and fails to ethically serve the communities it claims to represent, inform, and support.

Artvoice claims to be “WNY's alternative weekly newspaper.” Yet the cover story, which includes 42 “wish lists” by prominent members of the WNY community, does not represent WNY’s demographics in the least. In Buffalo alone, women outnumber men (as of 2010 at 52%); and almost 40% of Buffalo’s residents identify as African American. However, the published “wish lists” include the voices of only five women (less than 12% of the feature), and the representation of minority and POC perspectives is almost entirely absent.

What do WE want for 2017?
A. We demand a public apology from Carl Paladino.

B. We demand the removal of Paladino from the Buffalo School Board.
C. We demand a public response from the editors of Artvoice.
D. We call for businesses to examine their relationships with Artvoice.


A. We demand a public apology from Carl Paladino and we protest his “wishlist” for 2017, published by Artvoice:

1. Paladino describes a hateful fantasy about the death of President Barack Obama, involving bestiality, decapitation, a legal trial, and “mad cow disease.”

2. Paladino facetiously accuses the President of the United States of having sex with an animal. Paladino’s language normalizes animalization, which has long been one of the most violent strategies of dehumanization against POC in oppressive and white-supremacist states. Artvoice supports the use of white-supremacist and violent speech. (Paladino specifically uses the term “Herford” [sic] to mean “heifer”. This is a man on the Buffalo School Board).

3. Paladino describes a macabre fantasy of the imprisonment and death of Valerie June Jarret, an African American official serving her country as current Senior Advisor to the POTUS. Paladino also accuses her of treason in a libelous and damaging statement. Further, he describes the murder of Jarret as being carried out by a “Jihady” [sic] cellmate, via decapitation. This is a misogynistic fantasy that gleefully celebrates the death of a public official. It also employs anti-Muslim and xenophobic language to convey a heinous image. Artvoice supports the normalization of anti-Muslim, violent, libelous, and misogynistic speech.

4. Paladino employs hateful, transphobic, racist (specifically anti-black), and explicitly misogynistic language in describing a fantasy about our current First Lady, Michelle Obama. Paladino questions Michelle Obama’s sexual and gender-identity through a transphobic trope that has been in play for the last 8 years in the worst of right-wing, white supremacist, and anti-black ideological circles. Paladino’s language normalizes white-supremacist, misogynistic, and transphobic speech. Artvoice supports the normalization of white-supremacist, misogynistic, and transphobic speech.

5. Paladino’s racism is most blatant when he wishes that Michelle Obama would be sent to Zimbabwe, where she might be “let loose” to “live comfortably in a cave” with “Maxie the gorilla.” Paladino’s language compares the First Lady to a wild simian, and promotes an ugly anti-black stereotype in order to convey a transphobic image of the First Lady. Paladino’s language normalizes dehumanization through animalization. Artvoice supports the normalization of transphobic and white-supremacist speech.

6. Paladino’s sexism is most blatant when he implies that only a man could be mayor of Buffalo (“someone with a brain, a set of balls”). As of July 2016, the U.S. Conference of Mayors shows that of 1,391 mayors in large U.S. cities, almost 19% were women. Paladino’s sexist assumption demonstrates that he is unfit to occupy public office. Artvoice supports the normalization of sexist speech.


B. We demand the removal of Paladino from the Buffalo School Board.
It is appalling, in light of his documented conduct and speech, that Paladino is allowed to remain on the Buffalo School Board. Paladino has repeatedly and openly made misogynistic and xenophobic statements. When Donald Trump’s boastful comments about grabbing women’s genitalia—an act of sexual assault—were revealed to the public, Paladino attempted to normalize this egregious behavior, defending it as “gutter talk” and saying “all men do [that], at least all normal men.” A petition to remove him from the Buffalo School Board (BSB) garnered close to 3,000 signatures in October, and received overwhelming support. Moreover, the hateful language Paladino continues to use directly contradicts the official policy of the BSB and would not be tolerated in any of Buffalo’s public schools. As the Board clearly states in its newly adopted policy on Gender Identity-- a policy Paladino opposed--“All students need a safe and supportive educational environment to progress academically and developmentally. The District is committed to fostering a safe learning environment for all students, free from discrimination and harassment on the basis of sex, gender, gender identity, gender nonconformity, and gender expression.” Paladino continues to normalize hate speech with his racist, transphobic, and misogynistic fantasies of violence against African Americans and POC, and continues to alienate and harm the very students, parents, and communities his office is committed to serving.


C & D. We demand a public response from Artvoice; Jamie Moses, Publisher; and Frank Parlato, Editor. We call for businesses to examine their relationships with Artvoice.

Artvoice has been in print for over 25 years. Never has it been as polarized as now, or given voice to such extreme views as those of Paladino. Artvoice has increasingly become a platform for bigotry, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia. Articles have surfaced with significant bias against liberal or progressive opinions. As an alternative press that has a history of promoting local artists and initiatives, it is shocking that Artvoice would align itself with such hateful language and ideals.

If Artvoice fails to produce an appropriate public response to its editorial decisions and content, we urge local artists, writers, musicians, initiatives, businesses and politicians to stop contributing and promoting a platform that supports hateful speech.


Mickey Harmon
Joshua Lam
Jasmina Tumbas
Divya Victor

 



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