A different tune could be heard all over southern California's airwaves this weekend. As a result of spewing ignorant and insulting remarks about the late Whitney Houston, John and Ken received a slap on the wrist on Thursday and were told to go home and play with themselves. The tune was the sweet absence of hate-filled ranting and ill-informed conjectures for the first time in many, many years.
I am not a fan of the John and Ken Show on KFI AM640. In fact, I have been an active critic of the type of talk radio they represent: obtuse, callous, hate-filled propaganda against any and all groups not "American enough". I tolerate conservative talk radio because their views are protected by the Constitution just like my views are protected. I detest right-wing evangelizing masked by assertions of real patriotism.
But when John and Ken yell fire in a crowded multicultural city like Los Angeles, they are no longer simple antagonists, they are dangerous. Unfortunately, KFI and their parent company Clear Channel have been complacent and complicit in the distribution of fear-mongering, race-baiting, and xenophobic propaganda for two decades. Their cowardly attitude towards John and Ken, presumably because they represent juicy revenue for the bottom line, is reprehensible.
Thus, when John and Ken not only rallied their angry base against AB130 and AB131, two bills that make up the California Dream Act, an education bill that offers limited financial incentives for undocumented college students, they also made a calculated decision to attack me personally by airing my personal cell phone number several times on three of their shows. Not surprisingly, after being labeled as thieves, terrorists, anti-American, mafia members, blackmailers, traitors, and illegal-alien lovers, the non-profit organization I work for and I were the victims of harassment and threats for several weeks after.
Some may claim John and Ken were right to attack someone they disagreed with. I am open to being criticized for my views. But given that I am not a political figure, a lobbyist, or a company, where does it say my home address, my personal cell phone number, and my safety as a citizen is fair fame? John and Ken did not measure the consequences of their race-baiting and although after weeks of protests and bad press they eventually half-heartedly apologized through Univision and on air, their sophomoric ranting continued.
Through coalition work led by NHMC and CHIRLA, more than 15 sponsors left the John and Ken Show faster than a rat escapes a sinking ship. And still KFI and Clear Channel harbor their money-making hyenas.
Less than two weeks ago, John and Ken made racist comments about Korean painters and the Korean community rightfully rose to their feet and cried foul. KFI and Clear Channel stood by and watched the rally undeterred. The high-octane duo remained on the air.
Whitney Houston's death has moved many to ponder how a talented American icon could have succumbed to a life of alcohol and drugs. Whatever the political persuasion many of us grieved for her daughter and prayed for the canary's soul. John and Ken apparently were not amongst those touched by the loss of a human being to the addictive grasp of loneliness and depression. Instead, they mocked the singer and in the process insulted her memory.
Whitney Houston was also an African American woman. There has been much work that African Americans have had to do, much blood spilled, too many lives lost in order for the community to gain a little bit of respect. When a member of the community is defiled, especially by racist goons like John and Ken, the whole community reacts and demands answers. I believe this is why John and Ken were asked to go home and spend their long holiday weekend thinking about other people to target. Unfortunately, their suspension is temporary.
There will be a time when attacking immigrants, Latinos, Koreans, low-income families, gays and lesbians, and Jews will no longer be funny or profitable. We too will learn to carry our cross and stand tall, high above the putrid fecal matter that represents hate speech, xenophobia, and discrimination. The likes of John and Ken will have to think twice before they belittle us or use us as guinea pigs for their next rant.
For now, I applaud KFI for having the courage to step up to the light and show their boys' true colors. I only wish they would suspend these two irrational clowns once and for all.
Until that time, I will enjoy at least one day without calumny.