John and Ken of KFI AM640's John and Ken Show have lived in a rage-testosterone-and-feces-filled cave for so long that now they are beginning to act out their own oversized GI Joe and He-Man fantasies. Their ego is so huge, the disconnect with reality so abundantly clear, and the wads of money at stake so vast, that these two traffickers of hate speech, advised by their masters at Clear Channel and KFI, have made a few embarrassing attempts during the past few days to trade the show's trademark muck and venom for a tad-soft experiment at apologizing.
As unintentional as a poisonous snake's bite, John and Ken's recent so-called apology for giving out my private cell phone number and instigating anti-Dream Act listener harassment on immigrant rights advocates like myself, is a well-calculated, manipulative, and insulting public relations stunt meant to appease the opposition.
I am not buying their charade for one minute.
Clear Channel, KFI, and John and Ken have been in the wrong to purvey, condone, and sell hate speech in the past and are in the wrong now as they blunder this opportunity to make amends to several key Los Angeles communities. Clear Channel's tackling of this incident has been off the mark all along: they have personalized this incident, trivialized John and Ken's history of "yelling fire while in a crowded theater," and underestimated the power of a united community front.
First, let us be perfectly clear: John and Ken are not the targets of a blind mob upset over their outspoken views on undocumented immigration. We do not appreciate it, but it is their constitutional right to have their own opinion on the subject. What we do not condone is the race-based bile these two spew out on a daily basis because it is reckless, uncalled for, and ultimately dangerous. As the wave of intolerance floods town after town throughout our beloved America, Los Angeles must say enough is enough and call on John and Ken to step off the microphone once and for all.
Half-baked apologies or invitations to hold "man-to-man" conversations are of little interest to CHIRLA. We care for a Los Angeles and California where whites, Blacks, Latinos, Asians, immigrants and non-immigrants, working class and students, conservatives and liberals, Jews and Christians, women and men, LGBTs, and everyone else in between can work collaborative to build a place we can all call home. We care for a multicultural and multifaceted community that does not allow any of its own to fear for his well-being, all because a couple of thugs with a microphone have made it their profitable business to attack them day in and day out. We care for the freedoms handed down to us by our nation's founders and protected by the men and women in uniform, including the freedom to petition my government for sensible updates to our immigration laws, without feeling threatened, harassed, or violated all because of two irresponsible goons with an axe to grind.
If Clear Channel is sincere about establishing respectful dialogue with immigrant communities in Los Angeles, they should stop berating coalition members which include more than thirty respectable organizations. If Clear Channel is sincere about their intent to serve Los Angeles' diverse communities they should take John and Ken off the air immediately. If John and Ken are sincerely apologetic about fostering distrust, resentment, and hate in Los Angeles, they would do the honorable thing and walk out into the sunset and never return. Anything else is putrid leftovers.
Because if you think about it, how is the community supposed to believe in crocodile tears just when several key advertisers have announced their intention to distance themselves from the John and Ken show? How are we to believe in the words of crafty purveyors of "stimulating talk" when first, they appeal to dialogue and understanding, and on the next breath, they belittle the multicultural and broad coalition led by the National Hispanic Media Coalition and CHIRLA, question the veracity of our concerns, and steadfastly continue to justify the show's crude and offensive history of race-baiting as "freedom of speech."
John and Ken are not interested in ending their daily barrage of attacks on unauthorized immigrants nor do they care to acknowledge the negative impact such vitriol has on the lives of millions of Angelenos. Just last week, John and Ken assured their obedient audience that despite the "censorship" campaign they say is determined to silence them, swift action by their advertisers (impact they quickly minimized), and the threat of a possible boycott to KFI's major sponsors, they will continue to harass and inculpate "illegal aliens" of all our state's problems.
Frankly, to hear John and Ken on the defensive is uncomfortable. These are after all the roaring lions of conservative talk radio that Republican and Democrat politicians in Sacramento fear and loathe. To hear them "apologize" without any semblance of self-awareness makes their attempt embarrassing, comical even, if it were not so outright cynical.
John and Ken have far from capitulated. They are determined to stoop as low as they can to denounce, denigrate, and disparage immigrants because they say feel personally passionate about the issue and because the ranting makes their show's ratings go up. After all, they acknowledged, high ratings are good for business.
So in the end it's all about business and pleasure.
Despite all the formal complaints the show has received since it first aired, KFI, Clear Channel, and John and Ken seem to have adopted a nonchalant acceptance of the fires they fan by airing one uninformed accusation after another about the immigrant community. If their tirades lead to serious consequences and collateral damage, so be it. It fills them with pride that for a period of two decades they have been able to grab on tight to the infamous position of being California's instigators of intransigence, intolerance, and resentment. Why apologize now when they have gotten away with so much and paid little in return?
So instead of apologies and divide-and-conquer techniques, what is it going to be, Clear Channel: more smut or corporate responsibility and zero tolerance for intolerance and bigotry? What will it take, KFI, to convince your bottom line that John and Ken have had their run and must go, quick! What will it take, John and Ken, for both of you to realize the sort of hate-filled entertainment you love has grown passé. Whatever your response, please know this: We, the people of California you vilify the most on a daily basis, along with scores of local, regional and national allies, will not apologize when the door hits you on your way out.
Follow Jorge-Mario Cabrera on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jmcabrerapr