Last week, the radio disk jockeys of the "John and Ken Show" on KFI AM 640 were suspended for calling Whitney Huston a "crack ho." To me, and all others who are aware of their show, this type of behavior comes to no surprise. In fact, it is outrageous that they have not already been taken off the air. The "John and Ken Show" has put nothing but hate speech on the radio waves. They have also violated basic professional guidelines as "reporters." A part of me is glad that they were finally suspended for a couple of days, but I feel that is not enough. John and Ken should be taken off the air permanently and investigated for their hate speech.
I have personally felt the hate and unprofessionalism that comes with their so-called reporting. On May 20, 2010, nine brave students held a civil disobedience action in the middle of Wilshire Boulevard in front of the West Los Angeles Federal Building to advocate for the passage of the DREAM Act. The nine demonstrators were all U.S. citizens and took this action in solidarity with their undocumented friends and classmates. One of the protesters was an Iraq War veteran.
Stationed only a few blocks away at a coffee shop with my lap top and cell phone, I was responsible for media outreach. From our makeshift office, I sent out press releases with updates and took calls from reporters. Identified as the media spokesperson on the press release, my cell phone number was listed and widely circulated for media purposes.
That afternoon, the John and Ken show publicly announced my cell phone number and email address on air, which had been intended for media purposes only, and launched a national campaign asking for my deportation. I received over 300 calls in one day and my phone and email were completely shut down. Many of the messages I received included death threats, among others. The disk jockeys also began selling t-shirts online as part of their campaign. "Deport Nancy Meza" was printed on the front of the shirt and a phone number to Immigration and Customs Enforcement on the back. It was available in different colors and sizes for about $30. Baby and toddler sizes included. I couldn't fathom the thought of parents buying "Deport Nancy Meza" t-shirts for their children and babies to wear.
For me, the fact that my phone number and email address were given out to incentivize violence among their listeners demonstrates that their show is not just an "opinion" show, it is a hate speech show that has real consequences for those of us working for justice. The threat to my life was real. I met with LAPD detectives and the UCLA police department to report the harassment I was receiving and inform them of my whereabouts in case anything did happen to me.
Suspending this hate speech is not enough; John and Ken need to be taken off the air. They themselves have shown a track record of unprofessionalism. Being bullied by John and Ken did not scare me into silence. I am not afraid of taking action, if anything, their personal attack mobilized my entire network of supporters and friends. I know I am not the only person who has been through a John and Ken-approved media assault. How long do we have to wait before these hate mongers go too far? Their suspension last week gives us an opportunity to take a step forward and put a permanent end to the hate speech that John and Ken embody and perpetuate on air.
Follow Nancy Meza on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@eastLA_nancy