I am not quick to call something racist. In fact, I wrote an editorial pleading with everyone not to call the NY Post chimp cartoon racist. I went on MSNBC and defended that position. I'm afraid calling someone racist often times shuts off dialogue and should be reserved for only the clearest and worst cases. I also defended Don Imus and insisted he should not be fired for his comments.
So, I have some credibility here when I say conservative talk show host Jay Severin should absolutely be fired for his racist comments against Mexicans on the radio. I hesitate in writing about this because Severin is a pathetic nobody who might be looking for national attention by making these kinds of incredibly ignorant comments. But, on the other hand, there have to be consequences for this kind of deeply hateful speech. And if people don't argue forcefully enough against it, there won't be enough pressure on the station to get rid of this hateful racist.
So, what did he say that's got me so worked up? Check it out, and you be the judge:
As you heard in the video above, Severin has been suspended by WTKK-FM in Boston. But that is not nearly enough. If you don't get fired for this, what do you get fired for?
Here are just some of his prize quotes from the show:
"So now, in addition to venereal disease and the other leading exports of Mexico - women with mustaches and VD - now we have swine flu."
He described Mexicans as "the world's lowest of primitives."
"When we are the magnet for primitives around the world - and it's not the primitives' fault by the way, I'm not blaming them for being primitives - I'm merely observing they're primitive."
"It's millions of leeches from a primitive country come here to leech off you and, with it, they are ruining the schools, the hospitals, and a lot of life in America."
"We should be, if anything, surprised that Mexico has not visited upon us poxes of more various and serious types already, considering the number of criminaliens already here."
He also said that emergency rooms had "become essentially condos for Mexicans."
And on a 2004 broadcast, he compared Muslims to a fifth column in this country and said in response to a caller who thought people should reach out to Muslims: "You think we should befriend them; I think we should kill them."
But unfortunately calling for the murder of Muslim-Americans has become so commonplace and acceptable these days that he didn't even come close to getting fired for those comments. So, I guess he figured he had free reign to attack the other half of M&Ms.
Or maybe he's just desperate because his ratings have dropped to 14th in the market in the demos. By the way, if you weren't outraged enough already. You want to know how much he makes for spewing this kind of hate and being the fourteenth best radio show in his timeslot? One million dollars, plus bonuses!
I believe a person has to do a lot to cross the line into a firing offense. Talk show hosts have an interesting but tough job. You usually have to talk for three hours a day, often unscripted. You have to entertain your audience and push the boundaries to spark interesting conversations. That is part of the reason why I give talk hosts huge leeway and why I defended Imus. But there has to be a line somewhere. And this is clearly it. Jay Severin should be fired immediately.
UPDATE: Here's how you can contact the station in Boston who hired Severin (even though he lied about winning a Pulitzer Prize and having a Master's Degree in Journalism from Boston University; and he had already said the comments on killing Muslims in 2004). Write them an e-mail or call them here. Remember, they have suspended him for now, which means they are trying to decide whether they should fire him or keep him. What do you think they should do? Let them know.