FCC rejects complaint against CO Springs talk-radio host Lakey

After reading on BigMedia.org that KVOR talk-show host Jimmy Lakey compared Michelle Obama to Chewbacca, a Colorado resident filed a complaint with Federal Communications Commission, claiming that Lakey’s behavior was “racially motivated and politically biased.”

In a letter last week, the FCC responded to the complaint, stating:

The FCC is barred by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution from trying to prevent the broadcast of any point of view, no matter how unpopular or distasteful that point of view may be to most people. Consumers often complain that certain broadcasts are “un-American,” too violent, or ridicule or demean certain groups because of their race, gender, religion or nationality. Such views that do not rise to the level of  a “clear and present danger of substantive evil” are protected by the First Amendment. Expressions that are obscene, however, are not protected. Similarly, expressions that are indecent or profane may be restricted to prevent their broadcast to children. FCC rules prohibit indecent or profane broadcasts between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. The Communications Act prevents the FCC from censoring broadcast material, in most cases, and from taking any action that would interfere with freedom of speech.

Obscenity is defined as any material that depicts or describes, in patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law; and lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

Well, it’s clear that Lakey’s comments about Michelle Obama lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

But I know that’s irrelevant and besides the point, which is that the FCC was right to deny this complaint. I wouldn’t want Lakey or anyone shut up for comparing a political figure to Chewbacca or a character in Planet of the Apes. Or for advocating the death of all Iranians.

But I don’t think I’m wasting my time, and the person who filed the FCC complaint against Lakey wasn’t wasting his time either, trying to make more people aware of these comments. This includes Lakey’s bosses at Cumulus Media, Inc, the radio conglomerate that owns KVOR, 470 AM, in Colorado Springs, and broadcasts the Jimmy Lakey Show Sundays from 9 a.m. to noon.

They should know about what he’s saying, in case they want to fire him or scold him somehow.

And of course we can complain to KVOR directly or stop listening to Lakey, which could set an example that might spread to the point where he can scream and laugh to himself on the radio.

Trouble is, it’s more likely that spotlighting Lakey has the opposite effect, bringing him more listeners. But ignoring hate speech doesn’t feel like the right thing to do.

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