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Hate Speech, Liberty, Civility, and Democracy — 1 Comment

  1. “The firing of Juan Williams over words that reflected cultural profiling raises an interesting study in human perception and stereotyping. For Juan Williams, while fired for admitting he was alarmed when he saw people dressed in Muslim garb, was displaying the same form of mental classification as his critic Ibrahim Hooper when he called NPR a “liberal” network, or by Vivian Schiller, the NPR manager who fired Williams, for asserting that his words indicate he needs a psychiatrist. All three people used stereotypes.”

    The quote is an excellent summary of a glaring misunderstanding due to conditioned behavior by a well educated and acknowledged media professional. Juan Williams admission of alarm when he saw people dressed in Muslim garb illustrates that a seasoned media spokesman can be influenced by the repetitive media reporting of terrorist attacks.

    Two persons with Muslim ties who attempted to bomb commercial airliners were captured. Another suspect was arrested for attempting to explode an SUV in Times Square. Finally, the incident of the Muslim army officer who killed 13 fellow US service man in TX. The reporting of these actual events have a conditioning effect on people’s thoughts. Juan Williams is not an exception. The media association of attempted bombings by Muslims against the public is factual. It is remarkable that a seasoned media professional would make these remarks. It’s not likely he voiced his fears due to a historical cultural stereotyping or prejudice against Muslims. Williams is African American. It is unlikely he has any stereotypical animosity towards any race, religion or creed. Apparently, he let his professional guard down and expressed a feeling that an average person would have given the media reporting and its conditioning effects.

    On the other hand, the response by Vivian Schiller, the NPR manager who fired Williams, was another kind of conditioned behavior. It was a politically motived response. She acted in concert with the powers that be at NPR. Something else was going on at NPR that is unrelated to negative religious profiling. Vivian Schiller committed a type of foot in mouth error. Her assessment that Williams expressed fears indicates his need to see a psychiatrist could be interpreted as a type of unprofessional slander. The comments made by Ibrahim Hooper is also a conditioned defensive response that is deeply rooted in historical culture. There is a long history of conflict and friction among the Jews, Muslims and Christians. Stereotyping on all sides have taken place. Historically and to date, self reflection and self criticism is avoided by all sides. It is absent from the debate. It is a type of deeply troubling hate speech and incivility that a democratic society should truly fear. If there were a stereotypical fear in need of a psychiatrist then this is one of them.

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