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Fair Comment

Saturday, Jan. 06, 2007 9:25 PM

I recently became aware that former KPIX weatherman Brian Sussman had made some comments about Senator Barack Obama's racial heritage.

One blogger, writing at the site Spocko's Brain, compiled a number of audio clips of Sussman and other personalities on KSFO "Hot Talk" 560, a Bay Area radio station that is owned, ultimately, by ABC/Disney.

"Spocko" undertook a letter-writing campaign to KSFO's advertisers, directing them to the samples and asking if those views are the ones they wished their product to be associated with. One advertiser, VISA, pulled its ads from the Melanie Morgan & Lee Rodgers program.

ABC/Disney issued a cease-and-desist letter against Spocko, stating that he was in violation of Disney copyright. Spocko's ISP pulled the plug on his site.

Consequently, I'm not sure how long this collection of assorted right-wing invective will be on the web.

But among them are several clips featuring Brian Sussman:

Sussman tells caller to 'prove he's not an Islamist' by saying, "Allah is a whore."
Sussman advocates civilian ownership of military (full-automatic) weapons.
Sussman says he doesn't have to tolerate or respect a caller's religion (Islam) asking, 'If I did, what good is my religion?'
Sussman says we should cut off fingers and penises to interrogate detainees.
Sussman emphasizes that Islam is a false religion, on purely theological terms, but he can't say that on the air.
Sussman opines that Sen. Barack Obama is not truly African-American.

I am not saying that Sussman and other conservative talk-radio hosts should be thrown out on the street, taken off the air, or forced to watch Oprah and Dr. Phil.

When it comes to free speech, bad ideas as well as good ones need to be brought to the floor and their merits or fallacies made clear. What Melanie Morgan, Brian Sussman, and other conservative opinion-holders choose to say is their choice and their right to do so; challenging the advertisers underwriting their programs is an equally valid opinion.

But I am dismayed at Sussman's expression of his religion, and of tactics like asking his caller to 'prove he's not an Islamist.' Those are the actions of a schoolyard bully or a gang member, insisting that a child prove their friendship or loyalty not a man with a deep and abiding faith in Christ Jesus.

And I am extremely disappointed in the folks at ABC/Disney. The comments were broadcast on the public airwaves and subject to fair comment. That they feel the need to insulate their sponsors from the content of the program suggests they agree with the criticism or acknowledge that it has merit.



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