NHMC Supports Senator Menendez' Call to Update Study on Media and Hate Crimes

December 10, 2007 --- The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) issued a public statement thanking U.S. Senator Robert Menendez for his leadership in addressing the increasing hate speech in the media.

Senator Menendez (D-NJ) asked Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez for an updated study of a 1993 congressionally-mandated report on the relationship between the use of electronic communications and media communications to encourage acts of hate crimes or to spread messages of hate.

In the letter, Sen. Menendez says that now is the ideal time to revive this study because of the emotionally-driven and biased rhetoric over immigration reform in our current national discourse.

"Day after day, we hear rhetoric like: 'the Latino invasion', 'illegal alien lobby', 'amnesty agenda', 'criminal illegal aliens', and 'socio-ethnocentric interest groups' broadcast on our nation's television, radio and internet outlets," said Menendez in the letter. "I am concerned that this rhetoric could have a harmful effect on the portrayal and safety of our nation's immigrant population, as well as our Latino communities as a whole."

In 1992, Congress directed the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to study the use of telecommunications (including broadcast radio and television) to advocate or encourage violent acts and the committing of crimes of hate against groups of people. This study, published in 1993, took into account not only messages threatening unlawful action, but also situations in which the speaker intended to create a climate of hate or prejudice.

Additionally, the FBI released a report this year showing that in 2006 hate crimes against Latinos have increased by 25% since 2004. To read the FBI's press release, click here.

NHMC began its campaign against hate speech over a year ago. In June of this year, as a result of NHMC’s request the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Congressman John Dingell, and Congressman Markey Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet wrote a letter to the NTIA asking the agency to update its 1993 report titled The Role of Telecommunications in Hate Crimes.

“The update of this study is imperative in order to be able to produce verifiable data that shows the connection of hate speech and hate crimes. Some conservatives state that a conversation about hate speech is an attack on talk radio. This is not a political battle, it’s about the very serious reports that are coming out from the FBI, the Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center and others that factually illustrate an increase in hate crimes against certain groups and more specifically towards Latinos,” said Alex Nogales, NHMC President and CEO.

The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) is a 21-year old non-profit civil rights and advocacy organization created to 1) improve the image of American Latinos as portrayed by the media; 2) increase the number of American Latinos employed in all facets of media; and 3) advocate for media and telecommunications policies that benefit the Latino community. For more information go to www.nhmc.org.

120507lettertoSecretaryofCommerce.pdf1.41 MB