CAIR: BRITAIN'S BAN OF SAVAGE DECRIED BY DETRACTORS - TOP
Joe Garofoli and Carla Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/6/09
Conservative talk show host Michael Savage's commentary has offended groups from parents of autistic kids to Muslim leaders.
But the San Francisco-based syndicated talker, who made a "name and shame" list of people banned from entering Britain, may have been shocked himself to find some of his opponents, including civil libertarians, defending him.
On Tuesday, British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith published the names of 16 of 22 people banned from the country since October for allegedly fostering extremism or hatred. Along with Savage, who has called the Quran, the Muslim holy book, "a book of hate," Muslim extremists, jailed Russian gang members and a militant Israeli settler were banned. Smith cited "public interest" reasons for not disclosing six of the names…
Civil libertarians say the move illustrates the increasing willingness of countries, including the United States, to "use their borders as a weapon of censorship," said Jameel Jaffer, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union.
In March, more than 70 organizations, including the ACLU, signed a letter asking Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to end "ideological exclusion," described as "refusing visas to foreign scholars, writers, artists and activists not on the basis of their actions but on the basis of their ideas, political views and associations."…
Indeed, even the Council for American-Islamic Relations - who along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation was embroiled in a lawsuit last year with Savage over on-air comments he made about Muslims and the Quran, defended his right to free expression. Last year, the organization posted clips of Savage's program and called for an advertiser boycott. Savage sued the council for copyright infringement, but a judge ruled the group's actions were protected by free speech.
Though council spokesman Ibrahim Hooper condemned Savage's anti-Islamic comments, "as a matter of principle, we don't support such bans. They tend to be selective, in that only popular speech is allowed and unpopular speech is not allowed."
Ban spurs publicity
"Usually, these types of things (the ban) just give people like this publicity," Hooper said. "I don't think Savage will be too upset. It will give him something to talk about on his show for the next six months. 'I was banned in England.' " (More)