YWCA BOARD STAYS HUSHED THROUGH CRISIS
By Cash Michaels
Two weeks after shocking the Southeast Raleigh community by abruptly shutting down the East Hargett Street YWCA, terminating many of its programs and all of the employees with it, the Y’s Board of Directors have remained quiet, despite promises to come forward with a full explanation to the community.
The Carolinian can confirm that members of the seven-member board have met privately with various Southeast Raleigh leaders to explain why, after 110 years of services, the YWCA of the Greater Triangle, as it’s formerly known is no longer open to help serve the elderly, offer after school programs, or conduct educational or cultural enrichment sessions.
The Independent Weekly reported this week that a private meeting was scheduled for this morning between members of the YWCA Board, officials of the United Way (the charitable nonprofit organization that had been contributing funding to the YWCA), Doug McMillan, CEO of the YMCA of the Triangle, and various Southeast Raleigh leaders.
None of the former Y employees were invited.
Public records show that the YWCA had been running budget deficits for several years as fundraising began falling off. Last fall, several Y employees were laid off as a result.
On Tuesday, March 6, The Carolinian emailed a request for an interview to Maria Spaulding, immediate past president of the Y Board.
In her email response the next day, Ms. Spaulding wrote, “…[I] am quite prepared to speak to the community if the current President and Board members ask me to be their spokesperson. We will be scheduling many meetings throughout the community as we work to find solutions to this serious issue.”
Spaulding continued, “The Board has used [the] immediate time since the coverage to get our arms around all the issues that have been created by the closure. We understand and are heartbroken about the impact of our actions, but had no real choice other than the one we made.”
Ms. Spaulding has not been back in contact with The Carolinian since.
Neither has former Y Executive Director Folami Bandele, who, when contacted via Facebook last week for an interview, asked The Carolinian for a contact phone number, but has not replied since.
A source told The Carolinian last week that legal counsel had the Y Board that if it continued to operate the facility knowing that they didn’t have the requisite funding to adequately pay staff, they could face criminal charges.
Thus the abrupt closing.
At a community mass meeting at Martin Street Baptist Church last week, angry former Y employees called board members “cowards,” and demanded to meet with them.
That meeting, published reports say, has not happened as of press time Wednesday.
Various local community groups, in addition to Wake County Schools and the city of Raleigh, are pitching in to temporarily maintain some of the programs dealing with after school care, and the elderly.
Meanwhile, there is more controversy.
Last week, Debra Stock, Board Chair, YWCA USA National Coordinating Board and Gloria Lau, Chief Executive Officer, YWCA USA in Washington, DC, issued a statement saying, “[We are] saddened by the sudden closure of the YWCA of Greater Triangle in Raleigh, NC.
“Each YWCA local association is an independent, autonomous non-profit organization with its own board of directors that controls the governance, operations, staffing and financing of that association. The YWCA of Greater Triangle CEO and board of directors did not advise anyone at the national level of its financial situation or its decision to close. The February 29, 2012 announcement took us by surprise.”
“We are concerned about the impact to staff and the community. A team under the direction of the Southeast Region of the YWCA is evaluating the situation and identifying next steps.”
Observers are finding it hard to believe that the national Y headquarters had no idea what kind of bad financial shape the Raleigh YWCA was in, especially since public records had been documenting such at least since 2009.
There is also the question of who was actually serving on the Y board.
The Carolinian as exclusively determined that one of the names listed as a board member on the Y’s 2009-2010 Form 990 financial disclosure document, may not have been a board member at all.
Denise Tawwab told The Carolinian via email that she had been approached about serving some time ago, but never joined. And yet, her name is listed as being a Y board member.
Thus far, no Y board member, or designated spokesperson for the board, has contacted The Carolinian to publicly clear up these and other pressing questions.
REV. LYNICE WILLIAMS HUBERT POOLE
TWO COMMUNITY LEADERS PASS ON: In the past week, Raleigh and North Carolina have lost two dynamic leaders, known for their advocacy and commitment to justice. They probably have never met, but they cared deeply about many of the same issues.
Last Saturday, Rev. Lynice Williams, executive director of NC Fair Share, died after a bout with cancer. She was 63. Rev. Williams was known for her dogged advocacy for issues that affect the poor and the vulnerable, like voting rights, the environment and health care. Rev. Williams led the AIDS Ministry at heer church, Christian Faith Baptist Church in Raleigh. She served as a board member for the NC Council of Churches, among many other tireless efforts. She is survived by her husband, Rev. James Williams, and two children. Funeral services are scheduled for Saturday, 12 noon at Christian Faith Baptist Church, 509 Hilltop Drive. Viewing is scheduled at 11 a.m.
On March 8, Mr. Hubert Poole was funeralized and buried at Oakwood Cemetery. Poole, 86, was a man of history, being one of the first African-Americans to join the US Marine Corp at Montford Point during the 1940s. The Raleigh native later attended Shaw University, playing on the 1947 CIAA championship Shaw football team. Mr. Poole eventually taught at Ligon Junior-Senior High School, Martin Middle and Millbrook High schools, helping hundreds of students not only as a teacher, but also a coach.
Poole would soon work in political circles, being an assistant sergeant-at-arms at the NC Senate, and being active in the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association.
Poole is featured in the 2010 documentary, “Obama in NC: The Path to History,” saying in 2008 that he, a black man who grew up in the segregated South, never thought he’d live to see the day that an African-American would be elected president of the United States. “I’m tickled,” Poole says in the film.
NAACP SOUTHERN REGIONAL CONFERENCE IN RALEIGH NEXT WEEK
Special to The Carolinian
The NAACP announced its 59th Annual NAACP Southeast Region Civil Rights Advocacy Training Institute, which meets in Raleigh next week, 47 years after the marches from Selma to Montgomery were finally able to begin from Selma to Montgomery under the protection of the National Guard.
The oldest and largest civil rights organization in the nation, which was outlawed in much of the South until the 1950's, will bring grassroots NAACP community activists from Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina to Raleigh to share experiences and compare notes in the fight across the old slave-states against the all-out efforts of the extreme right to suppress minority voting and roll back the gains made in other areas of economic justice and equal protection under the law, especially in the South.
"The struggle for equality and justice begins in the South," said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, President of the Host NAACP State Conference of North Carolina, Member and Political Action Chair of the National Board of the NAACP. "The Southern Legion of the NAACP is where the former members of the organization battled Jim Crow, but today we battle the tactics of James Crow, Esquire! James Crow, Esq. does not feature night-riders in sheets, terrorizing black voters with physical threats, overt racial messaging, poll taxes or other disenfranchisement tricks. These same forces know that blatant Jim Crow acts are illegal, so they came up with their James Crow, Esq. schemes instead. Jim Crow used blunt tools. James Crow, Esq. uses surgical tools to cut out the heart of black political power. "
Thursday, March 22, 2012 the Southern Institute begins with a Religious Emphasis Day at Martin Street Baptist Church. Through Sunday, March 25, the Institute will feature nationally-recognized leaders and experts in education policy, labor organizations and the civil rights legal community. On Saturday morning, 9-11 AM, the seven Southern State NAACP Conferences will meet at the Raleigh Civic Center Plaza for an out-door Rally called "This is My Vote!" to challenge the racist attacks on minority voting rights across the South and remind us of the bloody fight to win minority voting rights. "This is My Vote" will feature NAACP State Conference Presidents from the NAACP Southeast Region: Ms. Gloria J. Sweet-Love, Tennessee; Dr. Lonnie Randolph, South Carolina; Mr. Edward Dubose, Georgia: Ms. Adora Obi Nweze, Florida; Mr. Derrick Johnson, Esq., Mississippi; and Mr. Bernard Simelton, Alabama. NAACP Youth & College Division leaders will also be featured at the rally.
"In the midst of regressive legislation across the region and nation; with attempts to resegregate schools, prohibit mass civil demonstration, suppress the vote through voter photo ID bills, we must come together," said Gloria J. Sweet-Love, President of the Tennessee State Conference of the NAACP and Chair of Southeast Region V of the NAACP. "The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit to insure that the protections of the Constitution are afforded to the next generation. As advocates, we must deploy every available tool and technique from litigation and political action to grassroots organizing."
"We are honored to welcome these warriors for human rights from across the South to our capital city," said Dr. Barber, who also serves as the NAACP Vice Chair of its Southeast Region. "This conference could not come at a more critical time in North Carolina and the South. The eve of this conference marks the 47th anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama by religious and civil rights activists. The National Guard was needed to protect the marchers from the hateful violence of hundreds of crazed hecklers. Most historians credit the courageous sacrifices of the marchers with creating the political atmosphere that secured passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965."
"Now, 47 years later, the ultra-conservative Tea Party, funded by millions of dollars from rich, right-wing corporations, have set in motion a south-wide campaign against our voting rights, public education, economic justice and equal protection," Rev. Barber said. "In North Carolina, we have seen this first hand. In the state legislature, they have attacked the well being of African-Americans, the poor, children, women, the LGBT community, the elderly and Latinos and other minorities."
POVERTY IN NC: NAVASSA
By Cash Michaels
Editor’s Note - Periodically, The Carolinian and Wilmington Journal will report on the issues surrounding persistent poverty in North Carolina. Based on research, and the first two legs Truth and Hope Poverty Tour through over 12 counties since January, our stories will explore why there is poverty in our state, and what is, and is not being done to address it
Our goal is not only to bring awareness of this issue to our readers and community, but also to challenge our elected officials to do something substantive about the tremendous need for economic and social equity in our state.
Today, we focus on Brunswick County.
NAVASSA, NC - If there is such a thing as a curse from the past still haunting the living of today, then the poor, rural community of Navassa can surely testify.
Just five miles outside of Wilmington, on the west bank where the Brunswick and the Cape Fear rivers meet, the predominately African-American town (75 percent) in Brunswick County of just under 2000 residents, established first as a village in 1885, is struggling with the legacy of its industrial past.
The story of Navassa is a story America should know, Mayor Eulis Willis says, but doesn’t. For if it did, there would be no question why its citizens - 16 percent of whom live below the poverty line; median income is just over $35,000 and per capita income is les than $21,000 - have little hope of seeing economic equality in their town anytime soon.
Unlike much of Brunswick County, which is growing, healthy and thriving, Navassa, you see, is literally poisoned.
Six sections of Navassa were contaminated by decades of industrial waste from the fertilizer and chemical treatment industries - 624 acres of contaminated land in all.
Oil giant Exxon Mobil cleaned up one of the sites it owned, to the tune of $10 million, but the others remain uninhabitable. And even on the decontaminated site, no housing can be built, local officials say. Only heavy industry.
Over 600 acres of contaminated land and areas of polluted water, land that no homes can be built on, or on which no crops can be grown.
Water from the ground that generations of families have consumed, and have gotten sick from.
In the case of a noted family of 16, local officials say, born between the years 1936 and 1958, only two of the offspring are alive today.
“There have been significant health problems,” says Mayor Willis.
The legacy of Navassa is a legacy of post-Civil War businessmen establishing a railroad connection from the town across the Cape Fear River to transport guano fertilizer, produced in factories there, across the state.
Guano fertilizer became big business for Navassa, as four big factories opened between the 1890’s and 1946, employing as many as 4,000 people.
“There were jobs on top of jobs,” Mayor Willis said.
1936 was also the year the Kerr-McGee Chemical Corporation opened a wood treatment plant on the banks of Sturgeon Creek near the Navassa community. The dried lumber produced at the facility was pressure treated with creosote solution, and left outdoors to dry.
The wastewater from the treatment process found its way into unprotected wastewater ponds, and eventually the community’s water table. This went on until 1974, when Kerr-McGee finally shuttered its operations at the plant, and new forms of manufacturing fertilizers soon put Navassa’s factories out of business.
As plant after plant closed, the owners, while removing the equipment, buildings and storage tanks, did little to cleanup the toxic pollution left behind.
In fact, in the case of Kerr-McGee, 45,000 cubic feet of creosote material was left behind on-site when the factory was finally dismantled in 1980. It wouldn’t be until 1988 when state officials would investigate, and years beyond that until 2005, that samples were finally collected and evaluated.
By this time the EPA joined the state in assessing the contamination. The resulting report warned people about, “…entering the south portion of the site where the wood treating operations occurred [and] eating fish caught near the site until testing is done.”
The report also stated that, “to protect public health, the levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the soil and sediment need to be reduced or contact prevented if the site is redeveloped for industrial, residential or recreational use.”
The Kerr-McGee site is a super fund site -the highest Environmental Protection Agency classification there is. The site was so deemed by EPA in 2006.
According to Mayor Willis, there has been a definitive up-tick in cancer cases in the town because of continuous exposure over the years to contaminated soil.
A predominately black town, left to struggle with the remnants of its industrial past, being kept from growing into the future as fast as it would like with more housing and businesses, and unable to upgrade basic water and sewer services to its population because it can’t afford to.
Many of it’s homes are mobile or built by the charity Habitat for Humanity.
In contrast, Leland, a neighboring town, is bustling with businesses and housing. Residents of Navassa, which incorporated in 1977, have no choice but to shop in Leland, which incorporated in 1989, and has a population of over 10,000.
Because it can’t grow as it should, Navassa has little revenue, and as a result, cannot hire adequate staff to maintain it records and operations properly.
The state’s Local Government Commission has demanded that Navassa officials take “immediate corrective action” to address their problems. The Internal Revenue Service has assessed the town a $35,000 penalty for not filing W-2 forms for its employees in 2008. The town attorney insists it was not “intentional,” and that a contracted auditing firm was supposed to handle it, but didn’t.
Amazingly, the town has never filed litigation against any of the companies that operated there to right the many wrongs that were left behind.
“It sounds like somebody’s constitutional rights were violated around here,” declared NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber when he, Mayor Willis, and members of the Truth and Hope Poverty Tour visited the cleaned up Exxon Mobil site two weeks ago.
“These folk have to live with contamination every day of their lives,” Rev. Barber continued, vowing that attorneys affiliated with the NCNAACP, and the UNC Center for Civil Rights, will investigate.
“It is blessed thing today that this truth is being told, and that we see this,” Barber continued. “These folk have to live with contamination every day of their lives.”
Pointing to a group of black children holding signs saying, “Clean Up for Our Future;” “Environmental Racism in My Backyard;” and “Why Was My Neighborhood a Dumping Ground?,” Rev. Barber added, “These babies, holding these signs, it’s criminal [for them] to be walking around, at risk, that their lives could be cut short, not because they’ve done something wrong, but because somebody else, purely for money and profit, chose to put contamination in the soil and the water tables.”
First Lady Michelle Obama To Lead Presidential Delegation to Opening Ceremonies of 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London
Special to The Carolinian Newspaper
Washington – First Lady Michelle Obama will lead the Presidential Delegation to the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. Mrs. Obama made the announcement at an event with Mrs. Samantha Cameron celebrating the Olympic Games and Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative. At the event, Olympians and Paralympians including Kortney Clemons, Dominique Dawes, Tom Dolan, April Holmes, Lisa Leslie, Lori Ann Lindsey, Dan O’Brien, Becky Sauerbrunn, David Wagner and Mal Washington led DC-area school children in activities inspired by the Olympic Games. Mrs. Obama emphasized her hope that the Olympic Games will inspire more young people to get active and healthy, the goal of her Let’s Move! initiative.
“In the months ahead, I’ll be talking to Americans all across the country to encourage even more young people to tap into that Olympic spirit and turn their inspiration into action,” said Mrs. Obama. “As the Olympic creed states, ‘the most important thing … is not to win, but to take part.’ And that doesn’t just mean sitting and watching, it means getting up and getting active as well. I hope we use the upcoming games as motivation for all of us to get up and get moving. This is especially true for our young people. You don’t have to be a gold medal winner or the best athlete at your school to take part. You don’t even have to play an organized sport. You can dance in the living room, ride your bike around the neighborhood, or go for a walk with your friends. Everyone can find some way to be healthy, get active, and have some fun.”
“Olympians are ambassadors of their country so it is only fitting that our nation’s leaders show support for the Games. Mrs. Obama’s support will only further invigorate the athletes’ desire to bring home the gold and motivate all Americans to be active,” said Dominique Dawes, three-time Olympic gymnast and co-chair of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, who emceed today’s event. “Today my work on behalf of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition is a way for me to give back to the country that supported me during my Olympic journey.”
It is traditional for a delegation to travel to the Olympic Games to represent the United States. In the coming months, the White House will announce the official delegates accompanying Mrs. Obama to London. Other First Ladies that have led a Presidential Delegation to the Olympic Games include First Lady Laura Bush to the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy and then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton to the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.
STATE NEWS BRIEFS
FAYETTEVILLE POLICE FACING RACIAL PROFILING QUESTIONS
[FAYETTEVILLE] The city manager is stepping down and the police chief went to court to get a judge to force the city council to allow the police force to continue to conduct consent searches. And yes, there is a pending lawsuit over what many believe to be racial profiling by officers. Those are just the latest events in the Fayetteville Police Dept. alleged racial profiling saga. This week, a report by the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives confirms that blacks are disproportionately subjected to traffic stops by Fayetteville Police officers. But the report was inconclusive as to whether actual racial profiling was going on. The City Council had voted in January to temporarily stop consent searches by Fayetteville police, but a judge granted an injunction to overrule the council after the police chief filed a lawsuit. Police will now use a written consent form during their searches.
PANEL HOLDS PUBLIC HEARING ON JUDICIAL SEATS
[GREENVILLE] The second of three public hearings by a panel seeking to recommend candidates for vacant statewide judicial seats was held Tuesday evening at East Carolina University. The Judicial Nominating Commission conducted its first hearing in Ashville two weeks ago, and is scheduled to conduct a third hearing on March 22 in Chapel Hill. The commission considers and nominates candidates for the governor to appoint to vacant seats on the state’s Superior Court, state Court of Appeals and state Supreme Court.
MOST NORTH CAROLINIANS OPPOSE SAME-SEX MARRIAGE MEASURE SAYS POLL
[CHARLOTTE] Republican state lawmakers are hoping that North Carolina voters will vote to make a ban against same-sex marriage part of the state Constitution come May 8th. But a new poll shows most North Carolinians oppose the constitutional amendment, better known as Amendment One, even if they’re against gay unions. According to an Elon University/ABC-11 poll, 54 percent of North Carolinians surveyed turn thumbs down on the ban, while 38 percent support it. State law already bans same-sex marriage.
TRIANGLE NEWS BRIEFS
HERMAN CAIN KEYNOTER FOR WAKE GOP CONVENTION NEXT WEEK
Former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain will be the keynote speaker during the Wake Republican Party Convention on March 22 at the State Fairgrounds. Prior to that, Cain, a former pizza executive and radio talk show host, is scheduled to appear at a lunchtime fundraiser for fellow Tea Party black Republican Bill Randall, who is running again for the 13th Congressional District. Cain was forced to suspend his campaign for president amid allegations of sexual harassment.
CHAPEL HILL TOWN COUNCIL DEADLOCKS ON CELLPHONE BAN
Drivers in Chapel Hill have won a reprieve for now. The Chapel Hill Town Council failed Monday evening to enact a ban on talking on cellphones while driving when the effort deadlocked in a 4-4 tie on first reading. The proposed ban needed at least six votes to pass because one council member was absent. It will come up for a vote again on March 26th when presumably all nine council members will be present, and only five will be needed to pass the ordinance. The ban would govern all cellphone calls while driving in Chapel Hill if passed.
CIAA CHAMPION LADY BEARS COMPETE FOR NCAA DIVISION II TITLE
The CIAA Basketball Champion Lady Bears of Shaw University have made it to the Elite Eight next week, preparing to play the No. 14-ranked Lady Gorillas of Pittsburg State University March 20th at Greehey Arena in San Antonio, Texas. The Bears won the honor by upsetting No. 3-ranked Lady Scots of Edinboro University 70-53 in the Atlantic Regional final. Last year, the Lady Bears did reach the Final Four, but fell short.
CASH IN THE APPLE
By Cash Michaels
BIG NOTHING - It would seem that conservative Tea Party provocateur, the late Andrew Breitbart, may be rolling over in his freshly dug grave. That so-called “explosive” video from Pres. Barack Obama’s college days that was supposed to expose him as some kind of anti-American radical, fell flat on its empty conspiracy face last week when Fox’s Sean Hannity debuted…or at least thought he was debuting…a tape from 1990 on his show.
By now you know the story. The 1990 tape, dug up from the archives of WGBH-TV, the public television station in Boston from when it was last shown in 2008, shows a young Barack Obama, first black president of the Harvard Law Review, making an introduction of Prof. Derrick Bell to a mostly white Harvard University student audience.
Prof. Bell, who died last year, was a leading proponent of diversity, and an expert on a philosophy called “Critical Race Theory.”
Breitbart and his fun bunch at his company, Breitbart.com, posited that Bell was some kind of “Rev. Jeremiah Wright” black radical who promoted racial hatred.
Looking back at that 22-year-old videotape, ask yourself this question - how does a black Harvard University professor promote racism to a mostly white crowd, after he’s introduced by a black student leader?
But this is the kind of crap these Tea Party never-brainers come up with just to sway racist passions against America’s first black president in this all-too-crucial presidential election year.
But here’s the sad part to all of this - there are deranged people out there who not only believe this bilge - even though all sensible, nonpartisan analysis tells you Breitbart’s people have lost their minds - but are ready, willing and able to believe ANYTHING negative about Pres. Obama, just because he’s black and a Democrat.
Remember, 62 million people elected Barack Obama president in 2008.
But 58 million voted against him, and that was before Obama served one day as president.
This time it’s way different. Obama has been president for three-and-a-half years now. He has a record by which the American people can, and will judge him on when it comes time to vote this November.
The president’s re-election this time out could look more like 60.7 million versus 60.3 million, especially when you still have a crippled, but recovering economy, reawakening job growth, and a war in Afghanistan that is spiraling out of control.
Plus, the black community, while still supportive of the president, somewhat dismayed that they are not seeing major improvements in their jobless numbers after three-and-a-half years of Obama.
So it’s going to be tougher this time, for sure. And you can count on the Breitbart-wannabes to try harder to make it even tougher.
Hannity and Breitbart’s people say they have more “disturbing” blasts-from-the-past when it comes to “Obama the radical” videos. If they’re anything like their first one, then bring it on. Nothing we can do to stop it.
But make no mistake, the people will be heard on all of these lies very soon.
We will be heard.
THE LIMBAUGH - BILL MAHER COMPARISON - We’re now hearing that close to 100 advertisers have pulled their business from the nationally syndicated Rush Limbaugh Show, the right-wing blowhard who has been spouting off racist, sexist BS for years, finally hitting the ceiling when he viciously called a Georgetown University law student a “slut” and “prostitute” just because she testified before Congress about contraception.
There are many who say as bad as Limbaugh’s sexist foolishness was, and it was bad, no question, he should not be kicked off the air because of freedom of speech. The thinking here being that you fight hate speech with debate and exposure.
OK, I’ll buy half of that.
We all have freedom of speech in this society, and Limbaugh, like any other right or left wing hot air balloon out there, has the right to express his opinion in whatever way that he chooses.
Except when he knowingly, and viciously, violates the built-in restrictions that are inherent to broadcast radio, which I believe he did.
One of the reasons why I believe Limbaugh is so, soooo guilty of this is because by any standard, he deliberately slandered that law student, Sandra Fluke. He wanted to destroy all of her credibility, just because she went before Congress and expressed an opinion.
Mind you, she didn’t attack anyone. She just gave testimony about contraception, and the expensive of maintaining it for young women.
For that, she gets reamed by Limbaugh, being told on the air that if she wants the American people to pay for her birth control pills, she should at least make a video of her sexual activity to show taxpayers what they’re getting for their money.
Limbaugh not only said this, but said it on broadcast radio. And since his show airs midday 12-3 p.m. in most markets to millions of listeners, then it’s safe to assume that many of them are stay-at-home moms who have the radio on while they’re watching for their young children, or driving to the market or on an errand carrying their young children with them.
You see the crime of what Limbaugh said isn’t only what he said, but where he said it, and who was potentially listening.
And it is because of that that many of Rush’s advertisers now do not want to be associated with him. It would be considered by many as an endorsement of his hate speech, and rightly so. The consumers who purchase their products, while they expect a certain degree of political headbashing from Limbaugh, they don’t expect to hear the sleazy sexual attacks he made on Sandra Fluke.
And that’s what separates right-wing Rush Limbaugh from left-wing firebrand Bill Maher.
Maher produces and hosts a show on HBO on cable called, “Real Time with Bill Maher.”
He has no sponsors, so there is no advertising on his show.
The show is not broadcast, but aired on a cable premium channel you have to pay for late on Friday evenings when young children should be in bed, or getting there.
Maher’s show is clearly designed for adults, thus the language and subject matter can swing wildly from politics to sex.
The television viewers who pay for HBO and watch Bill Maher’s show know what to expect since it’s been on for years.
Thus, when he or a guest says nasty, disgusting and profane things about a politician or another public figure, Maher is doing exactly what his audience expects. The people who are most likely to complain are the folks who just don’t like Maher.
Does that make Maher calling Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin the “c” word right? Certainly not, and critics should go after him for it if they choose. But beyond the moral implications, the reason why Maher hasn’t caught the kind of flak for what he said, compared to Limbaugh, is because of where he said it.
Far, far fewer people heard Maher’s disparaging, sexist remarks about Palin because his show’s reach is automatically limited to people who literally pay to hear that kind of thing. It’s like paying to go to see an over-the-top comedian who cusses in his/her act. If you don’t like that kind of thing, then don’t pay to see it.
If folks don’t like Maher’s brand of political humor, then either don’t watch, or better yet, stop subscribing to HBO.
In Limbaugh’s case, he went far beyond what his audience expects to hear. So that’s why Limbaugh is catching it big time. Neither his sponsors, nor his audience, signed up to hear that kind of sexually destructive language on his free, over-the-air broadcast - broadcast, by the way, over hundreds of federally licensed radio stations that must be accountable to their listeners.
There is no such standard in cable television, and especially in premium channels like HBO you have to pay extra for.
Limbaugh had a responsibility to curb his language on broadcast, a responsibility Maher does not have on premium cable. Maher can say literally anything he wants, and answer only to HBO if they want one, or a court of law if someone sues.
Limbaugh does not have that freedom on broadcast, and very well may be sued because he viciously attacked someone who wasn’t a public figure, just a student.
Both are wrong, but Limbaugh’s crime is not just what he said, but where he chose to say it.
He won’t lose his radio show - there are too many haters for that to happen - but when Sandra Fluke gets through with him in court, Limbaugh will definitely lose part of his empire.
Pity, isn’t it!
Make sure you tune in every Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. for my talk radio show, ''Make It Happen'' on Power 750 WAUG-AM, or online at www.Power750.com. And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my new blog, ‘The Cash Roc” (http://thecashroc.blogspot.com/2011/01/cash-roc-begins.html). I promise it will be interesting.
Cash in the Apple - honored as the Best Column Writing of 2006 by the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Columnist Cash Michaels was also honored by the NNPA for Best Feature Story Journalist of 2009, and was the recipient of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP’s President’s Award for Media Excellence in Sept. 2011.
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian in your life. Bye, bye.