jan perry & jasmyne cannick

LA City Council member Jan Perry shares a hug with activist Jasmyne Cannick (Black Media Alliance) after the coucil passed a hate-speech resolution (photo: Christina House / LA Times)

*The Los Angeles City Council has taken a bold and controversial move in publicly condemning certain types of speech on public airwaves.

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Councilwoman Jan Perry introduced legislation that would require media companies to ensure that on-air talent would stay within the bounds of appropriateness and would not promote racism or sexism.

Members of Black Media Alliance (BMA), National Hispanic Media Coalition, Korean-American Bar Association, American Indians in Film and Television were on hand to voice their support for the proposal.

The resolution — which was also supported by Councilmember Bernard Parks and Council President Herb Wesson — called attention to the recent uproar over comments by KFI 640 AM talk show hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou who called Whitney Houston a “crack ho” three days after her death.

“It is easy to become desensitized to what other groups find intolerable which ultimately fosters an environment where negative comments can go unchecked and corporate guidelines and policies are no longer being enforced,” the resolution reads.

The now infamous comments of  syndicated talk show host Rush Limbaugh referring Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke as a “slut” and a “prostitute”, for testifying on Capitol Hill about women’s access to contraception, were also cited in the proposal.

Activist and BMA member Jasmyne Cannick urged the council to “let not only America know, but let the world know that in one of the most diverse cities in the world that kind language is not acceptable.”

Another BMA member, KJL radio talk show host Dominique DiPrima also spoke out in support of the resolution. DShe noted that a lack of diversity among radio hosts contributes to the prevalence of derogatory speech on the airwaves.

“Instead of censoring people, or firing people, we want to see representation in terms of hiring and clear standards of what can and can’t be said on the air,” said DiPrima.