If we ever syndicate NARN
, we won't be on this college radio station
Showing profound contempt for free speech, Occidental College in Los Angeles has fired the student host of a popular student radio program and found him guilty of sexual harassment due to satirical jokes made on the air. Occidental also used this controversy as a pretext for the unprecedented decision to dissolve its entire student government and assume control of nearly half a million dollars in funds from student fees.
I may have mentioned that my own forays into radio began with college radio at St. Anselm College and the Claremont Colleges. This included playing the Rolling Stones' "Star, Star" at WSAC (punished by a week's suspension -- luckily the station was on a carrier signal, meaning you had to plug your radio into one of St. A's electrical outlets to hear it) and more than a few unedited Dead Kennedys tunes.
...Antebi had hosted a popular radio show on Occidental's student radio station for three years. The show, "Rant and Rave," was a forum for political parody and provocative humor. The program frequently mocked Occidental's administration, its student government, and various political and social causes. Antebi was also a vice president in Occidental's student government, where he was highly critical of various administrative decisions.
In response to Antebi's biting on-air satire, three students filed sexual harassment complaints against him in March 2004. Two of his accusers were student government rivals who had unsuccessfully tried to have him recalled from office on different grounds earlier in the year. In their complaints, the offended students claimed that Antebi's show promoted "disrespect and slander" against "women, diversity, and Occidental College" and thus constituted a form of punishable "hostile environment" harassment. Occidental administrators then fired Antebi from his radio show despite objections by the radio station's student management. Antebi contacted FIRE, which quickly wrote a letter on his behalf, pointing out that "none of [the accusers] state a single claim that would transform Mr. Antebi's speech from fully protected provocative speech to unprotected harassment."
...On March 30, amidst the controversy over Antebi's show, Occidental College President Ted Mitchell announced his decision to dissolve the student government. While Mitchell did not refer to Jason Antebi by name, virtually all of the reasons he gave for closing down the student government were directly related to the Antebi controversy. Then, on April 12, Occidental found Antebi guilty of "sexual and gender hostile environment harassment," ignoring both the college's promises to defend free speech and California's "Leonard Law," which guarantees free speech to students at private colleges and universities in California.
The school accuses Antebi of far worse than that. The letter sent to FIRE by the school's attorney explaining their reasons for suspending him include words I no longer use in public fora. FIRE demonstrates many errors in that letter. The ACLU is siding with FIRE and Antebi that Occidental has wrongly relied on the ACLU's interepretation of harrassment law.
It may well be that Antebi uses a number of "potty words", and this probably should be corrected in him. I am pretty sure that if I had used the language he was accused of using I'd have been bounced from any radio station, anywhere. However, the student director of KOXY
did not see there to be a problem.
Every week the newspaper publishes articles that cause backlash and at times, even outrage. However, it is understood that everyone is entitled to their opinion and that has to be respected. Additionally, if an individual is really dissatisfied with a perspective presented in the paper, they have the opportunity to publish their own opinion in various sections of the paper. The same opportunity is available at KOXY. If students disagree with the content of a show, they are more than welcome to come down to the station and present their own point of view. It is not appropriate, however, to shut down someone's program because a small minority of individuals are made uncomfortable. Again, this is a chance to create dialogue and debate. I assure you, that these issues will not die because Antebi's show is cancelled. On the contrary, they will begin to fester�
The beauty of radio is that when you don't like what you're listening to, you can turn the dial. For Antebi's show, people keep the dial on 104.7. We do not censor, and I'm not endorsing or enforcing your decision against Antebi because I feel something of a personal nature may be involved with this complaint that, for some reason, never went through KOXY.
I doubt students as wise as Ms. Clasen work many other places. But she was overruled by her dean of students.