What Happens When Free Speech Promotes Hate?

One of the largest radio broadcasters in the Midwest has determined that Federal law prevents them from barring political ads from their station, regardless of content. Consequently, a station recently aired a commercial for a “fringe” candidate that spent much of the ad promoting hatred for minorities.

In this case, the spot was aired without input or editing from the station. Again, the station believed it was legally obligated to air the ad uncut and unedited, regardless of content.

How is it possible that in this great country, this kind of advertising is acceptable? Is this really the result of freedom of speech or something else? Just as you cannot shout “Fire” in a crowded theater, should there not be limits on hate and inflammatory speeches or commercials? In fact,
broadcasters request edits to or outright reject media spots all the time. Ads deemed too “controversial,” obscene, or simply too “racy” are edited and rejected all the time.

Have we become so divided in politics that our political ads are now an uncensored exercise in hate and bigotry?

Do media broadcasters have a moral obligation to bar ads that promote hate – even if the purchaser represents a political candidate?

Penny Ohlmann Neimann

The Ohlmann Group has a rich history that began in Dayton, Ohio in 1949, where the agency was founded as Penny and Penny by Bob Penny and his wife Jean. In 1964, Walter Ohlmann joined the firm. Ralph Neiman came on in 1969 and the firm became Penny/Ohlmann/Neiman. In 2011, P/O/N was renamed The Ohlmann Group to better reflect the agency's ongoing evolution and collaborative nature.

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