TODAY, as FrontPageMagazine.com unveils its first annual "Hate Crime Hall of Shame," we extend our thanks to MTV for providing our chief inspiration. Had it not been for MTV’s high-profile "Fight for your Rights" campaign last January, pushing for hate-crime legislation, we might never have felt the need to fight for our rights by posting the other side of the hate-crime story on our Web site. MTV’s campaign is now long forgotten, yet it lives on as a sobering reminder of how major media aid and abet the crackpot schemes of the left.
In January, MTV broke from its regular schedule to air 18 commercial-free hours of programming about hate crimes.
The campaign opened with a documentary about the Matthew Shepard murder titled, "Anatomy of a Hate Crime," followed by an MTV News special on hate crimes and a "scroll" of hundreds of names of hate-crime victims.
"It is shocking in 2001 that hate crimes still happen on a daily basis," said MTV spokesman Brian Graden. "While 90 percent of our viewers overwhelmingly recognize that discrimination is a serious problem facing our country today, fewer than five percent will acknowledge their own bias," he said.
But who, exactly, is committing those hate crimes? And who are these people who are failing "to acknowledge their own bias"?
MTV’s choice of programming gives the impression that those hate crimes are perpetrated mainly by Angry White Males roving the otherwise quaint countryside of places like Wyoming and Texas, hunting gays and blacks as they would deer and quail.
That was the conclusion of Liz Swasey of the Media Research Center. She argued that "Anatomy of a Hate Crime" and the lengthy scroll of names were little more than left-wing agitprop.
"If campaign finance reform passes, this sort of thing will be banned," said Swasey. "It was… an infomercial that toed the line of [gay rights groups such as] GLAAD and GLSEN."
She argued that MTV’s interminable scroll of victims was designed to exaggerate the frequency of hate crimes.
"They tried to make the problem seem massive," Swasey said. She suggested that the network could have given that attention to any other problem facing the nation. "Why not run 17 hours of rape victims?"
Media spectacles like MTV’s are largely responsible for the "phenomenon" of hate crimes, which has received attention far out of proportion to its grounding in real life. In 1999 (the most recent year for which statistics are available) the total number of hate crime offenses for all bias motivations (9,301) was less than one-thousandth of one percent of the total number of criminal offenses (11,635,149) in America. Do these figures really justify the creation of a hate crime caste system? Hardly. Yet with more than nine million mostly young people tuning into at least one segment of MTV’s "Fight for your Rights" extravaganza, hate crimes will likely remain a national obsession for at least a generation to come.
The people beaming this material to our nation’s youth aren’t objective bystanders. MTV has long been solidly in the left-wing camp, and has spent years promoting leftist candidates and issues.
MTV’s "Rock the Vote" and "Choose or Lose" campaigns helped catapult Bill Clinton into the White House, and gave support to the Democratic ticket in other elections around the country. The network threw two inaugural balls for Clinton, while failing to do the same for Republican George W. Bush when he became President earlier this year. Meanwhile over the years, the network has harnessed the airwaves to drum up support for left-wing causes such as the Motor Voter bill, and now, hate crime legislation.
The "Fight for your Rights" campaign itself was an omnium gatherem of professional grievance hustlers. The list of "partner" organizations included the Anti-Defamation League, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, and the radical homosexual Human Rights Campaign.
Indeed, for all MTV’s hand wringing about people failing to "acknowledge their own discrimination," they sure have plenty of bias of their own. The clear message of their campaign is that certain groups deserve special legal protections against crime, and other groups don’t. To corporate bigwigs at MTV, some lives clearly mean more than others.