That Britain does not have a First Amendment is clearly evident in its banning of outspoken American talk radio host Michael Savage from entering the country.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has published the names of 16 people who have been banned by the government since October for allegedly fostering extremism or hatred.
In banning Savage, Britain has lumped him together with the likes of Stephen "Don" Black, founder of a Florida-based white supremacist Web site; anti-gay preacher Fred Phelps, who has picketed the funerals of AIDS victims; Hamas lawmaker Yunis Al-Astal; Egyptian cleric Safwat Hijazi; and Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky, two Russian gang leaders who were imprisoned for their role in the racially motivated killings of 19 people.
Conservative talker Savage, who broadcasts from San Francisco and is heard on more than 300 stations nationwide, has made a habit of stirring up controversy with his no-holds-barred approach to talk radio.Savage infuriated parents of autistic children last year by stating that in most cases a so-called autistic child is "a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out."
Savage, who has a degree in nutritional ethnomedicine, later defended his remarks in a statement: "My comments about autism were meant to boldly awaken parents and children to the medical community's attempt to label too many children or adults as 'autistic.'" He said a "cartel of doctors and drug companies is now creating a national panic by overdiagnosing 'autism,' for which there is no definitive medical diagnosis." A group of illegal immigrants demanded that Savage be taken off the air because of his comments about their hunger strike in favor of immigration rights.
During a broadcast of his nationally syndicated show "Savage Nation" on July 5, 2007, Savage told his millions of listeners: "I would say let them fast till they starve . . . because then we won't have a problem about giving them green cards because they're illegal aliens."
More than 30 protesters denounced Savage outside city hall in San Jose, Calif., calling his remarks "hate speech."
Savage told Newsmax at the time that "the logical conclusion of a hunger strike is starvation. That's their right."
He went on to say that the hunger strikers were illegal aliens "who stole free college educations and then had the audacity to demand citizenship because they were slippery enough to beat the system out of a college degree."A few weeks later, San Francisco Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval introduced a resolution condemning the "defamatory language used by radio personality Michael Savage against immigrants."
Savage lashed back, telling Newsmax: "Liberalism is not only a mental disorder, it is fascist at its core. This schmuck says my comments are 'symbolic of hatred and racism.' And they want the City to sue me for 'symbolism.'"
He added: "To stop opinion by threatening legal action is akin to using the power of the State to control thought and speech."A group of Portland, Ore., organizations called Coalition Against Hate Radio tried in 2002 to force local radio station KXL to dump Savage's show. A spokesman said its content "is an unbroken stream of hate and chauvinism directed against women, people of color, liberals, immigrants and in particular people of Middle Eastern heritage and people of the Muslim faith."The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called for an advertisers' boycott of Savage's show after he attacked Islam and the Koran during his October 29, 2007 broadcast.
Savage said Muslims were "screaming for the blood of Christians or Jews or anyone they hate," and called the Koran a "hateful little book."
CAIR posted four minutes of excerpts from the broadcast on its Web site. Savage filed suit last September charging that CAIR had infringed on his copyright by misappropriating his words and using them for fundraising.
The initial lawsuit was withdrawn, but CAIR attempted to extract attorney's fees and costs from Savage totaling nearly $200,000.
Judge Susan Illston of the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of Savage, denying the Islamic lobby group any costs, finding that Savage's claim was not frivolous as CAIR had maintained.
"This is a huge victory for me personally, but also for the rest of America who is afraid of this lawsuit-happy group of intimidators," Savage said.
Despite Savage's clash with the Muslim group, a Muslim voice in Britain spoke out against the banning for those on Britain's newly published list.
Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain, an umbrella body for various Muslim groups, told the Christian Science Monitor that laws already exist to deal with anyone who incites violence or racial hatred.
"What the government appears to be doing instead is creating a sort of 'pre-crime,'" he said. "We would also ask how effective the government’s measures will be when it is a fact that a person’s images and speech can easily be broadcast across borders via the Internet."
Savage has also created controversy of another sort. In February 2006, he disclosed that a deal had been approved allowing Dubai Ports World, a company owned by the government of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, to take over operations at six major American ports.
After Congress began moving to renege on the deal, Dubai Ports World agreed to transfer the operation of its U.S. ports to an American firm.
Newsmax reported in November 2006 that the controversy "was sparked by neither a politician nor a businessman, but a talk-radio host — Michael Savage, host of the 'Savage Nation' program."
Savage also claimed victory after the Port of Los Angeles decided to cancel the purchase contract for a mobile scanning unit made in China.
The contract raised Savage’s ire because the port security system was manufactured by Nuctech Company Limited, a Chinese company headquartered in Beijing whose president is the son of the president of the People’s Republic of China.
“I told you that having an X-ray screening system that was made in the People’s Republic of China sitting in the largest port on the West Coast could seriously threaten our national security,” Savage wrote on his Web site.
"There was no way of finding out if the Chinese had put a back door spying system into the machinery or created a way of circumventing the system so that a weapon could sneak through."
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