Arizona’s attorney general and a U.S. federal attorney filed a complaint with the Federal Communication Commission yesterday against a Phoenix radio station and a fill-in talk show host over comments made last month suggesting the solution to the illegal immigration problem was to “randomly pick one night every week where we will kill whoever crosses the border.”
In their letter to the FCC, Attorney General Terry Goddard and U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton criticized the March 8 broadcast by host Brian James on KFYI as “dangerous.”
“This type of threatening and inciting speech is dangerous and totally irresponsible for anyone, particularly a licensed body using the public airways,” Goddard and Charlton wrote. “We are deeply concerned that, given the intensifying conflict over immigration in Arizona, this speech may lead to violence. Tempers are short on both sides and the situation is highly volatile.”
“At no time during this hour did Mr. James disavow violence or indicate he was joking,” the letter claimed. The pair also urged the FCC to consider sanctions against the station.
According to a partial transcript of the program – KFYI did not preserve a tape of the broadcast, according to station manager Laurie Cantillo – James was taking suggestions from listeners for ways to end the influx of illegal aliens.
“What we’ll do is randomly pick one night every week where we will kill whoever crosses the border,” he said. “Step over there and you die. You get to decide whether it’s your lucky night or not. I think that would be more fun.”
James said he would be “happy to sit there with my high-powered rifle and my night scope” and shoot border crossers, adding the National Guard should be permitted to shoot illegal immigrants and receive “$100 a head.”
Cantillo told the Associated Press she’d never been investigated by the FCC before but if it happened, she believed her station was on solid ground.
“I would look forward to being able to tell KFYI’s side of the story,” she said.
James’ comments were neither dangerous nor irresponsible, she said.
“We were having a serious discussion about the immigration issue and it was solution-driven. The comments were made in a satirical manner and the listeners who heard the full broadcast understand that,” she said.
Caller-contributed suggestions included a border fence, amnesty and stationing National Guard troops along the border. She insisted James had told listeners later in the program that he does not advocate shooting illegal immigrants.
James told the Arizona Republic earlier this week his comments had been taken out of context and he was trying to illustrate his point that the immigration debate had become “outrageous.”
“As a talk show host, sometimes things I say get taken out of context or are exaggerated,” he said. “I do not in any way advocate shooting illegal immigrants. … I am not at this point, nor was I then, advocating shooting anyone. I was simply trying to make a point.”
“He was very careful to say, ‘Of course, I’m not advocating violence,’” Cantillo said. “This was to make a point about how outrageous this debate has become.”
“I did not receive a single listener complaint,” Cantillo added. “We want to know why this has become an issue a month later.”
Cantillo pointed the finger at the Arizona Interfaith Network, a local activist group, helping organize the massive pro-immigration march to be held Monday in Phoenix.
The group’s president, Dick White, had earlier said AIN was considering a complaint with the FCC.
“This recording is an example of what’s wrong with the public debate on immigration,” White said. “Whatever your views on immigration, these remarks have no place on our airwaves. A license to broadcast is not a license to advocate murder.”
Cantillo countered that AIN was the one causing danger.
“This group merely wants to drum up response for their pro-immigration march … ,” she said. “They say they want calm but the release of this is doing the opposite – it’s polarizing the community.”
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