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When the truth is no defense

Posted By Joseph Farah On 02/17/2014 @ 7:48 pm In Commentary,Opinion | No Comments

They say truth is an absolute defense in libel cases.

But what about when you’re accused of “hate speech”? What then? Is truth a defense?

Recently, WND, my news organization, was accused by Google of spreading hate speech through the use of a two-word term – “black mob” in stories about, well, black mobs.

But this wasn’t just an accusation. It was also a threat to punish WND materially by the removal of Google ads and, more importantly, the suspension of an account that allows us to use Google’s technology to serve ads from other clients.

It all began two years ago when WND made the decision to begin tracking what appeared to be a rise in unprovoked black on non-black violence. Through the reporting, WND first alerted the nation to “the knockout game,” in which perpetrators seek to render unconscious innocent and unsuspecting victims usually with a single blow to the head. We reported on coordinated riots and seemingly spontaneous uprisings occurring in major cities and small towns from coast to coast.

As a result of the reporting, mayors and police departments around the country began responding. Our reporting was condemned by racialists quick to excuse or cover up bad behavior in minority communities and extolled by many, including black scholar Thomas Sowell, who strongly and repeatedly endorsed a groundbreaking book WND published by Colin Flaherty called “White Girl Bleed A Lot,” which includes much of the reporting he did for WND.

On Feb. 7, 2014, Google notified WND of its intent to begin blocking ads on the site. WND decided to take the pre-emptive action of removing Google ad tags on all stories and columns in which the phrase “black mobs” appeared, pending an appeal of the misguided decision.

But there’s an issue here that should be noted by all who value free expression and honest journalism that some may find offensive. Google’s policy attempts to censor words and phrases that are truthful and accurate from First Amendment-protected media on the basis of political correctness and faulty algorithmic methodology.

In journalism, a craft I have practiced for more than 35 year at all levels and in all media as a reporter, top editor of major market daily newspapers, on the radio, in television and, more recently, as an Internet pioneer who created the first independent news source, there is great value in connecting the dots between hundreds of seemingly isolated incidents. That’s what we did. It was seen as a public service by many – including me.

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The answer to violence, whether motivated by race or some other rationalization, is not to turn away from it and hide it from the public, but to expose it to the light of day. WND made a determination to do that after examining the overwhelming evidence presented by Flaherty in his research. In response to that kind of reporting, police departments and public officials – both black and white – across the country have acknowledged the pernicious ramifications of what’s happening and taken action to prevent others from being hurt. What Google is doing, after the fact, is ignoring hard facts and assigning insidious racial motivations for this kind of courageous reporting.

As Sowell writes: “Most of the media see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. In such an atmosphere, the evil not only persists but grows.”

Google is clearly assigning motives to our reporting on the basis of the linking of two words – black mobs. Euphemisms for two perfectly accurate words must now be found because Google has determined that the linking of these two words is hate speech. When one of the most powerful media companies in the world starts banning words and phrases and imposing its speech police standards on all those it does business with, we are headed down a dangerous, Orwellian slippery slope.

The term “black mobs” as used in WND is not a pejorative term.

It is not hate speech. In fact, it is the reporting of facts – facts that have been substantiated and reported by many other news sources since WND began reporting on the trend two years ago. WND Books’ “White Girl Bleed A Lot” is carried in bookstores across the nation and on Amazon.com. What’s next – burning the books?

Everyone in America today knows about the ugliness of “the knockout game” as a result of this reporting. It all originated in WND. We cannot and should not be forced to sanitize our compelling reporting on a subject of national importance because it is labeled thoughtlessly and falsely as “hate speech.” WND’s reporting on this phenomenon is neither motivated by hatred nor does it foster hatred. Ironically, the real hate speech and hate actions are what we are reporting on, what we are exposing. If Google takes this censorious action, it would be an act that would have a chilling effect not only on free speech but on responsible reporting about a crime wave affecting the entire nation.

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