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12 February 2008 @ 08:30 am
The mailed version of the WDVX letter  
February 10, 2008

Mr. Tony Lawson
General Manager/Program Director
WDVX
P.O. Box 27568
Knoxville TN 37927

Dear Mr. Lawson,

I have been listening to WDVX regularly for several years and have consistently supported the station’s fund drives. Last week I purchased a ticket for Mr. Freddy Smith’s table at the Hillbilly Ball, since he’s the DJ to whom I listen most often.

And I left early – before Sam Venable, before the Tennessee Sheiks, and before the auction was completed. Why? Because I was so disgusted by the racist conversation at the table, conversation started and maintained by Mr. Smith, and joined in by Mr. Sonny Lee and a man wearing the nametag “Mike” with no last name.

Some of the “highlights” of that conversation included:
  • “Those Mexicans are taking over! I was in Dalton the other week, and do you know the signs in the WalMart there are in Spanish!” (Smith)
  • “Preach it, brother; they’ve about put me out of business.” (Mike)
  • “You know those mill owners go down to Mexico and bring back busloads of ’em.” (Smith)
  • “They don’t pay taxes, put five or six families in a two-bedroom trailer, and have more babies so they can get on TennCare.” (Lee)
  • “I’m not a racist, I got nothing against people of other races, but these Mexicans, they may work for cheap, but people are starting to learn that they don’t know nothing about quality.” (Smith)

I tried, once, to redirect the conversation. I was ignored, and the three of them talked right over me. At that point, I left the table and left the event.

Mr. Lawson, the United States of America is a country primarily made up of immigrants and their descendants. This kind of rhetoric has been used against every wave of immigrants (including involuntary ones) since the nation was founded:
  • Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and [who] will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion?”
  • In the mid-1800s signs in public places read “No dogs or Irishmen” and “No Irish Need Apply.”
  • Jim Crow laws and policies after the Civil War eventually sparked the Civil Rights movement.
  • Anti-Chinese sentiment in the late 1800s led to the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882.
  • Anti-Italian rhetoric flourished from the 1880s through the 1920s, and to some extent continues today with the Mafia/gangster stereotype.
  • There was anti-German sentiment in the years surrounding the two World Wars
  • There was even the shameful use of internment camps to imprison Americans of Japanese and Italian descent during World War II.

And yet, none of those groups seems to have caused the downfall of European-based American society (this isn’t the place to get into the destruction of Native American culture by European colonists), and most people look back on those beliefs and laws as unenlightened.

I believe in free thought and free speech. Mr. Smith is welcome to hold what opinions he pleases, but I am not obligated to listen to or support them. I am certain that you would not permit this sort of prejudice to be promulgated on the air, and I hope you would not encourage it in an on-the-job setting, even off the air.

Given Mr. Smith’s remarks in a public setting where he was effectively representing his employer, I can no longer, in good conscience, listen to his morning show.

I am currently rather less inclined to support WDVX as a whole. I hope to be able to reconsider that stance upon hearing from you that you have addressed the issue.

Sincerely,

Janet D. Miles CPS/CAP
[address and phone]

cc: Mr. Roger Harb, Underwriting and Marketing Director
Mr. Bill Miller, Business Manager
 
 
 
Fat Fred the Otter and Skippy: iotterfatfred on February 12th, 2008 01:54 pm (UTC)
A very polite kick in the pants!
Bravo!
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on February 12th, 2008 03:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
hedwig5221hedwig5221 on February 12th, 2008 02:21 pm (UTC)
Good job, Janet.
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on February 12th, 2008 03:26 pm (UTC)
Thanks.

Okay, in your icon, who's the woman right after the yarn? Is that Jo Rowling?
(no subject) - hedwig5221 on February 12th, 2008 03:35 pm (UTC) (Expand)
fatcookfatcook on February 12th, 2008 02:28 pm (UTC)
Very well written!
Well Done!
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on February 12th, 2008 03:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I appreciate the help I got from my friends-list in fine-tuning it.
Jim Hetleyjhetley on February 12th, 2008 02:32 pm (UTC)
I'd never run across that Franklin quote. Which amuses me, because my (German) Mennonite ancestors moved to Pennsylvania around 1700...and didn't speak English as late as 1900.
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on February 12th, 2008 03:25 pm (UTC)
I first saw it in the Jim Hightower newsletter that was handed out at the AFL-CIO luncheon I attended in, um, December?
(no subject) - jhetley on February 12th, 2008 05:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - kengr on February 13th, 2008 03:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Skyepagawne on February 12th, 2008 02:32 pm (UTC)
Very well written. A polite slap dpwn. I hope it has some good effect.
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on February 12th, 2008 03:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I hope it does, too, because I really do like WDVX's music choices.
siliconshaman on February 12th, 2008 02:34 pm (UTC)
Yup, nothing quite as effective as a well executed and polite verbal equivalent to a drop-kick to the crotch!
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on February 12th, 2008 03:09 pm (UTC)
*laughs* I was thinking more a smack upside the head, but okay.
(no subject) - siliconshaman on February 12th, 2008 03:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - janetmiles on February 12th, 2008 03:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - johnpalmer on February 13th, 2008 02:01 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - janetmiles on February 13th, 2008 02:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - johnpalmer on February 13th, 2008 03:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
kightp on February 12th, 2008 02:36 pm (UTC)
Good work. The call to action at the end is, indeed, an excellent touch.
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on February 12th, 2008 03:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you kindly. I seem to be turning into an activist, don't I?

The call to action was apel's idea, I believe.
Spark_in_darknesssparkindarkness on February 12th, 2008 02:45 pm (UTC)
*standing o*
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on February 12th, 2008 03:08 pm (UTC)
Whoa! Okay, I'm going to say that means a lot, coming from an attorney. Thank you!
Ayesha: libertyjustice (clauclauclaudia)browngirl on February 12th, 2008 03:09 pm (UTC)
Oh, my word. You are incredibly awesome, that letter was righteous and perfect, and I am even gladder than ever that I know you. *gives you a standing ovation*
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on February 12th, 2008 03:12 pm (UTC)
*blushes* Someday, we really do have to arrange to meet face-to-face.
(Deleted comment)
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on February 12th, 2008 04:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Bravissima!
I will keep that in mind if I don't get a response from the station.

Thank you!

And how the heck are you and caitycat? I just realized I haven't seen either of you post in quite a while.
madshutterbug: Expostulationmadshutterbug on February 12th, 2008 03:41 pm (UTC)
Goodonya!
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on February 12th, 2008 04:28 pm (UTC)
Thankee!
(Deleted comment)
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on February 12th, 2008 04:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you. griffen mentioned that this sort of thing has been applied to every immigrant group ever, and I thought including it made my point stronger.
Angela di Tenebreditenebre on February 12th, 2008 05:04 pm (UTC)
Excellent rewrite!
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on February 12th, 2008 05:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
mujetdebois on February 12th, 2008 05:38 pm (UTC)
Brava! I applaud your well written and thought our response to a bunch of Yahoos.

I must admit I am not overly fond of that Franklin quote though it does typify his entire outlook. Living in Philly I often wonder what our nation would be like today had chosen German as the primary language at that time.
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on February 12th, 2008 07:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

When you say you're not fond of the quote, do you mean that you don't like that he said it, or you don't like people saying that he said, or am I missing the point entirely?
(no subject) - mujetdebois on February 13th, 2008 06:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on February 12th, 2008 07:16 pm (UTC)
Thanks!