That SOB Ordinance
I have to say that I am appalled by the passage of the Sexually Oriented Business Ordinance. This bill was bad from the beginning. As I mentioned in my public comment [to City Council], this bill is a shining example of how to legislate morality. I will take this moment to thank the two councilors who had the balls to vote against a bad bill. Councilors Rey Garduño and Trudy Jones, thank you for working in what truly was a bipartisan way against this ordinance.
I was against this bill because it unfairly targets women and unfairly regulates an industry unlike any other in this city. I'm glad the bill's sponsors are concerned about public safety, but the police chief admitted that human trafficking is not currently a problem. Councilor Dan Lewis talked about his concern for humans at the meeting. But he didn't have an answer as to why this level of concern has not been demonstrated by the City Council when it comes to people being shot by the police department or the fact that jobs are getting tougher to find. Instead of working to find solutions to real problems (finding a better way to fund and plan a Paseo Project or finding a way to attract more jobs to the Albuquerque area), the Council has decided that it's more important to find solutions to problems that don't exist and to legislate their own morality.
I understand why the overwhelming majority of Republicans on the Council voted for this, because they have to appeal to the sensitive morals of their constituents. But I don't understand why some Democrats decided that this was an important use of the Council's time. As a Democrat, I want to know how this bill supports the party's position on women's rights, since it mentions only women and women's body parts. Women who have to work in the sex industry often choose it as a last resort, contrary to some of the comments made last night. More often than not, women don't roll out of bed and say, “Gee, I think I'll be a stripper today.” I realize that it's convenient to rationalize people's choices when they are so radically different from our own reality, but this is not the way to go about sprucing up the city.
I am ashamed of the callousness with which this was done and the very thin veil of evidence given for this bill's support. I seriously hope that city services aren't cut because of the cost of inspecting these places.
Hate speech is defined as communication that carries no meaning other than the expression of hatred for some group, especially in circumstances in which the communication is likely to provoke violence. It is an incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, religion, and sexual orientation.
Given the media infrastructure and democratic values of the U.S., I would never have imagined that such problems existed here. However, upon my arrival the issue became very apparent—especially in New Mexico, where a significant amount of the population is Latino and Native.
As a member of the international media, I believe it is our duty to speak out for marginalized groups, and advocate for our rights. I am encouraged by and thankful for the work of organizations, such as the Media Literacy Project, that work on a local level to keep the media accountable to the people of New Mexico.
In Uganda, we concentrate on fighting corruption and holding leaders accountable, while the media campaigns here at MLP are geared toward media justice for the rural poor and people of color.
As part of the Siembra La Palabra Digna campaign, MLP has taken the lead on organizing community stakeholders and citizens of Albuquerque to pass a formal resolution at the City Council. This Hate Speech Ordinance will send a message to corporate and privately owned media companies—a message that states that Albuquerque seeks to be a safe and welcoming place for all people and will not tolerate communication that incites hate and violence.
At Uganda Media Development Foundation, we ensure that the media plays a meaningful role in helping grassroots organizations understand democracy, but at the same time practice conflict-sensitive journalism to foster development without minimizing ethical and professional journalistic standards.
The Hate Speech Ordinance that Media Literacy Project is working on certainly falls under the categorization of conflict-sensitive journalism. We must find a way to report on the issues that are important to civil society in a way that brings community stakeholders, policymakers and special interests together as opposed to a way that pushes them further apart.
IREX CSP Communications Fellow
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