On March 26, 2012, Leland Conway, spoke in favor of permitting Hands On Original to refuse service to another organization which hosts the Lexington Pride Festival, comparing the entire LGBTI community of Kentucky to a hate group, and not just any group, a group responsible for cross burnings, beatings, Black community suppression, intimidation, and terrorism. (previous press release)
On March 29th, Joshua Koch, Vice President of Policy & Public Relations a member of the Office of the President issued the following statement: "Instead of apologizing, Conway announced an impending resignation from WLAP to begin working for another station in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Due to the changed nature of the situation and considering the surprise announcement, Kentucky Equality Federation will no longer pursue an FCC complaint, at this time. We take offense when spokespersons use drastic and needlessly hateful language to objectify an entire civil rights movement, and we hope this shift in programming will lead to a more civil media presence in Lexington."
Kentucky Equality Federation Central Kentucky Regional Director Jeff Johnson reiterated that Kentucky Equality Federation has no intention of getting involved in a dispute between the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) and Hands On Original. A complaint was filed and is best decided by the Lexington Human Rights Commission of any legal wrongdoing. The LGBTI community will however remember the decision of Hands On Original ownership whether or not they are found to be in violation of a local city ordinance.
At Kentucky Equality Federation the six (6) member Board of Directors is an independent supervisory Board. (view in .pdf) or (view in .xps) The President is an ex-officio member of the Board but may only vote to break a tie. Both Republicans, Democrats, and Independents voted unanimously to order the Office of the President to file a complaint.
The complaint was filed today electronically in accordance with the U.S. Paperwork Reduction Act:
Acknowledgement of Submission from Kentucky Equality Federation on 04/05/2012, Reference Number: 12-C00387121. FCC Submission Confirmation: 2000E
Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer stated: "The Office of the President will enforce and follow Board policy, resolutions, and administrative regulations regardless of personal feelings, that is our job as officers of the corporation as well as volunteers. The LGBTI community is not a hate group, we never have been and any comparison is unacceptable. However, after Conway announced his departure, management decided to drop the issue because our resources are spread to the limit with multiple hate crimes, multiple school bullying complaints in which the Principal did not follow Kentucky law and report the bullying to the County Attorney, and over a dozen discrimination complaints in employment around the Commonwealth. However, we will proceed as ordered and redistribute resources accordingly."
The Board of Directors deferred to an original internal statement from the Office of the President by Vice President Joshua Koch to proceed:
Clear Channel Radio is the corporate operator of the Lexington cluster of stations in question. Under normal circumstance, an individual is entitled to free speech and assembly. However, there are limits to this. For instance, slander, libel, and incitement to violence cross the line. How much more so on a radio station? While the LGBTI community cannot be slandered, in the legal sense, due to its size, comparing the community as a whole to a hate group such as the KKK is decidedly not "in the public interest," the terms of the broadcast license. At Kentucky Equality Federation we are obligated, for the community, to respond.
Such terms are loaded with implicit connotation and cultural coding. Whether or not this is "inflammatory" entertainment or not, it denigrates a vast swath of innocent people that Kentucky Equality Federation defends.
This is demagoguery, but it is worse than simply overstating a case to the court of public opinion. This was done under the cover of an analogy, but there is no excuse for this behavior.
This is the purposeful use of a monopolized radio market, supposedly administered in the public interest, for the targeting and smearing of an entire community. Such outlandish behavior will not be tolerated.
Kentucky Equality Federation Vice President of Policy & Public Relations Joshua Koch stated: "As part of the Office of the President I respect and support President Jordan Palmer as well as our Board of Directors and we will proceed as ordered.
The comparison WLAP 630's host, Leland Conway made was well-couched, but he knew what was being done. He even stopped before he said it and qualified it as an extreme instance, and then proceeded to go ahead and say it anyway. It was a comparison, cut and dry, and he knew what he was doing, otherwise he wouldn't have qualified it."
Palmer continued: "Even if the FCC rules that Conway's comparison was free speech, we still took at stand for our community. In some States (including foreign nation-states), such a comparison could have caused a riot."