KNEW headquarters, San Francisco, August 15, 2007

On July 5, 2007, radio talk-show host Michael Savage, while discussing a group of San Francisco hunger strikers who were supporting an immigration bill, said, "I would say let them fast till they starve to death...because then we won't have a problem about giving them green cards, because they're illegal aliens."

For some reason, this comment has caused a firestorm of controversy, even though it's fairly typical of his on-air persona, and is not nearly as provocative as any number of other comments he has made. Anyone who has ever listened to even five minutes of "The Savage Nation" knows that he voices over-the-top, uncensored opinions all the time.

Even so, a group of Hispanic activists has seized on this comment as a flashpoint, and are using it as a justification to call for Savage's ouster from the radio business.

But isn't the entire purpose of a hunger strike to threaten to starve yourself to death unless you get your way? Otherwise, it's just a pointless exercise; what is the significance of going hungry for a few days, unless it's a threat to take the protest to its conclusion? It seems that Savage was merely saying that if the protesters were threatening to starve themselves to death, then they should go right ahead and do it.

Whatever. As one local pundit pointed out, the protesters are merely feigning outrage, and just using the opportunity to misrepresent the comment as a call to violence (which it wasn't), in order to get some media time for their pro-immigrant message. And in response Michael Savage is feigning anger at the protest, acting as if his livelihood is seriously being threatened (which it isn't, as the call for his ouster has no chance of succeeding). Local TV station KTVU featured an exclusive short interview with Savage on August 15 (video may take a little while to load on some browsers).

I hold no opinion on the matter, but when I heard there was going to be a protest against Michael Savage in front of the KNEW headquarters (Savage's home radio station), I decided to check out the action anyway.

Here are some pictures from that day.

Notice the devil-horns on the Michael Savage picture.

Most people had yellow pre-approved signs handed out by the organizers, but there were some independent protesters in the mix. RRR -- the new KKK!

So, let's see: suggesting that a handful of hunger-strikers take their protest to a successful conclusion is equivalent to the Holocaust?

Not all the protesters were there to call for Michael Savage's ouster: about ten to twenty Savage supporters showed up to defend him (though he reportedly discouraged his listeners from coming out to the protest).

Most of the time, the Savage supporters were surrounded by people with signs expressing the opposite viewpoint.

The organizers thought it would be a good idea to bring in a mariachi band for musical ambience.

Some of the opinions were rather virulent.

Anti-Savage protesters.

Yet another sign comparing Savage (and Schwarzenegger) to Hitler. I'm not quite sure what they've done that resulted in "killing" and "terrorizing" people.

There was an entire squad of these zombie characters, each sporting a different inflammatory sign.

One of many "go back where you came from" messages directed at Savage.

"The Sewage Nation." Catchy!

This is one of the event organizers, all of whom seemed to be associated with "Centro Azteca," a radical immigrant-rights political activism group.

I'm still not able to decipher the meaning of this shirt.

Protesters encouraged passing cars to honk in support.

The "Fairness Doctrine" is a proposed law that would compel all media to present equal and opposing political views on every issue. Those who support it seem to have not thought the concept through very well: since most media outlets (and most reporters) are left-leaning, the end result would be a complete restructuring of how the news is presented. In order to counter-balance one of the few bastions of right-wing opinion (talk radio), Fairness Doctrine supporters would end up unraveling the liberal dominance of print and television news. Beware the law of unintended consequences.

Of course, no San Francisco protest would be complete without someone wearing a Palestinian kaffiyeh, no matter how irrelevent it is to the topic of the protest.

The signs say, in Spanish, "Wishing for someone's death is not freedom of speech."

The large building in the background is the KNEW headquarters. Protesters lined both sides of the street in front of it.

This woman was particularly agressive in her opinions. She got into heated arguments with some of the Savage supporters.

A rather jolly Savage supporter.

Live-blogging the event.

A view of the line of protesters across the street from the radio station.

Savage has already said that he won't be apologizing under any circumstances, as he feels he said nothing that merits retraction.

Does that mean all the members of other Native American tribes don't count?

Some of the signs tried to distance themselves from the "illegal immigrant" label.

Nearing the end of a long protest day.


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