The US government wants to ban all racial slurs, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has proposed a plan to do just that.
In an advisory document, NTIA head Daniel Geoghegan and deputy acting head for the communications and technology division at the NTIA, Michael C. Dyer, outlined a plan for a new standard for the use and classification of racial language in communications, which would include “the exclusion of such language from communications and the prohibition of the use thereof in the aggregate.”NTIA has long said it wants to “drain the swamp” of racial epithets in the US.
The agency has been accused of stifling free speech in the form of a recent policy banning racial epithet usage.
But Geoghisgan and Dyer have insisted the ban will not be as wide as previous efforts and that it would only apply to “the most egregious” examples of racial abuse.
The proposal would not ban all racist words, but would “require the use to be of a lesser degree,” they wrote.
NTIA has a long history of using the “racial slur” in communications.
In 2007, it published a report on the “disparate impact of racism in American society on individuals, families, and communities,” noting that the US has a “disproportionate number of racial minorities, and a disproportionate number of persons of color.”
But it’s not just the NTia and the White House that are pushing for a “racial language” standard.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has said it is also looking at a similar proposal.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who is also chairman of the Federal Communications Committee, said in September that “broadly speaking, there is a lot of talk” about racial abuse in the communications industry.
“The goal of the agency is to do something about it,” Pai said.
“This is an opportunity for us to work together with the American people to put in place the strongest, most inclusive standards in place, which will make it easier for the country to talk about race in a way that respects the diversity of our nation.”
NTIA officials say the proposed rule will have “great potential” to stop the spread of racism.
But NTIA and other advocacy groups are skeptical of Geoghergan and the NTIAs proposal.
They say the agency should focus on preventing racial abuse, not creating new ones.
The White House said in a statement that the proposal “does not go far enough” and would “send a dangerous message to the American public that we believe the only acceptable form of speech is racism.”
“The idea that it’s acceptable to have offensive comments and jokes about black people and people of color and be told it’s OK to say them because you know it’s offensive,” White House press secretary Lindsay Walters said in an interview with CNN.
“That’s not how we should work together as a country.”
Ajit Pai has called for “stronger language” in the federal communications market.
The White White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.