Monday, November 21, 2011

Reality Anchor

Anchor babies?

That sounded nasty. I wasn't familiar with the term until its ugly head reared on the Liberty Net Stickam site ( early Sunday morning (9/20/11). Besides broadcasting over shortwave radio, the ultra-right-wing amateur radio operators also communicate with each other online through both audio and text.

When the site is live it has a comments section for typing in reactions to the audio discussion. The comments just keep scrolling up, the newest on the bottom. Unfortunately they disappear when the site shuts down.

I spotted this statement:

dhauer: All anchor babies should be dumped..
dhauer: overboard
dhauer: there, I said it

With a quick Google search (e.g., "anchor baby myth") I learned that the pejorative "anchor baby" refers to a child born in the United States whose parents are immigrants. That child is automatically granted US citizenship under the 14th Amendment, supposedly "anchoring" his parents so that they can also become American citizens.

Of course, some of the angry white men on the LibNet believe this is a threat to the dominance of their pure race. But according to sources I found online, the threat -- if you call even call it that -- isn't real. Getting US citizenship is difficult for most immigrant parents.

"The practical immigration benefit of having a child born in the US is disputed; family reunification (family-based immigration) in the United States is a lengthy process and limited by law to categories prescribed by provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965." ("Anchor Baby," Wikipedia -- )

"A child born in the US is a US citizen, but the immigration benefits to the parents are extremely limited. After the alien mother (or father) has been present for no less than ten years, the alien may apply for Cancellation of Removal (aka “Cancellation”) if she can prove ten years of good moral character and that deporting her would be an exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to her US citizen child. This is an unusual form of relief as there is an annual cap of 4000 on the number of illegal immigrants who can be granted Cancellation, and for the past several years the government has not reached that cap. This means that under 4000 people are granted this type of Cancellation annually." ( "The Anchor Baby Myth" -- )

It's notable that the Liberty Net is using the Web to get the word out but the Web also provides a quick way to fact-check any claims heard during their weekly gatherings.

So why did the LibNetters set up a Stickam site?

For years the Liberty Net has dealt with the problems of poor reception conditions and jammers. Heard mainly on the east coast, the net in the 75 meter band usually starts at 10 PM Saturday (Eastern Time) and spills over into early Sunday morning. Picking up the transmissions from various parts of the county is problematic with a shortwave radio: reception is all in the lap of the propagation gods. The LN member who operates the Stickam site picks up the SW transmissions on his ham receiver and then streams the conversations online in clear audio.

But even when reception is favorable other radio operators who don't care for the "Liberty Nutters" will jam the frequency with Morse code transmissions, noise, loud music, whatever. Stickam provides a way to work around the jammers: participants can now phone in through Skype and share their thoughts. So while a ham may be jammed on the air, callers still can voice their opinions online without interference (well, until the hackers show up).

I've been following the Liberty Net for years to track the latest news in conspiracy theories (Illuminati, New World Order, etc.). But I'm not a fan. I disagree with most of their ideas, especially stupid statements like drowning anchor babies. Sometimes even I feel like blocking their speech.

But ploys like jamming actually make the problem worse. If you can't hear someone, you can't comment on his opinions. Burying unpopular views doesn't kill them off. I'm a fan of free speech. Getting things out in the open.

And getting the facts right.


Leigh Hanlon said...

Speaking of which, whatever happened to Col. Steve Anderson?

X. Dell said...

Last I heard, Leigh, he's serving a fifteen-year sentence on weapons charges.

Ray, that type of talk is disturbing, but not surprising. Also not surprising is the belief in urban legend over verifyable evidence. Then again, such speech (advocating the death of infants) represents a tiny minority, and is already marginalized.

I have to double-check this--I know more about mainstream radio than ham--but I was under the assumption that the same rules apply to them as do other broadcasters, and that they are likewise beholden to their licenses. If that's true, one could possibly make an "contrary to the public interest" argument against such broadcasters, and by law they would be sanctioned, perhaps even lose their licenses. The fact that no one has bothered to do this probably demonstrates that no one is really listening in the first place (present company excluded, of course).

If the talk of "anchor babies" heats up to where someone actually advocates it beyond idle chatter, then that's felonious assault, and not protected speech. As it is, some court might accept that as evidence of assault as it is, even if a superior court overturns the ruling.

Ray Palm said...

I wasn't familiar with Colonel Steve Anderson and did some Googling, finding articles including the one you wrote ( ). Like X. Dell says, apparently the Colonel is still serving time.

He must have been below my superpatriot radar because there's only so much info I can process and also due to the fact that where I live WBCQ doesn't come in that well, if that all. Is it still on the air?

X. Dell:

I'm afraid I'm not the only one listening to the LibNet, especially online. During the last meet-up the Stickam site operator said they had over a thousand people who had stopped in.

As for the legal aspect of the comment -- hey, I think the guy was advocating drowning babies but someone else could say he only meant throwing them overboard in the sense of deporting them. Back in the day when CB radio was big there were verbal wars between factions around here. The local newspaper wrote an article about the controversy, contacting the FCC regional office in Buffalo, NY.

The statements from the FCC agent were memorable. I had the impression that he wanted to stay in his office in Buffalo and not be bothered by the "children's band." During a phone interview the reporter would repeat an apparent threat of violence heard on the air and the agent would say something like, "Well, that could be interpreted as a threat but maybe it was a joke..."

Doug said...

Hold on. We're supposed to comment on someone's opinions after actually listening to them first?

Wow, that's really going to bring down the internet.