If you don't think that Pacifca Radio should have a gag rule which is being used to keep subscribers in the dark about what's going on behind the scenes, sign on. We intend to keep this petition going indefinitely. Pacifica Management has repeatedly claimed that "listeners don't care about Pacifica internal matters." They wish. NOTE: The text of this petition was written in December 1998 and was presented to the Pacifica National Board on Feb. 28, 1999. Since then, Pacifica Management has indeed commenced retaliatory action against Larry Bensky and KPFA staff. However, we thought it wrong to change the language after so many had already signed, and,  the core ideas expressed below regarding the injustice and inappropriateness of the gag rule, as well as the gag rule itself,  remain. The Pacifica Board has not responded to date. The importance of our signatures here is to expose as fraudulent their assertions that they are acting in the interest of the subscribers or in accordance with the principles on which Pacifica was founded 50 years ago.
Free Pacifica Joint Statement on the Gag Rule

To The Pacifica Foundation Board of Directors:

During the past several years Pacifica's Board of Directors and National Management have embarked on a course to alter policies and programming at Pacifica stations.  As you are aware, the measures taken have been strongly contested by many programmers, staffers and listener-sponsors who have contributed much to Pacifica and to its reputation.  One of the most serious complaints has been the unilateral nature of these decisions, and the lack of internal as well as public debate and consensus about either the goals or the process used.  Open discussion of management actions is the only means to insure accountability to the public as well as guard against internal corruption.  Yet the response of the Pacifica management to those who have raised issues of accountability and appropriateness has been to dismiss dissent as "self-interest" and to institute and apply coercive, biased "rules" to remove critics from the organization.

Nowhere can this more clearly be seen than in the use of the so-called "dirty laundry rule" prohibiting the discussion of "internal station matters" on the air.  Pacifica management has, in the past, justified the existence of this gag policy by claiming that it prevents individuals from using the air to vent personal grievances and self-interested arguments.  But this "rule" has been used to justify the banning from the organization of many who have attempted to criticize management actions and policies, and against others merely for associating with those who have attempted to raise these issues, both on and off the air.  During the past several years, more than a dozen people have been banned for trying to speak about issues such as abandonment of service to various communities, union-busting, secrecy about fiscal decisions, national versus local programming, commercialization of program format and content, and the impact of funding sources on ideological diversity in programming.

No reasonable person could accept the premise that these issues are of no concern to the people who support Pacifica stations, either financially or with their labor.  Neither could a reasonable person accept the premise that Pacifica management is an impersonal entity altruistically serving some "greater good," devoid of individuals capable of acting with self-interest to preserve their own jobs and social position.

The case of Larry Bensky's recent program cancellation, termination, and subsequent reinstatement highlights the unfairness with which this gag policy has been applied.  After receiving a curt notice advising him he was being abruptly terminated after three decades of service, Mr. Bensky took to the air and the Internet to seek public support. Mr. Bensky stated, "You people really have to understand what radio is about, what national radio is about, and how human beings need to be treated.  I'm not the first person who's been treated in a very arbitrary and unfair and cruel way by this network."

Many others who have spoken out about their unfair treatment, about the ill treatment of *others* by the Pacifica organization, or on issues of Pacifica policy, were not, like Mr. Bensky, reinstated. Instead, they were banned from the organization.  The Pacifica Board of Directors has chosen not to retaliate against Mr. Bensky or KPFA personnel for a clear violation of the "dirty laundry rule."  We hope that this indicates a move away from policies of censorship.

In order to begin to restore the damage to Pacifica's reputation for integrity caused by the gag rule and its biased application, the Pacifica Board ought to attempt to rectify past wrongs by: (1) un-banning" all persons banned for criticizing Pacifica policies whether on or off air;  (2) offering to reinstate the programs of those removed for "gag rule" violations;  (3) issuing written apologies to those who have been banned for speaking out or supporting those who have spoken out;  (4) abolishing the gag rule, and pursuing a course of public, uncensored discussion on matters affecting policy at Pacifica Radio, both on and off the air.  A regularly scheduled, uncensored "report to the listener" would ensure the accountability of the management to the listenership and demonstrate the strength and moral fiber of Pacifica and its ability to face reality without fear.


Signers 1-1000
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Here's what one signer had to say...

I have never been on or volunteered for a Pacifica station, but have been a listener for years.  Therefore, I don't know if this will really help, but I'll say it anyway.

My name is Ted Coopman.  I was born and raised in Fresno, CA and have lived in Santa Cruz since 1985.  KPFA-FM Berkeley has a repeater station near Fresno.  As I was growing up and getting more involved with politics and learning about alternative ways of looking at life, I became dependent on these relayed broadcasts.  My friends and I felt like we were living behind the Iron Curtain (or the Tule Fog Curtain in this case), listening to Radio Free America.  There was no alternative media in Fresno and there
still isn't to this day.  There would be no outlet for non-mainstream media in the valley without Pacifica.  It helped me to find that there were other ways to think and to live.  When I escaped to Santa Cruz, I continued to listen to Pacifica News on KZSC-FM.  This news gave balance to NPR and other media sources and allowed me to get a somewhat more complete view of the world.

Over the last few years I have noticed that the difference between Pacifica and NPR dwindle.  It is now almost like its the same news and views, except that Pacifica has lower production values.  As media has moved right, Pacifica has followed and now resides in the center.  This may please sponsors, but defeats what I have always appreciated about Pacifica -its boldness to cover the other side of news, news ignored or whitewashed by the rest of media.  In the greater bay area, there are many sources for left of center news.  However, in the valley, Pacifica is the only alternative.  I urge you to remember those isolated listeners in the provinces that grab onto Pacifica stations like a life ring.  They are not looking for the bottom line, professionalization, or centrist compromises, they are looking for an alternative.  Please reverse the purge of radicals and give the voice back to the people. Pacifica blazed the trail that public radio and now micro radio follows.  Retake the lead, stop following the pack, and return Pacifica to its rightful place as a beacon of the left.

I Thank You,
Ted M. Coopman
Rogue Communications



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