Yesterday, March 11th, I went to see an event held by Hofstra Hillel called Frank Meeink: A Former Skinhead’s Fight Against Prejudice. I was expecting to hear about Frank’s life growing up, and I was expecting to hear about racism, but I never expected him to talk about the media. He explained to the audience how he got involved with the Skinhead gang. He said that he joined the Skinheads because he had fears–not necessarily the same fears as others in the group–but he liked the feeling of others being scared of him.
He spoke about how he started his own Skinhead group with three other guys in Springfield, Illinois. He was saying the main supporter of their cause was the media (as opposed to a beer company who the Skinheads supported very well.) Although the media never explicitly supported the cause of the Skinheads, they supplied their main source of publicity. The Skinheads were pictured on the top fold of the front page of the newspaper–an extremely difficult location to buy, let alone obtain for free. There were pictures of them picketing that showed their PO box address on posters they were holding. The newspapers were pretty much giving them free advertisement. Meeink said that the Skinheads were feeding the media, while the media was feeding them. Another form of media that helped their cause was the television. Meeink explained how he signed up to air a show on public access, because apparently anyone is allowed to get a show. He was allowed to get a show and talk about whatever he wanted, with few limits.
The information Meeink shared really surprised me. I couldn’t believe how much the media supports hate groups, not with their views but by publicizing them. It’s amazing to me that the media just gives out free publicity for negative groups.