As an American of Italian descent, I can speak with authority on this carcinoma of the soul that I became acquainted with at the age of twelve when I was stopped by a policeman on my way home from a public library branch with two books under my arm. The greeting was, Hey, Wop, where did you swipe those books? This was immediately followed by a kick in the backside and the parting remark, Dont tell me you Dagos are now learning to read, when I showed him the library card and tried to prove my innocence of any wrongdoing in my possession of the books. The trauma of that experience and the feeling of degradation that followed has been a deeply engrained memory that has remained with me since.
Sixth Ill. Const. Convention, Verbatim Transcripts, No. 65, at 163738 (1970), reprinted in Record of Proceedings, Sixth Illinois Constitutional Convention, Verbatim Transcripts 163738 (John W. Lewis 1972).
Indeed, I am aware of no case from this circuit suggesting that a remark akin to Were going to fire all of the Blacks, or Were not going to hire any women would not amount to direct evidence of discrimination solely because it does not single out the plaintiff for individual mention.
Id. at 369 n.1 (Rovner, J., dissenting).
In 1983, 50 companies controlled more than half of the media in the United States. On paper at least, a mere 50 companies controlling most of American media would seem to be a cause for concern. But today, just 20 years later, the number has dropped to six. Six gigantic corporations control the vast majority of television, cable, radio, newspapers, magazines and the most popular Internet sites--and consequently, the majority of information, public discourse, and even artistic expression--in the United States. We have on our hands what one might very well call a merger epidemic in the media industry. And like any other epidemic, this is an unhealthy one.
Hearing on Media Concentration: Before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, 107th Cong. ¶ 4, 5 (2001) (statement of William Baker, President & CEO, Thirteen/WNET, New York), 2001 WL 808314 (citations omitted). Twenty years ago, thousands of family-operated stations dominated cable television. Yochi J. Dreazon et al., Why the Sudden Rise in the Urge to Merge and Form Oligopolies?, Wall St. J., Feb. 25, 2002, at A1. On November 18, 2002, a deal made between Comcast and AT&T broadband left three companies in control of 65% of the cable market. Comcast Prospectus S-1, at http://www. sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1166691/000104746903000769/a2100239z424b2.htm. By comparison, what might happen in the United States if present trends continue is illustrated in Italy, where one company, Mediaset, controls about half of the television market. Tom Hundley, Italian leader eyes media in Germany, Chi. Trib., Apr. 1, 2002, § 1, at 4.
In short, the cases surveyed from other federal and state jurisdictions do not establish a bright line above which a defamed group is too big for an unnamed individual member to sue for defamation. The cases do evince a consistent rule of thumb, however, that unnamed group members generally are not permitted to sue for group defamation if the group has more than 25 members; they will almost invariably not be permitted to sue if the group has more than 100 members.
While recognizing the common law breach-of-the-peace theory, the courts have not required a factual showing of violence; either actual or potential. In most modern criminal libel statutes that element is omitted, thereby indicating that such legislation is not solely designed to prevent violence. The trend is away from considering a threatened breach of the peace as a singular basis for criminal prosecution, and it has moved toward placing the emphasis upon the tendency of the publication to damage the individual regardless of its effect upon the public.
What is defamatory or scandalous is not defined in AS11.15.310; therefore, the common law definition must be relied on. At common law, any statement which would tend to disgrace or degrade another, to hold him up to public hatred, contempt or ridicule, or to cause him to be shunned or avoided was considered defamatory. In our view this falls far short of the reasonable precision necessary to define criminal conduct.