Taking Responsibility for 'Demeaning' Images : News & Views Are protesters crossing a line by picketing in front of their targets' homes?
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Taking Responsibility for 'Demeaning' Images

Farai Chideya

A group calling itself "Enough is Enough" has been protesting for two months in front of the home of Black Entertainment Television head Debra Lee; and also in front of the home of Phillippe Dauman, who heads Viacom (the parent company of BET, MTV, and VH1).

The picket-the-home technique has been controversial in disputes from abortion to protesting convicted sex offenders in neighborhoods. I asked Fay Williams of the National Congress of Black Women if she ever questioned using that tactic. She said:

"We're there for positive reasons. If we were able to sit down in the studio with Ms. Lee or with any of the other studio executives -- which we have done with many, by the way -- and they had listened to us and not just dismissed us, as the CEO of BET has, there would be no need for us to go to her home to get her attention. ... If we went to BET, we would not even get close to BET, she would not know that we were there."

Todd Boyd, a professor at the University of Southern California, who has sliced and diced racial stereotypes in books including Am I Black Enough For You?: Popular Culture from the 'Hood and Beyond, feels differently. He told us:

"I don't think that this will work. Their complaints are very, very, very subjective. When you talk about words like 'decency' and 'responsibility' and 'positive and negative,' these are very negative terms and they change from person to person. What you have are a group individuals who want to impose their standards on everyone else. There's a certain arrogance there."

What do you think? Who should take responsibility for images? Are groups like Enough is Enough crossing a line by picketing in front of homes?