ATTORNEY GENERAL CONCERNED ABOUT BLANKET GENERALIZATIONS OF ETHNIC GROUPS ON TV
LOS ANGELES–The popular television show Dragnet–which has characterized Armenia’s as "gangsters and savages," was among the many topics discussed when representatives of the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) met with California Attorney General Bill Lockyer on Thursday. The Attorney General–who has been a friend of the ANCA-WR since his earlier tenure in the California Legislature–was presented the ANC Man of the Year Award in 2002.
Participating in the meeting were ANCA-WR Board Members Steven J. Dadaian–Vicken Sonentz-Papazian and Raffi Hamparian–Burbank ANC representative Garen Yeghparian and ANCA-WR Government Relations Director Ardashes Kassakhian.
On February 16th and again on July 5th of this year–an episode of the police drama Dragnet was aired nationwide (on ABC and the USA Network) in which Armenia’s were characterized as "gangsters and savages." The Dragnet episode portrayed a fictionalized murder committed by two Armenia’s. Among the anti-Armenian commen’s that appeared in the episode’s script was the following line delivered by the character known as Detective Joe Friday–"The Armenia’s had their own version of the Hollywood epic. It was not enough for them to succeed. Everyone else had to die." In another section of the script–Armenia’s are referred to as "savages" and a reference to Armenia’s as "slit throat–bullet to the knees. That is their MO [Modus Operandi]. They came off the boat killing–ex-KGB–Special Forces mercenaries."
"Whether on TV or on the street–generalizations that paint a culture with a broad brush is insulting and borderline discriminatory," said the Attorney General.
"I am pleased that the Attorney General of California shares the ANC’s belief that no ethnic group should be subjected to blanket generalizations on television that seek to demean or slander that group of people," commented ANCA-WR Chairman Raffi Hamparian. "The Dragnet television show–which we discussed with Attorney General Lockyer–contains what I would term as racist language against Armenia’s. The ANCA-WR will bring our serious concerns regarding this matter to the attention of network executives who may be considering whether to air this episode of Dragnet again."
Among the other issues raised by ANCA-WR officials at the meeting with Attorney General Lockyer was the organization’s leadership in establishing a California Trade Office in Armenia–its concerns over the Museum of Tolerance’s continued failure to address the Armenian Genocide appropriately–and the status of federal legislation recognizing the Armenian Genocide that is currently pending in both the House and Senate.
Lockyer was elected California’s 30th Attorney General in November 1998. Since taking office–Lockyer has reinvigorated the environmental protection–anti-trust–consumer law–civil rights enforcement and law enforcement functions of the California Department of Justice. He has also made his office accessible to the Armenian community by having information translated into Armenian. A graduate of the University of California–Berkeley with a teaching credential from California State University–Hayward–Lockyer earned his law degree from McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento–while serving in the state Senate.