Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Democommie Anti First Amendment Movement

The articles linked to above discuss one of the greatest threats to freedom of speech today: controls on political speech, in the name of keeping "corrupting" money out of politics. This is the only bi-partisan threat to freedom of speech today. Most of the other substantial threats hail from the left, which has increasingly come out as an enemy of freedom of speech.

In a good column in the Washington Post, George Will uses a case in California, in which "hate speech" provisions were used to suppress the views of religious conservatives, to highlight the threat of attempt to revive a federal "hate speech" law used to suppress conservatives. The left wants to ban "hate speech" in the hope that it can then define "hate speech" to mean the expression of any ideas that the left finds to be objectionable.

But the most imminent threat in Congress is an attempt to revive the unfair "Fairness Doctrine," a measure being pursued with the explicit goal of punishing and suppressing right-leaning talk radio shows.

"Unfairness Doctrine," National Review Online, June 25 A new blueprint for a government takedown of conservative talk radio comes from the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, founded and run by former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta. In a report entitled, “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio,” the Center outlines a plan that would, if implemented, do enormous damage not only to conservatives on talk radio, but to freedom of speech as well.

Surveying 257 stations owned by the top-five commercial station groups, the report’s authors found the unsurprising news that 91 percent of total weekday talk programming is conservative, and just nine percent “progressive.” Rather than attribute that imbalance to the generally conceded superiority of conservative programming—most radio professionals would tell you that Rush Limbaugh is simply better at what he does than any of the liberal opponents who have tried to compete with him—the report finds a deeper, more sinister case. “The gap between conservative and progressive talk radio,” it concludes, “is the result of multiple structural problems in the US regulatory system. “ According to Podesta’s Center, those structural problems can only be solved by government action.

First, the report proposes new national and local limits on the number of radio stations one company can own. Second, it recommends a de facto quota system to ensure that more women and minorities own radio stations. And finally, it says the government should “require commercial owners who fail to abide by enforceable public interest obligations to pay a fee to support public broadcasting.”…

In addition, the report claims that the Fairness Doctrine—the government rule that, before it was repealed in 1987, required broadcasters to present opposing viewpoints on controversial public issues—might not really be dead, and thus might not have to be reestablished by Congress. Instead, a new administration might simply decide to enforce it again. That point is highly debatable, but it wouldn’t be surprising if President Clinton, President Obama, or President Edwards were to give it a try.

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