Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Democrats Continue to Push “Fairness Doctrine”

From The Hill:
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday defended the so-called Fairness Doctrine in an interview on Fox News, saying, “I think we should all be fair and balanced, don’t you?”

Schumer’s comments echo other Democrats’ views on reviving the Fairness Doctrine, which would require radio stations to balance conservative hosts with liberal ones.

Asked if he is a supporter of telling radio stations what content they should have, Schumer used the fair and balanced line, claiming that critics of the Fairness Doctrine are being inconsistent.

“The very same people who don’t want the Fairness Doctrine want the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] to limit pornography on the air. I am for that… But you can’t say government hands off in one area to a commercial enterprise but you are allowed to intervene in another. That’s not consistent.”

In 2007, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a close ally of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) told The Hill, “It’s time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine. I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they’re in a better position to make a decision.”

Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) last year said, “I believe very strongly that the airwaves are public and people use these airwaves for profit. But there is a responsibility to see that both sides and not just one side of the big public questions of debate of the day are aired and are aired with some modicum of fairness.”

Conservatives fear that forcing stations to make equal time for liberal talk radio would cut into profits so significantly that radio executives would opt to scale back on conservative radio programming to avoid escalating costs and interference from the FCC.

They also note that conservative radio shows has been far more successful than liberal ones.
Schumer’s claim that if government can limit pornography on the airwaves, it can limit political discourse is bizarre. The Founders, who wrote the First Amendment, never intended it to protect pornography but did intend it to protect political discourse.

Anybody who actually think the “Fairness Doctrine” is about fairness needs to read George Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language,” or better yet 1984.

The urge to shut up those who disagree with you is embedded deeply in human nature, especially among people with strong (but perhaps misguided) moral conventions. And when people with strong moral convictions get power, they inevitabily use to to shut up speech they think harmful.

For about the last couple of decades, the left on college campuses has had the power to shut up speech it didn’t like. Now liberals, flush with victory in the 2008 election, are trying to bring that fascism to broader American society.

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6 Comments:

OpenID Nick said...

"The Founders, who wrote the First Amendment, never intended it to protect pornography but did intend it to protect political discourse."

The Founders, who wrote the First Amendment, intended it to protect speech. You'll notice when reading the 1st Amendment, that it's simple in its verbage. There are no exceptions. It doesn't say "except pornography", or "except where the speech is unfair". It says "Congress shall make no law". What on God's Earth is so hard to understand about those 5 simple words? NO LAW!

3:56 PM  
Blogger pst314 said...

Um, Nick, that's really reaching. There is nothing in what the Founders wrote to indicate that they intended the First Amendment to protect pornography, and plenty to indicate that they didn't see it as a blanket license to print anything.

7:35 PM  
Anonymous GBR said...

Nick -

With all due respect, your thoughts on the First Amendment are misguided.

I am not an advocate of a "living Constitution." The proper method of interpretation, in my opinion, involves a strong emphasis on the text, and on the Founders' intent.

But there are exceptions to the text of the First Amendment.

The most obvious one is perjury. How could our judicial system work if witnesses could lie without consequence? Simple answer - it couldn't.

3:40 PM  
Blogger PaulNoonan said...

Nick is right, of course. It's plain English.

4:11 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

OK, Nick, so I gather you think it's OK to shout "fire" in a crowded theater.

By the way, you got you libertarian undies in a bundle, in spite of the fact that I'm almost certain that you agree with me on the Fairness Doctrine.

I do think that government should protect people from pornography that they do not voluntarily choose to see.

But if they seek it out, then I don't think government should intervene.

But I don't think it's a First Amendment issue.

4:55 PM  
OpenID Nick said...

I think it ought to be perfectly legal to should "Fire" in a crowded theater.

If anyone is then injured as a result of his false report of fire, he should then be arrested for public endangerment... or something else.

Speech should never be illegal. If you ACTIONS (whether speech, or something else like waving a gun and pointing it at people) result in real harm, then that should be prosecuted.

If you yell Fire in a crowded theater, everyone looks around, sees no fire and then then laughs at him, then he should not be arrested for anything.

8:46 AM  

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