Since the Democrats took a nearly filibuster-proof majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, chatter has increased on a subject that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. As an American, I love my freedom of speech (as evidenced by my regular blog posts critical of the government). The First Amendment gives me the freedom to speak my mind without interference from the government. Of late, however, certain elements–including Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat from Michigan, and Tom Harkin, a Democrat from Iowa–have openly supported bringing back the Fairness Doctrine.
For those who don’t know what it is, it was a policy introduced by the Federal Communications Commission in 1949. The rule required all radio stations to “present controversial issues of public importance” in a fashion deemed politically balanced. Government censors were to judge exactly how “fair” any presentation was to both sides of the issue. The idea was that there were few public airwaves, and that any issue presented publicly needed to be given the attention of all arguments involved. As time went on, the FCC began enforcing the doctrine as a regulation until 1987, when it was stricken down in a unanimous decision by the FCC. They wrote, in part,
“The intrusion by government into the content of programming occasioned by the enforcement of [the Fairness Doctrine] restricts the journalistic freedom of broadcasters…”
The decision was challenged when Democrats moved to write the Fairness Doctrine into legislation, but then-President Reagan immediately vetoed it. Another movement in 1991 was quashed by George H.W. Bush’s threat of another veto, and yet another attempt by Democrats in 2005 died in Committee. The 2005 version was particularly scary, and is the version Democrats are now trying to resurrect: it would have cut broadcasting licenses from eight to four years, held license-holders to government censorship rulings about the fairness of the information presented, and required bi-annual public hearings on the content of the material. This is a blatant, flagrant violation of the First Amendment which says,
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Senator Stabenow thinks we need to “bring accountability back to the airwaves.” Her husband is Tom Athans, a liberal talk radio executive, and they have obvious interest in bringing the Fairness Doctrine back. The current incarnation of the regulation has been nicknamed the “Hush Rush Doctrine” after Congressional Democrats made not one but TWO official efforts to silence conservative talk-radio giant Rush Limbaugh with censure and a petition run by the DNC. Democrats say they want to make sure there are a few liberal talk shows on the air, but that’s bogus–there IS a liberal talk-radio network! It’s called Air America, and several stations have gone under because they just don’t pull in money. There ARE liberal talk shows on the air; this fact proves to me that the only real reason for Democrats to attempt this foolhardy venture is to try to gag the vastly more popular conservative shows as much as legally possible. The Fairness Doctrine, however, wasn’t just applied to radio stations; later on, lawsuits against print journalists dragged the regulation into all facets of journalism far beyond just the airwaves. Now, with the advent of the internet, it would be far worse.
CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW ABRIDGING THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH. What part of that don’t our lawmakers understand? I am not beholden to anybody, not my friends, not my relatives, not any lawmaker, to limit anything I say when I’m talking about my beliefs. I will not now or ever be told that I am required to argue both sides of an issue for the sake of being “fair.” I am an American, dammit, and I will either live free or die.
To those of you who seem to think that it’s only fair to give all sides of an issue for the sake of educating voters, lemme tell you folks somethin’–when I want to see all sides of an issue, I have several different venues I go to. They include conservative, independent and liberal sources. I do research just fine with what’s out there and I have absolutely no trouble at all finding far-left views whenever I care to read them. If you want people to be educated, tell ’em to get out there and look for it. It is NOT my job nor is it anybody else’s to deliver it to you wrapped in a neat little bow. Keep your goddamn hands off of my First Amendment rights, you freakin’ Nazis.