Monday, November 10, 2008

The Censorship Doctrine

Democrats have been making noises about reviving the pathologically misnamed Fairness Doctrine. It's a rule by which the FCC demands that anyone who broadcasts political content over the "public airwaves" must give equal time to an opposing viewpoint.

Barack Obama will be very likely to approve such a measure, even as he publicly opposes it.

As Burt Prelutsky points out at Townhall,

The American Issues Project, whose TV ad called for an examination of the Obama/Bill Ayers connection, led to the Obama machine’s demand that the Justice Department begin a criminal investigation of the AIP. The idea that the AIP should be investigated for running a legitimate TV ad, but ACORN should not be prosecuted for perpetuating voter fraud is the sort of thing that George Orwell would have dealt with if he’d lived long enough to write a sequel to “1984.”
I'm opposed to the Censorship Doctrine on several grounds. First, if it's called the "Fairness" Doctrine, it's got to be awful.

Secondly, the public may own the air, but not the waves. It's actually a question over who will broadcast on a specific frequency. There are lots and lots of frequencies in use now; the likelihood of one viewpoint taking over all of them is tiny, and growing smaller by the day.

Third, we don't, and shouldn't, restrict the political speech that can take place on public property, requiring that anyone with a parade permit pay also for an opposing view to be given. Only when the information can be forced on someone should government step in to be sure no one is deceived, or misinformed.

Because it's vital that no one suffer the slightest risk of having to think for themselves.

However, the nicest thing about all of this is how ineffective a tool the Censorship Doctrine would be in the Internet Age. That ship has sailed. It would mess up Rush Limbaugh's business model, but Rush would figure out a way around it. Perhaps some combination of webcasting and satellite radio would keep him in good cigars.

And in the end, I think all political talk on radio and television would go that route or die. It's a profound thing, this pull liberty exerts on the hearts of those who have felt it.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Absolutely correct. Is should be called the Censorship Doctrine

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