Sunday, February 22, 2009

Down With the Fairness Doctrine – Again

The Fairness Doctrine, which holds that the government has a right to mandate “balance” in broadcast media, is an oozing pimple on the face of liberalism. And like most pimples, it is difficult to get rid of and grows uglier the longer it is present.

Last summer, we wrote the following against the Fairness Doctrine:

From a policy perspective, the government should regulate speech – especially political speech – as sparingly as possible. (Some consider campaign contributions to be speech, but I consider them to be exercises of influence – a different thing entirely.) Free speech is the ultimate weapon owned by the citizens to exercise their sovereignty over the government. The content of that speech should be their decision alone.

From a tactical perspective, liberals look intolerant and fearful when they push the Fairness Doctrine. An independent observer would look at their efforts to use government power to muzzle the other side and think, “What are you afraid of?” There is nothing to fear from conservative ideas. Learn from them, steal any of the good ones and oppose the rest of them. The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan forged a great career from doing exactly that…

I have several fairness doctrines. They’re called the remote control, the radio dial, the mouse and the off button. When I use them, no one’s free speech rights are abridged. Alternatively, if you don’t like speech from the other side, there are three constitutional things you can do about it:

1. Ignore it.

2. Debate it.

3. Defeat it at the ballot box.

But to use government power to censor it? Restrict it? Shut it down? That may work in Communist China, but not in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Unfortunately, Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow must not read this blog. The Politico reported this exchange between Stabenow and liberal radio host Bill Press:

BILL PRESS: Yeah, I mean, look: They have a right to say that. They’ve got a right to express that. But, they should not be the only voices heard. So, is it time to bring back the Fairness Doctrine?

SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW (D-MI): I think it’s absolutely time to pass a standard. Now, whether it’s called the Fairness Standard, whether it’s called something else — I absolutely think it’s time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves. I mean, our new president has talked rightly about accountability and transparency. You know, that we all have to step up and be responsible. And, I think in this case, there needs to be some accountability and standards put in place.

BILL PRESS: Can we count on you to push for some hearings in the United States Senate this year, to bring these owners in and hold them accountable?

SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW (D-MI): I have already had some discussions with colleagues and, you know, I feel like that’s gonna happen. Yep.
Those who favor the Orwellian-titled “Fairness Doctrine” have a backwards understanding of our First Amendment. Citizens who exercise their right of free speech are not accountable to the government. It is the government that is accountable to citizens exercising their right of free speech. Down with the Fairness Doctrine!