Skip to comments.The First Amendment Is Unfair. Keep it Anyway.
Posted on 06/26/2007 6:44:08 AM PDT by .cnI redruM
A recent incident in China made proved the value of unfettered speech as a curb on despotic governance. The local authorities in two Chinese provinces were locking children up in fenced brickyards and forcing them to perform slave labor.
This scheme worked well for the Chinese officials involved until the childrens parents got plugged into the Internet. Their story became a worldwide scandal and tarred the reputation of Chinas growing industrial base so badly that China launched an investigation. Meanwhile, however, they also went after anyone who could possible act as a future stool pigeon.
Recognising the threat of China's growing online community, Chinese President Hu Jintao called in January for the Internet to be "purified", and the government has since launched a number of online crackdowns.
"The department of propaganda has sent out regulations to try and control the opinions being spread on the Internet, but every citizen has the right to criticise or to take part in public affairs on the Internet," said Zhu Dake, a professor at Shanghai Tongji University.
This brings me to something that the US government and Communist China have in common. Both nations have ruling elites who dont appreciate unfettered free speech. In the United States, our constitution doesnt permit our government to shut down somebodys broadcast or website and haul them off to jail. Our tyrants are more subtle. They call censorship a Fairness Doctrine, or Campaign Finance Reform.
The Supreme Court has begun the condign process of relegating Senator McCain and Senator Feingolds attempt to emulate the Chinese Government to well-deserved unconstitutionality. Two or three more 5-4 decisions like the most recent one in Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, 06-969, and McCain v. Wisconsin Right to Life, 06-970, and the McCain-Feingold Act will be almost as relevant as the McCain Presidential Campaign. The Fairness Doctrine, however, has recently slithered back into public view.
The Fairness Doctrine was originally intended to make all debates of political issues aired over the radio broadcast spectrum more even-handed and fair. This proved problematic in reality because decent people genuinely differ over both the definitions and practical application of honest and fair.
Other commentators offered a more partisan objection. Prior to the emergence of Fox News and the Internet, liberals truly operated unopposed on television news casts. Radio stations became the voice of conservative politics and proved effective in disseminating points of view that dissented from those commonly aired in lock-step by CBSCNNABCNBC.
Thus, it came as no shocker that a Democratic Senator, Earnest Hollings, attempted to shut the voices of conservatism down in 1993 with an attempt to codify The Fairness Doctrine in Federal Law. Fortunately, opponents of the measure took one look at Hollings legislation and came to the conclusion that there was too much consumin going on.
My objection to the measure stems from a desire to see debate played out to the end and one set of ideas to actually win. There is nothing fair about the acquisition of knowledge and the decision process required implementing the best philosophies of how we should organize our society. Somebodys point of view will be exposed as flawed and held up to ridicule. Thats necessary for intelligent governance, but no one ever said that it was fair.
Our desire to be nice and fair gets in the way of our nation doing what it has to do to optimize our national greatness. If a set of philosophical precepts is quite simply stupid, it needs to be taken off the feed tubes and chunked into the ground. Thus when Dennis Kucinich and Nancy Pelosi seek to codify The Fairness Doctrine in 2007, they are not doing anything accept putting limits on our ability to conduct open and free-wheeling public debate. That, they feel, could really be unfair.
>>> The local authorities in two Chinese provinces were locking children up in fenced brickyards and forcing them to perform slave labor. <<<<
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