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Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech

"If we do not believe in freedom of speech for those we despise we do not believe in it at all."

The Big Media Acronyms have so thoroughly sold out to the Barack Obama campaign and the Democratic Party generally, and have been so irresponsibly inaccurate and partisan in their reporting on the housing crisis, which is now also a banking and monetary crisis, that it would be understandable if the public appreciation and commitment to freedom of the press were flagging a bit these days. Perhaps one's appreciation of freedom of speech, which is very nearly the same thing, might be tarnished too.

In fact, neither major presidential candidate this year is a great crusader for free speech and a free press. Obama's minions have used several dishonorable methods to try to silence or discredit opposition. And John McCain himself is the coauthor of the greatest modern legislative attack on free political speech, the McCain-Feingold campaign finance laws.

I don't mean to boast, but my commitment to freedoms of speech and of the press is undiminished. Here's how I manage this possibly impressive feat: I keep reminding myself that there's at least one condition worse that what we're presently seeing, government control of the media.

Worse is coming. The Obama-Reid-Pelosi triumvirate, assuming it finds itself in power in January, has pledged to revive the Fairness Doctrine. That sounds like a good thing, doesn't it? But it's not. It requires that opposing views be given equal time on radio stations, the only part of the media which is largely conservative. There is no such requirement of television or the print media, which are overwhelmingly under liberal control. The justification offered, that radio frequencies are in limited supply, with licenses awarded by the government, would apply equally well to television, (not to the print media) -- but fairness is not the object here. Silencing the opposition is the object.

Here's how you can judge someone's commitment to freedom of speech and the press: Freedom's friends will defend their opponents' freedom as zealously as their own. Freedom's enemies will try to suppress opponents' expression by imposing an Orwellian "fairness." I went foraging for good quotations about this; here are some I found (in this case at WisdomQuotes.com). They all say essentially the same thing. Some of these folks I usually wouldn't quote in a favorable light, but when they're right, they're right:

  • Carl Shurz: "If you want to be free, there is but one way; it is to guarantee an equally full measure of liberty to all your neighbors."
  • Clarence Darrow: "You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom. You can only be free if I am free."
  • Eleanor Holmes Norton: "The only way to make sure people you agree with can speak is to support the rights of people you don't agree with."
  • Noam Chomsky: "If we do not believe in freedom of speech for those we despise we do not believe in it at all."
  • Rosa Luxemburg: "Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently."
  • William O. Douglas: "Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us."

The other media thorn in the liberal side is the World Wide Web, with its child the blogosphere. Things are more equal there -- er, here. But how long will it be before the liberals, or possibly some conservatives who have lost their minds, try to control this new medium by fiat from Washington?

Please vote against the Obama/Reid/Pelosi triumvirate in whatever ways are available to you, and please attempt to persuade your loved ones to do the same.

* * * * * * * * * *

I have to mention the more or less related topics of voter fraud and voter registration fraud, just so I can throw in this quotation from former Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev: "The trouble with free elections is, you never know who is going to win."

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