Third Party & Independents Archives

Free Speech Under Attack

The recent rash of abuses by the FCC is getting worrisome, and citizens concerned about their first amendment rights need to stand up. Just last week, the FCC forced a radio DJ off of the air with a record fine, and now the threat of more such fines from the FCC has caused several Clear Channel Radio Stations to pull Howard Stern off of the air in some markets for some racially and sexually “insensitive” comments. And lets not forget the “outrage” and the amount of money the FCC is wasting on breast-gate (aka Justin and Janet’s desperate cry for attention).

The people need to stand up for their own free speech rights, not wait on the Supreme Court to say something. That Court has showed in FEC v. Beaumont that it will not always protect us from the impulses to stop speech we do not like (See ACLU’s statement on that anti-free speech decision). More importantly though, its our constitution and our rights that are being compromised- it is primarily our responsibility, not the supreme court’s, to stop these kinds of abuses.

A couple of months ago the federal government limited the rights of groups to criticize elected officials the government; now it is using its broad powers over what is put on TV to basically censor off of TV everything it deems to be “inappropriate”; what kind of speech will it next decide is too “offensive”, “dangerous” and “harmful” to be let on the air (See what Rush Limbaugh said on this topic- like him or not, he is right on this issue)? Will it come from speech that is deemed “too dangerous” in the war on terror? Or “too offensive” toward particular racial minorities? Free speech is one of the most essential protections in a country that recognizes individual rights and the important role personal expression has in keeping civil society and the government free.

The free market allows people to decide what they want on the air- if you do not like Howard Stern- change the channel, don’t buy products from those who sponsor him ect. There are many people who enjoy Stern a good deal (I have no idea why) and it should be their right to listen to him and those who choose to air him should not be subjected to fines.

Posted by Misha Tseytlin at February 26, 2004 5:38 PM