Speech Under Fire

by Sal on February 20, 2009

in Politics

Free speech is a wonderful thing.  It is the cornerstone of our Democracy, and allows for people who disagree with the current governing party to freely express their ideas and engage in the conversation, with hopes of convincing enough people to go along with their views to carry over to the voting booth each election.  The right to free speech has recently come under fire, through threats of the fairness doctrine and censoring of both talk radio and the Internet.  Two pieces today struck me in this regard.

The first, an open letter from Rush Limbaugh to Barack Obama, published in the Wall Street Journal, set forth the intent of the framers of the constitution in regards to free speech, continues by explaining the place of talk radio in our culture, and concludes with asking Barack Obama to uphold free speech on the airwaves and not bow to political pressure. The second is from The Anchoress, in which she points to yesterday’s incredible CNBC segment, now dubbed the “Chicago Tea Party” segment, and then warns of the danger in sacrificing our freedom to speak:

If we lose our freedom to speak out – to opine loudly, to mock, to question, even to demandthen we have lost everything. And the truth is, we have already – thanks to political correctness and self-censorship – fallen into the mindset that our speech should be controlled, measured and unfree.  And that is why Rick Santelli’s rant today was riveting, and fascinating, and incredibly necessary.

Speech is one of the most precious liberties that we have.  It is what gives the Drive-By Media their right to be in the tank for Obama, it is what gives blogs as diverse as the Daily Kos and Ace of Spades (not to mention Axis of Right) the ability to say their minds and engage in the debate, and it is what gives talk radio the right to exist and protest the current administrations policies over the airwaves.  Lest we become like communist Russia, let us not give up that right so easily.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

rightonoz February 20, 2009 at 7:19 pm

Of course free speech was slaughtered under GWB.

No demonstrations within a certain distance of anywhere they wished to designate, no filming of coffins returning from Iraq. The worst of the internet cencorship plans were put in place during the GWB era, many in response to demands from the religious Far Right

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Mike February 20, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Opinions are one thing Oz, but you really need to stop inventing your own facts. There were no internet censorship plans implemented under George W. Bush as evidenced by the fact that we have vast cesspools all over the leftist blogosphere. If Bush had implemented internet censorship as you claim, Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Democratic Underground, and MSNBC.com would not exist. The only threat to internet free speech is currently coming from the left in the form of the Fairness Doctrine. Your assertion regarding internet censorship is as well-founded as your previous assertion that America executes 13 year old murderers.

You also referred to time/place restrictions in terms of demonstrations. Unfortunately you omitted the key fact that time/space restrictions predate George W. Bush by decades. Even if one were to fault Bush for continuing time/space restrictions, the fact remains that the restrictions are not applied to content, but location. For example, you can’t have a counter parade on Pennsylvania Ave. during the Inaugural Parade or unfettered spacial access within a certain number of feet from a political convention. Time/space restrictions are completely different than the content-based ones to which Sal referred. Though your assertion on this point was not quite as false as your first one, the missing context is woefully beneath your normal standards.

As for coffins, you’re not really suggesting that a media have unfettered access to military locations, locations that often require secrecy? And by the way, who in the US was prosecuted for snapping photos of coffins?

On this issue you are either making up facts out of thin air (something I doubt given what I know about you) or you are once again getting your information on America from dishonest media sources (sources state-funded by Mr. Rudd perhaps?)

The last eight years gave us some of the most uninformed (your comment being a case in point) and venomous comments against a sitting U.S. President. That is the most powerful evidence one could ever have that speech was freer than any place in the world under George W. Bush. As useless as some of that speech was, I hope speech remains that free under President Obama.

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