About those “Civil Liberties” and the First Amendment
OK, I don’t get it. Supposedly the Democrats want to safeguard you and me from violations of our civil liberties perpetrated in the name of the “War on Terror”. But now it seems they’re more than happy to restrict free speech. Earlier this week, it was revealed that they are pondering a return of the misnamed “Fairness Doctrine”;
The Fairness Doctrine did not require broadcasters to present issues in a “fair and honest manner”; it required them to turn their stations into ping-ponging punditry if they allowed opinion to appear on the air at all. It created such a complicated formula that most broadcasters simply refused to air any political programming, as it created a liability for station owners for being held hostage to all manner of complaints about lack of balance.
Congress and the Reagan administration repealed the Fairness Doctrine in the mid-1980s, and it allowed a market for political opinion to flourish. It also revitalized the AM band…Radio stations could air local and syndicated talk shows without having to worry about metering time between differing viewpoints, allowing the station owners to reflect the market and their own personal preferences for politcal viewpoints.
Why would [Dennis] Kucinich want to reimpose the Fairness Doctrine and kill off the AM band and talk radio? Because his allies have proven less successful than conservatives at building a market for their broadcasts….Democrats aren’t wasting much time in rolling back free speech now that they have the majority. Putting Kucinich in charge of domestic policy reform was no mistake on their part. They want to kill talk radio, and if they manage to hold their majority and win the White House in 2008, they just might do it. [More here].
S.1 has been introduced in the Senate as “lobbying reform” — which in this case means “First Amendment infringements.” An amendment has been attached, which requires registration of bloggers with more than 500 readers, and who comment on policy issues. Violation would be a criminal offense.
I looked it up on the Library of Congress webpage (which is essentially unlinkable) and have attached section 220 in extended remarks, below. As the bill is reported, it appears to cover any “paid” grassroots lobbying, that reaches more than 500 people. But a blogger who receives contributions might be classed as a “paid” grassroots type. It looks like Congress wants to keep an eye on annoying people like Porkbusters. It may be significant that S.1 was introduced by Harry Reid, one of the Kings of Pork.
I wonder if the watchdogs on the Left are going to be up in arms over these “quashing of dissent” actions? Or is it OK so long as the Democrats are doing the quashing? What’s next? Applying the “Fairness Doctrine” to bloggers? Maybe, just maybe.