Thursday, March 23, 2006

Three Real and Growing Threats to Our Free Speech

Three disturbing trends threaten the free speech of all Americans: 1. the attempts by certain liberal judges to have constitutional issues decided by the application of international laws, 2. “hate speech” being redefined as any criticism of a religion or of any characteristic of a group, and 3. the attempts now underway to reinstate what is cunningly called “the Fairness Doctrine”.

Supreme Court justices Breyer and Ginsburg, both liberals, have recently given speeches in which they argued for the application of international laws in deciding cases that came before the Supreme Court. Not only do these justices have liberal activist agendas that motivate them to ignore the Constitution of the United States in order to advance their ideas, but now they want to be able to decide issues on the basis of the laws of France, Germany, Belgium and other countries instead of being guided only by our Constitution and/or by precedents set by earlier decisions. If it can be shown that they, in fact, have relied on international law to reach a position, they should be impeached.

In a similar way, the ACLU is also playing a role in subverting our Constitution.

The following is an excerpt of an article on the Stop The ACLU website:

“Currently the ACLU is appealing to the U.N. Human Rights Committee with their cries of how evil the United States Government is.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the U.S. Human Rights Network today urged the U.N. Human Rights Committee to hold the U.S. government accountable for flagrant and repeated violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

“Locally, nationally and globally, the United States has repeatedly failed in its responsibility to uphold basic human rights,” said Ann Beeson, Associate Legal Director of the ACLU. “We are appealing to the international arbiters to hold the U.S. accountable to basic human rights standards.”

As sickening as this is; it is only one step in the ACLU’s agenda to undermine America’s sovereignty and freedom that so many soldiers have sacrificed and died to preserve. The ACLU is obviously frustrated by their inability to advance their radical agenda more quickly under the U.S. Constitution, and are now determined not only to convince the American judiciary to look to international law, but also to use it as a means to their ends. They hold it as a higher authority than our own Constitution and are more than willing to sacrifice our sovereignty in their pursuit to force change on America to fit their own radical views.”

As to point number 2 above, various Muslim groups are trying to stop any public criticism of the Islamic religion by labeling such criticism as “hate speech”. The question of whether western culture is under attack only by radical Islamists or whether Islam itself is our enemy is a vital question that needs extensive investigation, analysis and discussion. If these Muslim groups succeed, we will have lost our First Amendment rights forever.

We have already lost a major battle in the freedom of speech arena with the passage of the horrendous McCain-Feingold Act. As this excerpt from City Journal explains:

“The most imminent danger comes from campaign-finance rules, especially those spawned by the 2002 McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Act. Republican maverick John McCain’s co-sponsorship aside, the bill passed only because of overwhelming Dem support. It’s easy to see why liberals have spearheaded the nation’s three-decade experiment with campaign-finance regulation. Seeking to rid politics of “big-money corruption,” election-law reforms obstruct the kinds of political speech—political ads and perhaps now the feisty editorializing of the new media—that escape the filter of the mainstream press and the academy, left-wing fiefdoms still regulation-free. Campaign-finance reform, notes columnist George Will, by steadily expanding “government’s control of the political campaigns that decide who controls government,” advances “liberalism’s program of extending government supervision of life.”

The irony of campaign-finance reform is that the “corruption” it targets seems not to exist in any widespread sense. Studies galore have found little or no significant influence of campaign contributions on legislators’ votes. Ideological commitments, party positions, and constituents’ wishes are what motivate the typical politician’s actions in office. Aha! reformers will often riposte, the corruption is hidden, determining what Congress doesn’t do—like enacting big gas taxes. But as Will notes, “that charge is impossible to refute by disproving a negative.” Even so, such conspiracy-theory thinking is transforming election law into what journalist Jonathan Rauch calls “an engine of unlimited political regulation.”

McCain-Feingold, the latest and scariest step down that slope, makes it a felony for corporations, nonprofit advocacy groups, and labor unions to run ads that criticize—or even name or show—members of Congress within 60 days of a federal election, when such quintessentially political speech might actually persuade voters. It forbids political parties from soliciting or spending “soft money” contributions to publicize the principles and ideas they stand for. Amending the already baffling campaign-finance rules from the seventies, McCain-Feingold’s dizzying dos and don’ts, its detailed and onerous reporting requirements of funding sources—which require a dense 300-page book to lay out—have made running for office, contributing to a candidate or cause, or advocating without an attorney at hand unwise and potentially ruinous.”

The same City Journal article goes on to describe the effects of restoring the so-called “Fairness Doctrine”, and the motivation on the part of the left to use it to silence conservative voices:

“Though campaign-finance madness is the Number One regulatory threat to the new media, it’s not the only one. The Left is now pushing Congress to restore the Fairness Doctrine, which would kill talk radio and possibly conservative-friendly Fox News, too.

For those who don’t remember, the Federal Communications Commission’s Fairness Doctrine, formalized in the late forties but dating back to 1929, required radio and then broadcast television stations to cover “vitally important controversial issues of interest in the community served by the broadcaster” and to provide “opportunity for the presentation of contrasting viewpoints on such issues”—what came to be known as the “equal time” rule. Any broadcaster who didn’t follow these regulations could face fines, free time given to voices that federal regulators felt hadn’t gotten fair treatment, and even loss of operating license. Concern that particular partisan views could dominate what was then a very limited broadcast spectrum, which government felt it had to parcel out with the public interest in mind, drove this meddling. But politicians and advocacy groups frequently used (or abused) the Fairness Doctrine to go after their political enemies, as one former Kennedy administration official acknowledged: “Our massive strategy was to use the Fairness Doctrine to challenge and harass the right-wing broadcasters, and hope that the challenges would be so costly to them that they would be inhibited and decide it was too costly to continue.”

The doctrine made it hard to program political talk radio in today’s Rush Limbaugh–Sean Hannity sense—boisterously opinionated, unafraid to name names, informative, and, if you disagree with the host’s politics, infuriating. If a station ran a show like Limbaugh’s, drawing upward of 20 million listeners a week, it would also have to run a lefty alternative, even if— as has been the case with ratings-challenged Air America in some markets—it can’t get any sponsors. Too risky, most radio execs concluded, and kept opinion programs off the air. In 1980, talk shows of any kind numbered fewer than 100 nationwide.

All that changed in the eighties, when Ronald Reagan’s free-market-minded FCC stopped enforcing the Fairness Doctrine and then dumped it entirely in 1987. Because cable and satellite television and FM radio had vastly expanded the number of television and radio stations, “the new technological abundance,” in regulatory theorist Peter Huber’s phrase, had robbed the doctrine of any plausible “scarcity” rationale.

That the doctrine was also “chilling to free speech,” as FCC head Mark Fowler argued, became crystal clear after it was gone: AM radio exploded with political talk shows. From under 5 percent of all programming, “informational” programming expanded to over 20 percent of the AM mix just seven years after the Fairness Doctrine’s demise. Today, more than 1,400 stations feature the talk format exclusively—and the vast majority broadcast conservative voices, because that’s what draws the listeners, desperate for an alternative to the liberal mainstream press.

Small wonder, then, that House Democrats proposed two bills in 2005 to bring the Fairness Doctrine back—and as a law, rather than a mere agency regulation. New York Democratic representative Louise Slaughter, who introduced the first of the two bills, says that Right-ruled radio is a grave threat to American freedoms, “a waste of good broadcast time, and a waste of our airwaves.”

If the Dems take back Congress or the White House, watch out. Nothing would please them more than to drag the country back to the good old days, when liberals didn’t have to put up with Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham and Bill O’Reilly and Matt Drudge and the countless other upstarts recasting our public debate.”

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At 7:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It really does my heart good to see the Bush Administration fighting back and standing up for what is right. The Left Wing radicals in this country are always on the wrong side of every issue, whether it be the war on terrorism, or cracking down on child rapists. There views on everything go against what this country has always stood for. Why the Democrats go along with these radicals, I'll never know. They certainly don't agree with what mainstream American People want for this country. Judges that don't punish criminals for their crimes, and the ACLU going to bat for child sex groups like NAMBLA, seem to be the norm for these Left Wing vermon. We need a change in 08, but if it turns out to be Hillary Clinton or John McCain, this country is doomed.


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