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Archive for fairness doctrine

Loop Holes

I was driving home last December when the radio announcer mentioned that our US Congress had tried to pass a bill that would legislate a fairness doctrine on the web by allowing an equal number of liberal results compared to conservative ones per topic for every first page of a search engine, irrespective of how popular those pages really are. So if you typed in George Bush, page one will, by law, be required to post just as many Bush-bashing sites as it does non-Bush-bashing sites. Of course, the law would be written in a way that the “balance” they are looking for would be subject to interpretation.

Is this a good idea? Sure, if your party is the one that is in power. But when your party is no longer the one making the decision on what web pages are deemed conservative vs liberal who knows how the balance will shake out. Is that what we want? The federal government deciding for us what we can see on our search engines. Is this not everything that the founding fathers feared? Does this not fly in the face of the first amendment that states “CONGRESS shall make no law…”

I never followed this story to know if it ever did become law or not. Considering the fact that I didn’t really hear much about it from the sundry of talk radio personalities I listen to indicates that it probably went nowhere, but the fact that it was even considered should alarm us a bit.

What about the 1st Amendment?

Ah, yes, the so called, “Fairness Doctrine.” I don’t understand why this is even up for debate. This shouldn’t be a liberal or conservative issue, Democrat or Republican. The point is, the Fairness Doctrine is a complete violation of our First Amendment rights, no matter how you look at it. (The First Amendment states that Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech. What is the Fairness Doctrine other than a law that Congress is making to control speech! What is the Fairness Doctrine? Oh! Well on that, I’ll explain).

The Fairness Doctrine is a proposal that would regulate media so that each point of view be given equal time. It would mostly apply to radio, and in that sense, talk radio. It would mean a Christian radio station would have to play equal time for the other side. (As if there is one other side.) It would mean talk radio would have to balance people like Rush Limbaugh with his opposite. It would leave tort lawyers and the courts to decide “equal” and “other side.” Most radio stations simply would stop broadcasting anything remotely controversial, just to avoid the hassle.

But Ben, the Fairness Doctrine would mean equality for all sides of an issue. Isn’t that a good thing? Not when government regulates it. I’m all for the free market deciding what should be played and what shouldn’t. If liberals want to purchase some bandwidth and broadcast their own talk radio (which they’ve done, by the way), no one’s stopping them.

But Ben, isn’t talk radio a monopoly of conservative thought? Isn’t up to the government to break monopolies? While I do support the government breaking up monopoly of BUSINESS to a degree, the government should have no right to interfere with the transfer of ideas and thought, regardless of how one sided it may appear. Look, I don’t deny that radio leans conservative. Radio leans conservative to the degree that network TV news leans liberal. In that regard there is no monopoly. Conservatives listen to the radio, liberals watch TV. And we haven’t even touched all the other forms of media, magazines, newspapers, and the mother of them all, the internet. There simply is not a monopoly of thought in this country.

Regardless of what side you are on, I hope I’ve persuaded you with this article. Free speech needs to be protected, no matter who it is that is speaking. Those in congress who are pushing the Fairness Doctrine are in direct violation of the First Amendment.