The Left and the Right vs. Free Speech
November 6, 2008
Washington, D.C.--Calling for a return of the Fairness Doctrine, Senator Chuck Schumer noted that some of the same people who oppose such “equal time” mandates support restrictions on broadcasting they deem offensive. According to Don Watkins, a writer for the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, “Schumer’s comments highlight an ominous fact: that both the left and the right are opponents of free speech.
“Conservatives have long supported the FCC’s war on so-called indecency, arguing that broadcasters should not have the right to engage in ‘offensive’ speech. The liberals, meanwhile, have been eagerly trying to resurrect the so-called Fairness Doctrine, which would allow the government to dictate which ideas deserve how much airtime, and lead many radio stations to avoid discussing controversial issues altogether.
“In fact, this is a disagreement without a difference: both sides endorse the principle that the government should be dictating what Americans can and can’t say--they just want to use the censor’s pen to support their own political agendas.
“Whoever values free speech should oppose government regulation of the airwaves. Freedom of speech is the freedom of every American to say whatever he wants, regardless of how offensive others find it, through any medium he can rightfully access. There seem to be no such defenders among liberals or conservatives--and that is truly offensive.”
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Don Watkins is an analyst at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. The Ayn Rand Center is a division of the Ayn Rand Institute and promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand—author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.
For more articles by Don Watkins, and his bio, click here.