Friday, July 04, 2008

Right Wing Broadcasters Fear Any Return To The Fairness Doctrine

Right wing broadcasters including those of the Religious Right have been campaigning against any possible return to the Fairness Doctrine which once allowed equal time for opposing views on controversial subjects. Many right wing broadcasters fear that many TV or radio stations will simply choose to drop their programs if the stations are forced to provide free equal time for opposing viewpoints at the expense of the station.

Currently religious broadcaster, Evangelist Rod Parsley is airing a 30 minute special broadcast of his BREAKTHROUGH program attacking any return to the Fairness Doctrine. However, the only problem is that no one in the 110th Congress has even bothered to introduce any legislation to reintroduce the Fairness Doctrine. Like many right wing issues, they create a huge hysteric uproar over some dead issue and invoke fear and raise a lot of donations. Parsley is currently asking for gifts of up to $1,000 from his listeners to fight this piece of legislation which no one has even introduced. And Parsley even claims that the next president could simply order a return to the Fairness Doctrine with a stroke of his pen, yet in all truth and honesty, Parsley has to know that this is not how law making in Washington works. A president is not some king would can issue unlimited executive orders on any issue they favor or support. The role of executive orders is of course very limited.

Parsley is unfortunately much like many right wing broadcasters who have abused the public airwaves by making outrageous attacks on persons in the Gay community, played fast and loose with facts, used the airwaves to raise obscene amounts of money by using outrageous fear tactics, or blatantly misrepresented some controversial issues. It is just this sort of ethics that did influence Congressman Maurice Hinchey in the previous 109th Congress to attempt to revive the Fairness Doctrine, however the legislation went nowhere, largely because of negative Supreme Court decisions regarding the Fairness Doctrine since 1984, and the FCC officially ending any return to the Fairness Doctrine 1n 1987. With the major decisions against the Fairness Doctrine by both the Supreme Court and FCC, it is highly unlikely that it will ever become law ever again. Yet this doesn't prevent some like Parsley trading in fear about the Fairness Doctrine, especially when it makes another good reason to ask donors to send in $1,000.

The right wing is often expert at creating some phony hysteria and then raising a lot of money with some absurd campaign against some phony bogeyman issue. However, it certainly looks like the Fairness Doctrine has actually been dead for quite some long time, and any attempt to revive it doomed to fail. Yet in the right wing world of creating fear and profiting from those fears, campaigning against some long dead issue seems good enough to ask for donations and to rule the airwaves by fear.

Sometimes it seems like outside of ignorance and fear, many right wing broadcasters have very little to offer. But that's hardly any good reason to censor them. In a free society even the very worst of free speech should be able to exist without government controls. Most intelligent persons can see bad speech for the absurd self-parody mess it really is, and in the marketplace of ideas the worst some speech is, the worst it usually sells. This indeed proves that the marketplace seems to work better than government. Yet, you only have to scratch your head when some overweight prescription drug abuser like a Rush Limbaugh is handed a new $400 million dollar radio contract. The wisdom of the marketplace is good at discriminating between the good and the awful, but certainly not perfect at it.

Some of what right wing broadcasters promote is ignorance, and some is just simply lies. And sometimes it would seem very good for some outrageous right wing broadcasters to allow for some equal time responses to some of their nonsense they peddle. Yet it doesn't seem like the American way for government to mandate it. Government's role regulating free speech needs to be as limited as possible. The freedom allowed under the 1st Amendment isn't always attractive, yet to limit free expression is always the worst possible option.


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