Americans Want Government Speech Control

A plurality of Americans want “government [to] require all radio and television stations to offer equal amounts of conservative and liberal political commentary” and nearly a third believe even privately owned blogs should have that requirement, Rasmussen reports.

Nearly half of Americans (47%) believe the government should require all radio and television stations to offer equal amounts of conservative and liberal political commentary, but they draw the line at imposing that same requirement on the Internet. Thirty-nine percent (39%) say leave radio and TV alone, too.

At the same time, 71% say it is already possible for just about any political view to be heard in today’s media, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Twenty percent (20%) do not agree.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) say the government should not require websites and blog sites that offer political commentary to present opposing viewpoints. But 31% believe the Internet sites should be forced to balance their commentary.

This is a shocking finding in a society founded on a disdain for government control and a demand for free speech.  And he pro-censorship numbers are likely understated slightly, since this is a poll of likely voters, which skew wealthier and more educated than the public at large.

The Fairness Doctrine made made some sense when it started in 1947.  After all, broadcast was new and people had very limited choice in radio and, later, television stations.  There was a real danger that the political conversation could be stifled, or bent to the whims of one or two wealthy individuals, for any given local audience in that environment. Given that “the public owned the airwaves” and station licenses were a public trust, requiring something like “equal time” for opposition viewpoints was a reasonable safeguard.

Fast forward a few decades.  Most people have access to dozens, if not hundreds, of television channels, few of which are under the control of local ownership.  Radio is mostly an entertainment medium, with political talk relegated to NPR and the AM dial — unless you’re a subscriber to satellite, in which case the choices are legion.  Talk radio, in particular, is dominated by nationally syndicated programs.  There’s an endless supply of political sites on the Internet, political commentary magazines, and other venues for mass political expression.

What’s the justification, now, for government’s controlling speech?

Beyond that, surely “liberal” and “conservative” inadequately represent the spectrum of opinion.  Indeed, for true believers, Barack Obama isn’t liberal enough and John McCain isn’t a conservative at all.  Do we have to give equal time to the fringe?

FILED UNDER: Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Ugh says:

    This is a shocking finding in a society founded on a disdain for government control and a demand for free speech.

    I wouldn’t call it shocking. I’ve always heard that if you put the Bill of Rights to a vote of the people it would go down. Not quite the same thing, but close.

    and whoever did that cartoon has no idea what the fairness doctrine required.

  2. DL says:

    “This is a shocking finding in a society founded on a disdain for government control and a demand for free speech.”

    We have long ago left the concept of government control as being a bad thing. Much of the country wants the government to control what they don’t like – thinking naively that it will never bother them and the other half detests free speech. How often have you seen massive protests at the suggestion of hate crime laws or offense at the politically correct police in our colleges, schools or even on our airwaves destroying those who dare to offend them?

    We who obviously have not learned the lessons of our forefathers, are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. It is not so much ignorance as it is the selfishness and envy that have been sponsored and ingrained in our society, by those who seek to tear apart what our forefathers built on their sweat and blood.

  3. Brian J. says:

    The government has the right because a majority (well, close enough) want it!

    Somewhere, Americans lost the idea that the Constitution was a check on government power and more a blank check from the government. Unfortunately, the government agrees, and is not only making out the amount but has also written itself in on the Pay To The Order Of line.

  4. Hal says:

    James, I find your apparent definition of “government control of speech” quite bizarre. How is giving time for opposing opinions on the public airways in return for their use “control of speech”. I would really like to understand how anyone’s speech is being “controlled”. Will people have to read from a script? Won’t be able to say certain things? Will their ideas be censored?

    I mean, in what possible way is the phrase “controlling speech” in any way applicable here? I’m curious as to how you come to this conclusion.

  5. John Burgess says:

    Hal: No, the government would not tie me down, insert earbuds, and require me to listen to messages I did not want to hear.

    By requiring ‘fairness’, however, the government would deprive me of the possibility of listening to even more speech that was ‘unbalanced’, in the government’s view.

    Further, the definition of ‘balanced’ would reside in the hands of government bureaucrats, at least some of whom would be beholden to the Executive for their jobs; all of whom are subject to the political pressures generated by special interest groups and a spineless Congress. A quick flip through history should demonstrate why that isn’t a brilliant idea. Suggestion: Start with how the FCC deals with vocabulary and graphic images.

    I think ‘balancing’ the media would start with shutting down CNN, PBS, and MSNBC. The noise to signal ratio on those outlets is both painful and politically unbalanced. I suspect you might not agree.

  6. Hal says:

    Oh, so in your opinion James’ title and primary thesis is a load of horse pucky. Well, at least we agree on that.

    However, your thesis seems to be emitted from the same orifice as well. Opposing viewpoints are notoriously easy to come up with and are quite trivial to classify, irrespective of bureaucrats. You can simply look at the history of when we actually had the fairness doctrine in force for actual, real world examples of how things worked out. See, no need to pull up random, unrelated and inappropriate analogies to understand the effects.

    The FCC analogy is hilariously off base and quite in tune with the thought process that thinks shutting down PBS, CNN and MSNBC would bring “balance”. I mean, do you actually understand ratings and viewing population?

    Didn’t think so.

  7. Bithead says:

    I find your apparent definition of “government control of speech” quite bizarre.

    Anyone shocked by this, raise your hands, please.

    Hal, let’s face it; the ones pushing the fairness doctrine are the ones all bent outta shape that Air America ain’t getting it done. Illustration, by way of a direct question to you: What do you suppose the effect of the ‘fairness doctrine” would be to Limbaugh’s show? Hannity? Galligher? Ingrahm?

  8. Hal says:

    Sorry, Bit, but I’ve had enough “arguing” with you. You’ve worn out your entertainment value.

  9. Michael says:

    This is a shocking finding in a society founded on a disdain for government control and a demand for free speech.

    There’s a difference between free speech, and free broadcast.

    What’s the justification, now, for government’s controlling speech?

    If there is a large hurdle to being heard, as there is with broadcast, cable and satellite, then there is an ability for those with the means to dominate what is heard.

    The internet is another matter, as anybody and their dog can establish a blog, for free, and get the same access to viewers as DKos or OTB.

  10. Bithead says:

    Sorry, Bit, but I’ve had enough “arguing” with you. You’ve worn out your entertainment value.

    Translation: “I got my backside handed me in a bucket last time, and this time looks to be the same”..

    The fact is the left is pushing the ‘fairness’ doctrine because they know teir nonsense cannot make it in a free market. The number of left-wing talkshows going under in the last decade alone, even absent the financial disaster that is Air America proves that. The Fairness doctrine is attractive to you because right-wing talkradio will have the legs cut out from underneath it. Oh… and right-wing websites with it, if I read the proposals correctly.

    And your own reaction to me is as illustrative of anything in terms of the “fairness” doctrine. If leftists can’t dominate…..

    Trust me, Hal, you’re not that hard to see through.

  11. Bootlegger says:

    This is a shocking finding in a society founded on a disdain for government control and a demand for free speech.

    I think this is grossly overstating it. These were elitist ideas at the time and I doubt most Americans of that day would have agreed with them. They find their way into the Constitution as the product of compromise and sold to the people as how it would protect their particular lives.

    So the religious states didn’t want the more secular ones telling them what they could say, but they seemed to have no problem telling each other what they could say. Similarly, some states had more control and others less.

    This is true still today. People “say” they believe in free speech unless they don’t like what is being said. People “say” they don’t want government control unless they think the control will benefit them personally.

    I doubt most Americans accept these as general abstract principles and I think this has always been the case.

  12. Bootlegger says:

    The fact is the left is pushing the ‘fairness’ doctrine because they know teir nonsense cannot make it in a free market.

    Then there must not be a liberal media eh?

  13. Hal says:

    Then there must not be a liberal media eh?

    Logic and internal consistency of their arguments has never been a strong point on the right.

    In James case, it’s even more striking, though. I assume he has no problem with private citizens or corporations exacting any legal recompense for the use of their resources. However, in the publicly owned spectrum, he apparently feels that requiring opposing views is the equivalent of muzzling the person whom the opposing view was opposing in the first place.

    The mind boggles at the thought process that thinks that has any semblance of logical support.

  14. Bootlegger says:

    Do we have to give equal time to the fringe?

    An interesting question and I’d say you at least have to let them have a turn at the microphone, though coercing it defies the principle of free speech to begin with.

    A friend of mine who defines himself as a socialist claims the media are more willing to show rightwing fringe than leftwing fringe. His example is that you see more radical conservatives than you do for-real socialists or communists (not the straw man that ALL liberals are socialists). I don’t know if this is true or not, its an empirical question, but clearly someone on the fringe thinks things are unfair and unbalanced (which might describe him now that I think about it).

  15. Hal says:

    you see more radical conservatives than you do for-real socialists or communists

    What’s the ratio of Coulter/Malkin/etc to Chomsky/Moore/etc? My guess is that it approaches infinity.

    (not the straw man that ALL liberals are socialists)

    That’s how the game is played, though. Dean is a communist, Kerry is a socialist, Obama is a secret muslim socialist. Amazing what you can get away with if you define anything near the center as the far, far left.

  16. Bithead says:

    Then there must not be a liberal media eh?

    Of course there is. Then again, their viewer/readership numbers have been dropping steadily for some time.

    The argument presented by those supporting the so-called ‘fairness doctrine’ is in itself a falicy.

    The problem here, is their misperception that their views are at least equal in draw power to that of the conservative majority. A complete and utter fallacy.

    They can’t bring themselves to believe that the reason they are less dominant, is becauseof the quality of the content of the programming they push. Specifically, people are not buying their opinions. Their point of view. Their myopic worldview.

    It must be some other reason, by their thinking.

    Of course, being big government types, their immediate diagnosis is that it’s a failure of government policy.

    Hence, the push for ‘fairness’. They’re trying to over-rdie the free market, and free speech. What they seek, once again, is trikingly similar to the equal opportunity arguments…. it is not equal opportunity, but equal OUTCOME,for their POV something which is not possible in a free market place.

  17. Floyd says:

    “Fairness Doctrine”
    HMMMM…. It has a nice ring of authenticity about it! Just like….
    “The Peoples Republic of…”

  18. Bootlegger says:

    I agree with some of what you argue Hal, but I don’t think the coercion of the public square is the way to deal with it. I think it is enough to ensure access to the microphone, but I don’t think it’s right to mandate who speaks and how much. The logical distinction, at least to me, is that the former is “free speech” (one is free to speak) while the other is “coercive speech” (one is required to speak and only so much).

    I agree too with your point about the airways and that they are a public domain that they are owned by all and should be used by all. But again, this doesn’t have to be coerced.

    So, access should be “required” but the content should not.

  19. Bootlegger says:

    The problem here, is their misperception that their views are at least equal in draw power to that of the conservative majority. A complete and utter fallacy.

    What a truly absurd assertion. I know conservatives like to think they are the majority but the data are equivocal on this, check the General Social Survey if you don’t believe me. Americans self-identify evenly on both sides (within a percent or two) and it is remarkably stable over time.

    Left-wing radio has failed, no doubt. But liberals I know don’t feel the need to have their political views constantly vindicated by a host taking phone calls. They find such things boring. They are far more likely to read essays or books or attend lectures on the subjects they like. The “talk radio” gap is easily explained by the fact that people on either side choose to get their dose of orthodoxy in different ways.

    To me, this is another argument against requiring equal radio time to opposing viewpoints.

  20. James Joyner says:

    How is giving time for opposing opinions on the public airways in return for their use “control of speech”.

    Here’s the question: “Should government require all radio and television stations to offer equal amounts of conservative and liberal political commentary.”

    I’ve taken the liberty of bolding the key words: government, require, all, and commentary.

    So, it’s not individual station owners judging what they think is fair but rather “the government.” They’re not suggesting, they’re “requiring.” That’s government control.

    “All” stations would seem to include the 99.9 percent that aren’t broadcast over limited airwave signals and include digitized channels delivered to those who subscribe to cable or satellite.

    And this is about political commentary, not commercial speech. That’s the very essence of the 1st Amendment.

  21. Floyd says:

    “Nearly half of Americans (47%) believe the government should require all radio and television stations to offer equal amounts of conservative and liberal political commentary”
    “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””
    Only a hypocrite would hold this position and not apply it to newspapers and publishers.
    Sure the “people”own the air waves, but the “people” also own the streets used to deliver books and newspapers. Controlling traffic is not the same as controlling the content or color of the licensed vehicle.

  22. Hal says:

    I don’t think the coercion of the public square is the way to deal with it.

    I’m not sure I understand what you mean by this.

    but I don’t think it’s right to mandate who speaks and how much.

    Again, these are the public airways and I think that it’s reasonable for the government to require whatever they want in recompense for their use. If you only allocate the 3am to 5am time slot for your opposing views and the rest of the 22 hours for a singular view point, it’s hard to see how that’s being fair.

    while the other is “coercive speech” (one is required to speak and only so much).

    It’s not coercive. Again, using the public spectrum isn’t a right, it’s a lease. And subject to terms. It’s baffling to me to understand how this is coercive. Is it coercive to restrict what people can do in public parks? I just don’t understand your theory.

  23. Bootlegger says:

    What’s the ratio of Coulter/Malkin/etc to Chomsky/Moore/etc? My guess is that it approaches infinity.

    On the radio? Definitely. In ALL media outlets (books, lectures, newspapers, movies, television, etc.)? I’d be really surprised if it didn’t approach 1.

    I saw a study done by one of the media watchdog groups (I’d link if could remember which one) that counted the number of Republicans and Democrats that different news outlets had on the shows. NPR was the most egalitarian with around a 54% Republican majority. Fox was out there with more than 70% Republican while CNN and MSNBC were in between the two.

    Does the “easiest” (in terms of use), most accessible media lean to the Right? It does in my opinion, though I know many will disagree with this. The Left, though, makes up for it in other outlets.

    Oh, and I think the blogosphere is actually quite balanced though again that is an empirical question about which I’ve not seen any data.

  24. Hal says:

    They’re not suggesting, they’re “requiring.” That’s government control.

    Again, James, your logic seems to be in error. Requiring an opposing viewpoint is *not* controlling speech. It’s requiring an opposing viewpoint. This does not muzzle speech in any way, shape or form. All it requires is that when you say X, you have to give the opportunity for someone to say something about ~X. It’s baffling to understand how this is muzzling someone from saying X.

    Seriously, James, having the word “require” doesn’t mean it’s “control” of the speech. That leap of logic is across a chasm larger than the Snake river canyon and even Evil Knievel couldn’t jump it. You’ve done no better in your explanation, rather you’ve completely failed to explain how this is controlling speech – how this would be muzzling *anyone*. Nothing about the fairness doctrine dictates speech. No one has to show up and give an opposing viewpoint. Nothing about the fairness doctrine states that you can’t say X, Y or Z.

    Again, your logic would seem to be completely lacking.

  25. James Joyner says:

    Hal,

    If, in order to, say, broadcast three hours of Rush Limbaugh’s show, the station had to give three hours of equal time to those who disagree with Limbaugh, they’d simply be forced to cancel Limbaugh. That might be a good outcome by your lights but it’s certainly a muzzling of speech.

    If the Democratic National Committee were required to host a similar weeklong forum for Republicans to air their views, I suspect you’d find it problematic.

  26. Hal says:

    The Left, though, makes up for it in other outlets.

    Well, I think your analysis fails to weight for actual actual eyeballs and ears. NPR doesn’t have nearly the audience that Limbaugh does, for example. Without weighting for audience, it’s a bit like using square footage instead of population density to show voting preferences – it doesn’t account for the incredibly nonlinear skewing of reality.

  27. Bithead says:

    What a truly absurd assertion. I know conservatives like to think they are the majority but the data are equivocal on this, check the General Social Survey if you don’t believe me. Americans self-identify evenly on both sides (within a percent or two) and it is remarkably stable over time.

    And we are to take that over the listenership/readership/viewer numbers for the various sources? See, the data you cite simply sisn’t upheld by actual listner numbers.

    So, it’s not individual station owners judging what they think is fair but rather “the government.” They’re not suggesting, they’re “requiring.” That’s government control.

    Correct.

    Requiring an opposing viewpoint is *not* controlling speech. It’s requiring an opposing viewpoint.

    Which is controlling speech. Or is airtime infinite?

  28. Hal says:

    They’d simply be forced to cancel Limbaugh.

    Really? You have actual data to show this? And what’s the right of Limbaugh to be heard on the public spectrum? I don’t recall actually seeing that anywhere in the constitution. Perhaps you could refresh my memory.

    One of the cards the right deals quite often is this whole “but they’d be forced off the air” equivalent. It’s kind of like the CAFE standards forcing GM out of business – oh wait! Not having fuel efficient cars forced them out of business.

    It’s simple alarmism, James. And the claiming of a right which simply doesn’t exist.

  29. Bootlegger says:

    Is it coercive to restrict what people can do in public parks?

    Absolutely it is!! If you run naked through the park puffing on a bong the cops will take you down and if you resist they will use force. That is coercion, period.

    I’m using the “public square” as an easy metaphor for the public airwaves. Think of the old town squares now imagine a microphone. Now, anyone is allowed to use the microphone and transmit their message over the public airways. But if I stop you mid-sentence and say “time is up” when you’re not finished then I’m coercive. Similarly if I told the group that disagreed with you that it is their turn and they “must” put forth a speaker right now, that too is coercion.

    I think its simple, everyone gets a free turn at the microphone. I don’t see left political views kept off the public airways and I don’t think right political views should be swept from the airways.

    It’s true that most radio listeners who want to listen to political talk prefer conservative commentary. This doesn’t restrict liberal radio commentary at all. But if you say conservatives have too much radio time, then you are restricting conservative radio time.

    I’m surprised you don’t want to engage that logic at all. But let me engage yours.

    If you only allocate the 3am to 5am time slot for your opposing views and the rest of the 22 hours for a singular view point, it’s hard to see how that’s being fair.

    First of all, you are assuming that one group is getting qualitatively “better” access to the pubic airways by getting the hours when most are listening. I’ve never encountered liberal views being “allocated” to the middle of the night.

    Your second point is that the “amount” of air time is a measure of fairness. But as far as I can tell there is nothing limiting the amount of time a liberal can talk on the radio. But if you enact the rules you propose you are then limiting the amount of time a conservative can talk on the radio.

    BTW: when you use words like “allocate” or I use words like “limit” we are talking about coercion because presumably this is how such allocations and limits would be enforced.

  30. Bootlegger says:

    And we are to take that over the listenership/readership/viewer numbers for the various sources? See, the data you cite simply sisn’t upheld by actual listner numbers.

    To be fair dude, you said “a conservative majority” not a conservative radio majority. The first is false, the second I agree is true. Conservatives prefer their dose of orthodoxy in the form of a host taking phone calls. What can I say.

    BTW: this forum has a spell checker, use it.

  31. Bootlegger says:

    Well, I think your analysis fails to weight for actual actual eyeballs and ears. NPR doesn’t have nearly the audience that Limbaugh does, for example. Without weighting for audience, it’s a bit like using square footage instead of population density to show voting preferences – it doesn’t account for the incredibly nonlinear skewing of reality.

    Other MEDIA outlets, read the whole post Hal. I doubt many of Limbaugh’s listeners attend lectures at the museum or go to academic conferences. The Left dominates some information outlets, the Right others.

  32. Bootlegger says:

    Back to work, enjoyed it gents.
    See ya next time.
    Bootlegger

  33. Floyd says:

    “now imagine a microphone”
    “””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””
    NO! Imagine hundreds of microphones, with each listener holding a tuner!

  34. Floyd says:

    Should my local oldie’s station be required to give “equal time” to classical, rap, c&w, blues, and polkas?

  35. Hal says:

    that is coercion, period.

    I think that’s an academic definition of coercion. It’s simply enforcement. I can’t, for example, yell fire in a crowded theater, either. Is that coercion? I can’t go into the corporate offices here at House Harkonnen and start firing off a gun, either, without the corporate goon squad pummeling me into unconsciousness. That’s *technically* coercion, I suppose , in that there’s an implied threat for breaking the rules, but I think that coercion, as it’s commonly used, is something completely different.

    But if I stop you mid-sentence and say “time is up” when you’re not finished then I’m coercive.

    So, in a commercial entity, if I can’t speak until I’m blue in the face on the show that they’re spending their hard earned bucks on, that’s coercive? That’s stretching the definition beyond any realistic point, imho. In a debate, for example, the rules are you get X time. If you go beyond that, you’re time is up. It’s not coercion to enforce the rules.

    Likewise when leasing the public spectrum. You have to obey the rules of the lease. I can’t bring horses into the house I lease from a private owner. This isn’t coercion, it’s enforcing the rules that were agreed to when the lease was signed.

    To classify all this as coercion merely because you’re enforcing rules just seems downright silly. Obeying the rules is expected behavior.

    First of all, you are assuming that one group is getting qualitatively “better” access to the pubic airways by getting the hours when most are listening.

    I’m pretty darn sure that there’s an objective measurement – i.e. advertising dollars – that refutes your point.

    I’ve never encountered liberal views being “allocated” to the middle of the night

    That’s not the point. The point was that there’s nothing preventing them from doing this. Framing the debate is just as effective – and perhaps more so – than actually preventing the debate from happening. Relegating viewpoints to when no one is listening is just one example of such.

    But as far as I can tell there is nothing limiting the amount of time a liberal can talk on the radio.

    Um, money? Access to a platform? Your argument is that, if they had X, Y and Z, they could be doing the same. But given that they don’t have X, Y and Z they aren’t. This doesn’t make any sense.

    But if you enact the rules you propose you are then limiting the amount of time a conservative can talk on the radio.

    And wouldn’t this equally limit the amount of time a liberal could do the same? I fail to see where the damage is. Public resource, private lease of such. It’s a limited resource so by definition, there has to be limits. Merely having limits in the pursuit of equal time doesn’t seem to be denying anyone anything except the “right” to dominate a resource – which I can’t find anywhere in the constitution.

    coercion because presumably this is how such allocations and limits would be enforced.

    Again, coercion isn’t about enforcement of the rules. All rule of law requires “coercion”, which means that all our freedom, democracy and everything we hold dear is technically based on coercion, and at which point you’ve made a wonderfully academic point that has no meaning any more.

  36. Hal says:

    Should my local oldie’s station be required to give “equal time” to classical, rap, c&w, blues, and polkas?

    The government has a clear interest in opposing political views. It’s unclear what interest the government has in musical diversity.

    These analogies are cute, but really stupid.

  37. Bithead says:

    Um, money? Access to a platform? Your argument is that, if they had X, Y and Z, they could be doing the same. But given that they don’t have X, Y and Z they aren’t.

    There is a major differnece between a guarantee of freedom of speech and a guaranteed audidence. The Constitution recognizes the former, but says nothing of the latter.

  38. Michael says:

    I think its simple, everyone gets a free turn at the microphone. I don’t see left political views kept off the public airways and I don’t think right political views should be swept from the airways.

    The microphone is time-limited. If one view point can consume as much time as they like, then they get to decide how much time the opposing view point has access to the microphone.

    NO! Imagine hundreds of microphones, with each listener holding a tuner!

    Now you are spectrum-limited, and have the same problem above, only replace “time” with “bandwidth”.

    Whenever you have a finite resource that can be used to disseminate a view point, providing unrestricted access to that resource will allow one view point to dictate how much access opposing view points get to that resource.

    There will always be some amount of control over who’s viewpoint gets heard, so this is really a question of who should be in control. Currently, I think market forces are doing a fairly good job. As Bootlegger pointed out, while talk radio may be dominated by one view point, other media are dominated by other view points. I can’t think of a better solution than this.

  39. Michael says:

    I can’t bring horses into the house I lease from a private owner. This isn’t coercion, it’s enforcing the rules that were agreed to when the lease was signed.

    To classify all this as coercion merely because you’re enforcing rules just seems downright silly. Obeying the rules is expected behavior.

    The problem is that a horse is very well defined, while bias is not. Suppose your lease said you can’t bring “undesirable people” into the house, and that the private owner has final say over which people are “desirable” or not, on a case by case basis. Now suppose that your particular owner very much dislikes minorities, homosexuals, or registered Democrats. Or suppose he likes your girlfriend, and wants to keep you away from her.

  40. Hal says:

    The problem is that a horse is very well defined, while bias is not.

    Perhaps, but we deal with such vagaries in the law all the time. Again, one can always bring up edge cases and worst case scenarios. The question is whether, in the bulk of cases, is it vague and hard to define like community standards of pornography (yay Google Trends!) or is it for the most part pretty darn clear and the reality of the situation is that it’s easy to delineate?

    In any event, the issue isn’t about bias. Rather it’s about providing opposing and alternate viewpoints. Regardless of the viewpoint if you provide opportunity for opposing and alternative viewpoints, then you don’t have to define bias. You can be as biased as you want. The terms of the lease simply say that if you’re going to say X – whatever X is – that you have to provide the opportunity for ~X and Y and Z to be heard.

    I don’t understand how that is vague or nebulous, subject to misinterpretation.

  41. Floyd says:

    Hal,
    “Alcohol and keyboards give courage to cowards.”
    Learn some manners.

    The point is that there are FAR more than two distinct political points of view, how much time would you require for anarchists or monarchists, the only true political opposites?
    How about Nazi’s, Communists,Militia groups?
    All equal time?

    Where do you think someone like John Stewart belongs… political speech or entertainment?
    How about “lil Bush”? Rush Limbaugh? even stand up comedy with political content?

    This is truly an important issue,look at the airways before they repealed the “fairness” doctrine”. Do you want to regress to those days?

    Now see if you can respond with some intelligence to my “streets” analogy.

  42. Michael says:

    I don’t understand how that is vague or nebulous, subject to misinterpretation.

    Because you can’t clearly define viewpoint “A”, or which viewpoint “B” provides a balance to it.

  43. Hal says:

    Learn some manners.

    Yes, pointing out that your analogy was stupid and adolescent was bad manners. Having a thin skin in a comment forum and puffing up one’s chest is silly.

    All equal time?

    All equal opportunity. You’re making an argument that the spectrum of beliefs and opinions is equally distributed. It’s not. Yes, there are people who can be found to have any viewpoint, but in actual *practice* you don’t find that they actually are around.

    And you’re completely ignoring the fact that the fairness doctrine was in actual force for *decades* and none of your worst case scenarios and slippery slopes actually materialized. None. In practice – and I stress the reality of the data, not some fantasy concocted to scare the children – things work out pretty well. Sure, there’s a probability that all the oxygen atoms on the planet will take up residence over Seattle, but in reality we’re just not going to see that happen.

    Do you want to regress to those days?

    Can you show some actual data or evidence that “those days” were a horrible regression from what we currently have? What harm are you claiming? What problems? Please, I’m waiting with a worm on my tongue.

    Now see if you can respond with some intelligence to my “streets” analogy.

    Ah yes. People who always start out with crocodile tears over politeness always seem to end up sticking the shiv in your back as the wipe away the tears. Really, dude. Stop the act. It doesn’t look good on you.

  44. Hal says:

    Because you can’t clearly define viewpoint “A”, or which viewpoint “B” provides a balance to it.

    You don’t have to. You just have to provide opportunity for people who think they have one to make their case.

    Again, that’s not nebulous or needing definition.

  45. Michael says:

    You don’t have to. You just have to provide opportunity for people who think they have one to make their case.

    How? Open mic night on Fox News? What happens when 1000 conservatives and 2 liberals show up, but they only have time enough for 100 people? Like I said a few comments up, open access isn’t possible with a finite resource.

  46. anjin-san says:

    Of course there is. Then again, their viewer/readership numbers have been dropping steadily for some time.

    Probably because Democrats tend to spend their time on the Internet, where the real action is, instead on on the MSM, which is more entertainment these days then serious news or analysis. But that does not mean I wish to deny Republicans the latest breaking news whatever pretty blond happens to have gone missing in the last ten years.

    One day perhaps, the GOP will really get a handle on the internets and the googles. In the mean time, we out here in California will continue to keep these tools available to all so that the free exchange of ideas may continue 🙂

  47. Hal says:

    How? Open mic night on Fox News? What happens when 1000 conservatives and 2 liberals show up, but they only have time enough for 100 people?

    Again, we just have to look at the actual evidence of what happened when the fairness doctrine was in force for *decades*. None of these nightmare scenarios happened. No one spent endless hours in philosophical dilemmas wondering how to come up with a diametrically opposed viewpoint.

    None of it happened.

    So I just have to wonder why all the throwing up of worst case/nightmare scenarios? It doesn’t jibe with what we know about the reality of the situation.

  48. Hal says:

    In the mean time, we out here in California will continue to keep these tools available to all so that the free exchange of ideas may continue 🙂

    Perhaps. If you’ll recall, Comcast has been doing traffic shaping experiments. Luckily they got slapped by the FCC for it, but given that net neutrality has been framed as “regulation” and such, there’s not much preventing the intertubes from becoming precisely the same wasteland that TV and radio has become.

    He who controls the switches and routers controls the flow. And dropping packets you don’t like is trivial with the tech coming from Cisco n’ co.

  49. Floyd says:

    “Now see if you can respond with some intelligence to my “streets” analogy”
    “””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””
    Actually it was an honest question. Am I to Infer from your response that the answer is “NO”?

    Also, I am truly interested in your response to the third statement in my last post.

  50. Hal says:

    Where do you think someone like John Stewart belongs… political speech or entertainment?
    How about “lil Bush”? Rush Limbaugh? even stand up comedy with political content?

    Well, I think you basically misunderstand the situation. The fairness doctrine does not, would not and should not apply to cable. Cable, satellite, the internet – these are all not publicly owned resources. Radio waves are. There’s a huge difference here.

    So, Jon Stewart, on cable, can do whatever he likes. Same with Fox news – on cable. But someone using a publicly owned resource can be subjected to terms for using those resources. And claiming there’s some intrinsic right to those resources which will be taken away by the owner of the resource dictating the rules of use is simply absurd.

  51. Bithead says:

    Probably because Democrats tend to spend their time on the Internet

    OK, going with that just for the sake of argument, why bother with the “fairness” doctrine at all, since liberals seem to have taken care of their own coverage issues,despite the absense of such regulation? Or are we now to see this doctrine applied to the net, as well, as more than one source has been suggesting for some time, now?

    So I just have to wonder why all the throwing up of worst case/nightmare scenarios? It doesn’t jibe with what we know about the reality of the situation.

    What YOU know. Don’t include the rest of us in that statement. I’m going to give you a little research to do. Let’s see if you manage to get the point. Here’s your search strings:

    Franklin Florence.
    Gordon Brown
    WSAY
    Rochester

    And for some of this research you will also need “WDKX”. I LIVED that nightmare. And keep in mind, that’s only one of the nightmares I know about attached to the ‘fairness’ doctrine.

    Go. Let me know what you find.

  52. Michael says:

    Again, we just have to look at the actual evidence of what happened when the fairness doctrine was in force for *decades*.

    That fairness doctrine was the same as guaranteed opportunity for all. It wasn’t open-mic night.

    None of these nightmare scenarios happened. No one spent endless hours in philosophical dilemmas wondering how to come up with a diametrically opposed viewpoint.

    We’ve been without it for how long, without any of the other nightmare scenarios? I’m beginning to think that the fairness doctrine is irrelevant, because there is very little difference between having it and not having it.

  53. Michael says:

    Cable, satellite, the internet – these are all not publicly owned resources.

    But Cable at least is a publicly endorsed monopoly.

  54. Hal says:

    It wasn’t open-mic night.

    Okay, I guess I lost what we’re arguing about, then. I’m not arguing – and never have – for open mike night. I have been arguing the case that the fairness doctrine required equal opportunity for opposing and alternative viewpoints.

    I’m beginning to think that the fairness doctrine is irrelevant, because there is very little difference between having it and not having it.

    Yes, Iraq really would have been the same if we had any inkling of fairness in the arguments preceding it. I mean, you’re welcome to your opinions. But I think the evidence is quite clear that opposing viewpoints were quite well suppressed in the run up to that unmitigated disaster in blood, treasure and intangibles. And it’s still going on.

    Perhaps things would not have been different with the fairness doctrine in place, but I don’t think you can make the argument that things have been downright peachy without it. I mean, state sanctioned torture? Voter suppression? Political firing of federal attorneys? Holding citizens and persons without access to counsel? Repealing Habeas Corpus?

    Perhaps this is all okay with you and it’s the best of all possible worlds.

  55. Hal says:

    But Cable at least is a publicly endorsed monopoly.

    Yes, and the granters of these monopolies do exact a price for it. Ever hear of public access channels?

  56. Michael says:

    Yes, Iraq really would have been the same if we had any inkling of fairness in the arguments preceding it. I mean, you’re welcome to your opinions. But I think the evidence is quite clear that opposing viewpoints were quite well suppressed in the run up to that unmitigated disaster in blood, treasure and intangibles. And it’s still going on.

    They weren’t suppressed, they didn’t exist in any great number, and the vast majority of the population didn’t listen to the few that did speak out. If even a majority of Democrats had been against the war, Howard Dean would have been the nominee in 04.

    During the run up to war, Democrat and Republican, Liberal and Conservative views were aired, and they almost all supported the war. There were very few war opponents who took the opportunity to speak out against it.

    I mean, state sanctioned torture? Voter suppression? Political firing of federal attorneys? Holding citizens and persons without access to counsel? Repealing Habeas Corpus?

    Those have gotten plenty of air time, the problem is that most people don’t agree with those opposing view points, and don’t want to hear them. If people don’t listen, advertisers don’t pay, and they report something else.

    Unless you want to guarantee an audience, or guarantee funding, then requiring guaranteed access is either going to cost the broadcasters advertising revenue, or it will prompt them to limit the amount of time available to the viewpoints that people do want to hear.

    Yes, and the granters of these monopolies do exact a price for it. Ever hear of public access channels?

    Also coverage requirements. But the fact remains that I don’t have a choice between competing cable providers, so it should be treated as much like a finite public resource as broadcast.

  57. anjin-san says:

    OK, going with that just for the sake of argument, why bother with the “fairness” doctrine at all,

    Dunno, its not an issue that really interest me. My only point is that the argument that that declining eyes and ears among democrats in regards to the MSM suggests some kind of decline is nonsense. All that is happening is “the left” is busy creating/engaging the tools of this century, and the right is still rooted in the last.

    And Hal makes a good point. Net neutrality is a crucial issue for anyone who wants to continue the free flow of ideas and information on the internet. The big boys have no interest in a level playing field.

  58. Hal says:

    Sorry Michael, but your opinions just aren’t supported by the evidence. I mean, it’s actually demonstrable that you’re simply wrong on the facts here

    As a result, forty percent of all anti-war quotes were attributed to Saddam Hussein and his underlings. An additional 17% were attributed to foreign sources, including leaders in France, who became the administration’s most prominent international critics. And UN officials, who urged the White House to allow the weapons inspections a chance to proceed, were the source of 8% of antiwar quotes. This juxtaposition of the Bush administration’s arguments in favor of military action, and the arguments of foreign leaders, including Saddam Hussein, against, created an “us vs. them” narrative.

    Unless you want to guarantee an audience, or guarantee funding, then requiring guaranteed access is either going to cost the broadcasters advertising revenue, or it will prompt them to limit the amount of time available to the viewpoints that people do want to hear.

    Again, please point to me where guaranteeing broadcasters revenue targets is a constitutionally guaranteed right. I’m sure there’s all sorts of regulations that currently limit their revenue. Considering that Pr0N is the number one draw to humans, the limitations on depictions of nudity and sexual content probably costs them a pretty penny as well. As such, your argument is essentially meaningless. It’s a public space, owned, and leased. If you can’t make money off the terms, then where’s the harm? There is no right to make money off of anything. If there is, kindly inform me of where that right was granted.

    But the fact remains that I don’t have a choice between competing cable providers, so it should be treated as much like a finite public resource as broadcast.

    Perhaps, but given the bandwidth – i.e. dedication of entire channels to the loons who want to rant about anything – this doesn’t appear to be the case.

  59. Floyd says:

    Hal;
    Allow me to simplify, eliminating both metaphor and simile.
    [1]How do you define qualified political speech?
    [a]Would any of the examples mentioned fit the definition? [disregard venue]

    [2]Are public streets as necessary to the delivery of printed material, as airwaves are to the delivery of broadcast material?

    [3]Should the “Fairness Doctrine” apply to the broadcast of paid advertising?

    [4] Do you think that government subsidy of NPR is a violation, in principle, of the “Fairness Doctrine”?

    And now a simple statement…

    All speech is political.

  60. Fence says:

    OK, I didn’t get to read all of these comments, but a few quick points if they weren’t already made.

    The Fairness Doctrine was repealed 20 years ago. It obviously is unnecessary in the cable TV era, and extremely unnecessary in the Internet era.

    And ugh, all TV does is give the so-called liberal view and the so-called conservative view, with talking head puppets from the two parties. I sure wish they’d do less of that and try some real analysis for a change. But I sure as heck wouldn’t ask the govt to mandate that.

    As for the free airwaves/public trust issue, there shouldn’t be any free airwaves, they should be sold to the highest bidder. The giveaway of billions of airwaves to the big networks is a relic. Most people do not get their TV over the air anymore and the only reason it still exists is because we subsidize it. We could subsidize a lifeline cable TV service with education, news and safety info for much less money.

  61. Hal says:

    Floyd,

    [1] I’m not sure why it is up to me to define qualified political speech. Further, I’m not sure that such a definition matters because it’s very clear that there’s a distinction between reporting and opinion. And clearly, the doctrine has to do with opinion. Facts are their own. Opinion needs balance. Do I have to define what is the difference between facts and opinion? I would hope not.

    [a] Again, it’s unclear what the value of me defining whether someone is stating an opinion or fact. Further, as I point out, the root of the issue is about terms of lease regarding a publicly owned resource. Demanding a ruling on people and programs who clearly fall outside that realm is meaningless.

    [2] I’m not really sure where this obsession with the “streets” comes in, but you think you have a chestnut. So, your point, I take it, is that the streets are the medium for the message in the newspapers in the same fashion that radio waves are the medium for talk shows. We don’t regulate the streets so why do we think we can regulate the airwaves?

    First, let’s note there is no capacity issue with the streets vis a vis any message carrying capacity. Myriads of newspapers flourished even in towns with limited street capacity. This is not the case with radio bandwidth. Further, the cost of publishing a newspaper is small – that’s why there used to be so many of them. This is also not the case with radio. I could go on, but hopefully you can follow that this is a seriously flawed analogy just on the merits.

    To go further, the federal government doesn’t have anything to do with regulating the local streets where newspapers are delivered. Maybe this comes as a big surprise to you, but these are controlled by the local governments and ultimately the state governments. Since we’re talking about federal regulations and not state, county, city or community regulations. So, again, I can’t see how this “streets analogy” even applies to this argument.

    [3] I can’t see why not. I can’t see why anyone would, except in the case where a run around was attempted by purchasing 4 hours of time to “advertise” one’s opinion. But it’s pretty clear what the difference is between advertisement and – say – the three hours of Limbaugh is. Again, if you don’t think there’s any difference here, then there’s little point in continuing discussion.

    [4] I can’t see how. It’s only in the fevered minds of the right that somehow NPR is a communist, leftist powerhouse. All studies of NPR show it right of center. And I’ll bet you don’t even know how much of NPR – or public radio in general – is funded by the big G. Further, I’ll wager that you don’t know that the bulk of this “funding” goes to education programs like Sesame Street (that well know communist political talk show) and similar programs through the educational funding.

    WRT “all speech is political”

    Cute. Meaningless. But cute.

  62. Michael says:

    [2]Are public streets as necessary to the delivery of printed material, as airwaves are to the delivery of broadcast material?

    No. Streets are a convenient way to distribute them, but not a necessity. Also, as Hal mentioned, newspapers do not have the ability to saturate a street to the point of preventing it’s competitors from using it. Remember, it’s not a question of how much they use, its a question of how they prevent competitors from using it.

    As for the free airwaves/public trust issue, there shouldn’t be any free airwaves, they should be sold to the highest bidder.

    I hope you meant leased, not sold.
    And that’s pretty much how they do it now.

    [4] Do you think that government subsidy of NPR is a violation, in principle, of the “Fairness Doctrine”?

    NPR is actually a pretty good example of the a well applied fairness doctrine.

    All speech is political.

    Not quite. Your speech may not be political, but it can be used for politics.

  63. Floyd says:

    Hal;
    Thank you for your response!
    You have sated my curiosity as well as my appetite for unqualified abuse.

  64. Nat says:

    I mean, state sanctioned torture? Voter suppression? Political firing of federal attorneys? Holding citizens and persons without access to counsel? Repealing Habeas Corpus?

    There has been no shortage of coverage of these. Do you spend all of your time listening to Rush and working yourself up into a righteous fury, rather than paying attention to the countless easily-found media outlets that have covered such abuses in horrifying detail? If the general public is not aware of what’s happened over the last few years, it’s because they’re stupid and lazy, not because they’ve been brainwashed by villainous media executives. And if they know but don’t care, it’s because they’re amoral sociopaths. I fail to see how mandating government regulation of content is going to help this, especially since the government is the culpable party in the first place.

    I’m as outraged as anyone by what Bush has done – I pray for war crimes trials in the future. And I can’t understand why any moral, intelligent person could agree with Rush, Hannity, or Savage and their ilk. But I place the blame on a criminally incompetent Republican party, a supine, negligent Democratic party, and an unfortunately large segment of the population that actually approves of this nightmare, not on the big bad corporate media and scary conservative talk-show hosts. And frankly, after reading so many outraged blog posts by Republicans simply salivating over the idea of treason trials for reporters who’ve exposed the administration’s misdeeds, I’m rather ill-disposed towards any proposals for new media regulations.

    And Hal, the tone of your comments really isn’t inspiring much confidence in the nobility of your intentions, or in your ability to judge the “fairness” of media impartially and dispassionately.

    Bithead: I couldn’t figure out what you meant by those search words – care to share more? I’m genuinely curious now.

  65. Fence says:

    I hope you meant leased, not sold.
    And that’s pretty much how they do it now.

    Yeah, I meant leased. But that’s not how we do it today for TV, we give it away. Worse, we give some of it away to people who show infomercials, not because many people would ever use rabbit ears to tune to it, but because if they are a broadcaster the government in its infinite wisdom forces cable operators to use part of their limited capacity to carry it for free no matter how horrendous its programming is. So we give away valuable spectrum they don’t even really want (that we could otherwise lease for billions) just to get the government to force cable operators to carry junk that no one really wants to watch.

    Just another day at the office for our dysfunctional government

  66. Hal says:

    And Hal, the tone of your comments really isn’t inspiring much confidence in the nobility of your intentions, or in your ability to judge the “fairness” of media impartially and dispassionately.

    I’m not really sure why on earth tone matters, nor the nobility of my intentions. But thanks for your opinion on this.

    If the general public is not aware of what’s happened over the last few years, it’s because they’re stupid and lazy, not because they’ve been brainwashed by villainous media executives. And if they know but don’t care, it’s because they’re amoral sociopaths.

    That rant, however, speaks volumes.

    Frankly, I started off this comment thread questioning James’ premise that somehow requiring equal opportunity for opposing views was muzzling speech. I still haven’t got an answer to that other than restricting – in any way, apparently – someone’s right to monopolize a publicly owned resource is somehow muzzling them. Quite odd.

    I’m not personally for reinstating the fairness doctrine. I think that the internet and modern communications makes it largely moot. But the attacks on it have been rather poor and baseless.

    However, things like net neutrality are extremely important and unfortunately subject to precisely the same bizarro world arguments that we’ve seen on this thread. Net neutrality is an excellent example of how the government can actually help the situation.

    Believing that market forces will keep things free is an odd religious tick. There’s no incentive as we’ve seen from the initial moves by Comcast, the statements from the head of ATT and the actual facts on the ground with the Phorm nonsense. Heck, just DMCA and the subsequent insanity in that area has pretty much shown precisely how access to information is treated by the people who pretty much own all the “streets”, as Floyd would put it.

    But hey, tone is everything. Nobility and intentions, after all.

    Quite bizarre.

  67. Nat says:

    I still haven’t got an answer to that other than restricting – in any way, apparently – someone’s right to monopolize a publicly owned resource is somehow muzzling them.

    Nobody is monopolizing anything. There is plenty of room in the broadcast spectrum for anyone able to afford the FCC license and equipment, although thanks to the bumbling of our federal government it may not appear that way. I don’t listen to radio, but I’m pretty sure that there are at least 20 stations each on AM and FM where I live. I’m dead certain that they aren’t all owned by a single company – I know for sure that several are owned by universities. So, let NPR and Air America have their stations, and let Rush and his merry band of psychopaths have theirs. As long as no party is being deprived of the opportunity to make themselves heard, I fail to see why this requires additional bureaucrats to make sure they’re being “fair,” or why this is not in violation of the Constitution (in spirit, at least, if not in letter). If anything, I suspect that over-regulation by the FCC is doing more to prevent a wide range of views than this phantom conservative radio monopoly you keep talking about.

    As for the issue of tone – the people most enthusiastic about a law tend to be the people most enthusiastic about enforcing it. Anyone reading this is going to assume that people like you will end up as legally appointed arbiters of fairness. I actually try to look at it from the opposite point of view (what if we had a Fairness Doctrine and Bush appointees got to judge the airwaves?), but you’re not doing the liberal side any favors. (And for someone who claims to think the Fairness Doctrine is unnecessary, you’re really bending over backwards to defend it.)

    Despite my low opinion of the American public, I don’t believe that I, or anyone else, has the right to determine what they say, hear, or do, as long as they’re not directly hurting others. (I used to think that meant I was a liberal, but I’m not so sure any more. It certainly doesn’t make me a conservative.) I might have very strong feelings about all of this, but the idea of the government passing laws to determine the content of public discourse – which will inevitably reflect some politician’s strong feelings – is simply repulsive, and more suited to the USSR than the USA. The potential outcomes of government media regulation are far, far worse than allowing our fellow citizens to rot their brains listening to Rush.

  68. Michael says:

    if they are a broadcaster the government in its infinite wisdom forces cable operators to use part of their limited capacity to carry it for free no matter how horrendous its programming is.

    I have Brighthouse digital cable, and the vast majority of their spectrum is made up of filler, so they can tout how many channels they advertise. They’ve not reached capacity yet, so I can’t muster any sympathy for them having to carry broadcast.

  69. Michael says:

    I started off this comment thread questioning James’ premise that somehow requiring equal opportunity for opposing views was muzzling speech. I still haven’t got an answer to that other than restricting – in any way, apparently – someone’s right to monopolize a publicly owned resource is somehow muzzling them. Quite odd.

    Fox news offered to host a Democratic party primary debate, but the candidates refused. Does that count as Fox being “fair” for offering them the opportunity?

    However, things like net neutrality are extremely important and unfortunately subject to precisely the same bizarro world arguments that we’ve seen on this thread. Net neutrality is an excellent example of how the government can actually help the situation.

    But Net Neutrality isn’t at all like the fairness doctrine. Net Neutrality basically says that nobody should interfere with anything, not the government, and not the carriers. I’m all for net neutrality, because I pay for access to the “internet”, not to it’s end-points, and my ISP shouldn’t restrict that access based on the end-points I visit.

    Believing that market forces will keep things free is an odd religious tick. There’s no incentive as we’ve seen from the initial moves by Comcast, the statements from the head of ATT and the actual facts on the ground with the Phorm nonsense.

    The problem is that there are too few broadband providers. Back in the old days when every small town had a half-dozen dialup providers, nobody could have gotten away with this. Hopefully wireless broadband access will come into its own soon and provide some more choices.

    Heck, just DMCA and the subsequent insanity in that area has pretty much shown precisely how access to information is treated by the people who pretty much own all the “streets”, as Floyd would put it.

    Yeah, well, the DMCA was one of the worst cases of unintended consequences we’ve seen in this area. The whole thing should be repealed.

  70. Michael says:

    I don’t believe that I, or anyone else, has the right to determine what they say, hear, or do, as long as they’re not directly hurting others. (I used to think that meant I was a liberal, but I’m not so sure any more. It certainly doesn’t make me a conservative.)

    I think that makes you a libertarian, at least on this issue.

  71. Bithead says:

    It certainly doesn’t make me a conservative.

    Matter of fact, it does, if by ‘conservative’ we mean we are striving to keep things as the founders would have intended. You see, by my lights, what you fail to add to your calculations of such matters is what the founders intended.

  72. Hal says:

    Does that count as Fox being “fair” for offering them the opportunity?

    I don’t know, does Hannity and Colmes count as balanced because Colmes is advertised as a liberal? I think we both know why he’s on there. Likewise, I don’t think that one act counts for anything – it’s the long term trend that matters. Sure, you can mistake genuine attempts to change, but that’s the fault of the person who has the rep, not the fault of those not believing them.

    But Net Neutrality isn’t at all like the fairness doctrine.

    It’s a different mechanism to achieve the same result. Glad you like it. My point was that precisely the *same* arguments on display here wrt the fairness doctrine are used against net neutrality.

    Hopefully wireless broadband access will come into its own soon and provide some more choices.

    Hmmm. Back to that publicly owned spectrum issue. “Mandating” net neutrality and open access has a lot of opponents, all making basically the same argument that they do against the fairness doctrine. Don’t know if you’ve noticed that.

    The whole thing should be repealed.

    I’m certainly not holding my breath.

  73. Michael says:

    Matter of fact, it does, if by ‘conservative’ we mean we are striving to keep things as the founders would have intended.

    Yeah, nobody means it that way these days and you know it. Matter of fact, the authors of the constitution consider themselves liberal.

  74. Michael says:

    You see, by my lights, what you fail to add to your calculations of such matters is what the founders intended.

    The same founders who wrote, passed and signed the Sedition act?

    We can’t ever decide matters based on what the “founders” intended, because the “founders” were not united in what they intended.

  75. Michael says:

    Hmmm. Back to that publicly owned spectrum issue. “Mandating” net neutrality and open access has a lot of opponents, all making basically the same argument that they do against the fairness doctrine. Don’t know if you’ve noticed that.

    No, I haven’t noticed that at all. The arguments against the fairness doctrine have mostly been about not wanting the government to be the arbiter of fair. The argument against net neutrality has mostly been that the carriers need to be able to charge non-customers in order to afford network upgrades, which is complete and utter BS.

  76. Hal says:

    The argument against net neutrality has mostly been that the carriers need to be able to charge non-customers in order to afford network upgrades, which is complete and utter BS.

    Agree with that, but not gonna worry about convincing you about the other – you already agree on the principle, “why” doesn’t matter.

  77. Michael says:

    Agree with that, but not gonna worry about convincing you about the other – you already agree on the principle, “why” doesn’t matter.

    I think we mostly agree on the other too.

    And the “why” always matters. Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons now may give the same result as doing it for the right reasons, but it doesn’t make it any more likely that you’ll to the right thing next time.

  78. Hal says:

    Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons now may give the same result as doing it for the right reasons, but it doesn’t make it any more likely that you’ll to the right thing next time.

    I suppose. But people who don’t share the same values may not agree on the why and come to the same goal. That’s called coalition building and diplomacy. It’s the way the world works. Expecting that everyone is going to have the “right” reasoning is, imho, living in fantasy land. It’s “perfect is the enemy of the good”, in a lot of ways as it’s largely distracting and worrying too much about why someone who doesn’t share a lot of common values with you is willing to work with you to a common goal is likely to piss that person off precisely because the common values are different – and figuring out which is “right” is a philosophical impossibility.

    Just sayin’…

  79. Bithead says:

    Yeah, nobody means it that way these days and you know it. Matter of fact, the authors of the constitution consider themselves liberal.

    Well, first of all, I ‘mean it that way’, because it is the proper use of the term, in context.

    Understand; “conservative’ and “liberal”, are relative terms.

    Example: I think we can agree that the Soviet Union was not founded on the idea if freedom for it’s people. Thereby a liberal in the soviet union would lean Away from those founding principles and toward freedom.

    I think we can also agree that these United States were founded on the ideas and ideals of freedom for it’s people. Thereby a liberal within THAT setting would want to move away from those founding principles, and toward….(Ahem)

    And thereby, I think I’ve answered a question just posed in another thread about how liberals always end up with the socialist banner stapled to their backsides.

  80. Michael says:

    I think we can also agree that these United States were founded on the ideas and ideals of freedom for it’s people. Thereby a liberal within THAT setting would want to move away from those founding principles, and toward….(Ahem)

    You seem to have not reconciled this portion of your thought with you previous one:

    Understand; “conservative’ and “liberal”, are relative terms.

    Liberals in America would want to move away from the current principles of government, not the original ones. Unless you believe that our current principles are the same as the original principles, which I think it only true for a very narrow set of principles, of which liberals and conservatives mostly agree anyway.

  81. Bithead says:

    You seem to have not reconciled this portion of your thought with you previous one:

    Understand; “conservative’ and “liberal”, are relative terms.

    To the contrary… of COURSE I have, and I thought that well outlined in the statement; Where you’re getting screwed up is what the terms are relative to… they are relative to the state of the culture and the culture’s tool, the government, at the time of the inception of each.

    Not the CURRENT government.

  82. Michael says:

    they are relative to the state of the culture and the culture’s tool, the government, at the time of the inception of each.

    Not the CURRENT government.

    Then you are suggesting that our founding fathers were rebelling against the origin of British government, not just it’s incarnation in the 1760s?

  83. anjin-san says:

    Thereby a liberal within THAT setting would want to move away from those founding principles, and toward

    Interesting comment, considering the fact that you Bushies seem to regard the constitution as something you might use to line a bird cage…

  84. Michael says:

    Interesting comment, considering the fact that you Bushies seem to regard the constitution as something you might use to line a bird cage…

    Why did you think it was necessary to post that?

  85. Bithead says:

    Bithead: I couldn’t figure out what you meant by those search words – care to share more? I’m genuinely curious now

    .

    Back in the early 70’s WSAY was a station in the Rochester NY area, owned by Gordon Brown. Brown had a real commitment to Public service, going well beyond his conteporaries in thtat area… a fact which cost im listeners bigtime. Despite running more black oriented programming than any other station in the area, particualrly in the area of public service programming, and despite having moe minorities on staff than any other station in the city, WSAY was sued by a group fronted by Florence, on the ground that their views were not being heard. There were two results of this;

    1: They broke Brown, financially to he point where he had to sell other long-held broadcast interests in Buffalo, just to keep the Rochester operation going… and he was in the process of selling the Rochester operation off, too, to Lew Dickey, whose son eventually went on to found Cumulus Radio… one of the more powerful radio groups in the country. Brown died a broken man, despite his commitment to minority programming.

    2: A drop-in FM… an unusual happening at the time, was arranged by the commission, for a black run commerical operation… not suprisingly, part owned by many of the people Florence was fronting for…. WDKX. That station continues to exist today, having made millions off of breaking Gordon Brown.

    Such is the product ot the “fairness” doctrine.

  86. Bithead says:

    Then you are suggesting that our founding fathers were rebelling against the origin of British government, not just it’s incarnation in the 1760s?

    Of course!
    Had’t you noticed the number of times the validity of the monarchy itself was question by Jefferson, for example?

  87. Bithead says:

    Addendum:

    How does one say “All men are created equal” without laying question at the foundaton of monarchies?

  88. Michael says:

    Had’t you noticed the number of times the validity of the monarchy itself was question by Jefferson, for example?

    It was Paine more than anybody making that case. Also most of the founding fathers staunch supporters of the crown during the French & Indian war. Many of them wrote about how wonderful it was to be British because of the freedoms ensured to them. It wasn’t until the Parliament and King George started trying to take away those freedoms that they rebelled. The Declaration of Independence was an indictment of the sitting king, not the idea of Monarchy itself.

  89. Michael says:

    How does one say “All men are created equal” without laying question at the foundaton of monarchies?

    The same way they could say that without abolishing slavery, I suppose.

  90. anjin-san says:

    Why did you think it was necessary to post that?

    If you do not appreciate my comments, please feel free to ignore them. You might want to keep in mind that this blog belongs to James, and he, to this point, has continued to allow me to post. If you wish to be the post police, perhaps you should start you own blog and block comments as you see fit…

  91. Michael says:

    If you do not appreciate my comments, please feel free to ignore them.

    Your comments don’t exist in isolation, the effectively take over and poison the entire thread. I am forced to ignore many a thread around here because you and Bithead regularly get off on ad hominem tangents instead of posting objectively.

    You might want to keep in mind that this blog belongs to James, and he, to this point, has continued to allow me to post. If you wish to be the post police, perhaps you should start you own blog and block comments as you see fit…

    Just because nobody is actively censoring you for it, doesn’t mean you have an obligation to be a jerk. I think all of us, including you, would benefit from a little more restraint in your replies.

  92. anjin-san says:

    Well Michael, why don’t you start your own blog? There you can be as controlling as you wish…

    I have no intention of tailoring my postings to suit you. Geeze, are you jealous because I argue with bit more than you do?

  93. Michael says:

    Well Michael, why don’t you start your own blog? There you can be as controlling as you wish…

    I’m not asking for control, I’m asking for respect. You can say whatever you want, I’m just asking that you try remain civil when you say it.

    I have no intention of tailoring my postings to suit you. Geeze, are you jealous because I argue with bit more than you do?

    Why would anybody want to argue with Bithead? Argument for argument sake is stupid. If you’re not learning, and you’re not teaching, then what’s the point? However, when I do end up arguing with Bit, I do try to keep my comments respectful, and he and I both come out of it better informed than when we went in.

  94. anjin-san says:

    Why would anybody want to argue with Bithead?

    I like to argue about politics. Apparently, so does he. If you had read my comments, you could have taken a few interesting tidbits away about FDR, and discovered 2 seminal works in the field of semantics, so there was a learning opportunity, you just did not take it.

    I have my own way of carrying on a discussion. It may not be your cup of tea, but that’s you. My definition of “respectful” includes not trying to tell others how to act. Since bit continues to engage in conversation with me, it seems apparent that he is getting something out of it, and does not have a problem with my tone that would cause him to tell me to buzz off.

    As far as the thread being “poisoned”, this thread is nearing the century mark for posts, which does not suggest a premature death.

    I really cannot believe I am having this conversation. I am not interested in your attempt to be the hall monitor. In the future, I will disregard you comments. I suggest you do the same with mine.