Our Founders constructed a number of strong redoubts against the onslaught of tyranny. Strictly limiting and delineating the powers of the federal government, separation of powers among the three branches, the right of the citizenry to keep and bear arms, habeus corpus, the sanctity of private property and perhaps the strongest of all bulwarks, unfettered political speech.
Freedom of speech was first abridged in 1798 when a federalist congress under President John Adams sought to criminalize political dissent in the Aliens and Sedition Acts. Quickly Kentucky and Virginia announced their intention and asserted their right to nullify these acts within their bounds and a smattering of secessionist rumblings were heard throughout New England A chastened congress soon repealed the nefarious enactions and the nascent union was saved. Lincoln in the 1860's aside from revoking habeus corpus, imprisoned opposition journalists and closed newspapers critical of his continuing prosecution of the War Between The States. Woodrow Wilson the first categorically fascist western leader imposed strict and abusive restrictions on speech during WWI and Sen. Joseph McCarthy is infamous for demanding censorship of ideas in the 1950's. So repudiated and reviled was McCarthy [particularly from the left] that one might have thought free speech safely established till the end of time.
Time, it seems, has come today. Holding a virtual monopoly on the post-Watergate print media and seeing the mainstream television networks become little more than Democrat house organs, the left [ironically] began in the 1990's to try and fetter the expression of opposition opinion. After several abortive tries and with the help of putative Republican John McCain the effort bore fruit as The McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act. Claiming to reduce the corrosive effect of money on the electoral process the act restricts the amount of cash a candidate may receive from a lone donor thus constraining the degree to which individuals rich or poor, might express political ideas and opinions. The self-serving act also limits criticism of incumbent candidates 60 days before an election and by force of operation dramatically increases the power of the friendly press. In a decision that will puzzle legal scholars for as long as the republic exists, the Supreme Court found this bluntly oppressive act constitutional. One locus of free speech so far remains unencumbered, talk radio.
Rising on the broad back of Rush Limbaugh in the 1980's and resurrecting AM radio frequencies and stations, talk radio overwhelmingly conservative in opinion, became outrageously popular. It seemed to have addressed a glaring need in the body politic - an outlet for political expression by Mr. and Mrs. Everyman. The success of talk radio represents a magnificent achievement of three of America's signature attributes, grass roots democracy, free markets and the free dissemination of ideas. The phenomenon however poses a problem to the progressives in our midst. Liberal thought, not only under represented on the air suffers constant and cogent attack from conservative hosts like Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin. The distribution of ideas having atomized among millions of everyday people is now being harnessed by well prepared and popular hosts. This outcome seems a certain disaster to many on the left.
The talk radio revolution was made possible when the Federal Communications Commission responding to its own finding that its order "had the net effect of reducing rather than enhancing the discussion of controversial issues of public importance" [emphasis mine] repealed the 1949 Fairness Doctrine that required over air media outlets to offer equal time for all viewpoints. Progressives made the proper response in 2004 launching the Air America Radio Network featuring liberal talk, phone calls and opinion. By the end of 2006 Air America was in bankruptcy. It remains on the air today though having only 66 affiliates as compared to the nearly 1000 of Limbaugh's EIB Network. Two factors are responsible for the failure of Air America. In the first instance the mainstream print and TV media more than adequately distribute liberal ideas which tends to reduce the felt need for an additional outlet in AM radio. Secondly and more importantly, it seems as if the appetite for progressive talk among the general population is nearly non-existent. To the liberal mind the market forces that have suffocated Air America have made a demonstrable minority of those persons who enjoy left leaning chatter. They have been locked out by corporate greed and power. The progressive movement is at its heart opposed to the winner-loser results of free enterprise. It is not difficult at all to see that it views this situation as unfair.
Recognizing conservative talk radio as not only unfair but a clear and present danger to recently established political hegemony the freshly minted Democrat regime is wasting little time in executing a plan to eliminate the threat, perhaps forever. The brand new Office of The President Elect announced yesterday that former FCC commissioner and Fairness Doctrine devotee Henry Rivera will head up a committee to select the new FCC Chairman who will, in his turn likely support reinstating the doctrine. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who only days ago referred to conservative talk shows as "pornography" and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will head up what must become a particularly autocratic congressional campaign that will attempt to memorialize the FCC regulation in permanent federal law.
The silencing of opposition speech whether from the right, left or center is for a democracy, nothing less than a death wish. From the very beginning of our nation such actions have been opposed by patriots of all stripes and at one time or another by all political factions. It matters not in this controversy, whose ox is getting gored. Liberty itself is in the dock. Now is the time for all good men from every walk of life and the four corners of the political compass to unite behind the banner of freedom, rise up as one and slay this awful dragon that seeks, in the interest of the most base partisanship, to destroy the foundations of our very existence as a free and self-determining people.