"FAIRNESS" AND FREEDOM
by [Mark Steyn]
The Corner on The National Review Online
Monday, October 20, 2008
If Obama wins and has Congressional coattails, I would expect a new "Fairness Doctrine" to be one of the first things the liberal supermajority will pass. John McCain, who is antipathetic to talk radio and whose birdbrained interventions in the area of public discourse have helped give us moveon.org and a 600-million-dollar candidate who could singlehandedly fund the national elections of the rest of the G7, is obviously not the best person to argue against it. But those Americans who object to government regulation of ideas and opinions ought to take this threat seriously. It applies not just to Rush & Co, but eventually to websites like this. (North of the border, I see, the broadcast regulator, the CRTC, is now moving on to swallow the Internet.)
This would be not a "long march through the institutions" (as terrorist educator William Ayers would say), only a quick and easy stroll. But it would be (in Colin Powell's word) "transformative". In Canada, for example, I'm told by leftie critics that I should be satisfied because "the system worked" - that's to say, after three investigations, a wasted year and a ton of legal bills, a government agency has, in effect, retrospectively granted me permission to say what I said. Gee, thanks. Today's Calgary Herald editorial - "Canadians Are A Censored People" - has implications down here, too:
In supposedly free societies, government has no business having an opinion on whether a book [or a radio show, or a website] is true, false or has merit.
Like Canada's "human rights" commissions, the new "Fairness Doctrine" will be framed in fluffy feelgood terms, starting with that Orwellian name, and it will serve the same purpose - to pre-emptively stifle free speech.