Thursday, June 28, 2007

Fairness Doctrine?   Who are They Kidding?

If you recognize that the so-called ‘Fairness’ Doctrine isn’t fair, then you don’t need to read this. But if you think the ‘Fairness’ Doctrine is fair, then you need a lesson in logic -- read on if you are open-minded.

Basically, the ‘Fairness’ Doctrine seeks to enforce equal time for conservative and liberal views on American radio stations. But why do that and not also enforce equal time on cable and broadcast TV, equal print space in newspapers, etc.? If we really need to enforce an equal voice for conservative and liberal views, it would be ‘fair’ to do it equally for all outlets. But the liberals don’t want that, because then they would lose their advantage in the TV and newspaper outlets. Is a 'fairness' only in an area that gives an advantage to the liberals fair?

Some of the misunderstanding of the ‘Fairness’ Doctrine relates to a common misunderstanding of the freedom of speech. The free communication of ideas involves listening as well as speaking, and thus involves the freedom of listening (or not listening) to any one, as well as the freedom of speaking. For an example, even though people are free to say stupid things, the rest of us are free not to listen to stupid speeches. The natural result, fortunately, is that stupid people don’t get equal time. You can substitute other words such as ‘ranting’ instead of ‘stupid’, and the logic works the same. In an unregulated media that is funded by advertising, advertisers pay for listeners, so programs with few listeners will fail financially. The speakers on these failing programs may not be stupid or ranting, but something is causing potential listeners to tune out, which is freedom at work.

Another part of the issue is: why should conservative and liberal views get equal time? Why not conservative, centrist, and liberal getting equal thirds? Why not far right, right, centrist, left, and far left? Why not Democrat and Republican? Why not pro-life and pro-choice? Pro-amnesty and anti-amnesty? Who should decide the categories? Just to be sure we are really fair, shouldn’t we include all categories, including cat-lovers and dog-lovers? (For a bonus, all the government regulators needed to make this system work will reduce the jobless rate.) Imagine all the paperwork -- does that sound like freedom of speech to you?

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