Freedom to Listen
It is not possible to have Freedom of Speech if the right of people to listen to that speech is censored or abridged. Today, a right which most people take that most take for granted—our freedom to listen (to the radio or TV broadcaster of their choice, or even programs on the Internet)—is in jeopardy.
The First Amendment to the Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Leftists in all branches of government have worked to silence voices with whom they disagree under the guise of calling for ”fairness” in media, particularly AM radio. Of course, they claim the right to define what is “fair”—with the goal to replace conservative speech with liberal speech.
In 2009–2010, the FCC similarly launched an effort to revive the “Fairness Doctrine” it was forced to abandon in 1987, thanks to President Ronald Reagan, in an insidious attempt by the federal government to control what Americans get to see and hear.
In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that the ban on independent political expenditures by corporations violated the First Amendment’s right to freedom of expression and speech. This important decision helped secure Americans’ freedom to listen by allowing more privately purchased political advertising on broadcast media.
In 2012, the FCC attempted to censor and control the Internet, despite never receiving the authority from Congress to do so; in defiance of a federal court ruling.
In early 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) assaulted our freedom to listen by proposing the “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs” (CIN) by which government researchers would invade America’s newsrooms and grill reporters and editors as to why and how they chose what to report. The assault was halted, for now, by widespread public outrage.
Our freedom to listen is in jeopardy. The federal government has sought to regulate the conservative point of view out of business under the guise of “localism,” “viewpoint discrimination,” “community monitoring boards,” “media ownership diversity” and reduced or overly restrictive terms to renew broadcast licenses for radio and TV stations.
Now powerful social media giants are committing blatant censorship of conservative messages in their quest for conformity of thought.
The FCC needs to be kept away from America’s microphones and newsrooms. Government bureaucrats and the likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter should never be permitted to dictate under the guise of “fair and balanced” what Americans are permitted to read, hear and see.
Our Constitution limits the power of the federal government, but it does not limit censorship by private parties. That battle must be waged through our political process. Congress needs to get busy.