As a pretty staunch centrist independent, I agree very little with Rush Limbaugh. But when I see eye to eye with those whom I have deep seated disagreements with, I think it's good to highlight those commonalities.
In this case he is right on the money with his opposition to the effort to force commentators to give equal time to differing opinions on political commentary shows. As much as something like this passing might just lead me to start watching cable news again, this inaccurately labeled "Fairness Doctrine" is a clear infringement on free speech, and I'm glad the recent calls to bring it back don't look to be gaining traction.
Just because someone has a politically themed program, does not mean the government should then have the right to determine what they should talk about. As a matter of fact, those are the very programs the government should have the least control over. I see no difference between doing this and forcing the same on any other medium of speech, whether it be television, newspapers, podcasts, books, web video shows, magazines or even blogs.
Why should Rush have to represent views he does not hold on his own program, if Ariana Huffington does not have to do so on her Huffington Post, or the libertarian magazine Reason in the pages of their publication or website? Why is it wrong to force this upon an author or the outlets for the left-wing show Democracy Now, but acceptable to do so to Sean Hannity, another popular conservative radio personality? The obvious answer is liberals have lost the war on the radio waves and are attempting to use the government to attack their opponents.
For me this is very personal. I see this as a glaring example of hypocrisy on the parts of those who take part in opinion media, of which I include myself. I would never want right or left wing bloggers on my site, subjecting my audience to what I see as their absurd fringe ideologies. The same is assuredly the case for partisan commentators from across the spectrum, who have every right to disseminate their beliefs without government interference.
Indeed this issue is one of the core roots of our society. During the founding period of our country, pamphleteers were the bloggers and radio personalities, using the printing press to spread ideas of freedom and democracy. Should Thomas Paine have been forced to let monarchists give their side of the story in his "Common Sense," a pamphlet that was a source of inspiration for the movement that led to our nation’s founding?
Of course not. It could hardly be more hypocritical of me to expect my rights to say what I wish to say on my own blog be respected, if I were to at the same time push for the force of government to be used on other commentators, no matter the medium. I am honest enough to see that one cannot accurately say that they support free speech, while working to stifle those who’s ideas you may find repugnant. I wonder at why other commentators don’t realize this.
Solomon Kleinsmith is a nonprofit worker, serial social entrepreneur and strident centrist independent blogger from Omaha, Nebraska. His website, Rise of the Center, is the fastest growing blog targeting centrist independents and moderates. He is currently collaborating with other centrist independent and moderate bloggers on a news aggregation and social networking site, and is always looking for ways to help the independent groundswell as more and more people become disaffected with the two major parties.