The assault on the freedom of speech has taken a dramatic turn for the worse. Apparently, Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps has decided to take it upon his federal department to decide what the freedom of speech entails.
Obviously, Mr. Copps believes that the FCC should be able to bypass the legislative process of the United States when it comes to concerns about what Americans see and hear on the radio, television, and internet. As far as radio and television are concerned, he feels the FCC should appoint commissioners to create “value tests” to determine a broadcasting station’s worth to the “public interest”.
First off, the possibilities for abuse and widespread public deception are endless by allowing a non-elected federal commission to usurp the freedom of speech in this way. While I may not share his opinion or values, Keith Olbermann has the right to express his opinion, as a left leaning news reporter, at MSNBC. Similarly, I find myself in disagreement with Bill O’Reilly, but I respect his right to share opinions on Fox News.
The FCC is a federal entity, and as such, is prohibited from abridging the right to free speech or free press. Regardless of how the FCC feels about it, those rights WILL be respected or I will personally begin lobbying for the disbandment of the FCC.
Then there is the interesting notion that the FCC can reveal “secret campaign donors”. Imagine the task force, time, money, and effort to track and verify the source of funding to every foundation, NFP group, union, business, and person that contributes to a political campaign in every district of the United States. Simply letting the public know who paid for ads or political campaigns does not make a political candidate any less beholden to the special interest who funded their successful campaign. Now, if Congress and the POTUS would pass a law that limited campaign contributions to registered voters only, and capped them at $100 per candidate, politicians would no longer be beholden to business, special interests, unions, NFP groups, or foundations… only registered voters.
Commissioner Copps is quick to whip out the race card by reporting that only 3.6% of full power commercial television stations are owned by people of “color”. To further iterate his point, he draws authority from the, almighty, FCC appointed Diversity Advisory Committee, who has studied this phenomenon and drawn the conclusion that the depiction of minorities and women on television are the root cause of this evil? This makes me question whether the FCC would have allowed Rodney King’s beating by police officers to be televised, or whether the American people would have been allowed to see the Palestinian people dance and shout war cries on September 11, 2001, as the United States was attacked? It does make you wonder…
What is Mr. Copps version of “serving the public interest”? A full quarter of prime time programming should be dedicated to local or independent productions, each station (music or television) should provide public services, and more public education and government PEG channels should be available. Currently, in my area, I have PBS and C-SPAN coverage of both the House and Senate. During prime time, on NBC, CBS, and ABC, there is already a full quarter of advertisement belonging to local businesses and independent retailers. Any more than this is over-regulation and should be suspect to Congressional interrogation.
Personally, I think Commissioner Copps should resign and allow someone with more tolerance and less arrogance perform his duties.