Friday, February 1, 2008

The First Amendment in 2008

We are living in an era where communication is global and instant. Almost everyone in the world can listen to a radio; almost every American has at least one television; newspapers and magazines abound. And with the continued growth of the Internet, which not only lets information in, but allows anybody, myself included, to put their two cents into the conversation, we are in an age where everybody can truly exercise their freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is truly in its golden age.

But are people smart enough to use it? The heaviest internet traffic is not for political information, but for porn. Most of the major portal pages (MSN, Yahoo, AOL, etc) have some news, but sometimes it is hard to find it (not so much today) among the garbage of pseudonews and celebrity puff. Then there are the idiots that add nothing to the conversation except their fervent hope that "u get cancur and die u bushloving ho' or some shit like that. Even with 24-hour news, there seems to be a lot of focus on either pointless local news (Drew Peterson today) or celebrity garbage (Yes, Britney again).

It wasn't always this pointless. Back during the days of the founding of this great country, it took weeks for letters to move along the thirteen colonies. And if they had to cross the Atlantic, months. But the contents of these letters (the best collection of these belonging to President John Adams) are remarkable for clarity of thought and conciseness of idea. These are the days when recording your thoughts and sending them places was difficult at best. The newspaper was the best source of the time, and they were prevalent.

So with this freedom to say almost anything, how is the state of our freedom of speech? Well, there are far too many politicians out there who would like to find a way to control speech. The Federal Communications Commission is the worst of these entities. This is an organization whose purpose is to control the airwaves, punishing people for saying things or doing things that they deem objectionable. A perfect example is Janet Jackson's tit during that Super Bowl halftime show. There were fines flung out for that. There was the attack on the recording industry for 'explicit lyrics' led by Tipper Gore in the 1980's, resulting in an annoying sticker on music unless it is raped for radio by taking out all the 'bad' words. We can't forget the Fairness Doctrine, a measure reintroduces to control talk radio, because they're not being 'fair' to somebody and are one-sided. Talk radio did not exist in its current form until after the elimination of this violation of the First Amendment.

And there are always politicians ready to find ways to take away freedom for the good of government. The Supreme Court has been chipping away at parts of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act. This was a direct assault on the the First Amendment, in the name of taking corruption out of politics. There is something seriously wrong with any politician who would have the balls to take away the right to spend money for or against a candidate on any issue.

Remember this when you vote: Any politician who would be willing to piss on the First Amendment should never be allowed to hold an office in the United States of America.

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