The Real Threat of Censorship
By Bruce Walker
October 27, 2008
Since losing power in 1994, the Left has been making ugly noises about what would happen when it regained power. The "fairness doctrine" has been bandied about, but that is not what should alarm us most. The rise of this Frankenstein is specifically directed at conservative talk radio. In other words, the Left does not believe or does not care about the Leftist unfairness of every other medium in our nation: NPR, PBS, television news, television entertainment, public schools, academia, and library systems.
How in the world, can any honest and moral person think that rampant bias for the Left is fine not only in public radio but also in public television, but think that private radio is a threat to democracy? How can any honest and moral person think that bias for the Left in the news reporting and, more critically, in the entertainment within a highly subliminal and ubiquitous medium like television is fine, but think talk radio, which deals in the spoken word and not images, is more of a threat to democracy when it has an opinion expressed?
Serious advocates of government mandated fairness - a horrible idea, but horrible ideas can still have serious advocates - should make their case by first exploring and condemning all bias in all sources of information and opinion that rely upon direct or indirect government support. These advocates should condemn the thought control efforts on most college campuses, the ideological bigotry in taxpayer funded television and radio, and the fact that not only do nearly all television networks have the safe Leftist bias, but they deny the corporate wrongdoing of their nominal corporate rivals (if CNN and MSNBC are truly rivals, then why has CNN not savaged MSNBC for its blatant bias?).
The Left does not seriously advocate government mandated fairness. In fact, the Left strongly supports unfairness in every source of information and opinion we receive. It pushes journalism schools to turn out "advocates" instead of reporters; it applauds the most absurd and scurrilous films as "cutting edge;" it gives prizes and awards to the least open minded people.
Now, the Obama campaign has taken the next logical step. Obama troops openly seek to censor campaign ads critical of Obama by threatening private lawsuits and, much more dangerously, punitive actions by public prosecutors against anyone who, in their partisan opinion, does not tell the truth about Obama. The Left now seeks openly to shut up not only those voices who operate on the public airways, like talk radio, but it seeks to shut up any voices who challenge their positions.
It is impossible to overstate the danger of this sort of militancy. Even the pretense of freedom has been shoved aside. The notion of open discussion is in the garbage can. Only one opinion counts, and that is the opinion of the Leader - Barack Obama. We witnessed a bit of this within the Democrat Party earlier: When Republicans crossed over to vote for Obama, Democrats openly menaced this free exercise of a constitutional prerogative of expression. Opposing Obama has almost become a crime to some Leftists.
The Left has ended a long journey. When the radical Left consisted largely of Communist Party members, opinion and speech were utterly regulated. The Party Line not only governed what people actually wrote and said, but it was intended to also govern how party members thought. As an example, when Stalin and Hitler became allies in August 1939, the Far Left's opposition to National Socialism vanished. Those who supported Churchill and Britain against Hitler became "warmongers" and efforts to support the military in America were opposed (the first Leftist opposition to ROTC on campuses was during this period, when training military officers at universities meant building up American military power to oppose Nazi Germany.) Only a few Communists resigned from the Party; most stayed and followed orders. Censorship was the modus operandi of the Far Left, and it seemed normal to Party members.
Academia has long been filled with very real censorship. Scientists who challenge the intellectual viability of evolution by natural selection are denied tenure, fired, or otherwise harassed. Pity the professor who questions the dogma of global warming. The ideologically scripted history of the Cold War is immune to the Verona decryptions, the revelations from Kremlin archives, or even confessions of Soviet spies decades after their crimes.
More frighteningly, speech codes and the very term "politically incorrect" have been formally adopted by college administrations as the proper way to speak, to write, and to think. Coercion, not persuasion, has become the preferred means of advancing Leftism. Why then should we be so surprised that partisans in political campaigns now find the Left menacing them for politically incorrect versions of truth?
What will prevent the Left from enforcing censorship on America? Scruples? The Left already lies without remorse. Justice? The Duke Lacrosse Team and Scooter Libby can tell you how little justice means to the Left when politics is at issue. Freedom? The ugly reality is that the Left does not believe in any kind of freedom - the socialism of Leftism always presupposed that economic "security" trumped economic freedom, but Leftism cannot and does not try to limit its hatred of freedom to only one sphere of life. All the Left does, really, is punish those who challenge it.
Now that Leftist lust for control, that will to enslave, that intention to crush any rival to Leftist power is dangerously brazen and critically close to becoming real. If that happens, an Obama Administration led by a lockstep Leftist Congress could wield federal power to genuinely stifle the voice of opposition. An assumption that people who have shown no restraint at all in their pursuit of power would not take the last, bitter, necessary step toward the sort of control which the Left once exercised is an error. Perhaps, for us, it may be the most tragic error in the history of our republic.
Bruce Walker is a long-time conservative writer whose work is published regularly at popular conservative sites such as American Thinker.