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Senators Clinton and Boxer learn from Darwin zealots

In an interesting bit of news Senator Inohofe stated he overheard Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) saying they wanted to stifle conservative talk radio via legislation. Now where have we seen this tactic before – when people want to criticize something and you can’t counter it with facts you turn instead to legal chicanery to silence their criticism. Just lovely. I guess for the left the only important thing in the first amendment is something it doesn’t even say: freedom from religion. Freedom of the press, something the first amendment explicitely spells out, apparently isn’t nearly as important as the left wing agenda.

SENATOR CLAIMS: Clinton, Boxer Conspiring to Rein In Talk Radio

HT to the Drudge Report for publicizing it.

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25 Responses to Senators Clinton and Boxer learn from Darwin zealots

  1. They don’t need legislation, all they need to do is get the case in front of Judge Jones. The ACLU can write the brief. Judge Jones can cut and paste and then go on tour for another round of honorary degrees.

  2. Apparently freedom of speech and freedom of the press apply very well to the main stream media, but don’t work so well in talk radio, where the opinions lean more to the right.

    Just like in academia, freedom of speech is necessary, as long as it is the correct speech. Diversity of ideas are important, as long as they are the correct ideas.

    In order for there to be a successful democrat push for the White House in 2008, we can’t have any of that pesky talk radio countering the MSM spin on issues like the doctrine of defeat in the war on terror.

    Expect the banner of “fairness” to be lifted for the push to stifle free speech in the arena of talk radio, as the dawn of the 2008 elections begins to warm our faces.

    Of course they don’t need to openly target conservative talk radio, just talk radio period. Liberal talk radio is not much more than a rumor in most areas of the US.

    If one looks closely, the night horizon still hints at the glow of fading embers from Air America.

  3. Is anybody really surprised at commited leftists opting for such heavy handed tactics to silence opposition that points out the folly of their idiocy ?

    That historically has just been business as usual for anybody with a paternalistic approach to government like the current US democrats.

  4. God help us if Hillary takes the presidency. Yesterday, I heard her comment on Bush’s embryonic stem cell research veto. She said…

    “This is just another example of the President putting ideology before science”.

    I’m not sure where I stand on embryonic stem cell research, but certainly we should never consider anything (especially moral issues) before science. Sheesh…

  5. 5

    The Wikipedia article on “talk radio” says:

    Talk radio is a radio format which features discussion of topical issues. Most shows feature a regular host, who interviews a number of different guests. Talk radio typically includes an element of listener participation, usually by broadcasting conversations with listeners who have placed telephone calls to speak with the program’s host or guest. Listener contributions are usually screened by a show’s producer(s) in order to maximize audience interest and, in the case of commercial talk radio, attract advertisers . . . .

    . . .In the United States, talk radio is dominated by right-leaning political commentators . . .

    . . . The repeal of the FCC “fairness doctrine” in 1987 — which had required that stations provide free air time for responses to any controversial opinions that were broadcast — provided an opportunity for a kind of flatly partisan programming that had not previously existed . . .

    . . . Pew researchers found in 2004 that 17% of the public regularly listens to talk radio. This audience is mostly male, middle-aged and conservative. Among those who regularly listen to talk radio, 41% are Republican and 28% are Democrats. Furthermore, 45% describe themselves as conservatives, compared with 18% who say they are liberal . . . .

    . . . Politically liberal talk radio aimed at a national audience has also emerged, although its ratings remain a fraction of right wing talk radio.

    Pre-screening the listener call-ins gives the talk show hosts control over the content of the call-ins, but IMO if the show hosts want some credibility then they need to allow a variety of viewpoints to be presented in the call-ins.

    There have been recent attempts to restore the FCC’s dormant “fairness doctrine,” and maybe this is the “fix” that Senators Clinton and Boxer were referring to. The Wikipedia article on the “fairness doctrine” says,

    As of early 2007, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), along with Representatives Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) have announced their support of legislation which would reverse the 1987 FCC decision and restore the Fairness Doctrine.

    It has been routinely criticized by conservatives in the media as a means of keeping their views from being expressed or of deliberately cutting their available air time in half.

    Restoring the “fairness doctrine” would not “stifle” conservative talk radio but would just require more time for presentation of opposing views, which could result in less time for conservative views.

    The comments about the Clinton-Boxer video mention the “fairness doctrine” several times — see

    http://www.breitbart.tv/?p=2042&comments=1

    Anyway, the fairness doctrine is in no way comparable to the censorship being pushed by the Darwinists.

    BTW, I am a fanatic advocate of a blogging “fairness doctrine” that would generally prohibit arbitrary censorship of blog visitors’ comments — see

    http://im-from-missouri.blogsp.....trine.html

    One of my arguments for a “fairness doctrine” for blogs is that because comment space on blogs is unlimited, prohibiting rejection of some comments would not reduce the space available for other comments.

  6. “Hey guys, what does ‘Congress shall make no law’ mean? Stupid complicated Constitution…”

  7. Restoring the “fairness doctrine” would not “stifle” conservative talk radio but would just require more time for presentation of opposing views, which could result in less time for conservative views.

    The market for the “opposing views” you’re talking about is already saturated by the news pages of most newspapers, network TV, most cable TV stations, virtually all movies produced by Hollywood (politics commonly finds its way into non-political subjects), all of academia, etc.

    Talk radio is popular because it gives listeners “the other side” of what they get everywhere else they turn. If you stuff conservative talk radio with the uninteresting and unpopular “filler” of the kind produced by Air America, it can only damage those shows, and help liberal politicians. If I order a steak, and you force me to eat an equal amount of granola or broccoli with every bite, I will eat less steak. The Senators understand this.

    If there is going to be a “fairness doctrine”, then lets just apply it to newspapers, academic lectures, TV, film and the Internet. Tear up the Constitution. This generation of Americans will have shown themselves unworthy of its protections.

  8. Restoring the “fairness doctrine” would not “stifle” conservative talk radio but would just require more time for presentation of opposing views, which could result in less time for conservative views.

    Radio stations are businesses. If they are forced to air unpopular content along with popular content, that will reduce listenership and advertising dollars. Air America proved that there’s no money in liberal talk radio. The fairness doctrine just saddles conservative talk radio shows with an unprofitable business model, albeit a modified unprofitbable business model.

    And of course, someone in government is going to have to determine that “balance” or “fairness” has been achieved. Conservative talk stations will naturally stay clear of controversy in order to protect themselves from government regulators answerable to Hillary Clinton and pals.

  9. Larry

    Where is the fairness doctrine in public school biology classes? It’s MIA. What we have is an unfairness doctrine in that public venue.

    A fairness doctrine is best implemented by freedom of speech. Fairness in talk radio is evidenced by the existence of Air America. Via guarantees of free speech and free press any number of Air Americas can go on the air. It’s not the government’s duty or place to insure they have an equal number of listeners either by promotion of Air America or stifling of its competition.

    There are a large number of Christian radio and television stations. No doubt religion is a controversial subject. A legislated fairness doctrine would require them to give equal air time to atheists, satan worshippers, and things of that nature. There’s nothing fair about that. It’s nothing less than the abolishment of free markets. Talk about a wedge! Fairness comes through no government actions to stifle competing channels which may opt for their content to focus on devil worship or Dawkinsian anti-theology or whatever.

    By the way, your unrestricted comment policy has several fatal flaws. Technically there’s not an unlimited space for comments as servers have finite storage capacity and bandwidth limitations but for the sake of argument I’ll grant that disk storage space and bandwidth to transmit data is cost free and unlimited. The real problem is that readers don’t have unlimited time to read an unlimited number of comments nor do they have the time (or in many cases the knowledge) to separate the wheat from the chaff. This is why editors exist. If you want to see what happens when editorial culling is abandoned a good example is Scott Adams’ The Dilbert Blog. There are 10 articles on the front page and 2000 comments. Few if any read all those comments. There might be some real gems buried in those comments but who has the time to find them? Certainly not me. Even in the most interesting articles Adams has published I’ve never read more than the first and last score of comments. There’s just too many of them to sift through.

  10. Here is an incriminating video of Hilary: Hillary in an Orwellian world.

  11. Seems Hillary got some mentory from PZ Myers who wrote yesterday:

    I do wish we could arrest all those parents who use homeschooling

  12. Larry Fafarman 5

    Restoring the “fairness doctrine” would not “stifle” conservative talk radio but would just require more time for presentation of opposing views, which could result in less time for conservative views.

    Here I have to agree with Russ and David and the Angry Old Fat Man, because the fairness doctrine once did require “less time for conservative views” and therefore did indeed stifle conservative talk radio—in fact it couldn’t exist back then.

    And who decides what’s controversial and what’s fair—Big Brother? I’d far rather let the talk show hosts and Bill Dembski and Dave Scott decide what they want to talk about in their venues in the free marketplace than let Big Brother decide.

    Besides it’s better to let people build their strongest cases and present those cases apart from constant heckling and shouting down. Those not interested don’t have to listen. One gets tired of those supposed discussions where anyone who really has something to say is given but a split second to say it before an avalanche of asinity is shouted back.

  13. 13

    DaveScot said (comment #9) –

    Larry

    Where is the fairness doctrine in public school biology classes? It’s MIA. What we have is an unfairness doctrine in that public venue.

    I agree.

    It’s not the government’s duty or place to insure they have an equal number of listeners either by promotion of Air America or stifling of its competition.

    Nonetheless, the Supreme Court ruled in Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC that the FCC’s “fairness doctrine” is constitutional. The rationale behind this ruling is that there is a very limited number of broadcasting frequencies available and that broadcasters are not more equal than others in regard to their First Amendment rights to broadcast their views to the public. Actually, though, I am a much bigger supporter of applying a fairness doctrine to blogs rather than broadcasters because a fairness doctrine is a big sacrifice for broadcasters but not for bloggers. Laws and policies regarding various kinds of fairness doctrines in different kinds of media are discussed on my blog at —

    http://im-from-missouri.blogsp.....trine.html

    By the way, your unrestricted comment policy has several fatal flaws. Technically there’s not an unlimited space for comments as servers have finite storage capacity and bandwidth limitations but for the sake of argument I’ll grant that disk storage space and bandwidth to transmit data is cost free and unlimited.

    You are waffling here — first you contest my point and then you concede it “for the sake of argument.”

    The cost of storing comments is a non-issue. I have seen 400 gigabyte hard drives being sold for $100, or 25 cents per gigabyte. 15-20 years ago, hard drives cost about $1000 per gigabyte, and even in those days, storing comments was cheap because they are only text files. My blog service, Blogger.com, is free, yet apparently has no limits on storage space for blog articles or visitors’ comments. My ISP, AOL, limits the number of emails I can store in the in-box at any one time but the limit is high, maybe over 500 emails.

    The real problem is that readers don’t have unlimited time to read an unlimited number of comments nor do they have the time (or in many cases the knowledge) to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    Readers can skip or skim comments that do not interest them.

    My main reasons for advocating a fairness doctrine for blogs are as follows:

    (1) The bigger blogs have become de facto major public forums.

    (2) Blogs are being authoritatively cited in the courts, by official news services, in scholarly journals, etc., and arbitrary censorship of comments impairs the reliability and fairness of the cited blogs.

    (3) BVD-clad bloggers want special privileges (e.g., a “reporter’s privilege” allowing them to keep their confidential sources secret) without responsibilities (e.g., a “fairness doctrine” against arbitrary censorship).

    (4) Comment space is virtually unlimited and so there is no compelling reason to pick and choose comments for posting.

    If you want to see what happens when editorial culling is abandoned a good example is Scott Adams’ The Dilbert Blog. There are 10 articles on the front page and 2000 comments. Few if any read all those comments.

    Who is to decide which comments are worthy of posting? The only fair way to do it is to post them all. Anyway, most comment threads are much shorter than that — most have under 100 comments, though threads on some of the bigger blogs may occasionally have hundreds of comments.

    Also, usually only a small fraction of comments are censored, so censoring comments usually does not greatly shorten a comment thread.

  14. Perhaps we can expand the fairness doctrine to books and magazines. Any book deemed controversial in nature can set aside pages for opposing viewpoints; magazines the same.

    While we’re here, I notice a lot of controversial subjects being spoken from America’s pulpits. I think including time on Sundays for opposing views from the pulpit will make it more fair. Why should the religious be shielded from alternate viewpoints in the safety of their own little clubs?

    That might be a great new way of looking at free speech. All speech is mandated to be allowed in every venue at all times. People will no longer be required to choose the venue that serves their interest, just filter out from the noise the information they prefer. This should make it fair for everyone.

    Free markets and freedom of association be damned — antiquated notions at best.

  15. Larry

    I have 500 channels on my TV. Long gone are the days when most people were using antennas and could only receive a few stations. Before the 1980′s I can see how a fairness doctrine was a good thing for over-the-air broadcast. Today it’s unnecessary. The FCC did the right thing repealing it and presidents Reagan and Bush did the right thing by vetoing congressional attempts to make it into binding law.

    I wasn’t waffling. I stated that comment space is not unlimited, not free, and neither is the bandwidth required to transmit them to readers. Uncommon Descent pays for both server space and internet bandwidth. You don’t since you use a free service. I conceded it wasn’t a huge concern because the overhead for comments is rather small compared to other things such as pictures.

    But this brings up a good point. Since anyone can make a blog for free if someone doesn’t like moderated content on one blog they are quite free to choose another blog or even create a new one and control it (or not) themselves. The sticking point is that everyone wants their comments to be widely read. If you go to a blog like The Dilbert Blog then your comments don’t get read not because the blog doesn’t have tens of thousands of readers but they’re buried in a huge pile of unmoderated comments. The people who read the blog read Scott Adams and mostly ignore the commentary. On the other hand if you go to a blog like yours the comments don’t get widely read because it’s obscure. At Uncommon Descent we have the best of both worlds. We have tens of thousands of readers and because we spend the time and energy to moderate the commentary the comments that get through are few enough so they can all be read along with the article. We value the commentary so much we take pains to keep the number down and the quality up.

    Who decides what comments are worthy? The owner of the blog or their designated agents of course. You aren’t some kind of commie that doesn’t believe in private ownership are you?

    I have news for you on the nature of comments. UD receives at least 10 times as many comments that are advertisements as it does topical comments. Should those get a free pass too? Other than those I’d say about 1 in 5 comments don’t get approved. Over half are automatically approved and over half of those remaining are approved manually. Unapproved comments are those that are gratuitously insulting to members/friends/allies, profane, irrelevant, off topic, seriously erroneous, or repetitive. We reserve the right to control the content published here and that includes the quality, quantity, and relevance of the commentary. If you don’t like it then you are quite welcome to move along to a blog more suited to your personal tastes – there are certainly more than enough of them where the owners are too lazy or uncaring to make the effort needed for decent moderation.

  16. Hi Larry,

    “Who is to decide which comments are worthy of posting? The only fair way to do is to post them all.”

    One of the things that makes Uncommon Descent so good is that it is moderated. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to have a meaningful conversation with someone when they are calling you names. Personal attacks and insults simply have no value for those of us who are actually interested in trying to further our knowledge while at the same time showing respect for those with whom we disagree.

  17. Indeed, There are quite a number of blogs and forums that ‘discuss’ these controversial issues that I cannont read because I have a low venom tolerance.

  18. gleaner: “It is very difficult, if not impossible, to have a meaningful conversation with someone when they are calling you names. Personal attacks and insults simply have no value for those of us who are actually interested in trying to further our knowledge while at the same time showing respect for those with whom we disagree.”

    Check out the discussion where Eugenie Scott is called a snake-oil sales[person], “manifestly dishonest,” untrustworthy, underhanded, “a very shady character and clearly a hypocrite,” and “probably a left-over KGB sleeper cell” (which elicited hearty LOL’s from others).

    Does the moderation here preclude name-calling?

  19. 19

    DaveScot said (comment #15) –

    Before the 1980’s I can see how a fairness doctrine was a good thing for over-the-air broadcast. Today it’s unnecessary.

    I myself am not in favor of an unlimited fairness doctrine for broadcasters, e.g., where a broadcaster would be required to have one hour of liberal talk shows for every hour of conservative talk shows. I think that would be an unreasonable burden on broadcasters. However, I do believe in the “equal time” or “right to reply” principle, where, say, a political candidate would be given a few minutes to respond to a personal attack against him.

    I stated that comment space is not unlimited, not free, and neither is the bandwidth required to transmit them to readers. Uncommon Descent pays for both server space and internet bandwidth.

    I don’t believe that UD saves a significant amount of money by censoring a comment or commenter here and there. And I believe that bloggers should — if necessary — be expected to pay a small financial price for supporting freedom of expression.

    Since anyone can make a blog for free if someone doesn’t like moderated content on one blog they are quite free to choose another blog or even create a new one and control it (or not) themselves. The sticking point is that everyone wants their comments to be widely read.

    Yes, that is a big sticking point. There is nothing in the First Amendment that says that bloggers on the more popular blogs have a right to prevent others from reaching a large audience. You have been censored plenty on the Internet but that does not seem to bother you very much because you know that you are going to be widely heard as a blogger on Uncommon Descent — but others are not so lucky.

    Another big sticking point is that blogs are being authoritatively cited by authoritative sources, e.g., court opinions, official news services, and scholarly journal articles. Why should these authoritative sources cite a blog that lacks reliability and fairness because of arbitrary censorship of comments?

    UD receives at least 10 times as many comments that are advertisements as it does topical comments.

    That’s ridiculous — the senders of that commercial spam know that UD is not going to keep it.

    Other than those I’d say about 1 in 5 comments don’t get approved. . . . Unapproved comments are those that are gratuitously insulting to members/friends/allies, profane, irrelevant, off topic, seriously erroneous, or repetitive.

    When I say that I disapprove of censorship of blog visitors’ comments, I am talking about arbitrary censorship, i.e., censorship solely because the blogger disagrees with the opinion(s) expressed in the comment.

    My proposed fairness doctrine for blogs includes an exemption for bloggers who post a prominent notice stating that they practice arbitrary censorship of comments.

  20. hermagoras

    Does the moderation here preclude name-calling?

    Generally speaking gratuitous flamage directed at regular members is discouraged whether those members are for or against ID. Also generally speaking those against ID are held to a higher standard in both civility and quality so if you’re a regular member against ID it’s likely you’re smarter than the average bear and nicer too.

    Gratuitous flamage leveled at pro-ID persons who are not regular members here is also discouraged.

    Gratuitous flamage leveled at anti-ID persons who are asshats (best exemplified by PZ Meyers) is encouraged. It isn’t really gratuitous in that case but rather well deserved.

    Gratuitous flamage directed at anti-ID persons who are generally not asshats is neither encouraged or discouraged except on a case by case basis. It’s a judgement call there and moderators differ greatly on individual judgements.

    Eugenie Scott is an asshat IMO so she’s fair game AFAIC. Some other moderators will likely disagree with me and some will agree.

  21. 21

    DaveScot said,

    hermagoras

    Does the moderation here preclude name-calling?

    Generally speaking gratuitous flamage directed at regular members is discouraged whether those members are for or against ID. Also generally speaking those against ID are held to a higher standard in both civility and quality so if you’re a regular member against ID it’s likely you’re smarter than the average bear and nicer too . . .

    . . . Gratuitous flamage leveled at anti-ID persons who are asshats (best exemplified by PZ Meyers) is encouraged. It isn’t really gratuitous in that case but rather well deserved . . .

    Dave,

    IMO you are making this much too complicated. On my own blog, I generally discourage flamage but allow it so long as it does not disparage anyone’s race, color, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or national origin.

    BTW, when I started my blog over a year ago, many predicted that my no-censorship policy would not last. I am proud to say that I have stuck to that policy despite considerable provocation aimed at forcing me to break it. My only exceptions to the policy have been (1) gossip about my private affairs and (2) impersonations for the purpose of misrepresenting the views of others. I had to draw the line somewhere.

  22. DaveScot,

    So, gleaner’s view of civility’s importance is all for fun. Glad you cleared that up.

    Your taxonomy is incomplete: what about the pro-ID a**hat?

  23. 23

    DaveScot said (comment #15) –

    I have 500 channels on my TV. Long gone are the days when most people were using antennas and could only receive a few stations. Before the 1980’s I can see how a fairness doctrine was a good thing for over-the-air broadcast. Today it’s unnecessary.

    BTW, there is no such thing as cable radio, so the available number of radio broadcasting channels is still limited. So maybe there is still some use for some kind of fairness doctrine in broadcasting. As I said, I think that an unlimited fairness doctrine — where, say, there would have to be one hour of liberal talk shows for every hour of conservative talk shows — would impose an unreasonable burden on broadcasters.

    I am surprised at cable TV’s great penetration of the market — according to Wikipedia’s article “Cable television in the United States,” recent data shows that 84.8 percent of American homes have access to cable TV. I still don’t have cable TV — I don’t watch enough TV to make cable TV worthwhile.

  24. 24

    Larry

    BTW, there is no such thing as cable radio, so the available number of radio broadcasting channels is still limited. So maybe there is still some use for some kind of fairness doctrine in broadcasting. As I said, I think that an unlimited fairness doctrine — where, say, there would have to be one hour of liberal talk shows for every hour of conservative talk shows — would impose an unreasonable burden on broadcasters.

    Apparently you’ve never heard of satellite radio. It’s coming out as factory-installed equipment on more and more cars, and they’ve got 100′s of channels. Don’t be suprised if in 20 or 30 years you see 84.8 percent of cars having satellite radio in use. Will they apply this “fairness doctrine” to the likes of Howard Stern and company? Unlikely.

    But I digress. There are two basic problems I see with this. One is, who will police this? Hillary and Barbara? You know what will happen if they get command of this. Two, the reason conservative talk radio IS so successful is because it has listeners. If people listened to Air America it’d still be around, too. We have a market-driven economy, and that applies in broadcasting as well.

  25. 25

    country6925 said,

    Apparently you’ve never heard of satellite radio. It’s coming out as factory-installed equipment on more and more cars, and they’ve got 100’s of channels.

    Thanks, I wasn’t aware of that. But 100′s of channels? It seems that there would still be a limitation on the number of frequencies available. Maybe they use some kind of audio compression so that several radio shows can be broadcast simultaneously on a single channel — but they could do that with regular radio, too.

    Anyway, even with 100′s of channels, some of the channels are going to be more popular than others, so the operators of the more popular channels will be in a stronger position to control what reaches the public. The same situation exists with blogs. However, as I said, I think an unlimited “fairness doctrine” for broadcasters — e.g., equal time for liberal and conservative talk shows — would be too burdensome, but I am in favor of, say, requiring that a political candidate be given a few minutes to respond to an attack ad. I see blogs as another matter entirely because comment space is unlimited on blogs, and so I think that there should be a strict fairness doctrine for blogs. It is argued that there should be no fairness doctrine for blogs because they are “private,” but the government is always telling us what we can and cannot do with our private property, e.g., zoning and environmental laws — which are often extremely burdensome — telling us what we can build on our land.

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