Monday, July 02, 2007

Immigration Reform Defeat Backlash

If anyone thought there wouldn't be any repercussions from last week's defeat of the Immigration Reform Bill in the Senate, they are dead wrong. In fact, the seeds of discontent sown by the citizens of the United States are bearing horrible fruit in the Senate and House.

Because so many people bombarded the Senators with their objections over the proposed Immigration Reform, the Senators are royally honked off. It isn't often that their constituents object to what this glorified elitist country club does – they are often left to “legislate” in peace without much scrutiny by the public at large. Not this time as talk radio informed millions of people what the Senators were trying to do behind closed doors. The result was thousands of phone calls and emails that clogged the switchboards and email servers.

So now our “esteemed” Senators are trying to bring the defunct FCC “Fairness Doctrine” back to life in the form of a law. The Fairness Doctrine requires that communications media either refrain from publishing controversial opinions or to present all sides of an issue. On the surface, this doesn't sound like a bad idea, but it is just as bad if not worse than the Immigration Reform Bill.

First of all, who decides what issue is controversial? Who defines what sides there are? The government? This definitely sounds like the beginnings of censorship, which is prohibited by the First Amendment.

Next, the proposal that has been floating around only targets radio, specifically talk radio (at least that's what I understand). Why not other media such as television and newspapers as well as commercial media websites?

And then there is free choice. You and I have the choice to listen to or read opinions as we wish. Air America died because no one wanted to listen to the Liberal opinions expressed on that station. In many respects, the market (you and I) determined that Conservative Talk Radio was what we wanted to listen to, probably because we were tired of the daily Liberal newspaper and TV mindwashing.

Last, where would this stop? Private blogs such as this one be forced to present all sides? That would mean that the fabled “thought police” would now roam the Internet, seeking out all the malcontents and free-speakers like you and I.

George Will had this quote from Supreme Court Justice William Douglas in his excellent article Fraudulent 'Fairness':

"The Fairness Doctrine has no place in our First Amendment regime. It puts the head of the camel inside the tent and enables administration after administration to toy with TV and radio."

I look at our elected official's actions during the Immigration Reform Bill debacle, and now with this latest assault on the populous at large, I cannot shake the thought of our elected officials being completely out of touch with the people who elected them in the first place and the laws of the United States that they are sworn to uphold. I'm reminded of two things – One, the Jimmy Stewart movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” and two, of a child being caught with his hand in the cookie jar just before supper. In the first case, Senators trying to weasel back-room deals with each other to get votes for their bills. In the second case, the Senators got caught trying to pull a fast one.

The bottom line to all of this is that the Senate (and probably all politicians) would much rather that we disappear until election time, because that is the only time that they really need us. As for me, I'll try and vote out any politician that voted for or supports the Immigration Reform Bill and the Fairness Doctrine, regardless of their party affiliation (providing that they meet a couple of my personal criteria).

No comments: