Saturday, February 24, 2007


Smarting from the bankruptcy of Air America, Democrats are planning a fresh assault on the First Amendment in order to squash conservative talk radio. With Al Franken and his buddies having flopped in the free market competition for radio listeners, liberals in Congress are planning to dredge up the old Fairness Doctrine, an abandoned FCC regulation that would require broadcasters to give equal airtime on controversial issues to opposing viewpoints. This is nothing more than a liberal power play to “Hush Rush.”

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D.-Ohio), chairman of the House Domestic Policy Subcommittee, recently announced plans to hold hearings on the resurrection of the Fairness Doctrine to an ultra-liberal audience at the National Conference on Media Reform. Funded by George Soros and attended by such leading liberal intellects as Jane Fonda, Geena Davis and Jesse Jackson, the conference also hosted Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D.-N.Y.) who announced his intent to reintroduce his failed 2005 bill to revive the Fairness Doctrine. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I.-Vt.), a self-described socialist, also revealed plans to introduce a companion bill in the Senate.

With their majority muscle, all the Democrats need now is a snappy name for the new Fairness Doctrine. How about the “First Amendment Tariff Act”? Right-wing radio hosts must be stopped to save liberal jobs! Better get the ok from big labor first -- they have a lock on all that “fair trade” mumbo-jumbo. Maybe the name “Free Speech Affirmative Action” would work. Nothing like a good quota -- the Democrats can just mumble “equal opportunity” and “diversity” when they force those stations to accept liberal radio hosts (and then be prepared to shout “racist!” if anyone really objects). Better check with Jesse and Reverend Al on that one though -- they have a good thing going and may not want to share it.

Not bad choices for a snazzy new name, but “Title IX for Free Speech” should get the nod. This name has it all -- it is soothing, unthreatening and it’s “for” free speech. Better yet, no one can accuse the liberals of being misleading. After all, the new Fairness Doctrine would work just like Title IX for women’s sports -- just another mandate for programs with limited demand to replace viable programs that earned their right to exist. Men’s gymnastics, wrestling, and now free speech. We won’t miss it, will we?

In their push to silence conservative broadcasters, Democrats are turning their backs on the damage done to free speech under the old Fairness Doctrine.

The FCC promulgated the Fairness Doctrine in 1949 based on the premise that radio waves were public property and due to the limited radio spectrum available, broadcasters had a duty to provide an equal and balanced forum for all political views. In theory each controversial opinion was to be balanced with an opposing viewpoint. In practice, broadcasters aired their opinions and then were harassed with legal complaints that opposing viewpoints were ignored or inadequately presented. Journalists also complained that both the Kennedy and Nixon administrations used selective enforcement of the Fairness Doctrine by the FCC as a tool to punish radio and television stations that criticized their administrations. To avoid the hassles, many stations took the easier route of no longer airing any controversial opinions and the result was banal programming.

Democrats are counting on the same result today. Catching radio stations between the ambiguous requirement of airing “both sides” (whatever that means), and broadcasting liberal pap to an empty audience, the Left has it covered. Whether Air America silences Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingram by taking their airtime with a congressional mandate, or the stations throw in the towel and abandon political talk radio, the score is the same: the Left 1, free speech 0.

Broadcasters challenged the old Fairness Doctrine on First Amendment grounds as an unreasonable restriction on free speech, but in 1969 the Warren Court ruled in Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC that the Fairness Doctrine was legal based on the limited amount of public airwaves. Apparently the court’s copy of the First Amendment was smudged. You know, the part that says: “Congress shall make no law…abridging freedom of speech, or of the press….” Given the vast amounts of additional broadcast spectrum today (think cable, internet and satellite) and the propensity of the current Supreme Court to actually read the Constitution, it is very unlikely that a similar result would be reached today.

The FCC abandoned the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 as part of the Reagan revolution’s efforts to reduce the regulatory reach of the federal government. The FCC agreed with the broadcasters that the doctrine was having a “chilling effect” on free speech and served to quell political debate rather than encourage it. Contrary to the dire predictions of many that free speech would be impaired, talk radio then rose like a phoenix from the ashes of the Fairness Doctrine and the airwaves were filled with core political speech to a degree never before seen. Starved for conservative opinion after years of liberal commentary passed off as “news” by the mainstream media, listeners strongly favored right wing radio programs.

Alarmed by the existence of any outlets for conservative opinion, liberals have tried for years without success to revive the Fairness Doctrine, but with the new Democrat majority in Congress, the prospects for tanking the First Amendment have never looked so good. Track overseas calls to Al Qaeda operatives? No way! Censor conservatives by mandating equal radio time for liberals? No problem!

Putting aside the flagrant violations of the First Amendment, compliance with a new Fairness Doctrine would be a nightmare. What constitutes an opposing viewpoint? Who gets to present that viewpoint? In our contentious and diverse world of politics, there are few issues which only have two sides. Is Cindy Sheehan’s view on the Iraq War the same as Hillary Clinton’s? Does Hillary get to come back and revise her opinion (again) after the latest poll? Is the naked “cut and run” policy of John Murtha the same as the nuanced “redeployment” of Monsieur Kerry? I suppose it depends upon what the meaning of the word “is” is….

One meaning is clear however: when liberals say “equal access,” they really mean they’re gunning for a quota and consequences be damned. The better qualified students brushed aside by affirmative action? Mere collateral damage. The men’s sports permanently benched by Title IX? Unfortunate casualties. Free speech stiff-armed off the field by the new Fairness Doctrine? Well, it’s not like you couldn’t see it coming.

Ms. Harrison is a student athlete majoring in government at Claremont McKenna College.


One American campus has already witnessed Christian students run down by an angry Islamic student while at other American campuses "Death to the Jews" is chanted by Arabs as the Israeli flag is burned. And, of course, there was the shooting of an innocent woman by a Moslem in Seattle because she was working at a Hebrew institution.

Westerners are not accustomed to seeing such barbarism on their streets and in venerated places. After all, we are civilized. We vent our grievances in ways far less fatal. Because many in the West know they can not reason with those behind these outbursts, they are blaming not the Islamic perpetrators but those of us in the West for somehow provoking these outbursts. It is easier and safer to lean on us in the West than it is to change the aggressor who will not listen. Blame the victim.

If we simply demur and mollify, appease and “understand,” this whole nightmare will simply go away, they contend, and we can go back to our business of having fun.

But such is not reality, rather a collective denial born of fright. We have chosen denial because, for too many, there seems to be no stomach to do, already, what is necessary to stop this barbarism. We can, if we want. But, instead, our timid elites find excuses and justifications for the militant activity. They opine: It is not Islam but we who are at fault.

Excuses: If only the Pope would stop talking theology. If only film makers would stop making films about humanitarian concerns. If only political cartoonists would stop drawing satirical cartoons. If only newspapers would stop printing editorials. If only speakers would stop speaking. In other words, if only the West would forfeit all of its centuries’ earned rights and bow to Islam’s judgment as to what is allowable speech and activity in our own countries. If only we would, out of “sensitivity,” first consult with the local imam or his Wahhabi superior back home in Arabia. In other words, if only we would take orders!

The very liberals who justify every form of art, expression and discussion -- even when it undermines the very foundations of our beliefs and society -- suddenly intone the need for self-censorship if it offends the Arab street or Moslem mob. And does it not seem that any truthful, non-flattering observation of current Islam is somehow parlayed by the mob as a direct assault on the Islamic god himself, thereby justifying immediate rampaging, torching and killing?

This inverted double standard against itself by Western liberals is not only a sociological historic first but bespeaks the utter fear now gripping those in denial. It is they, liberals, who are denying the true nature of current Islamism.

If only America would change its policy and if only George Bush would morph into John Kerry or Jimmy Carter – peace and tranquility would be at hand. Are the Muslims in Kashmir and India fighting the Hindus because of George Bush? Are the Moslems in vast parts of Asia and the Philippines rampaging because of American foreign policy? If only the Palestinian Arabs had their own state. Are Muslims killing, raping and enslaving all over the African continent, and in Darfur, because there are Jewish families living in Hebron and Jerusalem?

The over 100 wars across the globe involving Islam are, according to the professional bureaucrats, always the fault of those defending themselves against Moslem aggression, never the fault of those engineering the world-wide push for dar Islam and revived Islamic messianism. “If only” … is the mouthing of those in denial about what is steadily chipping away at Western sovereignty: Islam on the move. To acknowledge the reality means that something must be done now to stop it. But because they are too emotionally weak or self-hating of their own civilization, they choose to deny while submitting, eunuch-like, to this self-abasing sensitivity nonsense.

But not all Muslims are radicals, insist the “if onlys.” Absolutely true. But neither were all Germans Nazis. What counts are not those who are passive and uninvolved but those in the driver’s seat, those who can intimidate entire populations. The silence of virtually all of Islam’s world wide population, including America’s, regarding these barbaric outbursts and beheadings, demonstrates how the Islamic masses are acquiescing to the jihadists -- or worse.

Is the barbarism and terrorism we are witnessing today the fault of the West? Absolutely not. Here is proof. In reality, the Moslem Palestinians have been in charge and control of their own Palestinian state for almost two years. During this time different Islamic factions have been warring against each other, Fatah against Hamas. Carolyn Glick, a correspondent in the region, describes what is routinely happening there.

She writes how in the Moslem State of Palestine, two year-olds are killed by rival Islamic groups. Children are woken up in the middle of night and murdered in front of their parents. Worshippers in mosques are gunned down by terrorists who attend competing mosques.

In the State of Palestine, women are stripped naked and forced to march in the streets to humiliate their husbands. By whom? Rival Moslem groups. Ambulances are stopped on the way to hospitals and the wounded are shot in cold blood. Islamic terrorists enter operating rooms and unplug patients of rival groups from life-support machines. People are kidnapped in broad day light and paraded in front of television cameras to instill fear among the population.

Moslems eviscerating other Moslems in a Moslem state. Is this, too, the fault of the West? Is this due to some one not having provided proper respect and sensitivity to Islamic religious ideas or because the prophet was miscast in a political cartoon? Is it the Pope’s fault? Or, more accurately, is this simply the modus operandi of current Islamic hot heads, barbarism for whatever reason they choose.

In the Moslem State of Palestine, Christians are persecuted, robbed, humiliated and beaten in what can only be viewed as a systematic campaign to end the millennia-old Christian presence in Bethlehem. “If only” those insensitive Christians had not built that Church there! Surely, they “provoked” the Islamic terror squads. Verily, the problem lies not in us but in Islam.

Rabbi Spero is a radio talk show host, a pulpit rabbi, and president of Caucus for America. He can be reached at