Dumb man walking

Pat Bagley

No, we don’t need to bring the Fairness Doctrine back

Many liberals complain that we need to bring back the “Fairness Doctrine” to prevent Fox News and other right-wing outlets from spouting constant lies.

While the right-wing lie machine is indeed a problem, bringing back the Fairness Doctrine is not only a bad idea, but it wouldn’t solve the problem.

The Fairness Doctrine was established in the late 40s to apply to radio and television, and it required broadcasters to provide equal time to opposing views. It was eliminated during Reagan’s attack on all government regulations.

Somehow, hiring TV hosts to be President hasn’t worked out so well for us

Doesn’t the doctrine seem to violate the 1st Amendment, by regulating what you can say on your own radio or TV show? Well, yes and no. The Supreme Court held that TV and radio were different than newspapers or magazines (which never had to follow a “Fairness Doctrine”). There were limited frequencies available — only so many TV and radio stations could fit on the same dial in the same area. Therefore, the government needed to regulate those frequencies to prevent overlap and confusion. And if you wanted a license to broadcast, the government could put restrictions on your license: Only so many commercials per hour, no obscenity, public service announcements, and equal time to opposing views.

This never applied to cable, which doesn’t need “frequencies.” There is an infinite amount of cable stations that could exist, so the government cannot regulate it in the same way. The Supreme Court even ruled in one case that it could not be applied to newspapers or magazines since there was not a limited number that could exist, and the same logic applies to cable.

So even if we brought back the Fairness Doctrine, it would not affect Fox News or other cable stations at all.

And why would we want it to? Seriously, do you really want that? Think about it. It would have to apply to everyone. You really want Rachel Maddow to say “And now, for an opposing view of what I just talked about, here’s ten minutes of Rush Limbaugh”? No, that’s not why I watch MSNBC.

The other thing to consider is that even when we had this, it didn’t work very well. Not all views are equal. Yet, in order to meet the requirements of the Doctrine, TV stations had to give time to the most ridiculous things. “And now, to counter our learned doctor who spoke of his wish for everyone to get a vaccination to fight the covid virus, here’s a guy who has a web page claiming this will place microchips in our skin so that Bill Gates can track our moves and better gauge where to send the chemtrails.” TV stations would cave in to ridiculous “equal time” provisions so as not to lose their licenses.

So no, we don’t need the government regulating free speech and violating the 1st Amendment. Whenever you think that way, ask yourself how that can be used against you. Imagine if Trump had been re-elected and was given the right to demand “equal time” and regulate TV stations and cable news that way. You think they’re going to go after Fox, or will they attack all the stations they consider “fake news”?


Sorry for his loss

Dear conservatives whose free speech rights have been violated:

I know you can no longer post on Facebook or Twitter, but here’s the rub:


Setting aside the issue that only the government can violate your 1st Amendment rights, let’s address the issue where instead you’re claiming that you’re being silenced by the Powers That Be for your views.

Some of you are complaining because of the difficulty of trying to set up a place where you can speak and not be “censored for your views” but it’s too difficult to get a foothold in the free market. I would suggest that we should look into breaking up monopolies so that companies can’t get so big that it is impossible to compete with them — oh, right, you’re are against that, too. Maybe the “free market” isn’t the solution to all our problems after all.

What we really need to do is look at what you’re really saying, because, let’s face it, no one is censoring conservative voices.

You want to start a new service for conservatives where you can discuss conservative issues? Lower taxes, less regulation, abolish the UN, whatever? NO ONE WILL STOP YOU.

What is being restricted are hate posts. Posts arguing for the violent overthrow of the United States Government. Posts calling for the murder of people you don’t like. If you consider those “conservative” views, then that says a lot about you, doesn’t it? If these sites were all run by Islamic extremists calling for violence and hatred, I’d bet you’d be the first to demand they be shut down.

“Dammit, they won’t let me into McDonald’s any more to scream about QAnon to the other patrons! And not only that, they have a sign outside that says ‘no shirt, no shoes, no service’! My rights are being violated!” NO THEY’RE NOT. You can scream all you want in your own home, but no one has to be forced to give you a place to scream. You have the right to say just about anything, but you don’t have the right to demand that anyone provide you with the forum for you to say it.

You want to join civilized society? Be civilized.

Impeachment: The Sequel

Brian Carroll

The language of the abusers

Whenever you hear one of the Republican apologists telling us all how we should put the past violence aside and get along — or worse yet, we shouldn’t impeach because it would cause more violence — imagine in your mind a t-shirted male abuser talking to the woman on the floor who has just picked up a weapon to defend herself.

It fits perfectly. It’s the language of the abusers.

The other sign

The 1st Amendment limits the government, you idiots

With Twitter banning Donald Trump and Parler being limited and people losing their jobs over their participation in an armed rebellion against the United States, some idiots on the right are screaming that their 1st Amendment rights are being violated … which just goes to show once again that these people who claim to be patriots don’t understand the most basic things about the country they pretend to love.

Here’s an excerpt from my book HOW TO ARGUE THE CONSTITUTION WITH A CONSERVATIVE that explains it all:

The 1st Amendment says that the government cannot limit your rights. The government.

Every day there’s another article about someone whining that their 1st Amendment rights were violated because they lost their job or got kicked off Facebook or got criticized for something they said. All that does is demonstrate to the world that you have no idea what the 1st Amendment is.

One recent case involved a bank teller who was fired for saying “Have a blessed day” to her customers. She also criticized patrons for “taking the Lord’s name in vain” and talked to people about “salvation.” She was told by her boss to stop that, but she didn’t, because Jeebus demands her to do so or something. And she was fired.

An employer has the right to tell their employees not to discuss religion, or politics, or anything of the sort with the customers, in the same way they can tell you to not wear boxing shorts and tank tops to work.

There’s a place for everything, and that is not the place. It’s a business decision.

If the business fired her simply for being a Christian, she would have a wonderful case, because her rights were clearly being violated. For that matter, if the bank fired her for saying any of those things on her own time when she wasn’t working, then I would happily take her case and fight against such a clear violation. But reasonable work rules such as “Don’t piss off our customers” don’t get that kind of protection. (We’ll talk more about this kind of thing when we discuss Freedom of Religion next chapter, especially when dealing with idiots who think that they have the right to discriminate because their god tells them to.)

A few years ago, “actor” Rob Schneider was fired from a nice job doing insurance company commercials when they discovered that he had been arguing against vaccinations. Insurance companies like vaccinations—they save lives and save insurance companies lots of money. But Schneider—who gets typecast as an idiot in movies for a reason—screamed that his constitutional rights were being violated.

Look, Rob, you have every right to say whatever the hell you want to about vaccines. You can spout nonsense about the world being flat if you want to. No one has the right to stop you from doing that. You can continue to spout this idiocy forever if you so choose, because the 1st Amendment guarantees your rights there.

What you don’t have is the right to a job or a platform for your speech. A newspaper doesn’t have to print your opinion. A TV network can cancel your show if you are saying things that they disagree with (especially if it hurts their ratings). A public school can fire you as a science teacher if you’re trying to teach your students creationism. An internet discussion group can kick you out based on what you say. Facebook and Twitter can decide you’ve violated their terms of service. Your freedom of speech is not violated in any of those incidents. You can continue to say whatever you want, just not with an audience provided by someone else. Because the 1st Amendment prohibits the government from taking away those rights. The government. I’ll say it again. The government.


Proud Boy

One party rule

“Don’t you think it’s better when the government isn’t in control of one party?”

With the Democrats ready to take back the Senate (as I write this), that question comes up.

My answer? Normally, yes.

But that concept labors under the assumption that the parties will then work together and compromise. As long as one of the parties refuses to do that — refuses to even let bills come to the floor to be debated — then no, all that does is make government inefficient, useless, and nonresponsive to the electorate.

Give me a reasonable Republican party and maybe I’d agree.