Robert Knight

It’s been 43 years since student protester Mario Savio ignited the “free speech movement” at Berkeley with his famous address urging students “to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus -- and you’ve got to make it stop!”

Today, liberals are still trying to stop “the machine,” but they’re not aiming at the government or university officials. The “machine” they are trying to stop is public opinion that disagrees with theirs. The American left has adopted a totalitarian mindset; they’re actively working to stamp out dissent.

Did you know that the same liberal group that helped to get Don Imus fired for his offensive “ho” remark tried to get Rush Limbaugh censored from the Armed Forces Network? Or that this group, Media Matters, which reportedly is backed by anti-American financier George Soros, has declared war on conservative talk radio? Imus, who is not a conservative, was merely the test case.

Let’s look at some other ways that liberals are trying to stifle free speech.

1) Targeting churches. “Project Fair Play,” a program of Barry Lynn’s Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, is seeking informants to monitor churches for evidence that pastors are engaging in political speech.

2) Reviving the “Fairness Doctrine.” Frustrated by the dominance of conservative talk radio, liberals are trying to re-enact an old law that expired in 1986 requiring broadcasters to provide “balance.” In 2004, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) tried to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. Now, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) is talking about reviving it. The idea is to force stations to air leftists like Al Franken if they want to continue airing conservatives like Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin or Sean Hannity.

3) Restricting grass-roots lobbying. The Executive Branch Reform Act of 2007 (H.R. 984), sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), requires Executive Branch officials to keep copious records of their contact with public citizens. The danger is that fine-wary officials will simply restrict their dealings with citizens. A similar action aimed at Congress was defeated last year. But these are the malignant stepchildren of the McCain-Feingold Act (2002), which effectively prohibits private entities from advertising on issues within 30 days of an election.


Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.