Editor's note: This column first appeared in the June issue of Townhall Magazine.Programming talk radio in America is somewhat akin to living in the Bill Murray film “Groundhog Day”: the same scenario repeats over and over and over again. Every time any act of violence, large or small, occurs, liberal politicians trip over themselves racing to TV cameras leveling the same denunciation of talk radio as the cause.
A few examples:
All of this smacks of the concept of “absolutism” pursued in 17th century France, where attempts at state control of the culture reached new heights under Louis XIV, the so-called “Sun King.”
Under his reign, thoughts considered unacceptable, including political writings that were not compatible with his absolute monarchy, were targeted by censors. The king believed his mission was to rein in and crush views opposed to his.
Recently, perhaps channeling Louis XIV, Sen. Ed Markey(D-MA) introduced S.2219 (the “Hate Crime Reporting Act of 2014”) designed to stop what he terms “hate crimes based on gender, race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation” on the Internet, radio, and TV.
But make no mistake: like Messrs Clinton and Obama before him, Markey, who acted only days after a shooting at a
Jewish community center in Overland Park, Kansas, was using the incident to again target the New Absolutism’s No. 1 target: talk radio.
“We have recently seen in Kansas the deadly destruction and loss of life that hate speech can fuel in the United States,” Markey says, “which is why it is critical to ensure the Internet, television, and radio are not encouraging hate crimes or hate speech that is not outside the protection of the First Amendment.”
Of course, that’s the key: what exactly is “hate speech”? To LGBT activists, it is the suggestion that marriage be limited to one man and one woman. To overweight people, it is late-night comedians making fun of fat airline passengers. To PETA, it is reports about actual eggs being used in the White House’s annual Easter Egg Roll. To Markey, it could well be discussion of guns… or illegal immigration… or possibly the very title of NBC’s hit TV show “The Blacklist.”
Once we let politicians start defining and regulating so-called “hate speech” in America, journalists (who only recently fended off an FCC plan to have inspectors pawing their way through radio newsrooms investigating the ‘decision-making process’ by reporters and management) can get ready to hang out the Going Out Of Business signs. Because on that day, the free flow of information that has always delineated America from various banana republics around the world would cease.
History shows the French eventually rejected absolutism in their nation. Let us not embrace it in ours under the misguided premise of eliminating “hate crimes” while muzzling talk radio, the last bastion of free and unfettered conversation in America. •