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OPINION

The Battle Over Free Speech

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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Danny Johnston

In a free society, why should only one political side dominate the media? Yet social media, the networks, the cable channels, newspapers, and satellite programming are all completely dominated by the left.

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Recently, we saw quite a kerfuffle when DirecTV, owned by giant AT&T, decided to ignominiously drop Newsmax-TV from their lineup.

AT&T did the same a year ago to a much smaller conservative outlet, One America News (OAN). Why does it seem that the corporate decisions of companies like AT&T always push in only one political direction?

Numerous leaders have spoken against this censorship by the left against Newsmax, including:

•Dennis Prager

•Mike Huckabee

•Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

•Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy

•Senator Ted Cruz 

•Actors Jon Voight and Kevin Sorbo

Many are calling for a boycott of DirectTV. Others are calling for Congressional hearings because of the potential impact on our political debate. 

My big question is: Why must the left strangle what few conservative voices are heard on the other side? 

When the founders of America produced the Constitution, a frequent criticism was that it did not spell out specific rights. So the founders agreed that if the Constitution were to be ratified, they would attach a Bill of Rights. These were the first Ten Amendments to the Constitution.

The First Amendment deals, first and foremost, with freedom of religion. But other rights enumerated there include the freedom of the press and free speech.

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AT&T is a corporation. It is not a part of the government. But these companies wield a great deal of political power. Why are they using it to essentially stifle free speech?

There is no question that the mainstream media, the legacy media, the major networks, and so on present news from a skewed and biased perspective. National Public Radio (NPR), which receives government funding, has a program called “All Things Considered.” I remember whenever I would hear that title, I would think to myself---“Yeah, All Things Considered, from a leftist perspective.”

The founders envisioned a free society with a robust and free press. But today’s mainstream media is dominated by the leftist perspective, with only Fox News offering a significant counterweight.

Thankfully, even under dire conditions, there is always an alternative media. In the days of the American War for Independence, there were Committees of Correspondence, disseminating information to the 13 colonies contrary to royal-controlled sources. 

There are different skirmishes in the battle over free speech, and some speech of more eternal significance than others. But let me use an analogy from the history of Christianity. 

When the Apostles of Jesus set out to proclaim His saving message in first century Rome, the overwhelming power of the state was dead set against them. But God used them to eventually win over many converts. One of the ways was through letters that were written largely in prison.

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Ultimately, there is a battle between good and evil, and the proclamation of the truth is often at the heart of that battle. 

As the hymn “Once to Every Man and Nation” puts it, “Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong. Though [truth’s] portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong, yet that scaffold sways the future.” God is watching and making sure that truth will prevail, which it will---even if for a time, times, and a half a time, it suffers setbacks.

Of course, this is not to equate a commercial network like Newsmax with the Gospel. But it’s beyond question that elite interests often suppress truth wherever it comes from. I’m grateful to live at a time where there is readily available an alternative media. I’m sure if some elitists in our culture had their way, they would over-regulate the Internet, talk radio, satellite programming, Christian broadcasting, and so on, to make them essentially toothless---as sometimes happens in other countries.

When Elon Musk bought Twitter late last year, he suffered the ire of many on the left, as he opened up the Twitter files and exposed a great deal of censorship against conservative speech. Musk tweeted in late November: “This is a battle for the future of civilization. If free speech is lost even in America, tyranny is all that lies ahead.”

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Dr. Richard Land, president emeritus of the Southern Evangelical Seminary, said of the left’s censorship of conservative speech in general: “They want to enforce conformity, they do not want to hear viewpoints, they want to stifle viewpoints that they disagree with. They’re acting like fascist Blackshirts….They can only get away with taking away our rights if we let them.”

Indeed, must the left strangle the flow of information? As the Bible notes: “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.”

Jerry Newcombe, D.Min., is the executive director of the Providence Forum, an outreach of D. James Kennedy Ministries, where Jerry also serves as senior producer and an on-air contributor. He has written/co-written 33 books.     www.jerrynewcombe.com

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