Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) was one of many politicians to criticize the vitriolic tenor of politics today in the wake of the shootings in Tucson AZ that critically wounded Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and killed and wounded many others. He also said it was a good reason to bring back the Fairness Doctrine.
Clyburn noted that free speech isn’t utterly free, citing the old fire-in-the-crowded-theater example as an inappropriate exercise of the right.
According to the Charleston (SC) Post and Courier, he said that bringing back the Fairness Doctrine would bring back balance to the media, apparently suggesting that it might be a remedy to fix the current level of political discourse.
But when it came time to cite an example, it was another politician that he mentioned, in particularly the comments of Sharron Angle, who lost her bid to send Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) into retirement as the Republican candidate for his seat last year.
Clyburn mentioned her comment that frustrated Americans may resort to “Second Amendment remedies” if Congress doesn’t bend to their wishes.
Clyburn is father to Mignon Clyburn, one of the three Democrats currently serving as FCC Commissioner. The Post and Courier reminded readers that she stood strong against reinstatement of Fairness at her 2009 Senate confirmation hearing.
RBR-TVBR observation: Most politicians in both parties, as near as we can tell, are against reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, despite the occasional plea, usually from a Democrat, to reanimate it. And that’s both a good and a practical thing, since the Doctrine chills free speech and is impossible to enforce.
The Doctrine assumes that when one side of an issue gets aired, that the other side of the issue should have an equal amount of time to be aired, or if one candidate for office gets aired, the other candidate should be equally aired.
But issues rarely come down to a coin toss where there are two and only two possible resolutions. And elections often feature more than two candidates. General elections may have one or more third party or independent candidates, and primaries can have any number of candidates within the same party.
We’re all for people exercising good judgment when speaking in the public square – we’re just saying that the Fairness Doctrine will not make that happen.