“In 2009, Kiss Your
Fedora Chronicles Goodbye,”
Last weekend I partially dislocated my elbow. Last week I had to drive to see a specialist near Manchester, New Hampshire several different times. Since I was going to be in the area again on Friday, two of the local campaign offices asked me if I could pick up some materials and help distribute them during the last weekend before the election. I said I would but this would have to be quick because I was still in a lot of pain and had to rush home because this was the first year my sons could REALLY go out Trick-Or-Treating.
So, on Halloween Night - October 31st - I stopped by and chatted briefly with the folks two campaign offices to talk about the up-coming election and hand out materials on November 1st, 2nd, and 3rd... right up to the day of election. When I handed them MY materials (our business cards) I was told a tale that was scarier then anything Washington Irving or Edgar Allen Poe could cook up, something to frighten us all.
I handed my card to a campaign worker I was talking to. He looked at it and scratched his head. He was silent for a minute before he said: "We were just talking about this site the other day."
"Really, how come?" I'm always interested in what context people are talking about this site.
"We were talking about 'The Fairness Doctrine' and someone said your site is an example of what (the other candidate) will take down once they're finished destroying talk radio..."
This campaigner then told how two friends who are now working for two different candidates from the opposing parties went to lunch together and one asked: "what does your candidate want to do if elected?" One of the first things this candidate wants to do, if she wins, is join the growing choirs to reinstitute The Fairness Doctrine, shut down a few radio stations (Like WRKO and WTKK out of Boston) and political websites that are hosted or run here in the state. According to this campaigner: "The Fedora Chronicles is an example of sites that will be targeted."
Not The First Time This Came Up...
'The Fairness Doctrine' had been a hot button topic in the area since the debate between Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and challenger Jeff Beatty last week.
"The Fairness Doctrine" is simply a law that would allow a Government agency shut down a radio station for not giving "equal time" to an opposing view. There's wide spread speculation and concern that this would spread into other "new media." This is mostly geared towards politics, but one could imagine it branching out into religion, say a church will get a mandate forcing the pastor or priest to allow an athirst or even a Satanist to speak for the same amount of time after a sermon.
Mr. Kerry said when the question of The FD came up during the debate, he responded by saying: "I am completely for it is one of the most essential steps in trying to restore. A civil dialogue and legitimate contest of ideas in America it should not be determined by money and power should be determined by the voice the American people. And that's one way to get back to it." What John Kerry means is that since they can't shut-up those people with opposing view points with facts, he wants to use the law to do it for him. Anyone who's too "Republican," "Conservative" or just too darn critical of the party in power needs to be closed. It doesn't matter if it's paid for by a private citizen, if the station owner or webmaster like myself, makes an honest attempt at giving both sides an honest shot at having their say... if a "committee" or a politically appointed bureaucracy.
After this debate, I had a conversation with one of the other staffers on The Fedora Chronicles, Jay Cousineau: "Cousi" on the Electric Speakeasy. He was listening to the local radio shows and the fall-out of the Senator John Kerry and challenger Jeff Beatty. The clip of Mr. Kerry saying he is "absolutely" for bringing back the Fairness Doctrine was being played over and over again. Cousi called me up and asked: "Could this effect us?"
I replied and said that I thought it was highly unlikely. How could they shut down websites that individuals and groups pay for? How could the FCC get mixed up in Internet Content? The FCC (to my knowledge) has no jurisdiction on the Internet. And wouldn't they go after porn sites before political ones? Makes no sense. Could I have been wrong? Later that day, a consultant and counselor who supports this website heard the same paranoia and gossip on the radio and sent me a link to an article he found in less then 3 seconds searching on the internet...
Business & Media Institute: "FCC Commissioner: Return of Fairness Doctrine Could Control Web Content - McDowell warns reinstated powers could play in net neutrality debate, lead to government requiring balance on Web sites." By Jeff Poor 8/13/2008 9:08:51 AM
There’s a huge concern among conservative talk radio
hosts that reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine would all-but
destroy the industry due to equal time constraints. But speech
limits might not stop at radio. They could even be extended to
include the Internet and “government dictating content policy.”
FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell raised that as a possibility after talking with bloggers at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. McDowell spoke about a recent FCC vote to bar Comcast from engaging in certain Internet practices – expanding the federal agency’s oversight of Internet networks.
The commissioner, a 2006 President Bush appointee, told the Business & Media Institute the Fairness Doctrine could be intertwined with the net neutrality battle. The result might end with the government regulating content on the Web...
... “Then, whoever is in charge of government is going to determine what is fair, under a so-called ‘Fairness Doctrine,’ which won’t be called that – it’ll be called something else,” McDowell said. “So, will Web sites, will bloggers have to give equal time or equal space on their Web site to opposing views rather than letting the marketplace of ideas determine that?”
McDowell told BMI the Fairness Doctrine isn’t currently on the FCC’s radar. But a new administration and Congress elected in 2008 might renew Fairness Doctrine efforts, but under another name.
I sat on this for a while. What does this REALLY mean and how is this possible? How could THIS happen in the United States of America in 2008? This is not fascist Spain or Nazi Germany of the 1930's, Russia, China or Cuba under Communism. This is America, where speech is supposed to be free.
What Does This Really Mean?
There's been a lot of talk about "Net Neutrality" being "The Fairness Doctrine" of the internet, if that's so, then that might be a topic for another rant. With that said...
We've been trying really hard to keep things fair on The Fedora Chronicles, such as our main site and on our forum, The Electric Speakeasy. I'll make the argument that our liberal posters have done a lot to make things more interesting and the debates more heated and entertaining. But if someone held a gun to me head (or worse, threatened to burn my favorite fedora) I still can't FORCE people with liberal leanings to post on our site more. How can I? Tell me what MORE can I do to encourage people of other political persuasions different then my own to post, that it's ok to participate. I already send new comers with Private Messages saying that this forum is just as much theirs as it is mine. What MORE can I do to make everyone - Liberals, Conservatives and bi-partisan members alike to feel welcome and participate more?
Still, there are still people who are angry at the mere fact that The Fedora Chronicles exists. A wide range of people try to shut this site down for the past few years, starting with members of the philosophy department at The University Of Kentucky at Louisville and most currently this rumor that Jean Shaheen who is running for the senate from New Hampshire allegedly has my site on a list to be shut down once they include Website's content under the jurisdiction of "The Fairness Doctrine." I haven't seen the list, I heard about this list second hand... but that's what I've heard.
Let me be blunt, and speak directly to this issue: If someone is in favor of "The Fairness Doctrine" then that person is obviously a fascist and in favor of censorship. That person in favor of some committee deciding whether or not a station, a radio show and eventually websites will remain on the air or on-line depending on how "fair" they are. "Fair" is arbitrary, based on what political party is in power or popular. "The Fairness Doctrine" is the same as the FBI or CIA checking with the Library or book stores to see what you're reading... There will be the "Fairness" committee to make sure your speech is "Political Correct." You think this is funny until "they" take a look into what you're saying and they don't like it. The Fairness Doctrine would also tell you what you can't listen to, simply by killing it at it's source. You're either for censorship and "The Fairness Doctrine," or you're for free speech. For Speech to be free, it has to be free for EVERYONE, not determined by some bureaucracy in Berlin after 1932 or Washington after 2008.
Everything those on the left have against "The Patriot Act" is true of "The Fairness Doctrine," except the only crime permitted is saying your peace and exercising your First Amendment rights that the current "regime" in Washington dislikes or makes them feel uncomfortable.
Few years ago, I got the few members and students The University Of Kentucky to stop harassing us with a letter to the University President and the Attorney General's offices in their state and mine. But when you're own senator is allegedly has you on a "black" list, what recourse will someone like myself have?
Is what I'm doing in the picture in the above going to amount to "Illegal Campaigning" because the candidate is not from "the right party?" After some hecklers drove by and yelled, I had been asked to leave by a local official who told me that I was "attracting a nascence" and my safety couldn't be garneted. Since when was this an issue? In 1776, a document was signed and then later a Revolution was fought for it to insure that the most sacred speech - political speech - was protected. Now, as if I'm the main character in a sequel to a lost George Orwell novel, I'm committing a "Hate Crime" or a "Thought Crime?" Amazing how things can change in only 232 years.
As I'm putting the final touches of this rant, people have been asking me about what Barack Obama said recently, during his "11th Hour" campaigning for himself: Asking for the formation of "Civilian National Security Force..."
“We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set,” he said Wednesday. “We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded.”
- Barack Obama
What EXACTLY is this "Civilian National Security Force..." will this be akin to "Hitler Youth" and used to spy on other citizens, or to help enforce "The Fairness Doctrine?"
Obama as "The One," "The Anointed," and the reintroduction of The Fairness Doctrine to hamper The First Amendment, "Civilian National Security Force?" Could this be more freighting then anything George W. Bush tried to push through? Or do I better understand what all the fuss was about all of the sudden?
What's going to happen if The Fedora Chronicles is taken away from us? It'll be like the past few years of my life had been stolen or used up in vain. What about the friendships I've made, and those people I would have met and will meet if the site remains open? What's going to happen to them? There is no other place that I know for people like us to have a place where we as historically minded people can discuss the issues that matter most. And it seems like "The Blogosphere" has been doing a better job at finding the dirt on both sides.
What's going to happen to "Main Stream" media outlets that oppose Barack Obama and his Administration are taken off the air? Where there is no opposing view, and any Government goes unchecked, what will that mean to the rest of us and how much will "The Government" try to get away with? What happened when there was no free press in Germany, Russia and Spain during the 1930's, or Cambodian "Killing Fields" during the 1970.
If there are going to be atrocities committed, but who's going to report them? I hope I'm wrong and will be embarrassed by this rant in the years to come...