Ryan Chartrand

Today is the momentous day after Super Tuesday. By now, the results are in and we should be 24 states closer to deciding who will be each party’s presidential nominee.

During elections, there is a fundamental element that we should all be mindful of in our constitution – freedom of speech. The exchange of ideas is the one of the single most important aspects of our free society. We must engage in dialogue and debate in order to seek the better way of life to which our Constitution can pay tribute.

Many believe that the Fairness Doctrine, a regulation by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) instated in 1949, may threaten the exchange of ideas. It was originally introduced during an era of anti-Communism in the United States as a regulation requiring broadcasters to present issues of public importance, in a manner deemed equitable and balanced. However, the thought that FCC authorities or any political party can properly determine and enforce what is “fair” is nothing more than a fallacy. The ability to achieve enlightenment begins with speech, beliefs and expression.

Supporters of the Fairness Doctrine argue it would guarantee broadcasting of more opinions, when in reality it’s the Fairness Doctrine that would diminish dialogue so vital to the continued success of the freedom of our nation. The FCC repealed the rule in 1987, as FCC officials found that the doctrine “had the net effect of reducing, rather than enhancing, the discussion of controversial issues of public importance,” and therefore was in violation of the First Amendment. In spite of this, many high-ranking politicians are calling for the return of the Fairness Doctrine.

Talk radio has been targeted by politicians and special interest groups calling to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. Many news and political junkies enjoy the in-depth coverage, satire and intensity of many hosts of talk radio. Liberals attempted and failed at carrying an audience for talk radio, such as with “Air America.” Talk radio can be considered the last substantive source of free speech for conservatives. With the Fairness Doctrine, conservative talk show hosts will be forced to share equal time with a liberal talk show host, or some may be taken off the air altogether.

A prime example of a related transgression against the First Amendment directed toward talk radio is occurring in a lawsuit between the Independent conservative talk show host, Michael Savage, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR is an advocacy group that has been criticized by people of many political convictions that the organization has ties to militant Islamic extremist groups. Savage is suing CAIR on the grounds of copyright infringement, stating that: “CAIR repackaged the content of Michael Savage’s show and manipulated that stolen content so that it could be used by CAIR to raise funds. Little or none of the money raised went to alleged ‘civil rights activities.’”

Furthermore, several companies have been pressured by CAIR to drop their advertising support for Savage’s talk show “The Savage Nation.” CAIR is calling for the extraction of Savage from the airwaves and, if the Fairness Doctrine is reinstated, could give them and others in Washington legal grounds to do so. The silence of the former advertisers also lends more support to CAIR’s cause.

Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton believes the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated. Other outright supporters of it include Dennis Kucinich, Diane Feinstein and John Kerry. Many politicians wish to eliminate conservative talk radio because they believe it has an impact on the electoral process, namely who we elect to represent the people. The talk show hosts are Washington outsiders with strong opinions, and the politicians do not appreciate the apparent influence of talk radio over the public. The people should continue to have the right to public voting records about a candidate as well as their philosophies and intentions regarding future policies, yet some apparently wish to oppress these rights. Free radio should continue just as free speech.

The link between the Fairness Doctrine and the recent actions of CAIR is that they both allude to the dangerous beginnings of inhibiting free speech altogether. The government arbitrarily dictating what is “fair” or what Americans should be allowed to watch or listen to is not conducive to free speech principles-that behavior by our government is reminiscent of the old Soviet Union, or something straight out of Orwell’s “1984.”

The right of anyone to speak their beliefs is something that should be protected with the utmost fervor. Eradicating the opinions of others out of disagreement is unacceptable. Our goal as Americans should be to vote somebody into office who will uphold our Constitutional rights-hopefully all of you considered that when you went to the polls yesterday.

Remember, ideas and thoughts are the beginning of inventions that can change our world, hopefully for the better!

Christina Chiappe is a social sciences senior, a member of the Cal Poly College Republicans and a conservative columnist for the Mustang Daily.

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