Culture War Dispatches

from a Progressive People's Republic

Monday, November 09, 2009

Good old-fashioned freedom of speech

Steve Almond’s lack of self-awareness is truly staggering. On the one hand he seethes with ignorant rage and hatred for Rush Limbaugh and talk radio. His op-ed, with the snarky title, “Who’s afraid of big bad Fairness Doctrine” begins, “Of all the lies told by the pooh-bahs of talk radio…” and goes downhill from there. Other samples: “Talk radio hosts foment ignorant rage”; they are “extremists who broadcast inflammatory lies,” “fraudulent moralists” and “bullies.”

On the other hand Almond presents himself as an advocate of “good, old-fashioned freedom of speech.” The Fairness Doctrine simply seeks, he claims, “to force [talk radio hosts] to share their microphones with those who beg to differ, in reasoned tones, who recognize that the crises of any age warrant mature debate, not childish forms of denial.” (Exactly, I might add—when you “force” speech, it’s no longer free.)

I don’t see much “mature debate” is Steve Almond’s writing. But then again we shouldn’t expect much from the guy who quit his teaching job at Boston College when his protests failed to shut down the speech of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Sorry, Steve, someone who tries to shut up the people he disagrees with is a totalitarian, not a free speech advocate.