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Left Supports Freedom of Speech As Long As It Supports Liberal View

  • Left Supports Freedom of Speech As Long As It Supports Liberal View

  • 15 September 2006 by 0 Comments

Left Supports Freedom of Speech As Long As It Supports Liberal View
By Richard Larsen
Published – Idaho State Journal 09/15/06

Freedom of speech is one of those liberties held most precious by Americans. The freedom to speak out against what our government is doing; the freedom to speak openly about our dissatisfaction with the direction our country is going; and the freedom to, frankly, make fools of ourselves by the idiocies we utter.

Over the course of the past few years, we’ve heard many cries of suppression of that freedom by dissenters opposed to the current administrations’ policies. Whether it’s the War on Terror, the conflict in Iraq as part of the broader War on Terror, or domestic policies. Claims of suppression of freedom of speech should never be taken lightly. But in all the assertions of suppressed speech, no evidence has ever surfaced to support such claims. Until now.

Sunday and Monday, ABC aired a “docu-drama” titled “The Path to 9/11.” This two-part miniseries went back to the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and tracked the subsequent terrorist attacks on U.S. citizens and our interests around the world. A great deal of the “drama” portion of the production was scene after scene of indecision and ambivalence on the part of the Clinton administration in how to respond to such attacks. It went even further in laying out documented events where Osama Bin Laden was in a position to be captured or “neutralized” by CIA and Afghan Northern Alliance personnel but they couldn’t get a definitive decision from Washington.

The producers of the mini-series indicated that their sources of information in producing the drama were “the 9/11 commission report and other published sources and personal interviews.”

Apparently the word got out through several sources that the movie would not reflect favorably on the Clinton legacy. Late last week former President Clinton sent a four-page letter to Bob Iger, CEO of the Disney Corporation which owns ABC importuning Iger to dramatically edit or pull the plug on the whole production. Clinton’s lawyers followed up with a letter of their own, with much stronger language.

Then, not to be outdone, a letter came from the U.S. Senate, signed by Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, and others. Their letter insidiously referred to the Communications Act of 1934 as the source of power of the Federal Government over media sources in the country, and threatened suspension of their licenses if the program went ahead as planned.

This is where things get really ugly. Is this not attempted suppression of free speech? Is this not attempted censorship by a legal government entity? And all this for a “docu-drama” produced by the entertainment division of ABC.

Thinking back on when Michael Moore released “Fahrenheit 911,” which was released as a “documentary,” there were no such efforts by a legal government entity to suppress. No threatening letters from the President, a former President, or groups of senators or congressmen. There were the critical reviews which properly identified the production as “at least 60% crock-u-mentary” versus documentary, but it was still released nonetheless.

Even the Dixie Chicks, with their now infamous declaration of embarrassment over being from the same state as President Bush, there were no attempts to censor or suppress their speech. Rather, they faced, as many do, the natural consequences of alienating a large percentage of their consumer base.

We may have virtually unlimited freedom of speech, but that does not guarantee a freedom from consequences. When we say things that are vitriolic, vindictive, and combative, there will undoubtedly be consequences, even though we are free to say them. If we verbally make our beds, we must be adult enough to lie in them.

The most consequential lesson to be learned from this episode is that freedom of speech is only allowable, according to one segment of the political spectrum, if it supports their views or reflects on them favorably. If creative license is exercised, even for entertainment purposes, that may portray them in an unfavorable light, it is anathema and not to be allowed.

Perhaps the production hit too close to home for those on that side of the political spectrum, and they didn’t like how indecision, lack of conviction, and absence of a meaningful belief system made them look, even in a movie.

The other side of the political spectrum is used to this. Not just in the entertainment context, a la “West Wing,” but every day from the network news divisions. If they were to react this way every time they felt they were inaccurately depicted, they’d be issuing letters every day!

So really, is the First Amendment guaranteeing free speech to be universally applied, or is it just allowed for those who tow the orthodox liberal perspective?

Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at rlarsenen@cableone.net.

About the

More than anything, I want my readers to think. We're told what to think by the education establishment, which is then parroted by politicians from the left, and then reinforced by the mainstream media. Steeped in classical liberalism, my ideological roots are based in the Constitution and our founding documents. Armed with facts, data, and correct principles, today's conservatives can see through the liberal haze and bring clarity to any political discussion.

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