Blogs > Liberty and Power > Howard Stern: Politcal Free Speech in Danger

Mar 26, 2004 10:09 pm

Howard Stern: Politcal Free Speech in Danger

Almost all speech can be put into one of three categories; political speech, commercial speech, or artistic speech. Of the three I believe that freedom of political speech is the most important legacy that we can hand to our children. If either commercial or artistic free speech are lost but freedom of political speech is preserved then that can be used to recover the other two. However, if political free speech does not exist then the other two will quickly follow it into the void.

That it why importance of what is happening to Howard Stern needs to be better and more widely understood. Clear Channel communications canceled Stern’s radio show in six markets, including Pittsburgh, Orlando, San Diego, and Rochester, New York. The public reason given, that this occurred because Howard Stern’s show is obscene, strikes me as being a lie. Clear Channel’s executives have contributed heavily to the Bush’s campaigns and the GOP. I can speak from first hand knowledge that Stern had changed from supporting George Bush to opposing him before he got into trouble. Howard had in fact become increasingly critical of the President on a daily basis (something I thoroughly enjoyed listening to) before they silenced his voice in those six cities. And, is it not convenient for Bush’s reelection bid that there will be less criticism of him in such battleground, electoral vote rich, states as Pennsylvania, Florida, California, and New York? When Clear Channel took this action they committed an act of censorship for political reasons.

Now, I believe that Clear Channel, as a private company, had every right to do that, although, they do need to pay him the money they owe him. Also, Stern, depending upon what kind of contract he had and if Clear Channel is honoring it, should be able to go back on the air in those markets with other stations.

However, Clear Channel is not the only entity taking action. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is is busy handing out fines and seeking new powers, which will be used to eliminate Howard Stern and his criticism of Bush from the airwaves. The hammerheads in Congress, who, with the exception of Ron Paul seem to care nothing for the First Amendment, have passed legislation that allows the FCC, headed by the son of George Bush’s Secretary of State, to silence anyone they please by alleging an action that is not really defined. Not only that but it is an FCC with a well-documented history of treating different people in different ways. For example, they had no quarrel with this discussion (the link is on Stern’s website, don’t listen to it with your children) heard on the Oprah Winfrey show. This is not just a problem for Howard Stern; it is a problem for all of us. If anyone thinks that this kind of political speech suppression will be confined to broadcast radio they are in for a rude surprise. Censorship of cable TV and satellite radio are already in the works. Today, I learned that all government computers are blocking Howard Stern’s website. There is nothing obscene on this site it is overtly political, check for yourself with the above link.

As of now the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has unanimously passed S. 2056, the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act, the companion law to the one passed by the House. All of us need to realize the very real danger that is upon us and act accordingly. What would Thomas Paine do?

If George Bush and his minions at the FCC are allowed to silence Howard Stern then this country will have taken a gigantic step down the road to serfdom.

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