Sunday, June 11, 2006

Press Losing Their Backbone?

Hardly Guardians of Free Speech These Days?

There are some disturbing trends over the last year with the media compromising free speech in the United States for ratings or cowardice. How is there not more outrage over the domestic telephone monitoring by the National Security Administration? It seems to me that they should be advocating revolution or at a minimum impeachment of the Attorney General. Then ABC News and others claim that the government is spying on the telephone calls of reporters and still not much anger.

Their colleagues were jailed last year in protecting sources and no protests from the media. They are prevented from talking to anyone at Guantanamo Bay--no protests? They are slaughtered at unprecedented numbers in Iraq, and yet are criticized for not reporting the happy news in Iraq. There were no protests of all the secrets kept by this government from the energy task force to the Bush Administration's relationship with Jack Abramoff or Tom Noe. What has happened to the media?

Locally, those who are unpopular do not share the same free speech protections as the rest of society. Carl Monday attacked libraries for allowing people to view porn on public computers. Sure, this is creepy and we should be allowed dope slaps for anyone we catch looking at porn in the library, but the media should never be on the side of shutting down the free exchange of ideas, content, or words. Anyone who violates this principle should be kicked out of the business, and forced to dress up like SuperHost and read copy for the third place local news station in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The Plain Dealer never came to the defense of panhandlers last year when the City passed the offensive law restricting their speech. Then a few weeks back they supported the state legislation limiting protests at military funerals. The PD should never be on the side of limits on speech. Yes, protesting at a military funeral is highly offensive, but how did we get to this point in our society that this activity is necessary? Free Speech Zones. We have pushed protesters so that they are no longer even seen by the President, so what choice do they have? The media and courts have allowed government to trample on the Bill of Rights in the name of public safety. The only way to get attention today is to disrupt a military funeral. Everything else is either ignored or not in the same zip code. Don't get me wrong those nutjobs protesting at the funeral of a fallen soldier have a special reservation in hell, but it is inappropriate for the guardians of free speech to condemn this activity.

If I had the time, I would give you a photoshop version of Carl Monday dressed as SuperHost. "I can't believe you did this to me. You read my news."--Ron Burgandy



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