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There Are To Be Limits

Posted by Rick · February 1st, 2005 · 5 Comments

When he was running for President in 1999, someone put up a website that made fun of George Bush. When asked about it by reporters, he made it clear he was not too happy:

There ought to be limits to freedom.

The man who wanted to be President of the United States of America — the country whose Constitution contains a flat-out ban on governmental abridgement of freedom of speech — said that.

Little did anyone know, this was not an off-hand comment, but a campaign promise.

This morning, the New York Times notes that four — count ’em, four — major networks have refused advertising to Americans who wish to speak about the issue of medical malpractice suits. These networks are NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox.

I realize that I’m a voice crying in the wilderness here. Too many Americans, sadly, really do not care. I’m not sure if it’s because they don’t understand what this means, or what. But this isn’t the first time this has happened. And it’s something that should be of concern to every American, regardless of political viewpoint. We should be flooding our congressional representatives with letters, phone calls, post cards and other methods of protesting this action. And I call on every blogger to take up this issue no matter your politics because, again, it should concern all Americans.

Why? Because anyone can tell a good story if there’s no opposing point of view allowed. How many times have you — you personally, reader — heard something and, because you believed it, thought something like “That’s terrible!” or “That’s great news!” only to find out later that there was something you had not been told. How many times has learning that new thing changed your mind?

Have you ever been mad at someone because of something they did or didn’t do, only to feel badly when you learned the whole story as to why they didn’t?

If it’s happened even once, you should be able to imagine the consequences when only one point of view is allowed to be communicated to the American public on critical issues like those now banned by television stations. It’s not like these TV stations don’t allow the issue itself, in any form to be communicated: the only thing banned is 30- to 60-second commercials that oppose the government’s point of view. Information that promotes the government’s point of view is accepted.

Maybe you’re happy with that. Maybe you like the government’s point of view, you think it’s the best. How do you know when you aren’t allowed to hear any alternative? Have you never heard a suggestion which you and your friends were ready to go with when, suddenly, someone pointed out a problem and you all thought, “Oh. Shit. We can’t do that.” What about the possibility that someone else comes up with a better idea? Wouldn’t you want to know?

What, exactly, will it take before Americans again realize, as they did when the Colonies were debating the Constitution of the United States, that hearing more than one point of view is — not just a good thing — a necessary thing. The United States of America would never have existed if no one had ever been able to speak out against the British. The Constitution would never have had a Bill of Rights! These were, after all, AMENDMENTS to the Constitution, people! CHANGES to the original idea that came about after rigorous and sometimes angry debate!

Without debate, discussion, disagreement, the United States would not have become the powerful nation that it is today. If every decision had been dictated to us, where would innovation and improvements come from?

Dictated decisions. That’s what we have going on here. Whether we realize it or not, the United States of America is becoming a de facto dictatorship. For those who don’t know — and I’m not trying to be condescending here; there are lots of things I don’t know — “de facto” means “in fact, in reality.” Only one point of view allowed. No disagreement allowed.

And it’s not necessarily that anyone — at least not any American citizen — wants it to become a dictatorship instead of a democracy. But when people are not allowed to speak, because they are refused the means to do so, that’s what we have. When the rest of us stand by quietly and do nothing, when we allow others to be silenced, a de facto dictatorship evolves. Democracy requires that there be information available, choices offered, so that the people can decide, through their representatives, what they want.

Yet when virtually all the companies that now own our communication channels say “I’m sorry, your viewpoint is different from the President’s. We cannot allow you to say that on TV,” then how can we say that information is available? If I can say anything I want inside my house, where no one but my wife can hear me, or on my blog, where probably less than 200 people will see it out of 200 million, but I cannot buy 60 seconds of television advertising — for any price — how can we say we are a free people?

In a world where half the television reporters are paid by the government to say only what the President wants said, and the other half refuses to allow anyone else to say anything different, where is our freedom? If we really believe that the President’s ideas are so good that no one else could possibly come up with a better idea, then why not allow those other ideas to be spoken?

In 1999, Bush said, “There ought to be limits to freedom.” In 2005, he has made good on this campaign promise: There are to be limits to freedom.

But every one of us ought to be screaming bloody murder to our congressional representatives to pass legislation ensuring that Americans are able to discuss, debate and communicate on the issues, rather than having them dictated to us.

Categories: The Bush Regime


5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Malnurtured Snay // Feb 1, 2005 at 7:17 pm

    A Voice in the Wild

    No matter the side of the aisle you fight from, you’d do yourself a real disservice not to read this piece from Rick. This morning, the New York Times notes that four — count ‘em, four — major networks have…

  • 2 The Blue Bus is calling us... // Feb 3, 2005 at 10:14 am

    Limits to freedom?

    Rick at Unspun reminds us of a disturbing quote from George W. Bush back in 1999: “There ought to be limits to freedom.” -George W. Bush Rick goes into how Mr. Bush has made good on that promise, read the…

  • 3 Chepooka // Feb 4, 2005 at 7:58 am

    Good Stuff

    While I’m pointing you to good stuff on the Internets … If you’re confused about Social Security, visit Fact-esque. eRobin frequently and eloquently blogs about this issue in language we can all understand. If you haven’t been, please do pay…

  • 4 Kate S. // Feb 4, 2005 at 3:03 pm

    Very, VERY GOOD, Rick. You have done a remarkable job, delineating the problem all Americans are faced with during this reign — we are not allowed access to any opposing points of view contrary to the policies set by this administration, a grand, traditional art of debate by both sides held forth in the great Public Square of our times — the media.

    And it feels not only stifling, but dangerous to breathe the air.

    Well, that’s no surprise, considering the president’s great *cough*Clean Air Act*cough*. *snort* Ew. A black loogie.

    And I can’t even sue now. Imagine that.

  • 5 Too Much Information // Sep 17, 2008 at 8:32 am

    […] I guess the sheriff was right if you take into account what I wrote in There Are To Be Limits the other day. Letting people have the information they need to make informed decisions — […]

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