FCC WANTS TO BAN 'REDSKINS'
The Federal Communications Commission is going to outlaw a word.
Or at least it is going to give serious consideration to doing so.
Yesterday, the FCC agreed to consider a petition asking it to forbid the use of the word “redskins” on the public airwaves. “Public” airwaves, of course, is the insane claim of the federal government that it owns the air and all things which pass through it.
A broadcasting company builds a transmitter and the equipment necessary to broadcast, it purchases the electricity which is the substance of a transmission, and it sends a signal to receivers purchased and owned by the audience, and the federal government claims to be the master of the entire transaction.
By assigning frequency and issuing a license, it asserts the power of control, in seeming contravention of First Amendment protections of speech and press.
But nonetheless, that is the state of our “liberty,” and the federal government now seems poised to restrict it in a new and sinister way.
By outlawing a word.
By outlawing a word on the basis of a demographic minority’s assertion that it is “offensive.”
Federal power is about to support the proposition that one man’s sensibilities should dictate another man’s speech.
“Redskins” will soon be deleted from broadcast speech, and will go down the memory hole of American freedom.
Please understand, this is not about Native Americans or the National Football League. It is not about a situation, it is about a principle. At issue is not whether you, I or the man in the moon thinks the name of the Washington NFL franchise is good, bad or indifferent. Rather, at issue is this bold new assertion of federal power, this vicious new attack against free speech and thought.
Under cover of public discussion and disagreement over the Washington Redskins name, the government is claiming for itself a power it has never had, and taking from the people a right they have always had.
The FCC is going to outlaw a word.
Granted, the FCC already bans a variety of words. George Carlin and your grandparents got a lot of chuckles out of that list. But the premise of that list – which is far shorter today than it was when George Carlin busted on it – was public decency.
The f-word, the s-word, have been banned for broadcast because they have been traditionally considered crude and vile. You may or may not agree, and you may or may not believe that the government should be regulating profanity, but that was the premise.
This new premise is different.
This new premise is based on political correctness and the claims of one person to be offended by another person’s words. It seeks to claim that the government can outlaw the public transmission of words – and consequently thoughts – arbitrarily deemed disrespectful.
Which opens up one hell of a kettle of fish.
Because once empowered in this manner, there is no limit to where the government, today or in the future, may go.
A simple example is the word “nigger.”
While, in most contexts, universally offensive and, by most people, considered far worse than “redskins,” it is also a common word that is commonly broadcast. Just last week, in a 1975 repeat of “Saturday Night Live,” NBC broadcast the n-word several times. On a great many urban stations, playing rap and hip hop, the word is a frequent lyric.
Should a 1975 TV show be against the law?
Should an entire genre of music be sanitized of a word because of government regulation?
And if “redskins” is to be banned, what of “queer?” Or “retarded,” or “oriental?” Do we edit “krauts” and “japs” out of old World War II movies?
And if words can be banned because some find them offensive, can ideas be likewise banned? If “Mass for Shut Ins” or “The Ten Commandments” are considered intolerant to some, must they be banned for all?
And what of political speech?
Millions consider conservative talk radio, for example, offensive or divisive. They disagree with the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and they vilify them as practitioners of hate speech, on the basis of political difference. If you would forbid them the right to say “redskins,” would you also forbid them the right to explain why they should be allowed to say “redskins?”
What of people who don’t believe in manmade global warming, or who choke at the assertion that Islam is a religion of peace, or that abortion is a constitutional right? If their beliefs, and the words which express them, offend some – as they clearly do – will the government silence them on the public airwaves?
And in another day, when the pendulum of public philosophy swings back to the right, will the progressive words which predominate today be outlawed and expunged?
The Constitution guarantees freedom of the press. It does so to allow free and full discussion and dissemination, even of offensive or disagreeable thought. The broadcaster of today is merely the modern analog of the publisher of yesterday, and to strip public discussion of constitutional protection because it leaps from the page onto the airwaves is wrong.
And so is this extension of that power.
The government does not dictate vocabulary, not among a free people.
This is not about Native Americans, it is about free Americans, and the extent to which their government can bind their tongue.
In our society, in a land of free speech, the government is to have no such power.
The FCC must be stopped.
- by Bob Lonsberry © 2014