Let’s Talk About Rush

October 25, 2008

Extremists have been boldly and prominently preaching hate in America  since Reagan abolished the Fairness Doctrine in 1986. Rush Limbaugh is not the worst of this group but probably the most prominent.  His prominence is due in large part to the fact that he has had the ear of legitimate conservatives and he has had a appreciable role in turning the country to the right while he has been on the air.

There is certainly nothing wrong with the country turning to the right, as it does from time to time.  My concern has always been the use of demagoguery in achieving this, fueling racial fears and fears of their sorts.  There is also concern about the use of misinformation, such as the fact that more than half of the population believed that weapons of mass destruction were actually found in Iraq after the invasion.  For democracy to work in a society there must be a threshold of trust among the people and dissemination of truth by the media.  The debate ought to be about what the facts mean, not whether a portion of the society is evil or should not be trusted.

For years extremists have been brandishing what I call hate propaganda on the media.  The theory behind the first amendment was that this ought to be allowed so that it can be exposed and brought to light.  The idea is that through open discussion the truth will come to light.  The problem the last several years is that there was no meaningful discussion.  Demagoguery was broadcast but not rejoined.

In this light it is very refreshing to see discussion of extremist statements.  This is really what the founding fathers wanted us to do.

Amy Goodman Arrested! And Now Released

September 2, 2008

Two hours ago Amy Goodman was arrested while trying to speak on behalf of two of her producers who had been detained by the police.  Read this article and call!

The website Democracy Now! is a good place to look to keep up with this and an exceptional source of convention news coverage.

She’s now reported just released.

Jail for criticizing Blackwater?

June 20, 2008

Washington has an obscure statute dating back to its territorial days that makes it a crime to with malice publish anything that exposes a person to ridicule or is injurious to  corporation.  It’s rather obscure and rarely prosecuted but it’s on the books! At RCW 9.58.010.

On its face this is rather troublesome.  Think of the number of times you have written or emailed or transmitted something (even a picture) that is critical of a corporation or might subject a person to chiding.  Maximum term: One year.

This statute, if vigorously prosecuted would give the state frightening power over people,  have a dramatically chilling effect on communications and a repressive effect on the citizenry.

It was recently invoked by the Department of Corrections against a prisoner.  The Court of Appeals took a look at the law and declared it unconstitutional, as overly broad and infringing on our freedom of speech.

In this instance we all benefited by the Court protecting the rights of a person in prison.