Diary

LACC and the Fairness Doctrine

There was a recent story in the news about a student at Los Angeles City College- Jonathan Lopez- who is now involved in a civil lawsuit against the college alleging discrimination.  Ordinarily, this would really be no big deal except for some of the facts of the case.  Mr. Lopez was enrolled in a public speaking class and the assignment was apparently to give a presentation regarding Proposition 8 in California- the anti-gay marriage proposal.  During his presentation, he cited the Biblical definition of marriage and tried to note two passages from the Bible in support of his view when the professor, John Matteson, cut him off and called him a “fascist bastard.”  When Lopez inquired about his grade, he was told in writing to “ask God what your grade is.”  He complained to the college administration soon thereafter and apparently did not get either a timely or satisfactory response, so he filed suit against the college alleging discrimination.

This is not about the gay marriage debate or whether Christian organizations should be involved in the lawsuit.  This is a free speech case plain and simple.  What I find interesting is that liberal groups which supposedly support unfettered free speech have been strangely silent.  For example, the ACLU has supported the right of the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi groups to protest.  Yet, in this case there is nothing but the chirping of crickets.  They are possibly still trying to determine whether this is a church separation case or a free speech case.

As galling as the whole incident is, equally galling is the response of the dean of LACC, Allison Jones, who stated that they are investigating the seriousness of the allegations by Lopez, but in the same breath states that Lopez “offended some classmates” with his speech.  Biblical references and citations “offend” supposedly mature college students?  If so, then perhaps the college classroom is not the place for them and they should go suckle on their mother’s breast.

The point is that free speech to liberals is all fine and dandy provided it is on their terms.  Free speech and academic freedom go hand-in-hand…as long as you don’t recite Biblical passages to back up your point to an assignment.  Free speech is great as long as you subscribe to the Al Gore theory of global warming.  If, however, you are a scientist who questions man-made global warming, then you are branded a charlatan and cannot get your papers published.  Free speech is great as long as the government dictates to radio stations the content of the programs they carry.

With the fairness doctrine, what so upsets the liberals is the fact that 8 of the top 10 rated talk shows are hosted by conservatives.  If you cannot beat them, silence them.  The groundwork is being laid with the “off-the-cuff” comments by ex-Presidents and selected Congresspeople. 

The bottom line is that people have a choice here absent the fairness the doctrine.  It is called the tuner dial.  It is called the television remote control.  Alternately, they could actually call in and challenge the conservative views, but often when this happens, they fall flat because, quite frankly, their arguments tend to lack merit.  Of course they could continue with their failed strategy of attempting to air liberal talk shows, but as radio stations have discovered, there is very little audience for these views and these people.  Likewise, one would hope that should liberals call in and challenge the conservative commentators, their calls would be allowed through.  There is no need to step in the same dog dung and stoop to their levels and censor oppoing views.  Besides, it has the added advantage of showing how dumb these people really are.  Example: Have you ever watched Keith Olberman or Chris Matthews?  Have you ever read the Huffington Post or dailyKos?

It all comes down to one basic premise best expressed years and years ago by a French philosopher, Voltaire.  To paraphrase: “I may not like what you’re saying, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”  Whether it is reciting a Biblical passage as part of a public speech course or Rush Limbaugh hoping Obama’s policies fail or Chris Matthews having tingles up his leg or Keith Olberman, well being Keith Olberman, or the Ku Klux Klan and/or Nazi Party marching in Skokie, Illinois, the principle is the same.