Sunday, November 16, 2008

Who the "Fairness Doctrine" is really for

The Fairness Doctrine isn't about making sure all ideas are heard equally. That tends to happen naturally in a society with free speech AND where people can feel free to speak without something bad "unofficially" happening to them afterward.

What it's really about is "fairness" to people who are saying things that can't stand up to scrutiny, or who are doing things that are indefensible -- things that no one could credibly justify or defend verbally if people knew what they were doing.

Consider this. If someone's doing something they'd be ashamed of and for which they have no justifiable explanation, or which is explicitly criminal and would get them arrested, the only response they have is to try to shut the person up who's spotlighting them.

As we know, the "fairness doctrine" in some countries (and a few US cities) is that journalists or others who point out unflattering things about the powerful simply end up dead or in mental hospitals.

But come on! That's a small price to pay. Consider the self-esteem of the person doing the unjustifiable thing in question.

Can you imagine how embarassing it must be for them to be doing something indefensible, and to have someone point out both what they're doing AND its indefensibility?

Why, it's just not FAIR. The poor little dears.

We just can't have that kind of unfairness. So we need the Fairness Doctrine to make sure it doesn't happen.

Of course, some people might suggest those people could avoid this embarassment by not doing things that are indefensible, or saying things that don't stand up to scrutiny.

But that suggestion would be judgemental. And God knows, people being judgemental is simply the worst thing that can possibly happen in a society.

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