Friday, December 10, 2010

This is what opposition to free speech looks like

I love sites like because, for free, they will host video clips I want to see without adding any comments. Sometimes they even type up the transcripts for me. We all love to see someone takes a brave stand and says something that's potentially unpopular, and Media Matters gives them a soapbox.

But unfortunately that's not all Media Matters wants to do. This week it hired an activist who harasses Glenn Beck advertisers in an effort to get his television and radio shows off the air. Angelo Carusone says 302 companies have stopped advertising with Beck since he started his campaign. That's a classic post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy because presumably Carusone and his followers have repeatedly contacted all of Beck's advertisers on both shows, and advertisers routinely change when and where they place ads. Some of them would have left on their own.

As is usually the case with anti-speech crusaders, Carusone claims he's not trying to gag people with different opinions, he just believes Beck is lying and wants him off the air. That doesn't pass the straight-face test. The solution to bad speech is more speech, not silence. Any campaign to take someone off the air by targeting their advertisers is an anti-free speech campaign. If someone is lying, prove it.

I don't want to trust someone else to figure out what messages I should be allowed to hear. That's why anti-free speech campaigns are not just an assault on the speaker - they are an attack on every potential listener. I don't care if everything Glenn Beck has ever said is a willing lie - the decision to hear it should belong to me.

One line from the article that convinced me this is something I need to post and save for the archives wasn't about free speech, but it was just too good to let go. Media Matters CEO David Brock said:

"Advertisers need to be aware that they are funding a network that promotes a climate of fear and suspicion that could lead to another Oklahoma City [bombing]."

Irony is lost on some people. Using fear mongering to end a sentence accusing others of fear mongering is amazing.

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