Thursday, July 26, 2007

Some liberals can be rather illiberal

I raised this issue a few months ago, and it's time to raise it again in light of this.

The folks at Daily Kos and certain other liberal blogs are trying to bring pressure on national and local businesses that buy ad time on the Fox News Channel or on cable companies that carry Fox. And their efforts are wrong.

Let me clear about this. I hate Fox News as much as the next guy. Its blatant bias and its Orwellian claims to fairness and balance are appalling. But I think there's something terribly illiberal in organizing an advertising boycott against any news outlet or purveyor of political opinions.

If the threat of boycotts makes advertisers wary of being even remotely associated with controversial political opinions expressed on radio or television, the networks and local stations, in turn, will offer us only pablum.

If you choose not to buy a car from a dealer who runs ads during local cable breaks on the channel that carries Fox, that's your business. But it's wrong, I think, for anyone to mount a broad campaign or otherwise put pressure on that car dealer.

You'd think my so-called liberal friends would understand this. Some, I'm sad to say, don't.


MR. BASEBALL said...

Point well taken Rascal.

UCrawford said...

Actually, supporters of free speech should be okay with a boycott, or any type of protest run by private citizens or organizations just so long as the government's not involved as an arbiter of content. Non-violent boycotts are a form of free expression and free speech in and of themselves, and there's nothing wrong with one or more private groups taking another private party to task or holding them accountable for something that party said or did. That's one of the bases of voluntary cooperation and freedom. It's only when violence or the threat of violence (which is the basis of government intervention) gets added to the equation that a boycott becomes censorship instead of free speech.

UCrawford said...

But I do agree with the rest of your column...I'm not a fan of Fox News, but I also think that it's ridiculous to try to shout out and exclude other viewpoints simply because you disagree with them. That rarely solves anything long-term. Compromise and cooperation are about having a discourse between divergent viewpoints.

The Rascal said...

I'm not talking about a legal ban on boycotts against Fox News Channel advertisers. I'm just saying that boycotts of advertisers can have a chilling effect on the expression of controversial viewpoints on commercial radio and television. And when so-called liberals promote such boycotts, they're betraying the cause of liberalism. A true liberal should favor a broad, unfettered array of political opinions. That's why I've never favored speech codes on campuses and other such illiberal schemes.