The Daily Stern: PM edition

The Daily Stern: PM edition

: First, go read this post, below, about the bigger issues regarding Howard Stern and free speech. See Doc Searls’ insightful argument that the problem is, we’re treating speech as a channel rather than as very personal communication.

Now go see Ernie Miller’s very insightful response, in which he argues that this is precisely how we should hope that content is treated:

On the contrary, the more that we treat speech as undifferentiated cargo, the better off freedom of expression is. When everything is cargo you worry more about how it is distributed than the content of the cargo….

They’re both right.

From a Constitutional perspective — from the perspective of what makes America America — Doc is right: We must remember that speech is personal; it is our dearest right, our greatest value, our unique expression. If you don’t protect our speech, you don’t protect our lives and how we live them. Speech is the most fundamental of our rights.

From a government, a regulatory perspective — what should we do about this? — Ernie is right: Government should not differentiate one particle of speech — whether a bit of data, a dot on a screen, a soundwave, a letter on a page, a brushstroke, or a word shouted from a soapbox — from another. Government’s only job is to assure efficient and open transport of our speech. (Now here Ernie and I might split a bit. I will argue for deregulation of speech in all ways, including business. Ernie will argue, as he does at the end of his post, that government must not abet the creation of monopolies that restrict access to distribution. I would argue, in return, that we aren’t at the point of monopolies and that consolidation is necessary to protect some modes of speech.)

: I am delighted to see this discussion raise to this level. When all this started — when I began covering these issues every day — many tried to drag the discussion down to personal dislikes of the star involved — Howard — or of what each person thinks is offensive or of politics. But the issue is much, much bigger than that. It’s about protecting our Constitution and our most cherished values and our very way of life. If you don’t protect free speech, you will lose it, for there are many who would be delighted to take it away. But that would be unconstitutional. That would be wrong. And that is what the discussion is really about.