The Daily Stern
: Adam Thierer of the Cato Institute writes in the conservative National Review that the Senate had its head up its ass — well, he didn’t quite say that; I did — when it sneaked in its indecent indecency bill last week. First, he argues that playing nanny is not government’s job:
Parents like me should be rejoicing that our judicious and morally upstanding leaders are taking steps to protect our children from the filth in this world.
But there is another, less popular way of looking at the issue. That is, whatever happened to personal responsibility?
I have a serious problem with calling in Uncle Sam to play the role of surrogate parent and I would hope some others out there do too. Particularly troubling to me is the fact that so many conservatives, who rightly preach the gospel of personal responsibility about most economic issues, seemingly give up on this notion when it comes to cultural issues. Art, music, and speech are fair game for the Ministry of Culture down at the FCC, but don’t let them regulate our cable rates!
He goes on to reveal the corner the censors are painting themselves — and us — into, for their primary rationale is that broadcast is pervasive and that’s why it is excused from the First Amendment to the Constitution. Except broadcast isn’t pervasive anymore; it’s dying. Cable, satellite, and the Internet are pervasive. Does that mean they have to/want to regulate the speech on all those media? Uh-oh.
As traditional broadcasting dies a slow but certain death, do we start censoring “indecent” speech on cable, satellite, the Internet, and everything that follows?
In a free society, different people will have different values and tolerance levels when it comes to speech, and government should not impose the will of some on all. When it comes to minding the kids, I’ll take responsibility for teaching my own about the realities of this world, including the unsavory bits. You worry about yours. Let’s not call in the government to do the job for us.