The Fairness Doctrine, The 1st Amendment and all that…

For some fairly in-depth background and good solid links, go to The Fairness Doctrine: A Chilly Effect.

With some Democrat leaders interested in “reinstating” the Fairness Doctrine, and actually making it a law this time, it bears some looking at that one, long sentence that is our Constitution’s First Amendment under The Bill of Rights:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

A codified Fairness Doctrine is law, so how does a new law reconcile with the Constitution’s: “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;…” The issues of the 1930’s and ’40’s are much different today. The original doctrine was declared unconstitutional by the FCC in 1987 (see those issues in the above link). Should it be constitutional now?

After discussing The First Amendment with my 9 year old neighbor, Karen, and its use of the word “abridging,” I added some synonyms to illustrate. When it comes to The First Amendment, we need to adopt a “purist” attitude, and I do, indeed – but “abridging” isn’t one of those “every day” words. So here it is:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment (enactment, endowment, formation, setting-up) of religion, or prohibiting (forbidding, preventing, suppressing) the the free exercise (pursuit) thereof; or abridging (abbreviating, compressing, curtailing, decreasing, lessening, omitting) the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition (ask, call upon, request, seek, urge) the government for a redress (adjustment, amendment, rectification, reformation) of grievances (damages, injustices)

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