10.01.2008 0

Tear Down This Wall

  • On: 10/16/2008 10:39:23
  • In: First Amendment
  • The foundation for a Great Wall of separation between members of Congress and the American people has been laid this week by the Democratic leadership of the House Administration Committee. Taking notes from the Chinese, he proposed a “Great Wall” of the House that will render the political discourse between Americans and their elected officials nearly as free and open as the political discourse between to the Chinese people and their unelected officials.

    As if Americans don’t already feel alienated from Washington politics enough, the new rule regarding increasingly influential internet dialogue poses a serious threat to free speech and would further insulate government leaders from the real world.

    In the words of House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) who is staunchly opposing the Democrat-led move, the new rule:

    “…Would prohibit Americans from viewing content published by Members of Congress on websites that are not ‘approved’ by the Committee on House Administration, the panel that creates rules governing the internal operations of the U.S. House.”

    Under the new rules, Members of Congress would be limited to publishing content only on these approved websites.

    Joining Mr. Boehner in his counter-offensive is the senior Republican member of the Committee on House Administration, Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI), as well as Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Tom Price (R-GA). In a letter send out to the online community and activists, Boehner stressed the important role that the internet—with websites like YouTube in particular—has played in modern American political discourse:

    “The advent of new media technology has empowered American citizens with real-time information about the policy debates and actions being undertaken by Congress. This has increasingly forced Congress to become more transparent and made it easier for American citizens to hold their elected leaders accountable.”

    Emphasizing that this is not a Democrat or Republican issue but rather an all-encompassing violation of a basic American right, Boehner also directed a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) urging her to join him with the campaign to tear down the ominous Great Wall. Pelosi, however, has a troubling history of supporting speech-restricting measures, most notably with regard to the so-called “Fairness Doctrine”, which, if made, permanent, would significantly curtail open discourse on the radio waves.

    We mustn’t put our hope in Pelosi.

    Hopefully the rest of Congress, the American internet community, and even those who regard themselves as technological neophytes, will recognize this move for what it truly is: a menacing ploy concocted by those in government who believe themselves to be above the American traditions of government openness and a free-flow of information.

    Although Congress is allowed to make rules regarding the conduct of its own members, these particular rules, if enacted, would be disconcertingly similar to the totalitarian style ministries of propaganda that completely regulated free speech in places like Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and more.

    A free country like America cannot allow such a scheme to come to fruition. An elected official should never have to consult a list to see where he or she is permitted to speak.

    ALG Perspective: This is an issue that is crucial to all Americans regardless of their political views. Media especially should guard against any move by politicians to restrict debate or the free flow of information. It is imperative that the public be aware of this thuggish assault on Free Speech and those who are pushing it.

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