Monday, February 21, 2005

"The Point" Takes a Bold Stand!

Mark Hyman uses his most recent “Point” commentary to deliver the controversial opinion that the First Amendment is (*gasp*) a good thing. (Suggestions for future “Point” topics: “The Civil War—a Divisive Time in Our Nation’s History;” “Going to the Moon—Not an Unimpressive Achievement;” “Hell—A Bit Warmish.”)

Actually, Hyman bemoans the apparent lack of knowledge of what censorship is and the value of free speech, particularly among America’s students. Who’s to blame for this ignorance? According to Hyman, it’s the fault of parents and teachers.

But what about the media? Might not television itself give our young people the message that freedom of expression isn’t a bedrock American value?

For example, what about a certain television commentator who, on a regular basis, suggests that those who don’t agree with his position on the war in Iraq “support the terrorists?”

What of a certain large media company that refused to allow its stations to air a simple tribute to America’s fallen soldiers because its ownership conjured up dark motives behind it, and then their most public employee announced that the show’s host “hates our troops?” [Editor's note: according to Sinclair, Mark Hyman is no longer a corporate officer of Sinclair Broadcasting. At some point, the decision was made to take away his title of "vice president" because of his role as a public commentator. In Sinclair's words, Hyman is "just an employee." Consider yourself informed.]

You might point out that these instances aren’t actually censorship. They might have a chilling effect on public discourse, but as Hyman himself points out, “censorship” refers specifically to the actions by the government to limit speech.

But if that’s the case, Hyman might want to have a chat with his fellow Sinclairians, who’ve been throwing the word around quite liberally (pardon the expression).
In a recent press release, Sinclair suggests that groups organizing letter-writing campaigns to advertisers asking them to divest themselves of their advertising buys on Sinclair stations are guilty of “censorship.” Apparently the Sinclair legal team believe Hyman is free to say anything he wants during his editorials, but viewers who write to advertisers expressing their displeasure are shredding the Constitution.

Then there’s the recent episode in which Hyman suggests that teachers at state-run universities shouldn’t have their jobs if they say things Hyman deems controversial. Actually, what Hyman said is that teachers at state run universities whom he slanders for saying things they didn’t say shouldn’t have jobs. Gosh, Mark: isn’t that censorship? What about the children, Mark?! [Editor’s Note: I’d provide a link to Hyman’s “Failures in Higher Education” commentary at this point, but it’s disappeared from the website.]

No one disagrees with Hyman’s bold assertion that the First Amendment is, on balance, not a bad idea. The problem is that Hyman’s comments, in the larger context of his own statements and the actions of his employers, make a mockery of his high minded rhetoric. For Mark Hyman and Sinclair Broadcasting, freedom of speech means they should be allowed to say whatever they want. The rest of us should just shut up.

But we won’t.

And that’s The Counterpoint.


At 9:15 PM, Blogger Andrew Saturn said...

As further proof that conservatives don't understand how to use the internets, I was able to figure out how they hid the "Failures in Higher Education" article: they just removed it from the front page - it's still in their database under the date stamp for that particular "Point" episode.

At 1:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prof Remington,

I've wanted to run a "counter-point" to Sinclair's BS for months, but I'm happy to have found that you've beat me to it. Should you need help in your counterpoint (because every one in awhile, it takes more than an 8th grade education to address Hymen's lame arguments), let me know. I'd be happy to help.

I look forward to more comments, and don't let those cokc-sucking whores at Sincair get you down!


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