***The Following comes to us from Dan Atkinson, who has asked that I post this here on our blog. Being that we have not had a guest post in a while, I thought it might be time to include one***
The following is a Godtube clip with the standard "evil liberal secularist" theme that permeates that site. And while I don't appreciate such themes I think this video serves to make a good point:
Yes, the founders would truly be appalled by the horrific "fairness doctrine." How could any of them tolerate an infringement on the freedom of speech? Case in point: the Alien & Sedition Acts of 1798
One of the main goals of the Alien and Sedition Acts was to “provide punishment of any persons who unlawfully combine or conspire together, with intent to oppose any measure or measures of the government...” In a nutshell, the Sedition Acts made it illegal to say anything untruthful about the President or Congress. Federalist supporters felt that this act would serve to protect their political aims. After all, many Federalist supporters believed that government should be put in the hands of only the elite of society. A good example of this was Alexander Hamilton and his supporters. As Paul Newman states “Hamiltonian Federalists’ pessimistic view of human nature prevented them from believing that the mass of citizens possessed the innate virtue of self-governance.” Today’s society no doubt interprets Hamilton’s statements as ludicrous, but to Hamilton (and many others) they were perfectly legitimate. There existed no precedent to this style of government. In Hamilton’s mind, trusting the public on a local or state level was far too risky.
Republican supporters however, had a very different view on the Sedition Acts. Not only did they see the Sedition Acts as tyrannical, but they deemed the actions of President Adams as, “the most abominable and degrading [language] that could fall from the lips of the first magistrate of an independent people.” Republicans were quick to point out the First Amendment to the Constitution, claiming that the Sedition Acts were in direct violation of a person’s freedom of speech. Clearly the Republicans were not going to lie by the wayside and let the Federalists have their way.
To counteract the Sedition Acts, the dynamic duo of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison introduced the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions. These resolutions were designed to block the Sedition Acts, stating that a state had the right to decide the legality of a federal act. For Jefferson, the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions became, “the one significant act of his vice presidency.” Jefferson assured the Republican supporters that, “the reign of witches would pass and the people would restore their government to its true principles.” Jefferson and Madison quickly allied a large number of supporters to their cause and despite some disapproval of their Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, were able to successfully wage war on the Sedition Acts. Instead of sheltering the Adams Administration from hostile criticism, the Sedition Acts actually caused a greater political divide between Federalist and Republican supporters. In many ways, the handling of the Sedition Acts became a massive public relations nightmare for the Federalists. As James Sharp points out, “The Federalists believed that the opposition press presented a serious threat to their continuance in power, and therefore, to the stability of the government and the Constitution.” This move to suppress the voice of the people and the press became the eventual dagger that severely weakened the Federalist argument for many Americans and sealed Adams' fate to lose his bid for reelection.
So what's the point of all this? Whether in the form of a fairness doctrine or the Alien & Sedition Acts, attempting to quiet the voice of the people never ends good.