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Weak Democrats Make For A Weak Democracy
The Democrats' tendency to roll over and play dead every time the Republicans propose anything is putting some of our rights -- like those granted by The First Amendment -- in serious jeopardy, writes John Nichols:

Freedom of speech? Yes. When the House voted in mid-February on the so-called Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act, only 36 Democrats took the side of the First Amendment. They were joined by one independent, Vermont Socialist Bernie Sanders, and one Republican, Texas renegade Ron Paul.

The vast majority of House Democratic Caucus members – they're the ones who are supposed to "get" the First Amendment at least a little bit better than their Republican colleagues – sided with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and his merry band of crusaders for censorship.

Don't let the bipartisan support for this measure cause you to think that this was an inconsequential measure. The draconian assault on the rights of artists and communicators to express controversial views was broadly opposed by unions representing the creative community. Under the provisions of the measure, an individual talk-show host, filmmaker, musician or on-air commentator could be fined as much as $500,000 for producing an image or expressing a point of view that is considered "indecent" by censors at the conservative-controlled Federal Communications Commission.

Additionally, broadcasters could be fined as much as $500,000 under the measure, a threat that assures that doors will be closed to controversial artists as a new era of self-censorship unfolds.

If the measure becomes law it will, in the words of U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., "put Big Brother in charge of deciding what is art and what is free speech. We would see self – and actual – censorship rise to new and undesirable heights."

Posted by aalkon at March 2, 2005 10:01 AM

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