Social networking sites work because, among other things they offer everyone the ability to express themselves and their opinions in new and interesting ways. It gives voice to those who would otherwise never be heard. When the internet was first publicized, free speech for the marginalized voices in the world was one of the biggest advantages touted by the media.
Today on Facebook, that opportunity for free speech was used to advocate squashing free speech. It’s amusing, really, in its irony. In the words of the bard, “irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.” I’m not one for polls; they typically are used to justify actions already decided. Facebook has an app that allows users to create a poll for any topic they choose. It is so easy and accessible, that people often create the same polls that have already been made. The worst of them are the equivalent of “when did you stop beating your wife?” A question that presupposes an answer is not a real question.
The poll in question asks whether or not the Obama administration should shut down Fox news. Now this inane drivel is not unexpected. Fox news has long been associated with the right-wing conservatives. Many decry the network’s moniker of “Fair and Balanced” as being hypocritical because of the coverage Fox gives to opponents of the administration and because of its editorial stance.
The idea of the administration shutting down any media outlet is wrong on so many fronts that it boggles the mind to consider them all. I am no fan of Obama. He does not possess the experience necessary for the job and I’m not convinced he is eligible for it. But he is the president, for better or worse and he has the power to do all kinds of things. But the executive branch does not have the power to silence the media.
Journalism has long proclaimed itself as “the fourth estate” in reference to the 3 branches of government. Originally envisioned as a watchdog to keep the people informed on the goings on in the political realm so that politicians did not get too big for their britches, the media “policed” government. The reality of the modern media is far and away different from that ideal. Most media outlets go out of their way to promote a liberal agenda and support the administration in all of its policies without question. In fact, they go a step further by promoting these policies and trying to convince America that it is the right thing to do.
On the other hand, Fox goes out of its way to give voice to the conservative opposition. It questions the administration’s policies. It speaks out against a government that has been monopolized by one political party and is running amuck with big spending and big government ideas. How dare they?
So what happens? Someone is opposing the president. What do we do in this country when someone speaks out against the president? Do we shut them up? Do we shut them down and silence them? Do we take them out and execute them? We obviously cannot have someone speaking in opposition. Our country cannot survive with dissent.
Or can it? In fact, was not this country conceived, founded, built and reared on dissent? Did we not revolt against a political regime? Was there no revolution? In fact, the civil war was also an act of dissent with the political power of the day. This country is big enough for dissent. In fact, in needs it to survive. We cannot continue to grow if we blindly take what the government dishes out. We need opposing viewpoints and we need to give them the opportunity to be heard. That is how our freedom was won and that is how we keep it.
There is a saying in this country; one that many have either never heard or forgotten. “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” If you do not like hearing opposition of the administration, stop listening. But do not advocate silencing the lifeblood of the country. Free speech is guaranteed in the bill of rights, and the administration does not have the power or authority to revoke that and we should never consider giving it that power.