Take It and Like It


New at Reason: Did Cumulus Broadcasting abridge the Dixie Chicks' right to free speech? Maybe they established a state religion? Prevented the Chicks from petitioning the government for redress of grievances? Jacob Sullum considers the U.S. Senate's many misreadings of the first amendment.


NEXT: Out of Joint

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I still wonder how public libraries are able to use the free speech argument to prevent book banning from their shelves. Why can’t a government funded institution have the government set the rules about its content? I object to these rules in principle, but I don’t see how they are unconstitutional. It is one thing to make material illegal to sell or purchase. It is another thing to prevent the use of public funds from distributing “objectionable” material.

    Freedom of speech IMHO means “thou shalt not make illegal the free exchange of ideas”.

  2. Yes, but who owns outer space? No one. And that’s the problem, you see.

  3. MP – to me, freedom of speech means you shall never face any consequences from the government (i.e. prosecution, imprisonment, etc) for anything you say. It does not mean that you shall never face any consequences at all as a result of anything you say. Private entities, be they radio stations in the case of the Dixie Chicks (whose music I like, by the way) or TV stations in the case of Michael Savage or baseball leagues in the case of John Rocker, are a different story. They can decide whether or not they want their image to be associated with a certain message.

  4. Watch out for the libel issue there Brad S.

  5. ^you dig the dixie chicks?

    i’m a bjork man myself. i guess if she dissed bush she wouldnt get banned though because everyone who listens to her music hates him or doesn’t care.

  6. But doesn’t the First Amendment say, “Broadcast stations shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.”?

  7. John McCain is one big nutcase. How did he ever get to where he is?

  8. DC = horrible.

  9. Is Clear Channel being shut down by the government? Are their broadcasts being jammed by AWACs? The sum of all the horrible oppression they’ve suffered is…

    …wait for it…

    …to have their actions condemned. Has there even been a proposal floated for the government to take any action action against them?

  10. if it was fucking PBS joe would have a heart attack

  11. Doesnt’ the 1st Ammend only apply to the People or Militas?

  12. Cumulus didn’t ban DC because of what they SAID. They banned them because of how they SING.

    (Off key.)

  13. Its obvious that the market is handling itself with this issue. Cumulus banned the Chix on country-western station but kept them playing them on top 40. The moral of the story, sheep like Hank Williams Jr, not 50 Cent!

  14. If you bastidges refuse to read this post, I’m going to scream “private sector censorship.”

  15. When I watched that Seanate hearing, the two things that struck me were: the incredible pomposity of Dorgan, Boxer, and McCain, and the incredible patience of Mr. Dickey in the face of such idiocy.

  16. I think the point wasn’t whether or not radio stations have the right to not play certain artists. I think the point was that, with one company owning so many of the media outlets, it becomes more difficult (if not impossible) for unpopular views to get heard. Both Michael Savage and Dr. Laura still have their radio shows, which might not be the case if the radio stations were owned by the same people who owned their TV shows.


  18. Excellent point Matt. There’s not that fine of a line between outright government censorship and defacto censorship via the private sector. In this case it’s a moot point, since as the article pointed out, the DC’s weren’t totally denied a forum, just a particular audience. But it’s not hard to imagine the government using it’s influence on business to stifle dissent, or do we not recall the DEA’s little visit to a concert venue waving around the RAVE Act. We’ve already seen/heard people say that the best way to stop various protests is to privatize streets and parks so that any protesters can be arrested, ostensibly for trespass.

  19. Yes, privatize streets and parks. This is also why the Internet is such a mess.

  20. Which scenario is more likely:

    The entire private sector that has the ability to serve even a small niche and remain profitable forming one singular opinion?

    Or a government full of middle of the road Republocrats coming to one political opinion?

    When the government decides who is heard, there is a much greater chance of censorship than a private sector only concerned with profits.

    Don’t give the government the power to decide who gets heard or who is getting stifled. You’ll see them turn their back on unfavorable views more often than not.

    The private sector can handle this one. If even a small number of viewers demand it, a private company can successfully cater to that audience. Whereas, as the same audience getting representation in congress is much more difficult, just ask third parties.

  21. Thus the beauty and majesty of the internet – everyone can speak at the same time, and yet the result is not at all that no one is heard; quite the opposite indeed.

    By throwing off the shackles of physical constraints of the geospatially limited world, all sorts of wonderful things are made possible. Now if only we can work at this whole Teleportation stuff so that we can turn Airports into private Concrete Golf Courses, we’ll really have something going there. Assuming, of course, the government doesn’t declare a moritorium on teleportation and virtual existance, due to the precautionary principle and fears of social and cultural decay and the threat they face to “traditional Western values”.

    Ah well, screw ’em – I’ll be dead by then anyway.

  22. Yes, but who owns the Internet? No one. And that’s the problem.

  23. What’s all this crap about the internet being “a mess” and no one owning it being “a problem”?

    Are you just trolling or do you have a point? Most likely the former since you are anon.

    Anyway, sorry DC’s, if an exec doesn’t want his stations to play your record, whether it be because he thinks you are no talent ass-clowns, or because he doesn’t like you political views, that is his choice.

  24. hey Brady,

    “no talent ass clown”.

    wonderful! “why don’t you just go by Mike?”

    any day that has office space in it is gonna be a good one!
    happy friday,

  25. Radio stations are not completely private sector. They are licensed by government, and government spends considerable effort keeping pirate stations off the airwaves.

    The Dixie Chicks have their rights to free speech, and a radio station should, too, but to enable that to work, the government should allow a free market in broadcast so that differing views are not suppressed by a government created and enforced monopoly or oligopoly.

  26. TMG:

    Good point.

    Fortunately for those of us that want alternatives, there is satellite and internet radio.

  27. I’m sure all the people who are upset that radio stations won’t play the Dixie Chicks because of controversial remarks they made were also upset when Major League Baseball suspended John Rocker for controversial remarks that he made. Yeah.

  28. hey Patriot, your absolutely right. sometimes, when the aggregated mass of public corporations are saying one thing but the people want another, brave little companies rise up, creating new voces and opinions where before there was a moolithic mass. thats why you have to wonder: why do the people against consolidated media hate fox news so much?

  29. jacob – I think it’s because some see Murdoch and his Fox stations (Fox News, the Fox network of regional affiliates, Fox Sports Net, etc) as a sort of media empire. I’m on your side, though. As I see it, Murdoch and his gang at Fox News saw a large, underserved market of people who wanted to see news through a more conservative lens and exploited it. Capitalism, plain and simple.

  30. well sure a tycoon did it. but the market wasn’t there before.

    so lets pretend that an audience exists for bakuninist political interpretation. to say that murdoch wouldn’t make a noam chomksy channel to capitalize says his highest priority is politics not profits- and if it is, then he’ll lose out as a tycoon, leaving noam chomksy news still as a likely occurence.

    is how i see it. but you agree anyways so i am preaching to the choir.

  31. “well sure a tycoon did it. but the market wasn’t there before.”

    Wow, these tycoons seem to have god-like powers, creating markets of millions of people out of, apparently, thin air.

  32. Nope the markets are there. They just have the capital to tap them. My capitalism is beautiful.

  33. QUESTION: Why do discussions about “free markets of information” or “free markets of ideas” always lead to using force to prevent contracts between consenting adults?

  34. ANSWER:
    because this board is just “progressive” that way.

  35. Go ahead and scream “private sector censorship,” Apis. (Because we did not read it.)

  36. You’re right, “free speach still exists.”

    But free peach doesn’t.

  37. So long as I still get unsolicited advertisements for Hot Chick Barnyard Action in some of my email boxes, free speach still exists.

    Well, at least for barnyard animals.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.