The book’s author is a Conservative, distressed at the Left’s use of the Fairness Doctrine to disrupt or destroy Conservative talk radio, and most everyone in the audience seemed to identify as a Conservative as well. After listening for a while, I decided to actually go there in person to see if I could get some mic time and maybe inject a little principled thought into the conversation. I figured a couple minutes on air had to be at least as effective as a letter to the editor. :^)
Why did I go there? Well, people recognize there’s something seriously wrong with the Fairness Doctrine, and they can (and did) talk about how it is a blunt political weapon involving arbitrary powers and undefined terms, constitutes censorship, is a violation of free speech, and so on. But what I wasn’t hearing was any principled stand for the absolute right to free speech and the consistent rejection of censorship. Without this, their argument is basically reduced to a flowery appeal to partisan interests. Demanding that people follow a principle only works if you’re doing so yourself! More important, they should uphold the crucial ideas that make human life possible in society, and which brought about the best country in the world.
I waited, surveying the discussion… Eventually, a lady who was known and liked by the host and audience took the mic and talked about how the Left says the Right is “just as bad” and should therefore feel guilty, which she and the audience of course rejected out of hand. Sweet! Now all I had to do was try to springboard from her comments, contradict her in a way that wouldn’t make me seem like a jerk, articulate my point while the host did his thing, and keep my own off-the-cuff mental chaos from making me look like a fool or a crank. :^)
I think it was worth the effort. While I wasn’t nearly as smooth and clear as I would have liked, I managed to get the essential points across, and in a way that worked for an audience that could have easily been alienated. Either way, it was good training for the next opportunity! And nice fodder for a letter to the editor I’m about to go write.