Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Free speech confusion 

Apparently it's unconstitutional to refuse play the Dixie Chicks' music, at least according to Senator John McCain:

[Cumuls Broadcasting CEO Lewis] Dickey concluded that continuing to play the Dixie Chicks on the chain's country stations would alienate listeners and ultimately cost Cumulus money. I'm not sure the 30-day ban was a smart business move, but there's no question the decision was the company's to make.

No question, that is, except in the minds of John McCain and people who share his confusion. McCain called the Dixie Chicks moratorium "an incredible, incredible act," explaining: "I was...as offended as anyone by the statement of the Dixie Chicks. But to restrain their trade because they exercised their right of free speech to me is remarkable."

Not just incredible and remarkable, McCain told Dickey, but unconstitutional: "Because if someone else in another format offends you, and there's a huge hue and cry, and you decide to censor those people, my friend, the erosion of the First Amendment in the United States of America is in progress."
I think McCain needs a lesson on the First Amendment, and the difference between the right to say something and the privilege to have your speech disseminated. That'll come after the First Amendment lesson on money as speech.
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