Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Path to Censorship

After watching most of the first half of ABC's The Path to 9/11, I have to wonder what the fuss is about? The show is so long and includes so many events that the scenes that the Democrats object to slip by so fast that they are easy to miss. What is more, it shows notable successes under the Clinton administration as well as failures.

The Democrats' advance reaction has gone past nuclear. Members of Congress have gone on record as insisting on changes. The Democratic leaders of the Senate sent an open letter to Disney questioning their motives and funding.

That Disney would seek to broadcast an admittedly and proven false recounting of the events of 9/11 raises serious questions about the motivations of its creators and those who approved the deeply flawed program. Finally, that Disney plans to air commercial-free a program that reportedly cost it $40 million to produce serves to add fuel to these concerns.
This part can be taken as a threat:
The Communications Act of 1934 provides your network with a free broadcast license predicated on the fundamental understanding of your principle obligation to act as a trustee of the public airwaves in serving the public interest. Nowhere is this public interest obligation more apparent than in the duty of broadcasters to serve the civic needs of a democracy by promoting an open and accurate discussion of political ideas and events.

Disney and ABC claim this program to be based on the 9/11 Commission Report and are using that assertion as part of the promotional campaign for it. The 9/11 Commission is the most respected American authority on the 9/11 attacks, and association with it carries a special responsibility. Indeed, the very events themselves on 9/11, so tragic as they were, demand extreme care by any who attempt to use those events as part of an entertainment or educational program. To quote Steve McPhereson, president of ABC Entertainment, "When you take on the responsibility of telling the story behind such an important event, it is absolutely critical that you get it right."
My reading of this is that rights the government granted can be taken back.

This blogger goes several steps further, advocating a 10+ step program of retaliation against Disney. This includes passing legislation in order to hurt Disney:
Clearly Disney/ABC has a lot of legislation before congress that they care about. I already know of one telecom bill by Senator McCain that they're mortified of - the Consumers Having Options in Cable Entertainment (CHOICE) Act of 2006. I propose that we start a nationwide grassroots campaign to get that bill passed. What other legislation can we push to ensure that companies like Disney/ABC never again try to unethically influence an American election?
So, the Democrats and their cheering section are advocating blatant, heavy-handed censorship. They are not threatening boycotts but direct governmental action. This is the party that claims to be concerned with our civil rights.

I've said it before but a commitment to civil liberties only counts if you protect the things you disagree with.

It should be noted that the protector of our liberties, the ACLU, is AWOL on the subject. I checked their web site and they have no press statements about the movie. They did express concern that residents of New York were being denied access to Hezbollah's satellite channel.

Lost in all of this is the fact that the Path to 9/11 is a serious, well-made production. Yes, in some cases actions were attributed to the wrong person but these actions happened which is the point of the movie. Disney and ABC are to be congratulated.

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