Censorship Won't Balance Debate (Rep. Jeb Hensarling)

In 1969 the Supreme Court examined the fairness doctrine and found that, while constitutional at the time, the rule’s constitutionality must be questioned should it ever begin to restrain speech.  There is little doubt that in today’s world, the "fairness" doctrine would severely restrain speech, crippling talk radio and subjecting political discussion by everyday Americans to an Orwellian-like speech police.

In the modern world, the "fairness" doctrine is a misnomer, and would more aptly be called the "unfairness doctrine," since the result would be censorship.  Today, it would be both physically and financially impossible for any radio outlet to balance every opinion that is discussed on a talk show.  You cannot force people to listen to something that they don’t want to hear.  The equivalent would be for the government to mandate that a classical music radio station force its listeners to listen to punk rock every other song, to "balance" things out.  The end result would be that no one would listen.

Political debate is a bedrock principle of democracy and ought to be encouraged, rather than stifled.  The other side needs to learn that the best way to attract listeners isn’t to shut down those who express differing opinions.  The bottom line is that the return of the fairness doctrine would silence countless numbers of Americans, and that is not only unfair, but unconstitutional.