"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, 1791
"Fascism: a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation... above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition." Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online
After the Revolutionary War was won, the Founding Fathers labored to create a governmental structure that both allowed the States to form up into a strong national entity, but also maintained the rights of individuals and States that had already been written into the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. The resulting Constitution and Bill of Rights, has to be counted among the top few documents of human history. The delicate balance that was debated and embodied in the Bill of Rights has enabled our freedom, our industry, and our very lives to flourish for over two centuries.
Not for the first time, however, these "first freedoms" are under attack by a growingly emboldened radical coalition: politicians seeking power, special interests and advocacy groups, and even outright enemies of the United States.
In Connecticut, a state bill (S.B. 1098) was proposed in January 2009, specifically changing the governance structure of the Catholic Church in CT. Ostensibly written to address financial mismanagement amid an embezzlement scandal in 2008, the bill would have fundamentally altered, by force of law, a church's pastor/laity relationship, which in the case of the Catholic Church has existed since the dawn of Christianity, literally since the days of the Apostles. As it turns out the language of S.B. 1098 that would reorganize the Church and emasculate the clergy, seems to be lifted from the strategic planning of an organization called Voice of the Faithful, a collection of liberal Cathlolics and ex-Catholics formed in 2002 to respond to clergy sexual abuse, but which expanded to include defiant radicals bent on "reforming" the the entire Catholic Church, such as Sister Joan Chittister. Those like Sr. Chittister want nothing less than a fundamental upheaval of the Church, goals which are predicated less on dedication to the teaching of the Church than on their own personal, misguided, arrogant, and selfish agendas.
S.B. 1098 failed, mainly due to the outrage of local and national Catholics speaking up against it. Nevertheless, forces continue to push for the dilution of the central tenets of Christianity, if necessary by the forcible takeover of the Church by the State. This will not be the last time we see our churches under attack.
As for the media: in 1949 the FCC adopted the Fairness Doctrine, which stated that due to the limited resource of radio frequencies, broadcasters were required to present controversial issues of the day and to do so in a manner which was, well, fair and balanced. In 1969 the Supreme Court (Red Lion Broadcasting, Inc v FCC) upheld the right of the FCC to enforce the Doctrine, again citing the scarity of the spectrum of broadcast frequencies. In 1987, under President Reagan, the Doctrine was abolished by the FCC; this was before the rise of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, meaning Reagan himself would be at greater risk of media attack without the Doctrine. Yet the principle was, the Doctrine impedes free speech and should therefore be abolished. Over the intervening years various legislators called for reestablishment of the Doctrine, and even a push to codify it into federal law. Curiously, these proponents were all Democrats.
The Fairness Doctrine is not needed. There is no scarcity of frequencies today, and really never was. And yet, the Democrats continue to attempt to exhume it from the deserved grave it inhabits. Clearly the success of conservative media in the last decade has whipped the left into a manic frenzy while they watch their own instruments like Air America founder from mismanagement and irrevelancy. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in 2007, announced that she would like to see the Doctrine ressurected. Figures. It would allow the State to force successful broadcasters to offer material from those who- for many reasons- don't have a commercially viable messsage.
True to form, what the left cannot achieve through legitimate argument and advocacy, it seeks to gain through legislative or judicial force. And some day the means may extend to the realm of the baton and gun. It's been done before.