Tuesday, August 14, 2007

More on the Fairness Doctrine

(Updated below)

Back in April, I wondered whether the Fairness Doctrine would require that TV stations remove Law & Order reruns from the air when (if?) Fred Thompson officially announced his candidacy for the presidency. As I understood it, the Fairness Doctrine had been done away with during the Reagan Administration, so I thought the answer was no, the unkillable show would not have to be killed.

However, I did see several stories speculating about just this possibility. You'd think reporters at small-time rags like the NY Times and Slate would have nothing better to do than to respond to my emails asking about this, but I never did hear back from any of them.

Once again, it's BloggingHeads.tv to the rescue. A diavlog between Jack Balkin and Eugene Volokh, two law professors who also blog regularly, was posted yesterday. They did not specifically mention the Thompson issue, but they had a detailed discussion about the Doctrine itself which pretty much allowed me to conclude that my thinking was correct.

The entire thing is well worth watching, if you like the sort of debate that occurs when law professors discuss First and Second Amendment issues. I myself enjoy gnats and straining thereat, so I found it fascinating. The diavlog raised any number of subtle considerations about gun control and the separation of church and state.

Lately, I have found myself losing steam in my anti-gun stance, mostly because it seems like a lost cause. The diavlog validated my attitude to a degree, confirming my sad belief that instituting a sweeping gun control policy is probably hopeless, even from a purely legal point of view. However, many local and specific remedies might well be made to pass.

By contrast, I have lately become ever more vehement about church/state issues. I was somewhat chastened here, finding that my thinking regarding various issues was simplistic. It turns out to be really hard to maintain the ideal when you get down to cases. (Again, speaking from a purely legal point of view.)

I won't go on about this. I found the diavlog highly instructive, but I realize that it won't be to everybody's taste.


2007-08-14 11:49 EDT

BTW, if you're interested only in the Fairness Doctrine, the discussion starts at this point. Also, in response to a comment that I posted on the BH.tv forums, I was informed by Ogieogie that TV stations are contemplating doing away with L & O reruns on a voluntary basis.

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