Letter To Gingrich

By Tibor Machan

Date: Tue, 28 Mar 1995 17:36:32 -0600 (CST)

From: Tibor R Machan machatr@mail.auburn.edu

To: Multiple recipients of list AYN-RAND ayn-rand@iubvm.ucs.indiana.edu

Subject: Letter to Newt Gingrich re Exon Bill

Subject: Exon Senate Bill

Dear Speaker Gingrich:

I wish to ask you to please make a public statement in opposition to retiring Democratic Senator Exon's bill establishing strong government censorship of the electronic highway. This is a wonderful opportunity for you and other Republicans to demonstrate your loyalty to the U.S. Constitution's implications for contemporary technology. The First Amendment could not have explicitly intended to apply to the electronic media but its meaning surely implies that such application is fully warranted. I believe that Senator Exon's bill upsets both Republicans and Democrats who value human liberty. Obviously many Democrats restrict this to artistic and intellectual freedom, omitting the ever so important area of freedom of trade, contract, and labor movement. But at least in the sphere touched upon by the First Amendment many Democrats and Republicans can unite. And it is vital that they do so. In the future the electronic media will be even more widely used, for all kinds of vital purposes, and the last thing a free society needs is for a bunch of bureaucrats to pretend to be able to dictate what should or should not be transmitted on this medium. Granted, all means of communication may be abused - tabloid and yellow journalism are clear examples of that within the sphere of the printed media. But because of the First Amendment no one has seriously dared to regulate these often sorry means of communication - and our country has been better for it. The people must be trusted to be able to handle abuses that do not involve outright violence, physical assault, since our free will or capacity to make choices are adequate, if not always fully utilized, means for dealing with them. Sticks and stones ... and all that. I also believe that your opposition to the Exon bill would demonstrate to many people that you are really serious about the central feature of the American political tradition, namely, its devotion to individual rights. While it may be a bit painful to stand up in defense of rights that make it possible for people to behave badly, such is the price of liberty. Eternal vigilance, not Congressional bans, must stand in the way of immorality. For a Democrat to forget that is perhaps also indicative how fragile the liberal support of civil liberties really is.

Thank you for your time.


Tibor R. Machan

Professor of Philosophy

Auburn University, AL 36849-5210



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