…plus c’est la même chose.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Here is an excerpt from an Ayn Rand speech delivered live at the Ford Hall Forum on December 16, 1962. She’s talking about JFK’s ‘Camelot’ statism.
This bit speaks of Newton Minow, JFK’s Chair of the FCC. Who used primitive versions of the same screws the Feds applied to Facebook and Twitter on newspapers, radio, and television.
Formatting is a little funky. I don’t know why some of the hyphens are there. Maybe indicates a pause. It’s from a transcript
The Fascist New Frontier
“Freedom of speech means freedom from interference, suppression or punitive action by the government—and nothing else. It does not mean the right to demand the financial support or the material means to express your views at the expense of other men who may not wish to support you. Freedom of speech includes the freedom not to agree, not to listen and not to support one’s own antagonists. A “right” does not include the material implementation of that right by other men; it includes only the freedom to earn that implementation by one’s own effort. Private citizens cannot use physical force or coercion; they cannot-censor or suppress anyone’s views or publications. Only the government-can do so. And censorship is a concept that pertains only to governmental action.
Mr. Minow is trying to reverse that concept.
Mr. Minow has announced officially that any television or radio station which does not satisfy his unstated criterion of an unspecified “public service,” will lose its license, that is: will be silenced forever.
This, Mr. Minow claims, is not censorship. What is censorship, then? Believe it or not, censorship is a sponsor’s refusal to finance a television program, or a station’s refusal to broadcast a program, or a publisher’s refusal to publish a book—and it is the government’s duty to “protect” us from such infringements of our “freedom.”
Such is the “protection-racket” from the other side of the New Frontier:-the views, the ideas, the convictions, the choices of private individuals-on the use and disposal of their own material means—of their own property—are censorship. What, then, is non-censorship? Mr. Minow’s edicts.
This is a clear illustration of why human rights cannot exist without-property rights, and how the destruction of property rights leads to the destruction of all rights and all freedom. If the New Frontiersmen suc-ceed in obliterating in people’s minds the difference between economic-power and political power, between a private choice and a governmentorder, between intellectual persuasion and physical force—they can then establish the ultimate collectivist inversion: the claim that a private action is coercion, but a governmental action is freedom.
I should like to quote from an article I wrote on this subject in the March 1962 issue of The Objectivist Newsletter:
“It is true, as Mr. Minow assures us, that he does not propose to establish censorship; what he proposes is much worse. Censorship, in its old-fashioned meaning, is a government edict that forbids the discussion of some specific subjects or ideas—an edict enforced by the government’s scrutiny of all forms of communication prior to their public release. But for stifling the freedom of men’s minds the modern method is much more potent: it rests on the power of non-objective law; it neither forbids nor permits anything; it never defines or specifies; it merely delivers men’s lives, fortunes, careers, ambitions into the arbitrary power of a bureaucrat who can reward or punish at whim.”
In a recent issue of Barron’s magazine (December 10, 1962), you will find factual evidence to support and illustrate my statement. “Last week,” writes Barron’s, “the bureaucrat who uses words so well [Mr. Minow] for once was speechless. For the staff of FCC, taking their cue from their outspoken leader, had been caught sending letters of alarming frankness to television stations throughout the country. Unless-they proved properly receptive to the agency’s views on the content-and timing of programs, the message suggested, they might have trouble getting their licenses re-newed. . . . The magazine Broadcasting, which exposed the whole affair, bluntly called it ‘another step toward centralized program control’ and ‘blatant coercion.’”
Mr. Minow is not the only prominent member of the New Frontier’s border patrol; there is another, older one who has been waiting for many years for a frontier of just that kind.
On July 15, 1962, The N.Y. Times carried a story announcing that: “An Antitrust panel of the House Judiciary Committee is preparing a broad inquiry on the press and other news media.” The head of that inquiry is Representative Emanuel Celler.
“We are very much aware of the First Amendment,” Mr. Celler declared. “We are also aware that the courts have said you can distinguish between the business practices and the editorial operations of newspapers.”
Apparently, Mr. Celler regarded a declaration of his “awareness” as sufficient compliance with the Constitution—because he then proceeded to announce that the inquiry will deal with such (non-editorial?) issues as the “handling of news and the impact of syndicated columns on the gathering and presentation of local news.”
Mr. Celler will also investigate the fact that in some cities one man or company owns both the morning and evening newspapers. “We shall endeavor to find out,” he stated, “whether, in those cities, the news is slanted according to the prejudice or idiosyncrasies of those common owners; whether the editorial policy is consistently politically slanted.” (A non-editorial issue?)
Does this mean that the owner of a newspaper has no right to hold consistent political convictions and that a newspaper is not entitled to a consistent editorial policy? If the owner of one newspaper possesses the right of free speech, does he lose it if he acquires two newspapers? Who determines what is “slanted” and which political views are “prejudice or idiosyncrasies”? The government?
“Also,” declared Mr. Celler, “we are interested in seeing whether or to what extent the columnists might be drying up local talent in assaying the news of the day.”
Well, it is incontestably certain that the talents of the local “High School Bugle” could not possibly compete with nationally syndicated columnists.
Here we see the essence of the antitrust doctrines—in so grotesque a form that no satirist would venture to offer it as a caricature. Yet it is not a caricature, it is the naked, brutal truth.
If it is right to sacrifice ability to incompetence, or success to failure,- or achievement to envy—if it is right to break up giant industrial concerns because smaller companies cannot compete with them—then it is right to silence every man who has acquired a national audience and clear the field for those whose audience will never grow beyond the corner drugstore.
Rand, Ayn. The Ayn Rand Column (p. 118, ff). Ayn Rand Institute. Kindle Edition.