Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Friday, December 31, 2004

When is something censorship -- and when is it not

I'm reading Michael Medved's book, Hollywood v. America, a book written 12 years ago, but one that could precisely describe the situation today: an entertainment industry that cranks out garbage, even when it's not in its economic interest to do so. That, though, is not what I want to talk about. What I wanted to talk about is the fact that, every time a consumer or citizens' interest group starts challenging something that comes out of the entertainment industry, the industry hollers "Censorship" -- and the critics often back off. Let me say it here and now: Illegal censorship is confined to government action, not to market forces or complaints from private citizens. Thus, the First Amendment states as follows:

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. [Emphasis mine.]
Please note that the First Amendment says nothing about an individual's right to protest speech -- it is limited solely to government action. So next time you feel a business is saying something you deem inappropriate, feel free to speak up -- it's your right as a citizen, and neither the government nor the business can stop you. (Although the business, if it hears enough protests, might make a market-smart decision and change its behavior.)