As of right now the CNN question “Should Rush Limbaugh be banned from public airwaves” has 46% support.
I know, it’s not much of a poll scientifically speaking, as it’s self-selecting. But still, fifty thousand people (so far) who are presumably smart enough to use a mouse think a man should be banned from speaking his mind? Even if he’s an irritating blowhard?
I wouldn’t believe Rush Limbaugh if he told me the sky was blue, but holy shit.
I’d love to see a breakdown by political affiliation. Is it Repulicans who want him to stop speaking because he’s making them look bad or Democrats that are willing to drop their ideals of free speech just to make the man shut up.
A poll either (i) uses randomly chosen respondents, in which case it produces reliable results, or (ii) uses respondents chosen some other way, in which case it produces unreliable results. There is no middle ground.
A poll with self-selected respondents isn’t just “not much of a poll scientifically speaking,” it’s completely worthless scientifically speaking.
You can’t ban someone from the public airwaves for the same reason the government can’t just give people a Carlin-style list of words that can’t be said–it constitutes prior restraint. If someone really felt like tilting at some windmills he could file complaints that Rush’s tirades calling Fluke a slut and a prostitute violated community standards of decency, but even in the vanishingly unlikely event that this went anywhere I’m pretty sure the local station would be punished and not Rush.
I’d like to see Rush effectively banned from the airwaves, with advertisers abandoning him and affiliates dropping the show. That’s far from the same thing, but I can see how people would answer “yes” meaning “I want Rush to go away”.
The article was written by Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem.
Basically, they’re suggesting that listeners complain to the FCC about the stations that carry Limbaugh, because the FCC “takes such complaints into consideration when stations file for license renewal.” They argue that stations carrying Limbaugh are not carrying out their obligation to broadcast in the public interest.
They conclude the article:
I don’t care how many people complain, pigs will fly out my butt before the FCC actually takes away a broadcasting license based on something like this.
I admit that i’m no radio industry expert, but i read a bit about the media and i’ve never heard of a license required by an individual in order to participate as an announcer on a radio station. Nor have i ever heard of the FCC having the ability to ban a particular individual from the air.
A search of the FCC’s website doesn’t bring up any individual license that i could find, and the only licenses they refer to are the ones required for the station as a whole, for the use of the airwaves.
ETA: Well, it appeared that Jake Jones answered my question.
I managed to track down MM Docket 94-130. You can get it from this page, or download it directly here (PDF).
Firstly, the requirement for an operator’s license was dropped 17 years ago, in 1995.
Secondly, as far as i can tell from reading that document before my eyes glazed over, the requirement for the license never had anything to do with content, or with what the DJ actually said. The license was wholly related to technical issues, and to the operator’s ability to maintain the station’s broadcast within the technical requirements set by the FCC. It seems, from the document, that one reason the license requirement was dropped was that improved technology made it much easier to broadcast automatically, or to monitor broadcast quality remotely. The prime concerns seem to be issues like the potential for interference during equipment malfunctions.
Thirdly, the report notes that, even when the license (the Radiotelephone Operator Permit, or RP)was required, it was so easy to get that it was effectively useless.
And finally, as far as i can tell, it’s not even clear that the person speaking over the air was required to hold such a license.
The requirement was that someone with a license was there to operate the station, but if you had a DJ and a licensed operator, there would be no need for a DJ to have the license at all. I can’t imagine someone like Rush Limbaugh, with a nationally-syndicated radio show, is also responsible for the technical and engineering quality of the equipment that he uses. I’m guessing that they hire someone else for that. Also, as a syndicated program, Limbaugh’s show is broadcast by hundreds of separate stations nationwide, each of which, even in the years where licenses were required, would have had their own properly licensed and trained operators.
In short, even if this had happened in 1994, before the license requirement was revoked, i see no evidence that the FCC could have removed Limbaugh, as an individual, from the airwaves.
While many people claim they believe in the free market, at the end of the day if they could use the government as a magic genie who intervenes and grants their wishes, they would. This (banning Rush) is not much different.
Totally. You see it, too, when the same idiots who scream “get the government away from [X, Y, or Z]” then turn around and whine “But why doesn’t President Obama do something about the price I pay for gasoline now?”.