Could you ask a soldier to die for a lie?

May 15, 2010

I have an ongoing discussion with a friend who thinks I should give equal time to the opposing viewpoint when I blog my political rants and opinions.

The FCC requires U.S. broadcasters to provide equal time to opposing political candidates under the Communications Act of 1934’s equal-time rule, but I feel no obligation to do the same.

That rule came about because the FCC thought broadcasters were powerful enough to manipulate an election outcome. But a blog with opinion written by a middle-aged partisan with no particular power base isn’t going to manipulate anything.

My rants are my opinion, no one else’s. I present my side of the debate. Period. I label it partisan; I offer no pretense. It’s how I see the world.

He may provide all the balance he likes in his blog.

I can’t apologize for having a point of view and I’m attracted to others who have their own point of view, whatever it is. Writing opinion comes natural: I spent a good bit of my career writing it for clients who were public figures with a point to advance.

It’s not that I won’t listen to another view. I read a broad spectrum of viewpoints. And I’ll have discussions with those who think differently.

Sometimes, though, I’ve had enough. That’s usually when I believe people are buying right-wing spin, hook line and sinker, instead of thinking for themselves. There’s nothing “fair and balanced” about Fox News, for example. So when someone points to reactionaries Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck as voices of reason, I can’t argue further.

I might respect high-profile conservatives if they weren’t so clearly in the business of manipulating the populace. From Cheney, Rowe and Rumsfeld to O’Reilly and Hannity, they’ve been all about pulling the wool over our eyes to push forward their agenda.

Even if they have to lie.

They play on our worst fears, and too many of us believe them. Fear is very motivating.

That’s not what liberal partisans do. Progressives hit you in the face with their liberalism, but they don’t have the same bully pulpit as conservatives and by nature they are not that strategic. To their detriment. Their arguments are too high-brow and they haven’t been able to instill the same kind of fear in the populace.

Because in the end, that’s what it takes: an appeal to fear.

I was in the business of spin for more than three decades. As a result, I know it when I see it. Even when people who haven’t had my work experience I don’t.

When I heard the Bush administrations named an agency “The Department of Homeland Security” I knew exactly what they were doing. (Brilliant, by the way.)

Opinions are good things. Being able to express them — without an equal-time provision– is one of the privileges of being an American.

So. I think the Veterans for Peace in the photo above ask a good question. I’d sure like to know how Rowe, Rumsfeld and the Fox News crazies can live with themselves.

Because by playing on our worst fears they made sure the truth was discounted. So many Americans have paid for that propaganda with their lives. And continue to pay.

Which is why it’s important to have real opinion and real debate. People need at least a fighting chance to figure out the truth.

Because if you have any conscience at all, you can not tell a soldier to die for a lie.

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