The president of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) says he fears a liberal backlash on conservative speech as the next "tragedy" to result from the Arizona shootings.
In a blog posting entitled Tragedy Compounded, NRB President Frank Wright says that in Washington, "where stony-hearted political types are ever unwilling to 'let a good crisis go to waste'--the personal tragedy in Arizona is fast becoming a tragedy for freedom."
His reference is to the complaints from some Democrats that violent rhetoric and the tone of debate in Washington should come under renewed scrutiny. "With many political commentators on the Left asserting that the real problem is unrestricted free speech," he warned, "it seems clear that the speech they see needing limitation is that of those on the political right."
Rep. Bob Brady (D-Pa.) said this week he is working on a bill to make it a federal crime to use "language or symbols" that could be interpreted as inciting violence against a member of Congress, he told CNN in an interview.
Wright also warned that liberal Democrats "practically tripped over themselves to see who would be first to call for reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine."
That is the FCC policy, scrapped in 1987, which required broadcasters to seek out opposing viewpoints on issues of public importance.
The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), for one, is calling on Congress, the FCC and the administration to investigate the impact of communications on hate crimes, but says it is not seeking regulation. NHMC President Alex Nogales told B&C the issue is not the Fairness Doctrine or content regs, but simply asking for the government's help to collect more information on the issue.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.