Stifling speech robs society of alternate viewpoints?
By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist
(Reprinted from October 7, 2009 Current Newspapers of Atlantic County, http://www.shorenewstoday.com/news.php?id=4723)
?The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race ? posterity as well as the existing generation ? those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth. If wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit ? the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.??
? John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859
Last month I asked, ?Cui bono?? (who benefits) to find out who ?persuaded? the owners of an Atlantic County radio station to cancel my one-hour-a-week program before it even began. I then concluded that Republican Congressman Frank LoBiondo and Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson benefited the most, had the means, and were most likely the culprits.
After I wrote that, Dennis Levinson wrote a letter that was published in this paper disputing much of what I wrote ? but not my main point: that he had used his public office to kick me off the air. By describing me and my column as ?purposely misleading ? mean spirited ? vindictive ? dead wrong,? etc., he seemed to confirm it.
Since my program was cancelled, Levinson has been a ?guest? on that same radio station more than many regular hosts. His message is this: Wise, honest and caring Republican Dennis Levinson is there to help every senior (even one who needs loan guarantees to buy bankrupt department stores), veteran, union member, friend of the environment, etc. who comes to him; but the high taxes and expensive regulations that go with this kind of politics are caused by others ? like those big-spending, corrupt Democrats in Washington, Trenton, and Atlantic City!
Republican Congressman Frank LoBiondo plays the same game. And it works. Levinson has been county executive or freeholder for 20 years. LoBiondo has been in Congress for 15 years. When LoBiondo broke his 12-year term limit pledge in 2006, Levinson was the first to publicly praise him for it. Would politicians stay in power this long if more media outlets were like this newspaper and gave all views a chance to be heard?
Last week, 484 ? or 3 percent ? of the 15,755 voters of Hamilton Township (Mays Landing) voted to borrow $4.8 million over the next 20 years for new school roofs with solar panels. Each ?yes? vote cost $10,000. There were 228 ?no? votes. A handful of voters in Northfield also approved a $468,510 solar project there.
Roughly $240,000, or about 5 percent, will go to the lawyers and Wall Street people who do the paperwork. The rest will go to politically wired architects, engineers, union contractors and suppliers.
The Earth will continue to warm and cool, with or without solar panels in Hamilton Township, as it has for the last 5 billion years. A few hundred dollars? worth of caulk would actually save more energy and money. The solar panels will only produce electricity for about three hours a day during sunny days ? not nearly enough to cover their cost. At some point, voters will get tired of paying higher electric bills with a ?societal benefits fee? to pay folks with solar panels 10 times more than their electricity is worth. It already happened in Spain and Denmark.
All of these issues should have been discussed publicly before the vote. But they weren?t. If my program were on the air, they would have been.
This summer, Congressman Frank LoBiondo twice voted to borrow $3 billion to pay ?cash for clunkers.? The program did little for the environment and nothing for the economy. September new-car sales were down 23 percent. About 17 percent of ?cash for clunkers? buyers could not afford new cars and are already in default. And because the program destroyed so many good used cars, prices for them are now so high that many low-income families cannot afford one. Did any local media report this?
In world news, our daily paper often repeats Associated Press claims that the president of Honduras, a small Central American nation, was illegally overthrown in a ?coup.? The truth is that he was legally removed from office and arrested when he violated his nation?s constitution.
President Obama and our national media are now condemning and punishing Honduras for doing this. I wish we Americans were as determined to enforce our Constitution as the people of Honduras are to enforce theirs ? especially the part that guarantees freedom of speech.
For information visit www.libertyandprosperity.org or contact Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman at firstname.lastname@example.org or (609) 927-7333. Breakfast discussion groups are held 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. every Saturday at the Athena Diner, 1515 New Road, Northfield.