Ambrose: PBS kills moderate Muslim documentary

Shut up, PBS says, and then Rep. John Dingell, D.-Mich., chimes in: Shut up. Some Supreme Court justices seem to feel the same way. Shut up, they say.

It’s just too much to let politically incorrect points of view get expressed, or for the American people to try to influence each other and those who represent them, and the left has had enough of this nonsense.

So it is that PBS will not allow the airing of a documentary it commissioned, saying it is alarmist and irresponsible. Others disagree, saying among other things that “Islam vs. Islamists” is more a window to reality than an interpretation, a film that shows Muslims talking about themselves without the interposition of a bunch of analysts making sure you understood what you just heard.

I haven’t seen it myself, but I have read enough to know that the film presents moderate Muslims worrying about radical Muslims and then shows the radicals trotting out their barbarism, thereby demonstrating that the moderate concerns are not exactly Chicken Little prattle. I am convinced by what seems to me sensitive, intelligent commentary that there’s material here worthy of American attention in an age of grievous terrorist threat from radical Islam.

According to the film’s Canadian producer, PBS was upset that he was working with two conservatives — can you imagine? — and you find yourself wondering how it is that a taxpayer-funded network fell into the hands of ideological dogmatists believing there is only one acceptable mode of looking at issues in this country.

That insistence on the leftist way or the highway seems to be the Dingell view, too. He wants to clamp down on all those conservative talk show hosts on radio. Along with a number of other Democrats, he is itching to bring back the so-called Fairness Doctrine under which bureaucrats would determine the nature of radio debate.

The doctrine, of course, is the kind of thing you expect from some tyranny that never had a First Amendment. Its divvying up of radio time among different sides was unjustified even when the sources of information were a minute fraction of the explosion of voices we have today.

Now let’s move to the court, where liberal justices seem inclined to stand up for that portion of a campaign-finance statute that clearly denies citizens a fundamental right. It says that if they organize as a nonprofit corporation to speak out on political issues, they cannot run issue ads mentioning the name of a candidate as an election draws near. When Congress passed this law previously upheld by the court, its sponsors called it reform, but others note it was something else instead: a means of cutting off discourse that the politicians themselves find both unpleasant and career-threatening.

There is an excuse for this provision (lessening the influence of money on politics), just as there are always excuses for infringements on those rights guaranteed to us now more than 215 years ago. But these excuses are flimsy things in contrast to freedom of speech, which is vital to every other principle that matters and the heart and soul of what we are as a republic.

Examiner columnist Jay Ambrose is a former editor of two daily newspapers. Hemay be reached at SpeaktoJay@aol.com

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