NPR, Censorship, and Limited Government

Shrink government, and we won't have such fights over what it's funding.

Like so many pillars of the liberal establishment, NPR has had its already-tattered mask of fairness brutally ripped from its face, revealing the twisted features of a frothing bigot.

The intrepid James O'Keefe of ACORN fame once again created an ambush by pretending to be someone from whom ordinary people would run screaming but who the left embraces with open arms.

With ACORN, he was a pimp attempting to offer gainful employment in the sex trade to underaged El Salvadorean illegal immigrant girls, thus scoring an irresistible liberal trifecta (female, brown, illegal.)

With NPR, O'Keefe and his colleagues presented themselves as representatives of a Muslim Brotherhood front group wishing to make a $5 million donation to NPR in gratitude for their being "National Palestinian Radio."  Fundraising executive Ronald Schiller swallowed the bait hook, line, and sinker, playing to what he thought was a friendly audience:

The current Republican Party, particularly the Tea Party, is fanatically involved in people’s personal lives and very fundamental Christian – I wouldn’t even call it Christian. It’s this weird evangelical kind of movement.

In my personal opinion, liberals today might be more educated, fair and balanced than conservatives.

It was stupid to show contempt for the current majority party in Congress from whom he's expecting to get millions of your dollars; it was borderline anti-semitic for him to spout the longstanding liberal trope, originating with Josef Goebbels, that Jews control the major media:

When the ersatz Islamists declare they’re “not too upset about maybe a little bit less Jew influence of money into NPR,” Schiller responds by saying he doesn’t find “Zionist or pro-Israel” ideas at NPR, “even among funders. I mean it’s there in those who own newspapers, obviously, but no one owns NPR.”

His worst sin, though, was to say that NPR would do just fine without federal funding - in fact, would be better off without it.  On viewing the tape, congressional Republicans agreed wholeheartedly and moved to immediately grant Schiller's wish; meanwhile, the man himself abruptly vanished from NPR's payroll as did his boss Vivian.  Cue the standard lefty screams about censorship.

There Is No Censorship In America!

By now, we'd like to think that Americans should have been able to figure this out, but whenever someone in America is screaming "Censorship!" you know it's a lie.  There is no such thing as censorship in the United States and other than during wartime, there hasn't been in centuries.  The whole point of a First Amendment is to ban censorship - which, to remind you yet again, is when governmental power forbids the publication of information it doesn't like.

Nobody is preventing Ronald Schiller from being an arrogant lefty blowhard.  Nobody stopped Helen Thomas from being an appalling anti-Semite; she's still walking the free earth.  Nobody arrested avant-garde darling David Wojnarowicz for producing a work of "art" involving sacrilege to Christian symbols, though that's been such a popular theme for decades in our artist communities that we wonder why it's even worthy of note anymore.

No, there is no censorship and never has been.  The fight, as so many fights these days are, is purely about money - your taxpayer dollars used to support a cause that most taxpayers find offensive.  This is morally wrong.

Unfortunately, over the past century we have gotten in the habit of allowing government to fund all manner of things that it has no business doing, and which offend large numbers of taxpayers.  The fight over abortion is bad enough without actually funding the murder of babies with your and my tax dollars.

Social conservatives are offended by the vile photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe, but can tolerate their existence as long as they aren't forced to pay for them.  Liberals, of course, feel the same way about enemies of their beliefs: they don't want tax dollars to be spent on religious education, and they've been more successful in pushing their views.

It's pretty cut-and-dried to strip federal funding from sacrilegious "art."  It's more difficult to make that argument about a supposed news organization with a particular bias, because after all, it is impossible for any human being to be entirely unbiased.  By expecting journalists to be paragons of impartiality, we are expecting what never was and what never can be.

That is why America's television screens freely offer both MSNBC and Fox News.  If those aren't sufficiently far to right or left for your taste, there is a literally infinite supply of Internet websites offering every possible slant, bias, and opinion.

That is precisely what our Founders intended, and for good reason: if every idea is allowed into the open, each individual citizen can decide for himself what is true and false; what is worthy of support and what is beneath contempt.  What could be more democratic or more free?

Anti-Democratic Thieves

Of course, it's precisely this liberty that offends the mandarins at NPR.  They are well aware that a good many people love their product and gladly donate their own money; that's why they so often run those obnoxious fund-raising drives that have parts of their audience reaching for the remote.  If nobody actually donated, they wouldn't bother.

Ronald Schilling to the contrary, that's not good enough: NPR also wants your money that you didn't want to donate, forcibly extracted by the IRS and shoveled into their coffers by friendly politicians.

Does NPR produce useful, educational, beneficial programming?  You might find this surprising, but your humble correspondent actually enjoys a fair bit of NPR's output - "Car Talk" for example, or "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me."  It has just as much right to be on America's airwaves as, well, Snooki.

The difference?  I'm not paying for Snooki.  Somebody is, of their own free choice, but not me.

I am paying for "Car Talk," which is fair enough to me because I enjoy it; but so are you, and so is every other American whether you like it or not.  Various sources say that "Car Talk" is the most popular American public radio program, at 4 million listeners a week - which means that the other 303 million Americans who aren't listening are getting ripped off.

Or, to look at it another way, Rush Limbaugh, with an audience of 15 million, has three times as much a rightful claim to taxpayer dollars as "Car Talk" - after all, three times as many taxpayers choose to listen to him.  What would NPR's boffins think of that argument?

Not much, and rightly so - it's bogus.  Mere popularity does not create a claim to taxpayer funding - nor, in NPR's case, does the lack thereof.

In American, government is supposed to be limited in scope.  There are a whole host of things that government simply has no business getting involved in for any reason.  It is not the government's job to provide any service that can be provided by the private sector, and if there's one area in which private companies are hyperactive, it's entertainment and broadcasing.

There is nothing whatsoever provided by NPR, or public broadcasting of any sort, that isn't more than amply supplied elsewhere without taxpayer subsidy.  Does anybody believe that "Sesame Street" or "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" would go off the air if Congress defunded the public broadcasters?  Not a chance: most worthy programs would simply survive from donations and grants, and for those that didn't, Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel would be at their doorstep with a great big check.  People want to watch Big Bird; in a capitalist society, someone will make certain that they can, at no charge to you.

No, much like public-sector unions, the elites at NPR simply want to collect unearned rent from longsuffering taxpayers so as not to have to soil themselves with something so mundane as actually earning their keep.

They have leeched off of us long enough; it's time to boot them out into the cold cruel world to make their own way, phony cries of censorship notwithstanding.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments

Brilliant! A good reminder of *what* censorship actually is and means.

This made me smile:

"Mere popularity does not create a claim to taxpayer funding - nor, in NPR's case, does the lack thereof."

March 11, 2011 9:20 AM

Nice vocabulary, and funny how the shills in both Schillers were sent packing by the NPR board, who thought the pair a nightmare

March 14, 2011 12:02 AM
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