Open Mike

Author:
Publish date:

The FCC Should Listen

In the editorial “Fight the Tyranny of the Minority” (Dec. 20, page 28), the argument that the government shouldn't respond to violations of the law or suggestions for good policy because of public comment or individual persuasion is bizarre.

In most other contexts, we lionize civic action and responsiveness of public officials to public interest needs. Indeed, back in his (and my) day, it only was one man—Ralph Nader—who wrote a book on auto safety. Imagine that. Congress called hearings and passed laws because just one man and a typewriter wrote a book. How dare they!

The emergence of new tools to educate and activate the public is a good thing. That public officials take note is also good.

Yes, e-mail campaigns—like postcard campaigns of past eras—can be manipulated. Yet, take the UCC example cited in your editorial. In fact, your readers should all go to the UCC site (www.accessibleairwaves.org) and examine it. People who come can read about the issue, see the ad for themselves and decide if they want to take action in support of the position or not. This type of public education and civic activism should be applauded. Broadcasters may disagree—and they should let the commission know what their views are. It is just this type of public debate and back and forth that will promote better decision-making. It is what democracy is about.

It may be that the FCC is pandering to the religious far-right for political reasons on decency issues. That fact is indeed troubling, but is unrelated to the merits and value of civic participation in government decision-making.

Samuel A. Simon

Washington

Related