Wednesday, October 15, 2008

That objectivity thing again

How about a hand for the corporate mainstream media, without which we here on the Middle Coast wouldn't know what the Sacramento County Republican Party was posting on its official Web site these days?

Anyway. One of the challenges of teaching the journalistic flavor of "objectivity" is the bit about which opinions, if any, aren't given a seat at the table: No, you don't have to call the Klan for a comment on why cross-burning is just harmless fun, but how do you write a generalizable rule from that? We're left, often, with a sort of Potter Stewart-like statement: We can't define what comments are out of bounds, but we'll know 'em when we see 'em.*

Don't mistake us on the free-speech front. The First Amendment is a big deal, and we take it seriously in these parts. But the right to free speech does not entail a right to borrow my amplifier, and even a major party risks having its microphone cut off if it shows up at the debate in a pillowcase too often.

* People tend not to remember the rest of the famous sentence about hard-core porn from Stewart's concurring opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio: "I know it when I see it, and the motion picture in this case is not that."


Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

So, Bush in Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh?

2:23 PM, October 15, 2008  

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