Here's an example of how government control increases incrementally.
As most of you know, the High Court yesterday took it upon itself to command a private broadcaster to include two politicians on a programme belonging to that broadcaster. The politicians' reactions to the decision ranged from the "Oh, well" to the smug. The public reaction to this dictatorial legedermain ranged, for the most part, from "Oh, well" through to "Oh, what?"
Here was a blatant violation by a court, acting at the behest of two politicians, of a broadcaster's right to its own private property (its programme, network and broadcast spectrum), and to its right to free speech across that network. And in response to this violation the public barely gave a shrug. Such is the way new violations are welcomed day after day. With a shrug. Such is the way liberty yields, and government authority gains ground.
To the credit of some commentators, bloggers and broadcasters, there was at least some resistance. Most bloggers, to their credit, realised the significance of the decision and were opposed. No Right Turn was one who seemed happy at the court's bullying, however, calling it "good for democracy" while still trying to straddle the issue by agreeing the bullying "is a prima facie violation of [the broadcaster's right to free expression." There's clarity for you.
The Herald reasoned the judge's focus should have been "the freedom of the media to cover political events as they see fit, and the right of private companies to make their own decisions about their operations." Quite right. Tim Pankhurst of the Media Freedom Committee called it "a dangerous precedent for the democratic process when judges are allowed to dictate which politicians should be included in specific programmes.” Bernard Darnton of the Libertarianz, who some were saying should perhaps have joined in the application to the courts, replied that "Libertarianz... is taking a moral stand by setting aside narrow self-interest, as in the long run, we are all better off with a free press." Quite true.
And TV3 itself, fearful of the precedent this has created, has announced it will be fighting this ruling. Thank goodness for that. "[TV3's Mark] Jennings told the Herald after the decision was announced that it was the first time judges had "decided our editorial policy for us. You'd have to think 'what's next? Where does it stop?'"
Where it will probably stop is with people like the vacuous announcer on the Breakfast Show at Radio Live this morning who can't tell the difference between a dictator and someone who pays her wages, and wants to be told by someone else what to do in her job. Bernard Darnton had just repeated his assertion that "state direction of the media through the courts is something that would not be out of place in countries such as Zimbabwe. These politicians have criticised the regime in Zimbabwe, but are now demanding that totalitarian policies be implemented here."
Her response: "If we let private broadcasters choose who they have on then aren't we replacing one dictator with another?"
Galt save us from vacuous idiots who would give up their liberty so easily.