Freedom of Speech Issue Returns (Briefly) to Berkeley

If the Mediterranium Cafe in Berkeley was good enough for Jack Kerouac, then having breakfast there while staying in this University town is good enough for this columnist.  Since they have copies of the Daily Californian (THE UCB student newspaper) it’s possible that a fellow could come up with a column idea while enjoying one of the omelets with feta cheese.  Sure enough, we hadn’t even unfolded the tabloid size paper out, when we noticed a teaser at the top of the front page that read: “Freedom of the Press:  Students stand in solidarity with Oregon paper.” 

On page four of the Friday, March 6, 2009, issue there was an expression of solidarity with the students on the staff of the Daily Emerald, the University of Oregon’s student newspaper, who had gone on strike on Wednesday.

The thought that the students at Berkeley were getting involved in a freedom of speech issue seemed like it might be worth mentioning in a column, particularly because it could be linked to another facet of the topic that hasn’t been discussed much . . . yet.  (Isn’t freedom of the press a subcategory of freedom of speech?)

Gee, do you think that Rush Limbaugh, who, at times, seems frantic over the possibility that the fairness doctrine will impinge on his freedom of speech, will come to the defense of the kids at the Daily Emerald and spotlight their plight?

The Emerald staff was was protesting “the attempts of its board of directors to install a publisher with unprecedented control over the newsroom,” so they went out on strike.  A scab produced issue was published on Thursday.  On Friday 34 college newspapers were printing the statement of solidarity.  Other student newspapers joining The Daily Californian were:  The Daily Bruin (UCLA), The Daily Kent Stater, The Daily Princetonian, The Daily Targum (Rutgers University), The Independent Alligator (The University of Florida), the Ubyssey (University of British Columbia) and about two dozen others.

Odds are Rush Limbaugh won’t say a word to help the Daily Emerald staff, but when the time comes for him to use the freedom of speech issue for his own advantage, he’ll get his compatriots on the various evening news broadcast to paul-parrot his talking points.  (Perhaps his wealthy industrial backers are also the various anchors’ bosses and that might have something to do with any future show of solidarity between the TV network broadcasters and fatso.)

Meanwhile the staff of the Daily Emerald will be the point persons for now.  This just in:  By Friday night resumption of publication by the student staff for the Monday issue was being reported by James Romenesko of the Poynetr Institute.  According to a Google-news search, he was the only one connected to the mainstream media to report on the strike. 

Do you think Rush interceded on their behalf?  Doesn’t he espouse self-reliance when it suits his needs? 

How will Rush twist, turn, and subvert the freedom of speech into something that makes his propagandizing look acceptable? 

When you were a kid, suppose you insulted your buddy’s mother and he asked you to either:  take it back of prepare to fight someone who was four inches taller and fifty pounds heavier.  If you took it back, was your recanting free speech or would you plead “coercion” and say it was not an example of free speech? 

Does Rush believe in freedom of speech when a fellow Republican “disses” him? Or does he use the equivalent of the old “I’m going to rip your arm off and then beat you to death with it” subtle style of persuasion to get them to reverse their view freely?

If that same pal challenged you to debate and he let you use a bullhorn, but he was helped by a Marine Corps <a href =http://www.audioheritage.org/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=24123>Beachmaster</a> speaker (reportedly it can be heard a mile away), which one of you would win the effort to drown out the other guy’s argument?

Doesn’t Rush ignore the 90 to 10 ratio of the corporate subsidized imbalance and claim that the marketplace has settled the dispute?  Wouldn’t he endorse a duel between a Beachmaster and a bullhorn . . . as long as he was the one with the Beachmaster?

“Once a bully, always a bully.,” eh Rush? Perhaps Rush thinks that when Teddy Roosevelt said:  “Bully!,” he was dispensing advice on how to act like a Republican?

Did any of the conservative talk show hosts come to the defense of the staff of the Daily Emerald?  Will they sing a different tune when the “fairness doctrine” moves to center stage later in President Obama’s term in office?

The Emerald episode may soon look like that paper’s staff played the roll of opening act for the headline event featuring Rush and his clones.  Stay tuned . . .

“There comes a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part, you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, the people who own it, that unless you’re free the machine will be prevented from working at all.” Mario Savio RIP

Now, the disk jockey will play Country Joe’s “Fixin’ to Die Rag.”  We’ll go dust off an old placard and practice our LBJ chant.  Have a riotously good week.

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