David Mamet: The media must not allow government to proscribe free speech

Share
Related Topics

The so-called Fairness Doctrine, the enforcement of the doctrine that any broadcast medium, voicing one political opinion must voice another, dissenting opinion will be the beginning of the end of free speech. Here's why: Who is to say what is political opinion? The line between political opinion and reportage is so blurred now as to be almost indistinct. Should such a pernicious doctrine become widespread, energy will be devoted to persuading and inevitably suborning those authorities who seek to rule on any utterance.

Such a doctrine, rather than forcing open discourse, will tend to limit it, for those media organs with a limited budget will shy away from political speech as they may have to present opposing doctrine – offending their listeners and the advertisers. Thus they will be limited to non-political speech. Lastly, such a so-called fairness doctrine will clog the courts. And, what of the off-hand comment, which the individual and his broadcast medium will have to self-censor rather than risk offense or prosecution for lack of fairness? The less we can say, the less we can see.

The great danger here, as in all government, is a default not to the rule of law, but to the administrative committee, acting – whether "good-willed" or not – in reference only to its own wisdom. This is the beginning of the tyranny of the police state. The government is not made of geniuses, it is not made of the wise. It is a natural and necessary adjunct of human life but it is made of politicians and bureaucrats.

The wisdom of the multitudes is the treasure of mankind and our greatest treasure, not only the guardian but the inculcator of wisdom, is our language. The great heroes of the English-speaking people have been poets – Lincoln, Churchill, Dr King – whom by the freedom and beauty of their language presented generally unacceptable ideas in a new way, thus changing the world. Our language is our heritage and our plaything, ever evolving and shaping our world. Through language the unknown becomes the unthinkable, which becomes merely the impossible and then the commonplace, and the nature of the world, which, finally, exists to us only to the extent which we can perceive it, changes. But speech must be free. Thank you.

David Mamet gave the Alistair Cooke Memorial Lecture 2008

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Content Leader

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role requires a high level...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A bartender serves two Mojito cocktails  

For the twenty-somethings of today, growing up is hard to do

Simon Kelner
 

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Robert Fisk
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent