November 10, 2001
I'm guessing not, since it wasn't a particularly impressive letter, just a brief paragraph commenting on his link to this fairly easy-to-criticize Norah Vincent editorial in the L.A. Times, Intimidation Is a Form of Censorship:
"Yanking advertisements from network television shows should also be unconstitutional. This happened recently to Bill Maher, host of the late-night talk show "Politically Incorrect" [...]
Why do I believe that rescinding ad revenue constitute censorship? Don't advertisers have the right to advertise when and where they please? Because Maher's show depends on advertising money for its survival, the advertisers were not just registering their discontent (they could have done that in a written statement), they were knowingly jeopardizing the show and thereby attempting to silence the speaker by forcing him off the air."
This type of reasoning has been a big part of my political shift in recent years, since in its attempt to create a seemingly better present it ignores the obvious consequences. Besides the huge issue of the advertisers' First Amendment rights, if companies are not allowed to rescind advertising due to her interpretation of the First Amendment, shows like Politically Incorrect would simply never get on the air at all, since corporations wouldn't take those kind of risks knowing there was no way out. To me this is similar to the demands after the first few anthrax cases that Bayer's Cipro patents be canceled, ignoring the future negative consequences in pharmaceutical development. Too many of the political arguments I've seen during my life can be ignored after asking the questions "What would happen in the future if this strategy were adapted?" and "Would the good things we have now exist if this strategy had been adopted?"
Anyway, Matt Welch and Brian Hoffman (also on the letters page) do a far better job of discussing this issue than I just did, so just go read those.
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