From The Early Days Of The Republic To The Present
Keynote address given by Paul Levinson
at the Sixth Annual Convention
of the Media Ecology Association,
Fordham University, New York City, June 23, 2005
[Introduction by John Hollwitz, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Fordham University.]
Well, thank you, John. And apropos of your comment about the dark side, I knew there was still good in you someplace. Well, I was driving down to the convention today and I realized I was driving about 62 or 63 miles an hour on the West Side Drive, and as some of you may know the speed limit there is 50 miles an hour, so I hope there are no police officers in the audience. Actually it’s a good thing that there weren’t any police officers in cars or on motorcycles or anywhere near where I was this afternoon because if they had seen me driving even a few miles too fast, they could have pulled me over and given me a summons and the way traffic courts work-at least in New York City-I think you’re guilty until proven innocent.
But you might be wondering what this has to do with the First Amendment. Well, it struck me as an interesting irony that a person who drives just a few miles over the posted speed limit can be found guilty and pay a hefty fine, but our government is systematically violating the supreme law of the land -- which is what our Constitution is -- when the FCC, for example, fines television networks and radio stations over seven million dollars, which it did last year. Even though the First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech or of the press.” It strikes me as ironic that the federal government can and does do that with impunity all the time, and that’s what I want to explore with you in a little more detail this evening.
The Famous Douche Bag Case