NEWS — For more than a week, Democratic candidates Al Gore and Joseph Lieberman, and officials at the Federal Trade Commission, joined by political and social leaders on the Left and the Right, have begun laying the groundwork for government controls on the motion picture industry. What is surprising is that the supposed defenders of free speech have been silent, said a Fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute.

“Part of the reason lies in the fact that the advocates of censorship are successfully selling these restrictions as something other than censorship,” said Robert W. Tracinski, a columnist for Creators Syndicate.

“But let’s be clear what’s at stake. If Gore and Lieberman get their way, we will soon discover that filmmakers, musicians, and publishers are allowed to present their creations to the public, not by right but only by government permission.”

Tracinski said that although the new controls are billed as keeping violent material away from children, “‘protecting the children’ is no excuse for muzzling the adults.”

Tracinski dismissed Gore and Lieberman’s claim that they are concerned only with ‘marketing’ and not artistic expression.

“This is like declaring that you have a right to think whatever you want in the privacy of your own home — you just can’t say it to anyone else. What our politicians are saying to Hollywood is: ‘You’re free to make whatever movies you want — you just can’t market them.’ The phrase ‘a free marketplace of ideas’ is not just a figure of speech — and it’s no coincidence that the Federal Trade Commission, created to impose sweeping controls on business, is now being used to spearhead controls on art.”

“As a last ditch attempt to hide the truth from the public, the censors have claimed that they prefer to have the motion picture industry accept new ‘voluntary’ guidelines — backed up by the threat that if filmmakers don’t ‘volunteer’ to muzzle themselves within six months, the tanks will start rolling in.”

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Chris Wolski

The author is a contributing writer to Capitalism Magazine.

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