Burnt Offering: Artists Must Unite to Protect Free Speech

So I wake up groggy and after getting my morning green tea –- yeah, I seem to be going through that phase -- coffee doesn't go well with global warming. Anyway, I start the computer and begin my ritual of clearing out emails; a daunting but necessary task where depending on my time and interest I sometimes randomly open something to read.

If your mailbox is like mine you receive an overwhelming amount of political stuff and reading it all can be a time-suck of enormous proportions. Let’s face it, if you don’t derive your living from this stuff, no matter how much of a concerned citizen you may be, there comes a point where you have to say, “Ah, is this paying my mortgage?” That’s reality biting you in the ass, and so the knee-jerk reaction is to press delete and move on to something that may add a few more dollars to your already crumbling retirement fund. But, and I stress BUT, like the "pusher man" (remember that song, G** D**** the Pusher Man?) who you cannot seem to get away from, the sheer volume of political noise coming at you can’t be ignored and after just one peek … aaahhh your fix takes hold.

There’s a great scene in Sergio Leone's “Once Upon a Time in America" where a young hoodlum waits to have his way with a local girl who "gives it up" for the price of a big cream-puff pastry. As this little guy with the cutest most innocent 10 year-old face sits on the steps outside her tenement door, he looks at his nicely wrapped pastry and smiles in the knowledge of what’s coming in just a few short moments. But this kid is so innocent-looking you know he doesn't quite understand what he’s waiting for. In fact, there’s more trepidation than anything else in his countenance.

Anyway, not being able to help himself, he opens the paper wrapper the pastry’s wrapped in, looks at the whipped cream on top, looks at the girls’ door, thinks for a bit and then wraps it back up. Well, this goes on a few moments until the boy succumbs to the allure of the pastry, takes his finger, and tastes the cream on the edges of the wrapping paper. He repeats this until he can no longer help himself and then gobbles the whole thing up with the most satisfied, beautifully innocent look just as the girl opens her door and beckons him to her, the boy, no longer hungry having had a far greater pleasure then she can provide, runs off.

At this point you’re all wondering what the significance of this is. There is none. Only kidding. Actually there is meaning, and if you can figure it out I’ll treat you to a slice of pizza at Via Alloro in Beverly Hills.

Getting back to my emails …

I opened a few of them and one caught my eye that read: "Pelosi Wants To Ban Fox News from The Floor -- she tells Keith Olbermann." Now this woke me better than five liters of Red Bull given intravenously -- the hypocrisy, the absolute absurd accusation by her regarding a news outlet that is fairer and more balanced than the others … and I watch them all. Not looking to see who agrees with my point of view but for who is trying to fairly present differing points of view.

I don’t agree with Olbermann, or most of the MSNBC line-up, but I watch them, want to hear their opinions and while I may vehemently disagree with how unbalanced I feel they are … to NOT let them report is DANGEROUS. Pelosi is not protecting the Constitution and should be impeached over this. President Obama, who has also attacked Fox News, should tell her to stand down with this kind of rhetoric; the same rhetoric we’ve heard before concerning talk radio and the Fairness Doctrine.

While presidents in the past may have canceled newspaper subscriptions over a disagreement with a certain publication, that is our prerogative as consumers. I see no harm in that. But when our elected officials even float the idea of having a major news outlet banned from Congress, something is rotten.

With all these thoughts boiling in my brain, I called a good friend of mine to rant and ... we find out the Pelosi quote is a hoax.

She never said it.

Orson Welles would have had a field day with the Internet.

Yeah, I got suckered … but for good reason. Sometime between the 2008 election and this morning the idea of a high-ranking Democrat threatening to ban a legitimate news organization from the floor of the House has quickly moved from inconceivable to entirely believable. After all, last week the White House -- our White House – attempted to block Fox News from a pool report interview.

Thankfully, the other news outlets refused to allow this to happen, but that doesn’t change what our White House attempted to do. It also doesn’t change the fact that two of President Obama’s top guys – Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod – were sent out to the Sunday shows last week to tell other networks that Fox News wasn’t legitimate – to tell other networks what is and is not legitimate news.

We need differing points of view. If Fox News is silenced who will MSNBC hosts argue with night after night? Some respected pundits write this off as a minor issue saying the President should not tangle with Fox and keep his eye on pushing health care. But, my dear fellow Americans, we need to keep our eye on THIS. Because if we do not the Obama Administration has made clear their goals -– if we do not, the administration has every intention of seeing to it we are spoon fed what to think, say and feel. And regardless of politics, that is an insidious and frightening thing.

I call on all of my colleagues -- actors and actresses, singers, musicians, writers, directors… if we in the artistic community stand idly by out of fear we will slip further from our beloved democracy. We must unite together over an issue that has nothing to do with party affiliation. This is about freedom of speech and those in power are trying to put that freedom in jail, not only in America but around the world -- as we saw when Michael Savage was banned from Cambridge.

Contact me. Join the free--speech campaign: info@free--speech.com

It is time to put the flag in the sand for the First Amendment.

But please act quickly…

God Bless you all and God Bless America,

Robert Davi


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