Commentary: Media in Political Races and Political Correctness

Jul 20, 2023 at 06:13 pm by WGNS News

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Commentary: (ABOVE) Listen to one college professors opinion on political correctness and what his thoughts are on the role of media in politics today. For more on this subject, click play (ABOVE) to hear MTSU Professor of Journalism, Dr. Larry Burriss. 


You can hear more from Dr. Burriss by clicking the below graphic. 

Commentary Verbatim: “As we move closer and closer to the next election, and continue to debate the role of the media in American politics, we might want to stop for a moment and reflect on just how fragile those rights can be.

In mid-July 1798, Congress passed the Sedition Act, which made it a crime to publish false, malicious or scandalous writing about the government.

Despite the First Amendment, which guaranteed a free press and free speech, despite all of the talk about freedom from tyranny, despite all of the newspapers springing up, with the passage of this act, it became illegal to say anything bad about the government or about government officials.

Freedom of the press and speech exists only to the extent people are willing to exercise those freedoms. And that exercise can often mean challenging the very institutions that want to limit that freedom.

Many national constitutions, even those in totalitarian countries, contain very clear language about freedom of speech, press and assembly. In fact, some of these documents have guarantees are a lot more explicit and detailed than our own.

And despite all of our own glowing statements about free speech, it seems strange we are going through a time when many people are challenging the notion of free inquiry and open debate.

Numerous reports and polls over the last few years seem to show that people want freedom of speech for themselves, but not for others. The feeling seems to be a lot of people are saying, "I know what is right, so everyone else ought to be quiet."

We are also seeing a manifestation of this line of thought in the current wave of "politically correct" legislation being passed. Here legislatures and other governing bodies are determining what things are o-k to think and say, and which ones are not.

The U.S. Supreme Court one time said there is no such thing as a false idea. We may be mistaken about some facts, but ideas are neither true nor false. And problems arise when we begin to confuse facts and ideas, and begin to brand ideas as correct or incorrect, true or false, valid or invalid.

So let's remember the lessons of the Sedition Acts, and also remember individual rights will be preserved only to the extent people are willing to exercise, and defend, them. - I’m Larry Burriss.”


About Dr. Burriss - Larry Burriss, professor of journalism, teaches introductory and media law courses. At the graduate level he teaches quantitative research methods and media law. He holds degrees from The Ohio State University (B.A. in broadcast journalism, M.A. in journalism), the University of Oklahoma (M.A. in human relations), Ohio University (Ph.D. in journalism) and Concord Law School (J.D.). He has worked in print and broadcast news and public relations, and has published extensively in both academic and popular publications. He has won first place in the Tennessee Associated Press Radio Contest nine times. Dr. Burriss' publications and presentations include studies of presidential press conferences, NASA photography, radio news, legal issues related to adolescent use of social networking sites, legal research, and Middle Earth.

Dr. Burriss has served as director of the School of Journalism, dean of the College of Mass Communication and president of the MTSU Faculty Senate. He was appointed by Gov. Phil Bredesen to serve on the Tennessee Board of Regents. He was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force and served on active duty in Mali, Somalia, Bosnia, Central America, Europe and the Pentagon.


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