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Free Expression

Mark Lloyd and the Burden of Free Speech

Mark Lloyd has devoted his long and distinguished public interest life to fighting for media diversity and free speech for all of us. In recognition of his career and expertise, he has been appointed Associate General Counsel at the FCC. Congratulations Mark! From all of us who served with you on the board of the Center for Democracy & Technology and all of those who have worked with you over the years.

Now Lloyd has been paid another honor: an attack from none other than Glenn Beck, one of our leading media voices of rage and distortion who spends his time 24/7 working to smear anyone associated with progressive policies.

Art Brodsky of Public Knowledge has written a careful deconstruction of Beck’s distorted attack on Lloyd’s character and public record to set the record straight and it is worth a read at for anyone interested in the facts and truth. Unfortunately, we don’t think Beck or his followers are interested – but many will be.

The irony of this episode however does deserve mention. Lloyd helped to frame the legal and policy positions that has made cable programming more diverse and the Internet a true zone of free speech, unburdened from the regulatory regime that burdens traditional broadcasting. Lloyd has helped to give broad freedom of speech to everyone, including the Glen Becks of this world. And this is the reward he gets!

For those of us who worked for this open media, we can only suck it up and adhere to the principle of an open market place of ideas and support Lloyd as he continues to serve the public interest. The clash of ideas and distortions will go on. But in the end, Beckian lies and paranoid conspiracies will be shown to be just that.

Cultivating an open marketplace of ideas and diversity is a never-ending task, accomplished, in large part, by the wonderful tool of democracy called the Internet, a tool that holds no political allegiance. It’s time to flex the muscle of this powerful, participatory tool to deflect attacks against those, like Lloyd, who fight, ironically enough, to ensure a culture of free expression that makes those very attacks possible.

We have to take a deep breath, redouble our commitment to First Principles of speech and association, and trust that in John Stuart Mill’s famous formulation, truth in the end will prevail.