Tar and Feathers: The Solution to FCC Overreach in American Media?


(Scene from HBO mini-series, “John Adams”.Warning, explicit!)

By Jeremy Griffith
The American Millennium

An example of tarring and feathering practice in Boston in 1773.

An example of tarring and feathering practice in Boston in 1773.

In pre-revolutionary Boston, I’m told, a public servant of the British Monarchy ran amok of local ship owners and shipping workers when he demanded that a load of British Tea be off loaded from a ship in the harbor. The incident led to the offending official being “Tarred and Feathered”. Perhaps they should bring back the practice for the FCC?

The Bostonians cried, foul! They said they didn’t want the tea as it represented the unfair taxation of the British crown on Bostonians. At the time it was the only tea allowed to be imported in the colonies and it carried a tax meant to help pay for British wars in the colonies which the Parliament thought it should be the colonists’ partial responsibility to pay. The Bostonians would have none of that and brought to a boiling point, decided to “tar and feather” the fellow, a barbarous and painful act in which boiling hot pine tar was applied to the bare skin followed by a load of feathers. The goal was to torment and humiliate the fellow as it was very painful to be doused in hot tar and it made one look quite ridiculous walking around with the feathers of a bird stuck to the skin. The victim was then “ridden on the rail”, where the victim was forced to sit on a rail and then carried around by other men in a parade of humiliation.

Fast forward to today! We are informed by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai (a very American name, I must say!) that his colleagues in the Federal Communications Commission want to put “researchers”, read: government monitors, into television and radio news rooms around the country where they will in Pai’s words, “With its “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run.”

Fun! When is this going to start? Mr. Pai informs us that the pilot program will begin in Columbia South Carolina this spring. Kudos to Pai for bringing this information to us. He correctly observes that the federal government has no business inserting itself in a constitutionally protected private organization like a television or radio news room. Says Pai, “Should all stations follow MSNBC’s example and cut away from a discussion with a former congresswoman about the National Security Agency’s collection of phone records to offer live coverage of Justin Bieber’s bond hearing? As a consumer of news, I have an opinion. But my opinion shouldn’t matter more than anyone else’s merely because I happen to work at the FCC.”

Well said, Mr. Pai! You can read the rest of Pai’s’ Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal here. It a good, but disturbing read.

Robert Laurie of the Canada Free Press explains in greater detail what the FCC researchers will be doing. Apparently they’ve concocted eight Critical Information Needs of the populace at large, which they will use as guidelines they will be using in questioning news editorial boards about how they plan to satisfy those CINs. Says Laurie, “Their study would demand that news departments answer a series of questions designed to “ascertain the process by which stories are selected, station priorities (for content production quality, and populations served), perceived station bias, perceived percent of news dedicated to each of the eight CIN’s and perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”

Laurie continues, “They also want to “understand the critical information needs of the American public. One of the issues addressed in the study is how these CINs are framed, and whether said framing does enough do give viewers the full context of the story.”
Laurie asked a very correct and relevant question regarding this intrusion by the Federal Government into Free Speech and Press. He asked, in a nutshell, what happens if the other party was to do this during their administration? Do you still think it’s a good idea?
You can read the content of Laurie’s article in the Canada Free Press here, where the publication’s stated motto is, “Without America, there would be no Free World”!

We are told that the FCC would send monitors to newspapers as well as a part of this study, even though they have no regulatory authority on newspapers as such. Participation is “voluntary” but the FCC issues TV and radio stations their licenses, which begs the question, what happens if these organizations are less than cooperative with this new government intrusion into their business? Will their license be yanked?

I have a suggestion to those who manage the respective news agencies: tar and feather the bastards!

Now I don’t mean to literally tar and feather them as was done in colonial days, but you might want to perform a little object lesson to get the FCC goon thinking about the ramifications of what he is doing. Take a vat of pine tar and heat it to boiling over a hot plate. Have Mr. or Ms. FCC Dude or Dudette sit by the hot plate and gently apply the tar to their hand or cheek with a cotton swab. Then apply downy feathers to the affected area. Ask the FCC rep this question: Do you like how that feels? Then by all means, come back tomorrow and will do the whole thing!

In that first meeting I recommend that you have your attorney present to “grille” the offending government rep on their understanding of the First Amendment with special attention paid to the concept of prior restraint. Remind them their boss in the big white house in Washington D.C. taught constitutional law for a decade before occupying his current office. Then ask what they believe their boss’s concept of the First Amendment and prior restraint is. Document their response on camera and post it on your website. Then conduct your editorial meeting and discuss you’re weekly stories. One story idea I humbly suggest for you editors and publishers: the new intrusion of the FCC into your editorial practices.

I have another suggestion, this one for patriots living in Washington D.C. Find the FCC offices and get together with some of your friends outside. Bring along some boiling pine tar and bags of feathers and wait outside. Have one of your members politely knock on the door of their office and inform whoever is there that you will be waiting for them outside. Document their reactions on video and post it to your blog. Let the cops who come to speak to you know that you are just gathering in protest and you have no real intention of torturing government officials, that your only real intent is polite observation of constitutional history and ramifications.

I think everyone should be disturbed by the return of government intrusion into the press. Already many Americans are frustrated at the pro-government bias in newsrooms today. Our only recourse, and it’s an effective one, is the free market. When the news doesn’t fit the needs of the consumer, we shut them off. It’s up to the news agency to figure out our needs, not the government and in a free market capitalist system, the market decides.

We don’t want to become a Russian satellite state, where the state owns and operates the media. The Constitution is a sacred declaration of our rights. It doesn’t grant our rights; it simply declares what should be a foregone conclusion, self-evident. This government has been assaulting our rights for years, as has the previous administration. It is up to the citizens of this country to wake up and take a stand, saying enough is enough.

Who is next on the FCCs’ list, bloggers? If they’re going after newspapers, where they have no authority, then the Internet and independent blogs are surely next. Welcome back net neutrality.

Here at The American Millennium, I am not suggesting we actually physically abuse unelected government officials in the manner depicted in the video above. I talk about this practice purely tongue in cheek to illustrate a point. I agree with John Adams as played by the actor Paul Giamatti, it is a brutal and illegal act. However, I do recommend that editors and producers publicly shame and humiliate the FCC regulatory monitors for their illegal intrusion into their newsrooms.

If Americans reacted so violently to a tax worth only a few pennies per cup of tea, then what will they do now with their constitutional rights being violated almost daily by an overreaching big government? Will we turn into the Ukraine, which is on fire as we speak?

These monitors should be educated on the strength of the constitution and the purpose of the amendments as put forth by The Framers. This is an incredible teaching point that those newsrooms should not pass on. If they do take a pass, then what happens to the freedom of press and of speech that we all once enjoyed?! Watch the fascinating example of the practice of tarring and feathering below from the HBO mini-series “John Adams”. I’ve also included an interesting discussion of the practice and history of tarring and feathering from Reddit here.

American Millennium creator Jeremy Griffith on the steps inside the Minnesota capitol in St. Paul. Griffith is a veteran of the Iraq war and part-time blogger. All opinions presented here are his own.

American Millennium creator Jeremy Griffith on the steps inside the Minnesota capitol in St. Paul. Griffith is a veteran of the Iraq war and part-time blogger. All opinions presented here are his own.

Share This: