How Free Will Free Speech Continue To Be?
It is believed that the average citizen is photographed or videoed about 30 times a day. Think about it… Your bank… Buildings you visit… Walking in a parking garage… Walking down the street… All of these areas have cameras and, while these devices are for crime prevention purposes, you should remember to smile… Shades of Big Brother?
Of course, every smart phone comes equipped with a camera and video capabilities. And, while many of the images users take wind up on Facebook or YouTube, some people use them to cover news stories (witness the current events in the Middle East). Much has already been written about the rise and power of the “Citizen Journalist,” so we needn’t belabor the point.
Within the past few days, a secretly-recorded video of Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has surfaced and was turned over to Mother Jones, a liberal magazine, and subsequently NBC News. The video captured Mr. Romney speaking at a fundraiser earlier this year. In response to a question, Mr. Romney said:
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax. My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
For his part, Mr. Romney is standing by his comments and told reporters covering his campaign that they were not “elegantly stated” and were “off the cuff.”
Our purpose is not to debate the substance of Mr. Romney’s remarks, but rather to consider the consequences. We already live in an era in which everybody is media trained, heavily scripted and armed with message points. Will such occurrences put an end to spontaneous communication? Will we see more press conferences in which the principals refuse to take questions? Will all this make the media’s job more difficult? Will our candidates and business execs be placed in bubbles? Will we be left with boring speakers simply parroting the day’s talking points? The jury is out…