Reagan uprising is not censorship

Howard Kaloogian is a former California State Assemblyman who is chair of the Sacramento-based Defend Reagan Committee

Scores of Americans recently exercised their right of free speech and persuaded CBS not to run a mean-spirited and false miniseries about former President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy. Yet to listen to the howls from the liberal left, one would think that such citizen action was crass censorship—dangerous and hostile to our civil liberties.

The fury began after The New York Times revealed that the CBS miniseries, The Reagans, would be a hatchet job on Reagan, his wife and his administration.

With the help of the Internet, talk radio and cable television, Americans across this nation spoke out and inundated CBS, Viacom and their advertisers’ offices with phone calls, letters and e-mails of protest.

CBS was overwhelmed by the uproar and decided not to air the miniseries, even admitting the miniseries was unfair. But parent company Viacom went forward with the production to milk it for every dollar the company could, announcing that the program would air on the Viacom-owned Showtime cable network.

Viacom’s willingness to do anything for financial gain resulted in a continuing campaign by the Defend Reagan Committee. Thousands have canceled their Showtime subscriptions, others have complained to their cable operators, and some have even dumped their Viacom stock.

This is precisely the action one would hope for and expect from an engaged, active and free public. But, to liberals who relished in the thought of seeing Reagan smeared, it is nothing more than censorship.

Forget for a moment that true censorship would involve action by the government to dictate what could and couldn’t be shown on either CBS or Showtime, not an economic boycott by private citizens.

Those who are crying foul don’t really believe their own spin that this popular uprising is censorship. They just cannot believe that there has been such strong opposition by the American public to seeing a prominent conservative leader defamed by malicious slander.

This is intriguing, given the left’s recent glee at organizing almost-identical protests against the now-canceled Dr. Laura TV show. Apparently, the shoe doesn’t fit so well on the other foot.

The fact that we have the right to voice our protest and the right to tell companies we will take our business elsewhere is something that defines a core greatness in our American tradition. It is something I am most thankful for, and I hope you are, too.