Memo Gets ‘Forever Wild’ Show Bumped on Eve of Vote
Little River Falls near Fort Payne, Alabama
by Glynn Wilson
Is Alabama’s Republican Attorney General Luther Strange condoning censorship in violation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United vs. FEC decision?
When voters go to the polls on Nov. 6 to vote for the next president of the United States, in Alabama they will also have an opportunity to vote to extend a Constitutional Amendment to renew the popular Forever Wild program. It sets aside about 6 percent of the royalties collected by the state on oil and gas leases — mostly in state waters in the Gulf of Mexico — to purchase wild lands and keep them wild for future generations.
The popular show Discovering Alabama was set to air a new documentary on Forever Wild on Alabama Public Television last week, but the show was pulled because of a memo from the state attorney general’s office warning public TV not to air any show that might influence the vote. This appears to be in violation of the First Amendment’s free speech and press clauses — as well as the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United vs. FEC — and certainly violates the spirit of debate on public affairs embodied in all our founding documents.
The news is leaking out due to a letter from Discovering Alabama’s Host and Producer Doug Phillips, who posted a notice explaining why the show did not air in spite of advance promotions on the Friends of Discovering Alabama Website.
“If you tuned in to APT Thursday night at 9 p.m. for the premiere of ‘Forever Wild Renewal,’ well, you did not find it being broadcast,” Phillips says. An older Discovering Alabama program was broadcast instead.
“Unfortunately, late Thursday we were apprised of a very recent memorandum from the State Attorney General’s Office regarding actions that might result in ‘influencing the vote or political action,’ Phillips says.
The memo raised serious concern that if “Forever Wild Renewal” was broadcast, he said, “there might be a possibility of a legal challenge by Forever Wild opponents.”
Perhaps they should also be worried about legal action from Forever Wild proponents, who now could very well have a censorship claim against the state, the attorney general and APT.
“Though our new show is mostly informational — and does not expressly advocate voting for or against Forever Wild on November 6th — the tone of the show is supportive of the many benefits of Forever Wild,” Phillips said. “We regret having to make this abrupt change in the APT broadcast schedule. But please be assured, the show will still be available for viewing after November 6th.”
This is just another in a long line of examples proving that the Republicans who control all three branches of government in Alabama now are not really conservatives as they call themselves. They do not believe in freedom of speech or the press. They are social control freaks who are only interested in winning elections for their corporate moneyed interests.
It is also another black eye for APT, which is still reeling from a controversy over an episode when one of its board members put pressure on the staff to air false, religious propaganda in violation of public television policy, FCC guidelines for the public airwaves and court rulings on the separation of church and state.
We urge the people of Alabama to stand up to this neo-fascism and let their voices be heard on election day by voting out of office any politician who does not believe in your freedom to obtain good information about public affairs.
© 2012, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved. The Locust Fork News-Journal, LocustFork.Net