United Healthcare Workers West's rank-and-file leadership has filed a lawsuit against Andy Stern and Anna Burger for their campaign of systematically trying to silence the members of UHW who are speaking out against Stern and Burger's power grabs. The lawsuit notes several actions taken by Stern's inner circle--including threats of a politically motivated trusteeship and dismantling of UHW--which are intended to chill dissent within SEIU.
UHW is the largest west coast local of SEIU. It has criticized Stern and his associates for undemocratic actions and corruption.
"In a recent Rasmussen poll looking at the public's attitudes toward a possible revival of the fairness doctrine by the Democrats, a surprisingly large percentage of those polled seek fairness doctrine mandates (originally intended for public airwaves) to cover the Internet as well. It is encouraging that a minority of people feel that way, but Democrats say 'hands-off the Internet ... by a far smaller margin than Republicans and unaffiliated voters. Democrats oppose government-mandated balance on the Internet by a 48% to 37% margin. Sixty-one percent (61%) of Republicans reject government involvement in Internet content along with 67% of unaffiliated voters.'
I'm not sure I trust the results of this poll, given its source and the fact that it's very hard to poll about complex technical issues like this. The Rasmussen analysis seems to have a conservative bias, and since they don't offer the raw data up to nonsubscribers, it's hard to see if its justified. Assuming these numbers are anything like true, it's discouraging that so many Democrats feel this way about the internet. It's hard for me to believe that anyone who uses the web could believe this kind of enforcement is even possible. The sheer number of independent sites online would be utterly infeasible to police without a giant Ministry of Information. And what about user-driven websites where the administrators have little control over who writes what? I have no problem with news programs being required to offer equal time, but the poll focuses a lot on talk radio and the web; mainly opinion-based media. Controlling the expression of opinions is about as antidemocratic as it gets, no matter who it benefits.
As a passionate (arguably extremist) left-wing ideologist, I have an admittedly reflexive tendency to regard askance anything that right-wing ideologists have to say about anything. If I open a newspaper or magazine to an editorial and see the byline of a well-known right-winger, the chances that writer will receive even a shred of benefit of the doubt from me are slim indeed. It is for that reason that I try very hard not to see the author's name when perusing editorial articles or essays.
(I've often mused that society as a whole might benefit from a measure of source anonymity when it comes to editorial writing. Imagine how much more would be demanded of our intellectual resources and imagination if we were denied the opportunity to judge first and consider second -- if at all.)
Now, for the most part, it's fairly easy to discern in the first few paragraphs the political bent of any given editorialist; easier still if one's own political beliefs and opinions contrast or coincide strongly with those of the author. Occasionally -- often enough to make it unremarkable -- I disagree with a writer whose political attitudes I share. Far less often, and thus more jarringly, every once in a while I find myself in agreement with someone whose opinions usually drive me to enraged distraction.