it’s not surprising that some of our top minds have been diligently working on a solution.
In a 2001 interview (one that’s only recently gone viral and caused a brouhaha), Cass Sunstein, now the nation’s regulatory czar, is overheard advocating for government to insist all websites offer opposing viewpoints — or, in other words, a Fairness Doctrine for the Web.
What if websites refused to acquiesce to this intrusion on free speech? “If we could get voluntary arrangements in that direction it would be great,” said Sunstein at the time, “and if we can’t get voluntary arrangements maybe Congress should hold hearings about mandates.” After all, Sunstein went on to say, “the word voluntary is a little complicated. And sometimes people don’t do what’s best for our society.”
In truth, I’ve enjoyed many of Sunstein’s counterintuitive arguments and read his idealistic notions about “nudging” (and sometimes a bit more, apparently — I guess it’s complicated) irrational people into “rational” choices. Sunstein is an intellectual who thinks aloud. Obviously that can come back to cause you some problems.
Then again, would an impulsive intellectual who wondered aloud about coercing universities to offer more right-wing professors, or casually entertained the idea of dispensing with the First Amendment, be tasked with the job of overseeing the health of the nation’s entire regulatory system, which holds so many real-world consequences? Doubtful.