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VIEWPOINT;LETTERS TO THE EDITOR;SPEECH NOT ALWAYS FREE;ADS NEED FREEDOM;YOUR AT FAULT;OLYMPICS WERE JUST FINE; CORRECTION

Published on .

The letter from Steven Diamond (AA, Sept. 16) expresses an erroneous but common misunderstanding of the meaning of the Constitution's First Amendment protection of speech and of the press. Mr. Diamond seems to think that corporations should not have free speech rights because they deny such rights to others ("...employees have no guarantees in the workplace of free speech..."). Mr. Diamond doesn't understand that the Bill of Rights is a list of specific restraints on the actions of the federal government. It does not apply to private entities at all. The First Amendment states, in pertinent part, "Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech, or of the press."

Unfortunately, our public education establishment does not educate our young concerning their rights under the Constitution. Hence many individuals, such as Mr. Diamond, go about believing that, in the name of free speech, an American has the right to enter somebody's private property, whether the property owner likes it or not, in order to churn out and proselytize ideas with which the property owner is in strong disagreement. Whatever the latter may be (trespass at a minimum), it is certainly not the protection of "free speech" from abridgement by the federal government that is declared in the First Amendment.

Sandy Shaw

Spectrum Technology Service

Tonopah, Nev.

Al Gore's no doubt heartfelt but hypocritical recounting of the death of his sister from using tobacco (perhaps even from some of the very tobacco that was grown on the Gore family farm but went unmentioned?) encapsulates the absurdity of President Clinton's Big Brother approach to restrictions on the free speech of tobacco companies. But it also highlights the selective memory of product advertisers who vow to challenge these regulations.

Madison Avenue's self-appointed watchdogs of political advertising have marched in lockstep with the notion of a gag order for years, repeatedly proposing similar restraints on political advertising.

Now the Jerry Della Feminas of the world doth protest, having waited too long to ask for whom the bell would next toll.

Clinton might as well next propose that the FDA restrict the advertising of coffee, chocolate bars, or even potato chips-surely [FDA Commissioner] David Kessler and the Clintonites are alarmed by the addictive implications of the jingle, "You can't eat just one." All three fit the definition of drug and drug- delivery device conjured to justify the FDA's attempt to leap nimbly beyond its statutory authority.

Perhaps a primer on the notion of "freedom" so volubly embraced by candidate Clinton is in order. The rights of adults can't be limited to what is suitable for children, and lawful products can be advertised-including political campaigns.

Product advertisers who pro-test otherwise have renounced any legitimacy in their last-minute attempts to squirm out of the line that's been formed for the slaughter of the First Amendment.

Patrick O'Malley

Alexandria, Va.

Memo to: J.C. Penney Ad Dept.

If "your" serious about advertising, please take a middle- school grammar class.

Eric Riback

Riback & Co.

Charlottesville, Va.

I appreciated Rance Crain's views [on NBC's Olympics coverage (AA, Aug. 12)]. I was one of the proud, the "targeted," the women glued to the artful Olympic presentation by NBC and its partners, the sponsors.

Together, they created value, provided insight and entertained the heck out of me. Funny how media "purists" lost this somewhere through time. Er, make that a sad thing.

Margaret Wade

Publisher, Bismark (N.D.) Tribune

In "Attitudes" (Sept. 16, Page 56), the agency for Schott Bros. is In.Sync, New York.

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