Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai told an audience at The Media Institute Awards banquet Tuesday night, he disagrees with recent efforts to ban broadcasters from using the word “Redskins” when referring to the Washington, D.C. NFL team.
Pai said he worried TV stations could be fined and radio station’s could have their licenses revoked if they “accurately” report the score of game involving the team.
“If the FCC took these steps, we would be squelching public debate about an issue of public concern,” said Pai. “We would be standing in the way of media outlets reporting the news. And we would be prohibiting speech simply because we disagree with the viewpoint that is being expressed.”
Pai went on to say public officials shouldn’t “sound an uncertain trumpet when oft-offended opportunists urge us to undermine the First Amendment.”
He said he thinks the FCC should heed the words of Voltaire, who said, “I may not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it,” adding. “Anyone who takes seriously the Constitution—scholar or layman—knows the petition is meritless. The FCC should dismiss it tout suite, as Voltaire might have said.”