We've moved!

Social Icons

twitterfacebooklinkedinrss feed

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Verbatim: James Orbinski on Engaged Citizenship and Debate

Yesterday, Minnesota Public Radio's Midday broadcast a speech by Dr. James Orbinski, former president of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). Dr. Orbinski spoke to the City Club of Cleveland on World AIDS Day last week. He discussed MSF's violation of world trade regulations to bring affordable AIDS drugs into South Africa. (Their efforts brought the cost of AIDS treatments from $15,000 per patient down to $200 per patient... because they defied bans on importing generic drugs.)

Dr. Orbinski closed with some valuable words on citizenship and the importance of engaging in politics by speaking out:

I have never ever doubted the power of humanitarianism and the power of an engaged citizenship. And I have never doubted the central importance of a legitimate politics.

To act as a citizen in this is to implicitly or explicitly ask, what is the purpose of this political project? What is our responsibility one to another?

In my view, Citizenship is not defined simply as a set of legal rights and entitlements, but by the exercise of liberty based on those rights that at some level must as an exercise of liberty engage public debate through voice and that must implicitly and explicitly demand good government.

[Dr. James Orbinski, address to City Club of Cleveland, 2008.12.05, broadcast on MPR Midday, 2008.12.09]

You can listen to the full speech and following Q & A here (above comments come around 29:15):


  1. Don't forget GW Bush who has sent huge amounts of US aid to Africa. Course that doesn't get any play because why, oh yeah, it doesn't bash Bush.

  2. GW Bush has won plaudits from BH Obama and world leaders for his efforts to fight AIDS in Africa, although his broader record is questionable. However, relevant to the point highlighted here, Bush has regularly acted to stifle dissent and First Amendment rights.

  3. And I suppose Bush shuffling protesters out of the way is worse than Obama and Pelosi's desire to implement the "(UN)fairness doctrine as it applies to talk radio. Wrong. I don't know the reasoning behind removing the protestors, but I do know the reasoning behind stifling free speech by the so-called Fairness Doctrine.

    As it stands now, talk radio is a free market. If the program is popular, it succeeds. If not, it doesn't. Nothing unfair about that. And attempts to stifle talk radio is in effect censorship and stifles engaged citizenship and debate.

  4. Would the Fairness Doctrine apply to all radio broadcasts -- even National Public Radio and South Dakota Public Broadcasting?

    Would it apply in the narrow sense (to each program individually) or in the broad sense (to the content of a given station's broadcasts overall)?

    Would the Fairness Doctrine be two-sided (e.g., liberal vs. conservative), or would it be multifaceted and all-inclusive (e.g, Islam, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic, etc.)?

    This doctrine, if applied fairly, will give rise to plenty of engaged debate. But will it not also keep a lot of attorneys busy, transferring wealth from those with less (most of us) to those with more (lawyers)?

    Ach! The road to ruin is paved with good intentions.

  5. Basically it is to get rid of talk radio. Nothing to do with any other medium, only radio. Liberal talk radio has equal opportunity to put on programs and has tried. In the free market if a product isn't popular, is not being bought, doesn't work, or isn't economically feasible, it fails. That's true fairness and equal opportunity, which is what we have now. If libs talk radio doesn't attract an audience to make it economically feasible, it's the fault of their content etc. Censoring other programs is not the answer.

  6. I can hear G. Gordon Liddy interviewing Barney Frank on talk radio right now!

    Even the best curve ball can sometimes be hit out of the park. Bring on the debate!


Comments are closed, as this portion of the Madville Times is in archive mode. You can join the discussion of current issues at MadvilleTimes.com.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.