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Off the air

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By Todd Cohen

Fear is making it harder for charities to do their job.

With demand for services and competition for support rising, charities find it tough enough to serve clients and pay bills.

But charities also face growing intolerance for controversial ideas and causes, and the threat of government punishment if they exercise their right to engage in advocacy and policy work.

Consider WUNC-FM, a service of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a leading marketplace for the exchange of ideas.

The station recently ran afoul of forces tugging at that marketplace in the increasingly toxic climate of fear and intimidation.

Ipas, an advocate for “reproductive health and rights,” pulled its underwriting sponsorship of WUNC after the station told it to drop the word “rights” from its on-air sponsorship.WUNC had a tough choice, fearing regulatory punishment for simply letting a sponsor identify itself.

Some Americans cannot abide the airing of ideas they oppose, intolerance abetted by a government that should protect free speech but instead menaces those who speak freely.

To keep the trust of its donors, sponsors, volunteers and listeners, WUNC should stand up for its cause, the free play of ideas, and let Ipas speak.

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