Sunday, September 06, 2009

Free Speech For Thee, But Not For Me

This is an interesting case, also mentioned on Bill Moyers' show this week. The Supreme Court is taking up a case arguing about whether or not the government can regulate political speech. As shameful as the result may be, I feel that First Amendment freedoms are absolute and must be protected, even though I do fear the speech of real citizens being crowded out by corporate speech.


  1. When you get right down to it, there is no corporate speech. It's all done by real people.

    The "spending regulations" in question are very unconstitutional. Many of the backers have admitted that they passed these in order to silence people from saying certain things. The intent was cut tie off the purse strings as a means of censoring speech.

    Anyone who supports such censorship should re-read the Bill of Rights.

    Also very troubling to those who believe in free speech is Obama's "FCC czar" who has expressed great admiration about how Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez has handled the media. He has shut down many independent stations, and has also tossed people in jail for the crimes of criticizing the dictator (something that is explicitly illegal in a law that Chavez rammed through a few years ago).

    That guy is rather troubling.

  2. You mean Mark Lloyd, the assistant general counsel of the FCC, who called Chavez' revolution "dramatic"? Or the actual head of the FCC, Genachowski, who supports Net Neutrality and, as far as I can tell, can spell Venezuela?

    Paranoia is not very becoming.

    Of course there is corporate speech. When a corporation pays for a documentary to be made and distributed, that's corporate speech. If corporations, who are not people except by a legal fiction, are allowed free reign to comment on political goings on, they will indeed crowd out speech by actual citizens.

  3. Of course I meant Mark Lloyd, who is the only FCC-related czar on the czar's list.

    The head of the FCC's position is entirely different, and is not a "czar".

    It's not paranoia. Just mentioning what this man actually said in favor of censorship.

    All so-called "corporate speech" is actually done by individuals, and the First Amendment does not have an exception clause allowing people to be censored because what they say might be term by some to be "corporate speech".

    "Free reign to comment on political goings on" is explicitly protected by the First Amendment, and is really at the heart of it. I do not fear such free speech, and all of it is really by actual citizens. After all, legal fictions can't speak, but real persons can. The constitution does not, and should not, make any sort of distintion that wipes out free speech rights for citizens because such citizens happen to have some sort of free association with an organization.

  4. At heart, I agree with you- free speech is absolute, and should be protected, whatever the motives of the speaker.

    But ExxonMobil, for one example, has the ability, through its massive war chest, to drown out the views of actual citizens. And especially close to an election-spreading lies about any candidate could swing an election before the truth can beat it out.

    I don't know how you do this, Constitutionally. Maybe you can't. But it's a concern.

  5. If you don't like what someone says, ignore it.

  6. I can, I will, and I do.

    But ExxonMobil can outspend me, and you, and any group of citizens you care to name. Thus putting their issues, their concerns, in front of yours and mine.

    That is a concern.

    I heard a very simple reform that might help-unlimited campaign contributions, from anyone who has a mailing address within the Congressman's district.

    That doesn't help with Presidential concerns, but it's an interesting thought.

  7. I guess you lost me. How does that reform help?

  8. Well, it retains people's ability to speak, but you can't contribute to defeat my Representative, and I can't contribute to beat yours. And Exxon Mobil can give whatever they want to the representative in the district where their headquarters is-but nowhere else.


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