Jan 26 2010

You really shouldn’t be allowed to say that!

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 1:28 am

The Citizens United Fallout (much more at the link)

With partisan tensions running high in Washington, it’s an easy political shot to scapegoat pariah multinationals like AIG. The Court’s language, though, rejects such efforts to silence unpopular voices in the corporate form. “We find no basis for the proposition that, in the context of political speech, the government may impose restrictions on certain disfavored speakers,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority.

Instead of attempting to throw a futile legislative wrench into Citizens United, Congress should lift some arbitrary restrictions on candidates and political parties. Contribution limits should be raised, coordination between candidates and parties should be allowed in order to respond to independent speech, and the tax credit for contributions should be restored in order to incentivize small donors.

Americans have a long tradition of evaluating political messages and making their own decisions. To suggest that citizens can be led like lemmings by the noise of campaign ads treats voters like fools. It’s time for Congress to realize that in a free and democratic process, it cannot silence speech with which it disagrees.

It’s obvious that a Democratic Congress is entirely willing to explore every possible way of protecting its incumbency, and making it harder for new candidates and new ideas to be made known to the public, let alone whistle blowing and simple correction of the public record.

The risible thing here is that the main stream media are themselves a “special interest,” as is every politician who ever gets in front of a camera. There are no interests that aren’t “special”, and the point of the American founding, among other things, was to avoid privileging any group, or silencing any group, the proximate effect of campaign finance laws.

The Democrat Congress isn’t going to give up easily on stifling the speech of its competitors.  Sadly, some mushy Republicans will probably help them.  McCain-Feingold is a disaster, but maybe for once the court is going to get it right in rolling back Congressional infringements on the Constitution.

5 Responses to “You really shouldn’t be allowed to say that!”

  1. innermore says:

    Most folks would hold the same high principles that this ruling seems to confirm. How lofty, idealistic, and Utopian of us all. Back on earth, this increased free speech we’re getting sounds like just more large groups of people shutting each other up.

    Yes, voters are tired of being treated like fools, but our profit-focused media has no other way to treat us. We’re fed up with a news media that not only encourages, but DEMANDS vicious speech because it generates far more revenue than real journalism. We’re also tired of the result: a shrinking, ill-informed electorate voting for the now common “lesser of two evils”.

    It is time to blame the messenger for the message by turning it all off, and coming up with a way to responsibly dispense all this freedom we want.
    Yeah, I’m tired of hearing that too. Dream on.
    By the way, according to the rate card, free speech is not free.

  2. harmonicminer says:

    There never was a time of dispassionate, reasoned, respectful political dialog, except when one side was respectful because the other side had the guns.

    Newspapers from the time of the founding, pamphleteers, and politicians themselves, from the founding and before, used incredibly abrasive language, called each other names of all kinds, attributed the basest possible motives to their opponents, accused their opponents of every evil thing under the sun, etc.

    This didn’t just start happening last week. And the founders, knowing this full well, wrote these protections for protected speech into the Constitution… and it wasn’t long before some of them began ignoring THAT, with the anti-sedition laws of John Adams’ administration… which were repealed under Jefferson, thankfully.

    There never was a golden age. It was ALWAYS rough and tumble.

    What’s different now is that incumbent politicians are using the law to shut up their challengers not even on the basis of “sedition” (red herring that it was) but just because.

    We shouldn’t let them get away with it.

  3. harmonicminer says:

    Shoot, Adams and Jefferson, two giants of the founding, would hardly talk to each other for years and years, though they eventually made peace, personally, well after both their presidencies. Think Clinton and Bush, though of course the issues were different.

    Our system does not require angels of public discourse, it just requires the discourse itself, viewed by an electorate that makes up its own mind, and not monopolized by one side or the other by congressional fiat.

  4. innermore says:

    Yes, it is naive to dream of better times. It’s all been done and said before (I’m tired of hearing that too). Certainly, the more passionate speech the better. But how massively profitable, ridiculously over-propagandized, and insanely over-produced must the dispensation of our public discourse be before its existence is threatened?

    Garbage has the right to be said; but it does not have the right to be heard. If nobody can stand the discourse, then what happens to the discourse? I don’t know if you could call it conspiracy or ignorance, but in effect, it’s the media that is shutting up challenges to its incumbency more than the politicians (whether they know it or not). The public discourse is stimulating our rubber necks more than our passionate minds.

    Having come to the conclusion I have, I am glad to see the laws blocking free speech being removed, but I’m not real happy about its side-effects.

  5. harmonicminer says:

    I don’t know if you could call it conspiracy or ignorance, but in effect, it’s the media that is shutting up challenges to its incumbency more than the politicians (whether they know it or not).

    I don’t agree… it IS the politicians who have passed laws preventing groups that could compete with the “main stream media” from exercising speech rights at election times.

    The politicians, in essence, gave the organized, mostly-left media a monopoly on certain kinds of speech at certain times… which fact has been partly undone by the recent court decision.

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