Free Speech for Us

The Gray Lady’s inconsistent defense of the First Amendment

From reading New York Times editorials, I gather that the First Amendment protects celebrities who curse on TV and pit bull enthusiasts who sell dogfighting videos. Yet somehow it does not protect conservative activists who hate Hillary Clinton, Christian student groups that exclude people who engage in extramarital sex, or petition signers who fear harassment if they are publicly identified as opponents of gay marriage.

Like the Times, I cheered last week when the Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on depictions of animal cruelty, which was worded broadly enough to cover hunting magazines, bullfight footage, and maybe even Conan the Barbarian. And I agree that the Federal Communications Commission's vague and arbitrary "indecency" regulations, which impose multimillion-dollar fines on broadcasters who accidentally offend bureaucratic sensibilities, should meet the same fate.

Still, I have to admit that political criticism, religious association, and ballot initiatives are closer to the heart of the First Amendment than Cher's expletives or Japan Pit Fights. The distinctions drawn by the Times are therefore hard to justify on constitutional grounds. They make more sense if you assume the paper's editorialists are not eager to defend people's rights when they have trouble identifying with them.

Although the Times does not broadcast music award ceremonies or sell dogfighting videos, newspapers are understandably sensitive to restrictions on the speech of media outlets. But why did the Times, which is owned by a corporation, support limits on what Americans organized as corporations can say about politicians?

Possibly because those restrictions included an exemption for media corporations. The exemption covered officially recognized news organizations such as the Times but not uncredentialed competitors like Citizens United, which produced the anti-Clinton documentary that the Times thought should be banned from TV until after the 2008 presidential primaries.

Like Citizens United, the Christian Legal Society is not a group that Times editorialists are inclined to like. But the society has a strong claim that Hastings College of Law, by preventing officially recognized student groups from demanding that members adhere to traditional principles of sexual morality, violates the First Amendment right to organize with like-minded individuals in furtherance of one's beliefs.

Since Hastings is part of California's state university system, that policy means the government is favoring certain beliefs over others. Yet when the Times editorialized on the case (which the Court heard last week), the only discrimination it perceived was the student group's exclusion of homosexuals and non-Christians.

The Times was similarly dismissive of the concerns raised by opponents of gay marriage in Washington, who today asked the Court to rule that the state must protect the privacy of people who sign petitions that qualify initiatives for the ballot. The Supreme Court has recognized that the ability to speak anonymously is protected by the First Amendment and that forced disclosure of one’s political views can have a chilling effect on speech, a phenomenon confirmed in recent research by the Institute for Justice.

Verifying signatures does not require public disclosure, and the Washington petition signers have good reason to fear the repercussions of revealing their support for a 2009 initiative aimed at overturning a domestic partnership law. In California people who donated to the campaign for a 2008 initiative that banned gay marriage faced harassment, death threats, vandalism, and loss of their jobs.

But according to the Times, the names and addresses of petition signers must be publicized because "putting an initiative on the ballot is an important governmental act." Since the same could be said of deciding whether an initiative will be enacted, a process shielded by the privacy of the voting booth, it seems likely that the paper's position in this case is driven by something other than law and logic.

When it comes to criteria for selecting Supreme Court justices, the Times reports, "empathy is out." But it may be the key to understanding the paper's inconsistent defense of the First Amendment.

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason and a nationally syndicated columnist.

© Copyright 2010 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  • Drax the Destroyer||

    This all translates into one simple phrase: Freedom for me, not for THEE.

  • jk||

    Tolerance means liberals must be tolerated, but they are free to be intolerant.

    Equality means liberals must be treated as equals because they are better than everyone else.

    Acceptance means liberals must be accepted, but they are free to be as exclusionary as they wish.

    Show me a liberal and I'll show you a hypocrite.

  • Perry Ernst||

    Hypocrites abound everywhere, in all walks of likfe. It is more about the persona than their 'tag'. Not all liberals will behave the same way, just as not all politicians will either. Some are better than others.

  • NY Times||

    Oh yeah? How many sections are you fluent in?

  • Ted S.||

    How many sections are you effluent in?

  • Sarah Palin||

    All of them!

  • MJ||

    As stated in the Geoffrey Stone piece linked to here a couple of weeks ago: Liberals do not care about rights as principles, they only care about whose ox is being gored. When the groups liberals favor are being disadvantaged then they argue "rights", when groups they dislike are being advantaged then there are exceptions to those "rights" such that the disfavored group cannot claim protection.

    When liberals speak of "rights" they mean a concept entirely different then what the libertarianish side means, we are not really even speaking the same language here.

  • jk||

    Liberalism is a religion. Government is their god and the law is their scripture. They do not subscribe to natural rights because that would mean something could exist without originating from their god. So for them any freedom is a gift from government that can be taken away. And since they view themselves as government (this elevates them to god status) they're more than happy to put conditions on these government given rights and impose their will upon others.

  • Rich||

    Well said.

    It'll be interesting to see who rails against the "god" stuff.

  • Barry O||

    +25

  • ||

    Well said. Liberals at heart believe in group rather than individual responsibility.

  • Mike M.||

    I don't even like calling them liberals. True liberalism is a good and honorable thing, and these modern day domineering Saul Alinsky new leftists aren't worthy of the title.

  • jk||

    Good point. Statist would be a more accurate way to describe them.
    These people like to take words and change the meaning of them in effort to change the message expressed when the words were used before their meaning was changed.

  • West Texas Boy||

    It's funny that they decided to start referring to themselves as "Progressives" because they ruined the word "liberal".

    Now they have a name that is ostensibly more accurate AND worse in terms of its historical definition!

    But no one ever accused them of not being stupid or ignorant.

  • jk||

    They want to solve problems though means that have been proven to fail over and over throughout history.

    Regressive would be a more accurate label.

  • Jimmy 'Crack' Corn||

    "Regressives". I like that.

  • Tony||

    Rush Limbaugh ruined the word liberal.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    You're such a pussy, Tony.

  • WTF||

    The late 1960's through modern-day liberals ruined the word liberal.

  • ||

    No, Progressives ruined the word liberal. In most parts of the world liberal means something along the lines of libertarian in the US.

  • Tony||

    The Republican propaganda machine destroyed the word "liberal" and, Glenn Beck leading the charge, is attempting to do exactly the same to "progressive."

  • Jeffersonian||

    It couldn't be the disastrous policies of the progressives, nooo...

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Liberals believe that the U.S. might be executing too many people.

    Progressives are certain that Stalin did not execute enough people in the U.S.S.R.

  • Tony||

    Could you make it any more obvious that you're a Beck-head?

  • WTF||

    Ad homs and snarky silliness aside, your position apparently is that the mere fact that a quote or notion came from Beck means it cannot possibly be true. Eh?

  • Tony||

    Uh, most likely.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    So... we should believe Ed Schultz?

  • Tony||

    You're a grown up. You know how to do research and get facts. Granted, those are assumptions.

  • ||

    answer the question dufus

  • WTF||

    But no one ever accused them of not being stupid or ignorant.

    "It's not that our liberal friends are ignorant; it's just that they know so much that simply isn't so."

    - Ronald Reagan

  • Jimmy 'Crack' Corn||

    One of my favorite quotes.

  • ||

    v. gd re reagan quote.

  • The Expatriate||

    One of life's great pleasures is punching a horse in the face!

  • ||

    Does anyone remember when the Times ws good?

  • Atanarjuat||

    This was the first time the Times really came up on my radar screen, other than some high school leftist type trying to convince me it was the best paper in the nation.

  • ||

    Uh, Walter Duranty and the Ukrainian famine? That was way back in 1932 and they still refuse to voluntarily renounce his Pulitzer for that propaganda. A better question is, was the Times ever more than a shill for progressive dreams?

  • ||

    Ok, Reason REALLY needs to stop repeating the myth that the Christian Legal Society case is restrictive of "Christian student groups that exclude people who engage in extramarital sex." It's simply not true - the school did not say the students could not speak out, organize or even use campus facilities to meet. Getting taxpayer funding and official club recognition is not a right, and the case is based upon the incredibly flawed logic that groups have equal protection rights that supercede the equal protection rights of individuals forced to pay for their taxpayer funding while being discriminated against.

  • ||

    No getting tax payer funds is not a right. But if the government chooses to give tax payer funds, it cannot discriminate based upon how someone exercises their First Amendment Rights. If you give support to group A, you can't say group B doesn't get the same support because we don't like group B's views.

  • jk||

    You can if you're a liberal.

  • π||

    I think you meant Liberal which is the opposite of a liberal. We are liberals, they are anything but liberal. Besides, now that they've managed to associate the word with themselves they've for the most part abandoned it and have been rehashing some of the old titles they had abandoned for the same reasons. Nonetheless, we can hardly call ourselves liberals, not unless we wish to cripple ourselves while benefitting the authoritarian statists who were calling themselves liberals.

  • jk||

    Either way they're need-to-die scum.

  • π||

    How about this idea: The government has no business funding education, period.

  • ||

    Getting taxpayer funding and official club recognition is not a right,

    True.

    the case is based upon the incredibly flawed logic that groups have equal protection rights that supercede the equal protection rights of individuals forced to pay for their taxpayer funding while being discriminated against.

    The case turns on the principle that the government cannot fund certain groups and not others based on their beliefs/speech. The equal protection argument requires that the government treat all qualifying groups equally. Fund 'em all, or don't fund any of 'em.

  • ||

    NO! Read the 14th Amendment again. There is no such a thing as equal protection for groups - only the for individuals within (or outside of) groups. Unlike the First Amendment which says "Congress shall make no law" - the 14th Amendment explicitly states that equal protections are for individuals.

    Where from the Constitution are you construing that the government needs to equivalently recognize and fund the KKK, Acorn and the Neo-Nazi Party just because they fund private get-out-the-vote drives, private charities and private research companies? Are rights suddenly invented by government actions (the funding of another group creates a right for a different group)? Government recognition and funding would be a positive right. Also isn't that the justification for everything statists believe?

    It's perverse and highly unlibertarian for an invented collective right to supercede an explicit individual right. Nobody should be forced to pay taxes to fund organizations that would discriminate against them on the basis of anything other than merit and qualification. That is a violation of equal protections.

  • WTF||

    You're missing several important facts and concepts.

    1. The First Amendment protects the right of individuals to assemble - i.e., the right to freely associate. Your position would be that individuals have the First Amendment right to free speech, but if two or more individuals of a like mind choose to associate, they suddenly lose that right to free speech. Not so. We are talking about several individuals, all with the right to free speech, collectively exercising their individual right as an association.

    2. The individuals in that group certainly would not be getting equal protection under the law for expressing their views if the state government funds groups with opposing views, but does not fund their group.

    3. Your argument about not having your taxes pay for groups you disagree with has never been successful with SCOTUS, or even the lower federal courts. Many have tried but gotten nowhere.

    4. Look up the "state actor" doctrine.

  • ||

    No no no no no. This case has zilch to do with the individuals in the Christian Legal Society's freedom of association. The university is letting them organize, meet on campus property (which is indeed public property), speak out, etc. There is zero state interference with their First Amendment-protected, Fourteenth Amendment-protected or any other rights beyond their non-existent positive rights to receive taxpayer funding and to receive official status from the government.

    The immense flaw in the argument by you and others here is that freedom of association requires government recognition. It does not hinge upon any action of government because it is a natural right.

    Also, if the groups with opposing views do not discriminate based upon biological or religious factors, theoretically there is no violation of equal protections (for individuals forced to pay for them) by giving them government money (not disputing that giving money in the first place is a bad idea, though). Were they simply a socially conservative legal society, I would see no inherent problem from an equal protection (of individuals) standpoint with them being given club status - they might have a weak case, although I still don't believe the government is required to give them any money or recognition and I still wouldn't believe their individual rights were violated if they still decided not to give them any money or status.

  • ||

    If there is no equal protection for groups then no freedom of association exists. That is why the Supreme Court established corporate personhood, if groups don't have rights, your association is not protected. Your pro gay rights group can be raided by any hillbilly sherrif out there and there's nothing you can do about it.

  • ||

    You don't understand the case, friend.

    A sheriff raiding a pro-gay rights organization would be a violation of their individual freedoms of speech and assembly unquestionably. Groups have natural negative rights that descend from individual rights, and the First Amendment does not limit rights for speech, assembly, religion, etc to individuals.

    A public university refusing to give a exclusively gay-only organization funds and recognition would not violate their rights to assemble, speak, etc any more so than this case violates the liberties of Christian law students to assemble voluntarily, pray, speak out, petition, etc.

    Equal protections apply for the individuals within those groups, but the group as a whole is not accorded positive rights resulting from government actions to other groups.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    "Christian student groups that exclude people who engage in extramarital sex


    This is not even an exclusion of homosexuals.

    We all know homosexuality is an orientation, while extramarital sex is a behavior. One can be homosexual while foregoing extramarital sex. Contrary to what Fred Phelps and co. believe, there is no magical force that compels homosexuals to engage in extramarital sex.

  • ||

    So tax dollars should go to organizations mandating that any gays who join must be perpetually celibate because they don't have the legal right to engage in marital sex? Lawrence v. Texas determined that it government can not deny the right of adults to engage in mutually consensual activities, therefore no government organization can use this as a basis for discrimination. Same rules should apply for private organizations who seek government money.

  • ||

    Oh - and the organization does discriminate against atheists, so is that not government establishment of religion by funding it?

  • WTF||

    Nice strawman you've built yourself there.

  • ¢||

    Does anyone remember when the Times ws good?

    No one here was alive in the 1850s.

  • π||

    Now that's a keeper.

  • Wolverine||

    Speak for yourself.

  • ||

    Speech is only free if I agree with you otherwise shut the hell up.

  • Tim||

    I absolutely agree.

  • π||

    "You're free to speak your mind my friend.
    As long as you agree with me."

    --From the song The Ostrich by the band Steppenwolf.

  • WTF||

    You can do things your own way, if it's done just how I say.

    Metallica - Eye of the Beholder

  • Barry Loberfeld||

    Yes, such hypocrisy is the hallmark of contemporary "liberalism." From here:

    After all, while there is a myriad of voices clamoring for censorship, who ever says, "There have to be some limits on free speech, and we should start with mine"? Among all the calls for protectionism, do we ever hear, "You know what? Give the competition the subsidies. Me, I'll bear the rigors of the market"? Capitalist freedoms and socialist entitlements for me, but socialist restrictions and capitalist responsibilities for thee -- that becomes the mix of the mixed economy. Such is the "idealism" that distinguishes contemporary liberalism from the "selfishness" of classical liberalism and its establishment of the same rights for oneself and one's neighbor.
  • ||

    what if non muslims were trying to force muslims to accept them as part of an islamic group? Crazy right, if I sued because muslims would not let me join a woman's group and tell them how they should be atheists or they need to include homosexuals? A large part of the liberal sentiment in such questions is based on anti judeo christianity and anti westernism.

  • jk||

    Many of those who claim the label atheist are extremely religious.
    They just worship The State instead of an invisible friend.

  • π||

    My father was a true atheist, he didn't give a flying fuck about religion. I recall over-hearing him telling a guest in our home that he wasn't a atheist as he was claiming because he denied the existence of a god, there is no more a way to know that than there is to know there is a god, therefore he was basing his belief on faith, which implies he was indeed religious. That was a half century or more ago, it still makes sense to me today.

    Your observations are also difficult to argue against. That's why I consider socialism/communism politico-religious movements. It takes great faith to believe what has failed miserably every single time it has been tried, at great cost in life and human suffering, will some how work if it's tried just one more time.

    That kind of blind faith is religion.

  • jk||

    I consider myself to be an atheist, though I don't mention it very often. Many confuse atheist to mean anti-religion. I'm not anti-religion, I'm just without faith. No faith in any invisible friends, and certainly no faith in the ability of statists to make the world a better place through the use of force and coercion.

  • West Texas Boy||

    A more proper term for that may agnostic, which is what many people who call themselves atheists actually are. It's not that they don't believe there isn't a God, they just haven't seen evidence to convince them one way or another.

    A true atheist is someone who fervently believes that organized religion is false - that the existence of God is impossible and a myth - and is (usually) adversarial to religion as they see it as an impediment to societal progress and harmony.

    As a premption to flames, I'm happy to defer to someone who may know more about these definitions than I do...

    All I am saying is that my personal experience with most people who call themselves atheists is that they express their views as a lack of conviction, which technically isn't atheism.

  • ||

    I don't think atheism has to be anti-religious. It's not a necessary component. But there is a difference between people driven to atheism and those who come to it on their own. The former has all the same problems that converts to any dogmatic idea usually exhibit. The latter are mostly just very sensitive about the possibility of religion being imposed on them, but if you talked to the average Christian about how he would feel about having to live under Shira law, I doubt he or she would be very happy-go-lucky about the possibility.

  • ||

    I agree.
    There are people who like the (insert any sports team, e.g., Jets). Its bizarre, illogical, and leads to heartache. They will never actually meet their gods, nor do their gods care one flying f*ck about them, and will join their ostensible enemies at the drop of 15 million dollars, but people worship these demi-gods.
    I don't care, as it keeps them from taking up something truly horrendous, like curling.

  • Tony||

    West Texas Boy,

    No atheist would deny the existence of God if he were to show up and reveal his existence at some point. They just don't believe in something for which there is zero evidence. No need to call yourself agnostic on unicorns either.

  • Jimmy 'Crack' Corn||

    Tony,
    It is a faith. It is based on faith. A Christian believes through faith. "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

    West Texas Boy was totally accurate in his definition. Gnostics were originally described as those that know there is God through faith. Agnostics is the term for the opposite, or those who dont know.

    Atheist is a description of those who beieve there are no gods.

  • Tony||

    Jimmy,

    I really hate this hair-splitting debate, but all I'm saying is that if you're agnostic about God then you have to be agnostic about everything anyone makes up out of thin air on a whim. Evidence-wise, God is no different from leprechauns, giant tea pots in space, etc. Are you on the fence about literally everything that might exist but for which there is no evidence?

    Faith is nothing... it's a pretty word for believing in something you don't have evidence for.

  • ||

    They just don't believe in something for which there is zero evidence.

    Or...they just refuse to accept any evidence for something they don't want to believe.

  • jk||

    How can someone be against organized religion and support government?

    A god only exists because people believe in it. Take away believers and the *poof* god ceases to exist. When enough people believe in a particular god then it is amazing what agents of the institution can get away with when they do things in their god's name. This is because the bystanders believe the god and the holy scripture (law) gives these agents power, so they do not interfere.

    Government is also a fiction that only exists because of collective belief.

  • Al-Azrad||

    Cthulhu doesn't need you to believe in him.

  • Bob||

    What would be the term for someone who has no idea if there is a god or could care less?

  • ||

    Apathetic agnostic.

  • Jimmy 'Crack' Corn||

    +10

  • Tony||

    Presumably then you don't have faith that the free market will produce optimal outcomes, or even better outcomes than a regulated one. Because you're thin on evidence for that too.

    So not only is there no way to make society more perfect, we shouldn't worry our pretty little heads about it, and just let the darwinian chips fall where they may.

    No why doesn't political nihilism appeal to more people?

  • jk||

    I prefer voluntary cooperation (free markets) over coercion (regulation) as a matter of principle, not faith.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    "not only is there no way to make society more perfect"

    So... tell your side to stop trying to make it perfect. If it can't be done, it can't be done.

  • Tony||

    I think it can be done, and that we're given the imprimatur to try by the constitution.

    But the only way to do it is through pragmatic evidenced-based change, not adhering to an unworkable, nonsensical dogma like the one you guys share about the free market.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    How, Tony? Your side has been trying to jury-rig the system for decades, and yet we still have poor people - especially now that the "we're owed" programming has had a couple of generations to sink in to the mental hardware. The idea of self-betterment is frowned upon by the likes of those who belittle the "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" concept. What? You want to get to a point where you DON'T need handouts? You must be one of those crazy survivalists! Self-sufficiency = possible militia membership! On the SPLC watch-list you go, teabagger!

    Prove it wrong.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Liberal ideas for making society better = getting more people hooked on the handout heroin. Period.

  • Tony||

    What's with this nonsense that somehow liberals have been in charge forever, so therefore they've failed at eliminating poverty? We were in pretty good shape when a liberal paradigm was running things, which hasn't been the case (until perhaps now) for almost half a century. It's been Republican and conservative and libertarian economic ideas that have exacerbated the economic injustices in this country and which have been the dominant paradigm for a long time.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    What's with this nonsense that somehow liberals have been in charge forever, so therefore they've failed at eliminating poverty?


    Why has it not worked in states and cities where the liberal paradigm is dominant?

    Does not the liberal paradigm dominate Massachussetts? Or Detroit, Michigan?

  • Tony||

    Massachusetts is one of the best states to live in by many metrics.

    Michigan has been the victim of capitalism, pure and simple.

  • ||

    And of course your belief in the power of the coercive State to order Society could never be classified as faith, right, Tony?

  • Tony||

    Malto,

    States are coercive by definition, and it's their job to bring order to society. How that comes about is what we have to figure out. I just don't believe in doing so by holding everything up to a set of dogmatic first principles, which are in all likelihood severely flawed (since there is likely not a single answer to all the complexities of a society).

  • Mr. FIFY||

    What about the needless additions to complexity, Tony? Not everything requires NASA-spec adjustments.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    *yawn*

    Yep, it's never your fault, is it.

  • ||

    Unequal economic outcomes are not an injustice. Please go pour yourself a nice tall glass of shut the fuck up.

  • ||

    Yet somehow it does not protect ... petition signers who fear harassment if they are publicly identified as opponents of gay marriage.

    No no and no. Signing a petition is not writing the Federalist Papers. It can't be done anonymously. You're putting your name on it. And publishing that name is someone else's right to free press. Sorry no.

  • ||

    But according to the Times, the names and addresses of petition signers must be publicized because "putting an initiative on the ballot is an important governmental act."

    I agree with them on this one. Its not really voting, and not really legislating, but its more like the latter. Unless the petitions are made public, for one thing, how are we to verify that the signatures are valid? Trust the government to do so, in secret?

    Since the same could be said of deciding whether an initiative will be enacted, a process shielded by the privacy of the voting booth, it seems likely that the paper's position in this case is driven by something other than law and logic.

    There are many reasons for a secret ballot, and signing a petition can be distinguished from voting. Its perfectly possible to have a defensible "law and logic" argument that voting should be secret, but petitions should not.

  • jk||

    Do you honestly believe that they want the petitions so they can verify the signatures?
    I'm quite certain that they intend to harass people who sign them, with the goal of intimidating people into not signing them in the future.

  • ||

    Harass how? Isn't that free speech too? And yes, then names and addresses must be made public to avoid fraud.

  • π||

    Of course they do. And how do we know... because, that's thier proven modus operandi. It would be my greatest hope that libertarians will always defend all liberties, whether the liberties are ones they value or not. If not, then they are not true classical liberals, but rather just another strain of today's Liberal.

  • ||

    Personally, I'd start to be inclined to go out of my way to sign petitions.

  • The 9th Circuit||

    I agree with them on this one.

    Well, then you're full of shit, too.

    And we know quite a bit about being full of shit.

  • π||

    The Institute for Justice research paper .pdf file appears to be a corrupt file. I've tried DLing with three different browsers and had the same result with each.

    Has anyone tried searching the site and have a working link? (I'm feeling lazy today).

  • West Texas Boy||

    Sometimes - SOMETIMES - if you paste the URL into Google, you can get a "preview" to come up and then save that preview as a pdf on your computer.

    Not guaranteeing it, but it has worked for me before.

  • π||

    Thanks for the advice. No preview, but it looks like it returned a number of alternate links.

  • π||

    All eight just included a link to the IJ paper in the body of the text.

    Guess I'll try searching the site. It looked like something I'd be interested in reading. That was until it was discovered I couldn't have it. Now I must have it, even if it means becoming possibly seriously injured or killed in the process.

    Thank you, Jacob Sullum, you are a very cruel human.

  • Tony||

    Neither Citizens or Christian Legal are clear-cut (that may be why they're at the supreme court). Typical libertarian/conservatives thinking their interpretation of the first amendment is by default the correct one in a specific case, because they say so.

  • π||

    Your unique opinion has been noted. Anything else you'd like to add before the short bus arrives to take you to school?

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Tony likes the idea of political speech being regulated at the federal level. Did you expect some sort of revelation otherwise?

    /snark

  • Tony||

    Not at all. I just don't like the idea of equating money with speech.

    It contradicts the spirit of the constitution, which applies all rights equally, rather than give more of them to people with more money.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Try running for office without money, Tony. Unless it's a small-town council gig, or a school board position, you're not going to get elected by spending a hundred bucks.

  • Tony||

    I don't think this is an easy problem to solve. But say we gave all contestants an equal amount of advertising time so that people could vote based on the merits of their ideas. That would go a long way to ending the party duopoly you guys complain about so much, and I'd be all for that.

    But that's not very practical--I don't think anyone should be restricted from buying advertising or campaign signs or what not, and being able to raise more money is one way to get a consensus around viable candidates. I just don't think that government-created entities like corporations should be able to determine the outcomes of elections based solely on their access to large amounts of money.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    I've never trusted those who espouse publicly-financed candidates - it would require giving EVERY candidate THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY. And I don't trust fuckers with Rs and Ds after their names to not find a way to screw third-party/independent/non-affiliated challengers.

  • jk||

    The constitution does not apply rights, it prohibits the government from violating them.
    Rights are protected not by laws, but by a lack of laws.
    No law gives you the right to speak freely or arm yourself, laws can only punish you for doing those things.

    Freedom exists not because of government, but in spite of government.

  • Tony||

    jk,

    I know you think that, but you're wrong. Rights don't exist in the ether, they are either enjoyed or they are restricted, based entirely on whether they're codified and/or enforced by governments.

  • jk||

    Just this weekend some people held a rally to support their right to openly carry firearms.
    They are able to do so because there is no law prohibiting it.
    There is also no law outlawing it.
    There is no law codifying it.

    How are they able to openly carry a firearm without a law giving them that right?

    If the government is the source of all rights, how are these people able to openly carry without a single law regarding the subject?

  • jk||

    *allowing*, not outlawing

  • Tony||

    With no 2nd amendment it's likely guns would have been far more restricted than they are now (because, you know, restricting free access to instruments of murder might be something governments could plausibly have an interest in doing).

  • jk||

    Have you ever read the 2nd amendment?
    It does not say "the government grants to the people the right to keep and bear arms", it says "the right of the people to keep and bear arms...shall not be infringed".

    The wording implies that the right exists, and the government shall not pass laws that infringe upon that right.
    Where does that right come from?

    Then there's the 1st, which say "The government grants to the people these rights", it says "Congress shall make no law..."

    Looks as if rights are protected not by the existence laws, but by the absence of laws.

  • jk||

    *which does not say*, not which say

    should have previewed.

  • WTF||

    restricting free access to instruments of murder might be something governments could plausibly have an interest in doing)

    Well then we had better get going on that steak knife, baseball bat, pointy stick and rock registration and licensing law.

    Background checks for anyone who wants to buy a hoe!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Already happening, WTF:

    http://www.gunsandknivestakelives.com/

  • St. V||

    And what would restrict this ownership? Magic? Or a law...

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Yeah, right - the only use for guns is murder. Next time some poor schlub gets whacked in his own home by an intruder, he should politely not bleed to death until the cops arrive.

  • MNG-Bot Trolling Machine||

    Rights don't exist in the ether, they are either enjoyed or they are restricted, based entirely on whether they're codified and/or enforced by governments.

    Tony, we're soulmates! KISS ME, YOU FOOL!

  • WTF||

    Rights don't exist in the ether, they are either enjoyed or they are restricted, based entirely on whether they're codified and/or enforced by governments.

    You couldn't be more wrong.

    Well, I suppose if we give you a little more time and wait for the next thing you say, you could be.

  • Tony||

    So somebody explain where rights do come from and please don't invoke a deity to do it.

  • St. V||

    Do you believe that the only rights you are entitled to are those that some legislative body decides to grant you?

  • MJ||

    St. V, as horrifying as it is, that is exactly what Tony believes.

    He has a fundamentally un-American understanding of the relationship between the people and the state.

  • Tony||

    I'm not saying anything normative, just stating the facts. You don't actually have a right if it's not protected. And whatever rights to self-sufficiency you do possess don't exist if someone can violate them with impunity, because someone will.

  • jk||

    You're working on the premise that rights must have a source.
    Was the matter and energy that composes the universe created or does it simply exist?
    Was there a beginning, or was it always just there?

    You cannot mock those who say the universe came from a supernatural deity because it could not simply exist, and at the same time insist that rights must originate from a supernatural legislature because they could not simply exist.

    Unless you're just another statist hypocrite.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    How does Citizens = money with speech, Tony? Anymore than, say, an anti-everything-but-liberalism movie by Michael Moore, just around election time?

    This is why McCain-Feingold is shit, and deserves to be eviscerated.

  • ||

    I can actually remember when we had far, far fewer campaign laws. We had a sitting president (LBJ) who was driven from office by a rather eccentric candidate (Eugene McCarthy) funded by one millionaire. The establishment deomocrats did not want to challenge a sitting democrat, and only when McCarthy showed it was possible did other candidates enter the fray.
    Preventing bizarre, eccentric, or looney millionaires from funding candidates only constraints the choices and ideas put out there for us to see.

  • jk||

    I thought the point of campaign finance reform was to limit choices.

    They want your choices limited to the ones they provide for you, and nothing more.

    That way they always win.

  • West Texas Boy||

    I thought the point of campaign finance reform was to limit choices.

    They want your choices limited to the ones they provide for you, and nothing more.

    That way they always win.

    -----

    And you sir, are the winner with this post. Somebody buy this man a chicken dinner.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Neither Citizens or Christian Legal are clear-cut (that may be why they're at the supreme court).


    And New York Times Co. ?

  • ||

    It also doesn't protect people in certain states like Nebraska or Colorado who want to criticize certain elements of the food production industries.

    Libel is one thing, specific laws saying you can't go after certain industries are as anti first amendement as you can get.

  • Paul||

    When it comes to criteria for selecting Supreme Court justices, the Times reports, "empathy is out."

    And the constitution is in! Hooray!

  • ||

    ACORN is going to be so excited if Hastings vs. Christian Legal Society establishes in an equal right to government money for private groups.

  • ||

    Only a retard expects anonymity after signing a piece of paper with his name, which can be read BY ANYONE ELSE WHO SEES THE PETITION AFTER HIM.

    And sorry, but I don't trust an "independent" verification by politicians with a vested interest in letting Mickey Mouse sign a hundred times.

  • ||

    "not eager to defend people's rights when they have trouble identifying with them."
    It is, as Maimonides indicated, that man has intellect to know true and false. Right and wrong are applied in apparant truths, not necessary truths, and are applied to morals. Good and bad are subservient to the reality of inellect which discriminates between true and false.
    What one believes is a moral judgment, not something on which science or universal law or rights must be derived. Free speech is for everyone to use with the intellect, not the passion of emotional identity.

  • ||

    When leftists (see NYT) talk about rights, they are talking about THEIR rights. Unless your are one of them, your rights are of no concern.

  • ||

    serious question: this quote "The exemption covered officially recognized news organizations such as the Times but not uncredentialed competitors like Citizens United" has no cites to any body which "officially" credentials news organizations... is there one?

  • birtweiser||

    What an orgy of self-congratulation.

  • Scarpe Nike||

    is good

  • sd||

    sd

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