FECless Bloggers?


Strange bedfellows Kos of Daily Kos and erstwhile FEC commissioner Brad Smith at RedState both note that the Online Freedom of Speech Act (H.R. 1606) has stalled until after recess. An alternative bill first proposed by the Center for Democracy and Technology, H.R. 4900, appears on a quick skim to provide a narrower exemption from campaign finance regs for "small speakers" online, but also exempts those "small speakers" from various disclosure requirements.

Yesterday's New York Times editorial on the "Internet campaign loophole," incidentally, reminds me to a depressing extent of a parody I wrote a couple years back on the "First Amendment loophole." The editors describe 1606 as a bill that "pretends to be trying to protect the free speech rights of bloggers on the Internet"—and it must be an efective pretense for the Odd Couple of RedState and Kos to both see it that way—which is conceded to be a "legitimate concern," but as we've come to expect from supporters of campaign finance regulation, that legitmate concern is abruptly dismissed with a bit of handwaving. Because, you see, "speech" doesn't really count if someone has to pay for it. Unless, that is, it's paid for by the corporation that owns an old-media newspaper, in which case exemptions are necessary to preserve the sacred liberties of people with official press passes.

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  1. Huh?

  2. When a politician tells you that political speech must be “regulated”…


  3. We don’t need an “Online Freedom of Speech Act.” We already have one. It’s called the First Amendment. What we need are politicians who respect the Constitution and judges who will uphold the Constitution. We do not need politicians holding debates and passing laws deciding who gets freedom of speech and who doesn’t.

    I don’t often quote Ayn Rand mostly because it has been so long since I read her works and I don’t have them handy to make sure I get it exactly right, but one of the concepts she wrote about was the sanction of the victim. If you think that congress passing legislation giving bloggers special free speech exemptions is a good thing, then you have accepted that their regulation of speech is right in the first place. You have given your sanction to their abrogation of the First Amendment.

    I have the right to free speech. This is not some privilege that the government in its largess has deemed to grant me. It is my right, and the First Amendment is supposed to protect that right from government. I don’t want government passing special free speech exemptions. I want them to keep their damn hands of Freedom of Speech altogether.

  4. So is anyone at reason going to talk about the dems new and stupid idea for providing cheap broadband to everyone in the country, even though there already is cheap broadband for most of the country, and there is no real internet divide, and that such a move would hurt innovation into improving internet services and would give government justification for regulation, not to mention it would cost 100s of billions of dollars that the private sector is already more then willing to spend themselves?

  5. Joshua:

    Okay, I will. The Dems will keep losing elections if they keep letting Nancy Pelosi speak for them. I’m eagerly awaiting her affordable flat screen TV program.

  6. The First Amendment guarantees “free” (meaning only what you don’t have to pay for) “speech” (meaning what comes out of your mouth).

    In other words, our right to free speech is the right to converse with our friends and neighbors. But don’t go trying to spread your ideas to a wider audience.

    Unless, of course, you are the “press”, meaning someone who owns an actual printing press. We should probably be grateful that our betters in Washington haven’t decided that the “press” at issue needs to be handset and handcranked, like Ben Franklin would have done.

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