WASHINGTON — During their long campaign to loosen rules on campaign money, conservatives argued that there was a simpler way to prevent corruption: transparency. Get rid of limits on contributions and spending, they said, but make sure voters know where the money is coming from.
Today, with those fundraising restrictions largely removed, many conservatives have changed their tune. They now say disclosure could be an enemy of free speech.
High-profile donors could face bullying and harassment from liberals out to “muzzle” their opponents, Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a recent speech.
Corporations could be subject to boycotts and pickets, warned the Wall Street Journal editorial page this spring.
Stop right there. You mean, if people know what causes businesses are giving money to, people might take issue with those causes? That theses corporations are going to be bullied by big, bad evil liberal consumers?
How is this “muzzling” free speech?
This goes back to free speech not meaning speech free of consequences of what you say, or in this case what agendas your company is supporting with their money.
This is a childish and ridiculous definition of free speech.
End of the Charade - With $50 million worth of ads set to be spent in support of conservative politicians, the Chamber of Commerce has become an arm of the Republican party
The airwaves are already filled with blaring political attacks masquerading as “issue ads,” such as the one in Missouri in the United States Senate race that ends with: “Call Claire McCaskill. Tell her Missouri doesn’t need government-run health care.” This ad, and dozens like it, is sponsored by the United States Chamber of Commerce, which likes to claim that it is merely educating voters about the issues rather than telling them how to vote.
A few weeks ago, though, a federal judge issued a decision that upended this system, requiring that the donors for these kinds of ads be publicly disclosed, as Congress intended in its 2002 campaign finance law, before the Federal Election Commission incorrectly changed the rules.
So will the Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors more political advertising than any other group, follow the clear language of the court order and begin revealing the names of its donors? Of course not.
Secrecy is at the core of its political strategy and its business model. The chamber is worried that the public might learn which companies pay for the biennial barrage of negative ads, allowing voters to decide whether to take their business elsewhere.
“We’re not going to pull back from anything we’re doing,” said R. Bruce Josten, the chamber’s executive vice president for government affairs, speaking at a Washington breakfast last week that was reported by the newspaper The Hill. “It’s full steam ahead.”
Did you hear the one about New York state lawmakers who forgot about the First Amendment in the name of combating cyberbullying and “baseless political attacks”?
Proposed legislation in both chambers would require New York-based websites, such as blogs and newspapers, to “remove any comments posted on his or her website by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post.”
No votes on the measures have been taken. But unless the First Amendment is repealed, they stand no chance of surviving any constitutional scrutiny even if they were approved.
Republican Assemblyman Jim Conte said the legislation would cut down on “mean-spirited and baseless political attacks” and “turns the spotlight on cyberbullies by forcing them to reveal their identity.”
Making it where any and all speech or communication were never outside of the eye of the government seems pretty damn tyrannical.
NYC officials sue police over response to protests. Four lawmakers sued the city Monday over its handling of the Occupy Wall Street protests, saying police conduct is so problematic that the force needs an outside monitor.
NEW YORK — Four lawmakers sued the city Monday over its handling of the Occupy Wall Street protests, saying police conduct is so problematic that the force needs an outside monitor.
The city and police violated demonstrators’ free speech rights, used excessive force, arrested protesters on dubious charges and interfered with journalists’ and council members’ efforts to observe what was going on, the four City Council members and others say in the federal civil rights suit.
“This unlawful conduct has been undertaken with the intention of obstructing, chilling, deterring and retaliating against (the) plaintiffs for engaging in constitutionally protected protest activity,” says the suit, which was filed a day before Occupy and labor activists planned a large May Day march.
Again, this isn’t really about agreeing with the occupy movement, it’s about free speech and the way the police should handle this sort of thing.
(freakoutnation.com) Three members, Mike, Chris and Tara, of Occupy San Diego were arrested for felony conspiracy when they mic checked the Mayor. No, really.
A significant increase of officials morphing the laws to better suit the Powers that Be is running rampant throughout America. These three ‘felons’ committed the dastardly act of Free Speech, which is clearly a danger to the public at large. (Hide your children!)
Daily Kos reports:
What is felony conspiracy you ask?
PENAL CODESECTION 182-185182. (a) If two or more persons conspire:
(1) To commit any crime.
(2) Falsely and maliciously to indict another for any crime, or to
procure another to be charged or arrested for any crime.
(3) Falsely to move or maintain any suit, action, or proceeding.
(4) To cheat and defraud any person of any property, by any means
which are in themselves criminal, or to obtain money or property by
false pretenses or by false promises with fraudulent intent not to
perform those promises.
(5) To commit any act injurious to the public health, to public
morals, or to pervert or obstruct justice, or the due administration
of the laws.
(6) To commit any crime against the person of the President or
Vice President of the United States, the Governor of any state or
territory, any United States justice or judge, or the secretary of
any of the executive departments of the United States.
There is nothing of a felonious nature committed in the video.
183. No conspiracies, other than those enumerated in the preceding
section, are punishable criminally.
Encompassing our politics is a significant prevalence of money. Those pimping for politicians and corporations are obviously rattled and they should be. This isn’t over.
Smells like scare tactics to me.
Is it right to crush free speech as long as the message is offensive to you personally? Do peaceful protestors really present a legitimate threat to our national stability? Are they truly more dangerous than a corrupt government hellbent on assassinating the legal protections of our natural rights which have existed for centuries? Would any supporter of the jackboot methodology like to explain to me in a coherent manner why they believe their skewed world view should be shielded from sincere questions? Please, I can’t wait to witness the kind of ridiculous mental gymnastics required to make such arguments palatable. If this kind of ignorance wasn’t so destructive, it might actually be entertaining.
The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter if these activists were in Grand Central Terminal, on the streets, or busting through the doors of the Oval Office. While New York authorities will attempt to argue property loopholes in free speech protections for Grand Central, or national security because of the vulnerability of the terminal, really, this has nothing to do with either. This is about the removal of American voices from a room, and nothing more. If the message is going to be suppressed by the mainstream media, and shrugged off by representatives, then protesters must go to where the people are, and make the truth heard by whatever means necessary.
Ultimately, activism is about disturbing people’s normal mundane routines and shocking them out of their pop-culture stupor, even if for a moment. If we aren’t allowed to do that without constant police intervention, then the First Amendment is not being served, and then, my friends, we have a problem, a problem which should be forced down the throat of government with even more public action.
by EYDER PERALTA | npr.org
The Wisconsin State Capitol building has been the scene of protests since February, when Gov. Scott Walker started the process of passing a law that severely limits collective bargaining for public employees in the state.
Yesterday, the Walker administration took a step that is likely to antagonize protesters further. His administration enacted new regulations that would require permits to protest at the Capitol and other state buildings.
The controversial part is that the bill allows officials to charge groups for the security and clean-up costs of such events.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the policy went into effect Thursday:
“State law already says public officials may issue permits for the use of state facilities, and applicants “shall be liable to the state … for any expense arising out of any such use and for such sum as the managing authority may charge for such use.”
“But Edward Fallone, an associate professor at Marquette University Law School, said the possibility of charging demonstrators for police costs might be problematic because some groups might not be able to afford to pay.
“‘I’m a little skeptical about charging people to express their First Amendment opinion,’ he said. ‘You can’t really put a price tag on the First Amendment.’”
The Sentinel reports that the policy also states that police “could require an advance payment as a requirement for getting a permit and also could require liability insurance or a bond.”
According to the AP, protests during the collective bargaining debate cost the state $8 million in extra police protection.
WTAQ, a local news station, reports that some First Amendmentexperts expressed concern about the law:
“Chris Ahmuty of the American Civil Liberties Union said he could see agencies charging or requiring insurance depending on whether a group opposes them. He also said the policy leaves too much discretion to the Capitol Police.
“Media attorney Bob Dreps of Madison said the state can put some regulations on the time, place, and manner of free speech. But he said it would be “laughable” to define a rally as having four or more people.”
Governor Walker’s administration told the Sentinel the point of the new regulation is “to provide equal and continual access for all Wisconsinites to their state buildings in a way that is reasonable and safe.”
By Diane Sweet
Occupying Austin must be a really tough gig. Apparently, they do freedom of speech differently in Texas…
Remarks from the person who filmed the video above who asked questions of the deputy about free speech “time limits” in Austin, TX:
So, basically, if you happen upon a group of people with signs, and you decide that you like what they are saying and wish to join in the protest, you don’t technically get your full three hours of free speech per unspecified amount of time.
I wasn’t messing around when I said I had never met some of the people who joined us. One of them saw that we were evicted from the Capitol yesterday, and showed up at the very end of our allotted 3 hours of free speech time, and was told she was part of our “event” and that she would be ticketed and could risk arrest if she didn’t leave.
Dude. That’s messed up.
By the way. My sign said “All children should have access to healthcare, food, and a decent education.” Real revolutionary stuff there. I can see why they wouldn’t want me to talk about that with people for longer than 3 hours per unspecified time frame.
I wonder if the tea party gets their freedom of speech time limited when they gather in Texas?
This sounds like a fucking joke, but it’s what we’re turning into, free speech zones, time limits, permits.
Welcome to the new America folks, hope you’re happy with it.
Since time began, sassy teenagers have been putting authority figures in their place. The way we respond to them says a lot about the society we hope to build.
As a First Amendment specialist, I think the way we treat the Emma Sullivans of the world matters quite a lot to the kind of society we build. “Talking’s something you can’t do judiciously,” says Casper (“The Fat Man”) Gutman in The Maltese Falcon, “unless you keep in practice.” And more and more I wonder where Americans are supposed to keep in practice. Free speech can’t take place nowhere; it needs places to be uttered and places to be heard. Adults want high schools to be speech-free zones, and more and more the courts agree. Employers want the workplace speech-free zones as well. The law supports them. Recently, the Supreme Court held that the First Amendment doesn’t protect even public employees who say things on the job that their employers don’t approve. During this term of the Supreme Court, lawyers for a church school argued that religious bodies should have the power to fire employees who report child sexual abuse, as required by law.
So, no training in talking while you grow up. No talking on the job once you’re grown up. Take down that cheeky tweet. Clean up that Facebook page. What about college, where students are supposed to speak their minds and follow truth wherever it may lead? Well, sure, as long as it’s, well, decorous. “University officials have generally bureaucratized and limited assembly and speech on campus,” notes Timothy Zick of the William & Mary Law School, author of Speech Out of Doors: Preserving First Amendment Liberties in Public Places. ”Many campuses have adopted ‘free speech zones’ and other restrictions.”
The “free speech zone” is a marvelous invention in which certain parts of the campus are designated for expression. Gradually the rest of the campus is then shut off from bothersome protest and agitation. It’s an elegant way of making the First Amendment disappear: under that antiquated document, “the freedom of speech” is guaranteed everywhere in public — unless there’s a very strong reason why it can’t be allowed. “We don’t allow no free speech over this way,” isn’t a good reason, any more than any other part of the Constitution can be voided by saying “this isn’t a due process zone.”
And once free speech is zoned, even the “zones” may not be quite so free as all that. At one campus I taught at, a graduate student went to the “free speech zone” and delivered a piece of performance art beginning “Fuck you, fuck your friends, fuck your parents … .” He didn’t get much further before a campus cop told him, “You can’t talk like that in the free speech zone,” and led him away in handcuffs.
The House is holding hearings on sweeping Internet censorship legislation this week — and it’s censoring the opposition! The bill is backed by Hollywood, Big Pharma, and the Chamber of Commerce, and all of them are going to get to testify at the hearing.
I received this e-mail this morning from Demand Progress:
The bill’s opponents — tech companies, free speech and human rights activists, and hundreds of thousands of Internet users — won’t have a voice.
This is the most offensive Internet legislation we’ve seen in years.
It will give the government and corporations new powers to block Americans’ access to sites that are accused of copyright infringement, force sites like YouTube to go to new lengths to police users’ contributions, and put people in prison for streaming certain content online.
The bill will wreck much of what’s great about the Internet, and this sham of a hearing represents everything that’s broken about our political system.
And we keep pressing forward,
-The Demand Progress team