Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Criminalizing Free Speech
Dimitri Vassilaros writes about 2 Seattle DJs running afoul of the McCain/Feingold Act:
[T]he radio station had to put a dollar value on what the hosts had said. The estimate of that in-kind contribution of $100,000 of airtime was reported as a campaign donation under state law.Via Ace.
In other words -- in the name of campaign finance 'reform' -- free speech no longer is free. If that ruling withstands appeal, especially if it reaches the U.S. Supreme Court, it would have profound ramifications for media nationwide.
If this ruling is not struck down, anytime anyone in the media (including the Internet) decides to speak out on an issue, it could be considered an in-kind contribution.
And if federal or state election laws limit the amount of money that can be donated to candidates or causes, the mere mention of an opinion could be estimated (by the government) to be worth the maximum dollar amount allowed to be contributed and thereby prohibit any other reference regarding the subject.
[I]f McCain and others get their way, there could be new legislation further rationing free speech to limit the First Amendment rights of the 527 nonprofit groups.
When the government -- and that means politicians who will do whatever they can get away with to preserve and increase their political power -- wants to silence its critics, it will do so.
But unlike in a dictatorship, it will be done very subtly, bit by bit, all in the name of reform, good government, cleaning up politics or whatever else a gullible citizenry will swallow.
Allow politicians to put a price on free speech and then keep your mouth shut when you discover it's more than you can afford.