Could last week have gone any better? And of course the icing on the cake was the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Great news for liberty and the First Amendment, but not so great news for the liberal blogosphere, as ekg’s “ corporatist dystopia” demonstrates. After reading her blog, I felt I had just read a science fiction story of a corporate controlled future, in which nation states no longer exist and only corporate allegiance survives. “Me? Why I’m a citizen of Microsoft!”
But who are these gigantic corporate oligarchs bent on buying and selling Congressmen like shares of penny stocks? In this case, the corporate behemoth was Citizens United. “CZ” as we hip kool kids like to inappropriately nickname everything, is an non profit conservative organization set up to distribute films and documentaries to promote conservative causes. In this case, they intended to buy time to air their film, Hillary: The Movie on DirectTV. The Federal Elections Commission found that running the movie and commercials for the movie was considered “electioneering” and prohibited both the commercials and the movie itself from being shown.
Now, I’m not some big city lawyer, just a simple country boy blessed with the common sense that God has seen fit to bestow upon all of his non-attorney children, so really that is already more information I need to know to decide in which direction to go on this decision.
The government banned a movie.
That really should be all that needs to be said about this.
Sadly though, in times like these, when the word freedom is generally interpreted to mean getting something for free, the plain language of the First Amendment…
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
…just doesn’t seem to be a good enough argument anymore.
Have we really slipped so far off our moorings that a law that allows the government to ban books if they have a hint of political advocacy within a certain time frame to a federal election is supported by much of the country?
My first amendment rights are fully protected if I want to create “art” of a crucifix in piss, or make a sculpture of Mary out of shit. Why then, that calls for a NEA grant! But political speech, which was the very core of the Founders intent in crafting the 1st amendment in the first place, should be regulated and banned?
I can’t imagine these same liberals would have felt that justice was being served if the FEC had banned Fahrenheit 911 from being shown in the 60 days leading up to the 2004 general election. Apparently some right leaning legal group never thought of it, but up until the overturning of much of McCain–Feingold last week, that would have been perfectly legal to do.
A further irony is that McCain-Feingold explicitly exempts media corporations, such as major newspapers and broadcast companies. These are corporations after all. However specifically excluding them from McCain-Feingold is telling in itself. Is it the government’s position that if they were not specifically excluded from the law, the FEC could regulate the coverage of media companies? That’s why the canard about corporations being treated as people ring false to me. The founders clearly didn’t intend that a newspaper owned as a joint stock company had no right to publish. That makes free expression a privilege granted by the government, not a right. Equally ridiculous, if the Bill of Rights doesn’t apply to corporations, does that mean the police require no warrant to search a company building? Can a local government forbid a company from allowing prayer breakfasts on its premises? Wouldn’t want a corporation treated like a person with the right to worship would we?
Although I think ekg’s vision of a return to the draft, banning of abortion, and evolution tossed out of the classroom in favor of the Old Testament is off the wall wacky, I can’t really predict what the long term results of this decision will be on the body politic. I don’t know that we will like the results. However I know that I have to default to freedom. This is not “hiding behind the 1st Amendment” or judicial activism, but a return to upholding the literal meaning of the 1st Amendment.
Liberals love to toss Ben Franklin’s warning of choosing security over liberty around as if they were playing catch in the backyard, but I’ve come to realize that they don’t really know what that means. They will gladly toss freedom of speech over the side of the ship of state if they think they can accrue some short term political benefit from it.
“Liberals” sure have changed.
I am sad that we’ve gone so far down the road away from liberty that this argument even has to be made. Forty years ago, a liberal would have defined himself by how supportive he was of free expression. No more. Now he merely defines himself by what he hates.