Friday, January 22, 2010

Free Speech Is Not Free

Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press[.]

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission held that the McCain-Feingold limitations on corporate SPENDING was violative of  prohibitions on abridgment of free speech.  Years of judicial precedent, were swept away by this non-activist conservative court in a 5-4 ruling.  

Money=Speech, and as I said previously corporations are "persons" with enhanced free speech rights, because they have the money, lots of money.

This may be a good thing, if Congress enacts laws to attach "faces, names, and addresses" to the officers and shareholders making the corporate "speech."  A corporation wishes to spend money:  to elect a bigot; oppose a Judge who ruled agasint them; enact enabling legislation to permit them to pollute; oppose regulatory reforms, or health care;--fine, let them, if simultaneously they electronically publish a list of their officers and shareholders, their officers and shareholders photos, and their officers and shareholder's addresses.  Free speech, yes!  Accountable speech, you betcha.

Now, Canoe,com is reporting  this morning that Mexico is moving in the other direction.  The PRI (aka, the "ruling party") is proposing legislation to criminalize compositions and music which praises criminals.  In the history of bad ideas this is right up there with Guns in Bars.  Seriously, Mexico is suffering terrifying narco-crime waves.  Horrific stories from Mexico emabrass me, as I piss and moan on this Blawg about petty corruptiion.  But Mexico's ills relate to CORRUPTION, not mariachi.  The songs "glorifying" the narco-gangsters are a reflection of the horror, not the cause.   We have the same reflexive tendency in this country. While we glorify guns, even assault weapons--we take steps to abridge individual free speech when a particularly offensive Gansta Rap "composition" becomes a hit, or some fleeting expletive is uttered on the airwaves.

Free Speech, is not free--it has consequences.


  1. Here's an initial proposal. Ruling should not apply to firms incorporated in states such as Delaware that don't hold executives accountable for corporate conduct. If there's not a human being behind the speech, why treat it as speech at all?

  2. Okiedoke--

    The only way any of this gets addressed is legislatively--and the legislation will have to be able to withstand the inevitable scrutiny of challenges to constitutionality. So I don't envision disparate application to corporation of different type. I was reading the opinion--and its huge, over a 120 pdf pages--and the decision is not a narrow one based on the facts. Seriously, the Supremes have greenlighted buying whatever you can in American democracy.