SIXTH COLUMN

"History is philosophy teaching by example." (Lord Bolingbroke)

New Email Address: 6thColumn@6thcolumnagainstjihad.com.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Different Threat to Free Speech: This Time It's Not About Cartoon Rage.

The Plot to Shush Rush and O'Reilly

Political free speech comes in many forms. The mainstream media has been controlled and a new and less easily circumvented media risen: political talk radio, cable news, and the blogsphere.

From: City Journal.

The irony of campaign-finance reform is that the “corruption” it targets seems not to exist in any widespread sense. Studies galore have found little or no significant influence of campaign contributions on legislators’ votes. Ideological commitments, party positions, and constituents’ wishes are what motivate the typical politician’s actions in office. Aha! reformers will often riposte, the corruption is hidden, determining what Congress doesn’t do—like enacting big gas taxes. But as Will notes, “that charge is impossible to refute by disproving a negative.” Even so, such conspiracy-theory thinking is transforming election law into what journalist Jonathan Rauch calls “an engine of unlimited political regulation.”

McCain-Feingold, the latest and scariest step down that slope, makes it a felony for corporations, nonprofit advocacy groups, and labor unions to run ads that criticize—or even name or show—members of Congress within 60 days of a federal election, when such quintessentially political speech might actually persuade voters. It forbids political parties from soliciting or spending “soft money” contributions to publicize the principles and ideas they stand for. Amending the already baffling campaign-finance rules from the seventies, McCain-Feingold’s dizzying dos and don’ts, its detailed and onerous reporting requirements of funding sources—which require a dense 300-page book to lay out—have made running for office, contributing to a candidate or cause, or advocating without an attorney at hand unwise and potentially ruinous.

Read it all.

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