Monday, January 30, 2006

The erosion of free speech

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a story this morning on the place of blogs in the tangled mess congress has wrought with campaign finance reform. The general consensus in the article and amongst Wisconsin bloggers is that blogs should be considered journalism and receive a media exemption. Well folks, it shouldn't even have to come to that. The First Ammendment is in place to protect political speech as much as any other type of speech. Remember, once you lose your right to political free speech, it is only a matter of time before your rights to other types of speech are surreptitiously outlawed (or as they say in newspeak, regulated) as well.

The article opened with this story:
When a Brookfield alderman launched a Web site to promote and pummel candidates in local elections, he took a step that perhaps no other blogger in Wisconsin has taken.

He registered under state campaign finance rules as an independent person trying to influence voters.

Ald. Scott Berg even filled out a form listing every elected official and challenger he would advocate for and against on his site, He signed an oath that he is operating independent of any candidate.

Berg says he's being careful and following the letter of the law - even if he thinks it infringes on his right to free speech.

I undersand Berg's CYA here, but I resent it just the same. By voluntarily registering, Berg has made the rest of us just a little bit weaker in our efforts to stand up for our rights to free political speech. Blogs should not have to receive any exemptions or be consider any other type of "safe" speech. They are what they are, citizen exercises of the First Ammendment. Pardon my language, but Congress and the courts can kiss my ass if they think they are going to regulate my political speech without me fighting them every step of the way on it.

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