Sunday, March 26, 2006

Election commission takes light touch with Net regs


This is a headline at CNET.com, a technology publication. I suppose they are able to take this view because they don’t publish articles about politics. Even then, considering ninety-six pages of regulation to be a “light touch” is idiotic.

Maybe someone should go count the number of pages in the Constitution. There are six. There are only forty-five words in the First Amendment.

CNET reports that under these regulations:
“...bloggers can enjoy the freedoms of traditional news organizations...”
This is by no means clear if it requires ninety-six pages to delineate, and in fact, seems highly unlikely. Where did the idea come from that exemptions granted to “traditional news organizations” are the standard for free speech? See “the press?” for some analysis the so-called “press exemption.”

We are also informed that:
“...one prominent advocate of Internet free speech said the rules are preferable over what could have happened”
Yep, there could have been a call for blogger internment camps, but we're not ready for that yet. Whether these regulations remain "preferable" is an open question. One thing McCain-Feingold has accomplished is public acceptance of the anti-Constitutional chopping up of free speech into categories. Some speech is more equal than others.

Ninety-six pages of regulations are not meant to prevent future incursions into our liberties; they are stepping stones to more regulation. Once we get used to a bridle, we’ll soon see the saddle.

“A light touch?” The touch of a pickpocket is light, but when you buy a wallet that can be chained to your belt, he’ll have to step up to armed robbery. And he’ll blame it on you.
The FEC's internal deliberations are taking place against an unusual backdrop of congressional action. Bloggers of all political stripes, many politicians and even FEC Chairman Michael Toner have thrown their support behind a proposal in Congress that would amend current law and largely immunize the Internet from election law.

An effort to do just that was defeated by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives last November. In a second attempt to enact the same proposal, a House panel this month approved the bill again, but the release of the FEC rules could delay it indefinitely. (A similar measure is pending in the Senate.)
Emphasis mine. The Democrats want it delayed indefinitely.
Critics of a broad exemption--including the New York Times editorial board--say that excluding all Internet communications is a recipe for corruption, giving candidates the green light to coordinate unfettered soft-money online spending with corporations, labor unions and wealthy donors.
Emphasis mine. And excluding the New York Times from the regulations is a way to ensure what? Biased reporting masquerading as free speech?
The three Republican commissioners--including Smith, who's now a law professor--had wanted to appeal the Internet-related sections. But because they couldn't get even one of the three Democrats to go along with them and give them a majority, that didn't happen and the FEC began the current proceeding.
Emphasis mine.

"Freedom of speech on the Internet", indeed. The point of McCain-Feingold was to keep the incumbent money trail secret. To the cheers of the Pew Trust, the New York Times and professional politicians, and with the acquiescence of George Bush and the support of the Supreme Court, that's exactly what we've got.

What part of “Congress shall pass no law” don’t they understand?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Right on.

And take note too that the 1st Amendment protects freedom of speech from abridgment independently of, and in addition to, freedom of the press. One does not have to be of the press in order to enjoy protection under the Constitution.

Lady Astor

Hershblogger said...

Exactly. The problem is that the speech rights of everyone but the "traditional press" are being eroded, and the "traditional press" is complicit both in promotong the erosion and in the obfuscation making it possible.

Civil disobedience _is_ in our future. We just have to figure out how to most effectively commit it.