Sunday, October 30, 2016

Citizens United and Michael Moore in the Comments Section—2

In response to my comments under the Paul Mulshine article, Reverse Citizens United and jail Michael Moore? - Liberals are confused on campaign funding, the following exchange took place:

MorrisCntyTom replied to Mulshine’s article:

The essence of "free speach" was as a CITIZEN you didn't have to worry about the thugs coming to get you for stating your opinion.

Once you pay for something it's no longer "free"  I mean that's basic commons sense.  Boiled down to it's essence what the ruling says is the more money you have the more FREE SPEECH you have.  

If the Corps want to exercise "free speech" let them convince their workers to go door to door or go to rally's ON THEIR DIME. [sic]

That's FREE SPEACH.  plastering the airwaves, internet, tv and whatever else with your commercials is plain old commercialism.  

Freedom of the press is specifically mentioned in the First Amendment., freedom to spend to your hearts content to influence elections isn't.   The framing father warned against corporatism and here we open the hen house door and let the foxes in.  


I replied:

The “free” is free speech means, as you say, freedom from forcible restriction. Contrary to what you say, the “free” in free speech is not a guarantee of no monetary cost. That’s utterly ridiculous.

The whole point of freedom of speech, which necessarily includes the right to spend your own money on your own political speech, is to influence, including to "influence elections." If we citizens are forbidden to influence elections, then what’s the point of election campaigns?

Artificial distinctions between speech and commercialism is a meaningless gimmick. Speech is speech. Citizens are individuals. All individuals have that inalienable right, regardless of their financial means. If our rights depend upon a monetary test, then we progressively lose our rights the more economically successful we become. That’s absurd. Rights mean the equal right to act, not the equal means to act. Corporations are associations of individuals. Individuals don't lose their rights just for associating and cooperating with other individuals, whether the association takes the form of a union, a think tank, a news organization, a movie studio, or a corporation. The owners of any private association, as a group, have the right, derived from each member's individual rights, to spend the organization’s money on speech. Any attack on one means of expression is an attack on all means of expression.

MorrisCntyTom replied:

Just stop.  Corporations are an entity created by law...are you and i??  No.  They are given special privileges under law... are you and I?  No..so please just stop with the equality garbage. [sic]

I replied:

Put simply, corporations are a streamlined means for government to legally protect private citizens' right to do business (to associate) on a limited liability basis. Rights are not privileges. That's the government's job—to protect individual rights. Statists have all kinds of rationalizations to stop private citizens from exercising their inalienable right to free speech. But the bottom line is, freedom of speech means simply the right to free expression, no matter the means so long as one's actions don't infringe upon the same rights of others. How does corporate or for that matter union speech, which CI also protects, infringe upon others' rights?

MorrisCntyTom replied:

And there you have it.  You're taking a "group of people" that has GOVERNMENT protection "to do business" and then letting them loose to influence GOVERNMENT elections.  You can't see the issue there...an issue our founding fathers warned us about?

"the government's job—to protect individual rights"

There is NOTHING individual in a CORPORATION.  period.  You've just closed the argument against yourself.

People’s comments usually don’t surprise me. But this did. I replied:

What? There's nothing individual in a corporation? So corporations can exist in an uninhabited place—say, on Mars or the Moon? Any human association is made up of individuals, whether a corporation or society. By your logic, there can be no freedom of anything, unless your Tom Hanks in "Castaway."

At this point, Paul Mulshine entered the fray, replying to MorrisCntyTom’s assertion that once you spend money, it’s no longer free speech protected by the First Amendment:

At the risk of stating the obvious, free speech involves plenty of activities that cost money, like publishing a newspaper.

MorrisCntyTom then repeated a claim made earlier:

That's a HORRIBLE analogy.    and the press is specifically mentioned in the Constitution...you know what's not?  CORPORATIONS.
So, I replied:

My blog wasn't mentioned [in the First Amendment], either. [But] the Ninth Amendment states "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." The First Amendment is about freedom of conscience (religion), speech, press, and association. These are wide-ranging principles and are open-ended.

To which MorrisCntyTom replied, “Another horrible analogy.” But, no refutation. MorrisCntyTom, like all enemies of free speech, could not answer the question, “On what basis do you claim that people lose their individual rights simply by cooperating with others in a group association?”

Correspondent John Derr questioned my statement the First Amendment contains “wide-ranging principles [that] are open-ended,,” asking if they can be “...at times too open ended?”

I replied:

There's a saying, "Your right to swing your arms ends where my nose begins." The principle of rights guarantees freedom of action in a social context. They are limited only in the sense that you must respect and not violate the rights of others. E.G. You cannot use your speech to misrepresent a product (fraud), or endanger others' physical safety or property rights by screaming FIRE in a theater. Given that, no, rights can not be too open ended, in my view—and in the Founders' view (that's why they considered rights to be "unalienable").

Finally, MorrisCntyTom replied:

"unalienable"  yes..to people...not CORPORATIONS.    That was the view of the founding fathers.

I replied:

But the First Amendment states simply, “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. . .” It does not exclude corporations or associations of any kind from that principle. In fact, the very same First Amendment specifically includes protection for freedom of association. I would say that the inclusion of protection for free speech and free association in the same Amendment speaks volumes about what the view of the Founding Fathers. Why combine the two. Because the two freedoms are related. People’s rights are unalienable whether they are exercised individually or in association with others.

Related Reading:



In Defense of the Corporation—Robert Hessen


Related Listening:

Censorship, Local and Express—An analysis of the Supreme Court’s upholding of anti-pornography laws. The “marketplace of goods” and the “marketplace of ideas.” Why conservatives want to control the intellectual realm, and liberals the material realm.

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