New Penumbra: "Internet Free Speech"

Glenn Reynolds links to an editorial in the Washington Times that urges “Free speech for bloggers,” to which Glenn adds, “and everyone else.” But while that caveat in his headline is appreciated, it does tend to get lost in the sauce. The key language pulled from the editorial by Instapundit is, “Unfortunately, no matter what the FEC decides, there’s a chance that the days of unbridled political discourse on the Internet are nearing their end. . . . We encourage lawmakers to support the bills so that Internet free speech can advance unimpeded.”

Why “unbridled political discourse on the Internet“? Why “Internet free speech can advance unimpeded”?

As I have said before, I think this is a terrible formulation, both rhetorically and legislatively. It allows Congress to buy off the for-the-moment influential blog medium while continuing to savage the Constitution for other media — including, conceivably, as-yet undeveloped or unrealized media — via the notorious McCain-Feingold anti-sedition legislation. The best thing the “Blogosphere” — right, left and center — can do in connection with this issue is refuse to be bought by a dubious, and prospectively temporary, carve-out for “Internet free speech” only.

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Author:Ron Coleman

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2 Responses to “New Penumbra: "Internet Free Speech"”

  1. Dean Esmay
    June 3, 2005 at 4:37 am #

    The point that I think people most frequently miss is not the donations limits to campaigns and parties that are so odious. While such things may raise troubling questions, I think most of us can live with them.

    What should be utterly unacceptable is the notion that expenditures can be regulated, and that individual citizens and groups should be required to report and get permission from government for what they say and how they say it.

    We now live in a strange topsy-turvy world in which a topless dancer is practicing “protected speech” that government can put very little restriction on, but in which we regulate the content of political advertisements in the weeks leading up to election day. And every time someone points to the flaws this causes, the proposed solution is an ever more stringent and confusing set of regulations.

    If free speech isn’t first and foremost about protecting political speech (and press), what the hell is it for exactly?

  2. Ronald Coleman
    June 3, 2005 at 8:10 am #

    All true. The point, in my view, is that the courts insist that “money
    isn’t the same as speech,” but that’s like saying “money isn’t the
    same as property,” just about. Money buys the ability to amplify
    speech, without which speech is worthless.