Archive for the ‘freedom of speech’ Tag

Jefferson on the Heckler’s Veto   4 comments

Thomas Jefferson’s inaugural speech addressed the aggressive nature of protest against political speech that we are currently experiencing.

This is connected to this blog post.

 

During the contest of opinion through which we have passed the animation of discussions and of exertions has sometimes worn an aspect which might impose on strangers unused to think freely and to speak and to write what they think; but this being now decided by the voice of the nation, announced according to the rules of the Constitution, all will, of course, arrange themselves under the will of the law, and unite in common efforts for the common good. All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions. During the throes and convulsions of the ancient world, during the agonizing spasms of infuriated man, seeking through blood and slaughter his long-lost liberty, it was not wonderful that the agitation of the billows should reach even this distant and peaceful shore; that this should be more felt and feared by some and less by others, and should divide opinions as to measures of safety. But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.

Heckler’s Veto   11 comments

Welcome to the Open Book Blog Hop where we are discussing CONTROVERSIAL subjects this week. As I pretty much like to rabble-rouse, controversy is nothing new to this blog, but you should check out my fellow blog hoppers to see what they have to say.

Stevie Turner is a British novelist whose books delve into the darker side of relationships. I wonder what controversy she’s pondering.

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Let’s talk about speech. We all know that the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution reminds the federal government that it may not infringe upon the freedom of speech of its citizens. The government has tried to countermand this infringement of its authority on several occasions. The second president of the country, John Adams famously tried to overrule the Constitution with the Alien and Sedition Act.Woodrow Wilson did something similar during the 1st World War. Those are only two of several examples.

But today’s topic is not about government infringement. That’s well-traveled ground. No, I want to discuss the freedom of speech in the context of ordinary citizens trying to infringe upon each other’s right to express an opinion.

I’ve made no secret on this blog that I consider Donald Trump to be odious and a very poor pick for President of the United States. I cringe at least once every time I hear him speak. I’ve wanted to smack him more than a couple of times. I’m not alone, there are many folks who don’t want Trump to be President … and that includes many Republicans who are as dumbfounded as I am as to how he keeps winning primaries. I can be excused for being surprised — I’m not a Republican — but I know Republican Party leaders here in Alaska who say they have no idea how Trump managed to gain such a foothold (though he lost to Cruz in Alaska). He actually only wins about 30-40% of the GOP vote in most of these primaries, but in a divided field, he is the front-runner … which, by the way, is how McCain and Romney became the nominees in the last two Presidential elections … which calls that whole process into question. If the party where the majority of members describe themselves as conservatives keeps nominating big spending progressives and now Donald Trump there is something deeply wrong with its nomination processes.

But enough about that. Let’s stop chasing rabbits and get to the point.

Donald Trump canceled a speech in Chicago claiming that protesters were threatening violence. There is some credibility afforded to that claim by a prior incident in St . Louis. It seems some of the less thoughtful of Trump’s supporters and some of the more odious of his detractors are coming to blows over what Trump has to say. Imagine that! Two individuals from opposing groups of bullies conflicting with one another to the point of throwing punches.

Who could have seen that coming?

Of course, progressives like Rachel Maddow insinuate that Trump is creating a situation a black flag situation:

Violence at these events, which may start organically, is in effect spotlit and encouraged to the point where it becomes something that is legitimately out of anyone’s control. And, then, the spectacle of political violence is itself seen as something that is a problem that needs to be solved by this strongman character who incited the initial event in the first place.

Very much not a Trump supporter, but I don’t see that. I don’t think Trump is that smart, but I am also aware that there is a problematic counter-dynamic at work here. The story has continued with protesters blocking traffic in Arizona and elsewhere. I’m not terribly surprised, actually, because the American left long ago embraced an anti-free-speech mentality that they have taught on campuses and in some media outlets for decades. It can be readily summed up by one prominent Bernie Sanders supporter who helped organize the anti-Trump protest in Chicago — “Everyone, get your tickets to this. We’re all going in!!!! ‪#‎SHUTITDOWN‬.”

Shut it down! Because in a democratic society we can’t have people holding opinions that we don’t agree with? This just mirrors the climate on college campuses across the country where speakers aren’t challenged on unpopular viewpoints but simply dis-invited or shouted down to a degree that a thug’s veto prevails.

Debate as a public virtue is long dead. It’s been years since Americans stopped debating about the conditions under which free speech might be allowed and instead are debating whether the idea of free speech can even be justified. Check out the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for a fuller discussion of this history.

To be fair, this assault on free speech is not entirely the responsibility of the left. The right has its own version of political correctness that is used to stifle voices with which it disagrees. Regardless of which end of the political spectrum we stand on, many people are pushing for freedom from speech.

Public debate is no longer seen as a means to search for truth, knowledge, and common ground, but only as a venue for speech that expresses unthinking solidarity with whatever you already believe. Other views are considered “inflammatory”, and therefore, subject to curtailment.

Of course the Trump campaign should disown violence among the candidate’s followers. Violence is always inappropriate unless it is in direct self-defense from violence directed at you or someone in your presence.

On the other hand, anti-Trump-protesters need to learn the difference between protesting in opposition of an idea or a candidate they don’t like and eradicating lawful speech in the public square. I don’t like Trump or what he has to say, but I will defend his right to say it. I don’t like Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton either, but they have a right to speak on subjects where I disagree with them. I choose to turn into their debates just to hear what they have to say. For freedom of speech to exist, we all have to allow room for speech we abhor, recognizing that there are others who likely abhor our speech. The curtailment of speech creates an absence of political debate with far-reaching destructive consequences.

In the absence of political debate, what are we left with? That question ought to scare the hell out of you.

There’s an old analogy going back into the 19th century concerning how Americans decide the course of our society. It’s called the four boxes of liberty.

The first is the ballot box. We can vote for our representatives. The problem with this is that politicians really aren’t representing most voters these days. Instead, they lie to get into office and once there they pursue their own agendas and refuse to listen to the people who elected them, let alone people of another political stripe. Elections have consequences, but nobody foresaw the ones we currently are experiencing. If yours is not the political party in power, even by a narrow minority, you are in effect slaves of the state with no say in the political course of the nation or your community for the four years following the election your party lost. Thus, people are increasingly suspicious of elections as a method of organizing society. They see the lack of clarity and representation as a good reason to not vote. Voting is seen as giving your consent to be ruled rather than as participating in a society where everyone has a voice.

The second tool of liberty is the jury box. In past generations, juries understood that they had a right to rule on the law a person was being tried on as well as on the facts of the case. Nowadays, judges instruct them otherwise, so that a juror feels he/she must find someone guilty of things that the government ought not to even be involved in.

The third tool of citizen liberty is the soap box. And that’s really what we’re discussing right now. Do we have the right — if not the obligation — to educate our fellow citizens with facts they may not be aware of or opinions with which they disagree? Historically, Americans would have said “Hell, yes!”, but those same Americans trusted that their votes counted for something and that their ruling in the jury box held authority. That’s no longer the case which leaves us with ….

What’s left after the first three boxes fail or become unavailable is the bullet box. There are people who might read this who will immediately say I don’t have the right to say that.

Would you rather be surprised when the shooting starts?

I know that sounds provocative. I mean it to, because the folks calling for this candidate or that ideology to shut the fuck up and not disagree with them need to HEAR what I am saying. It’s a dangerous game you’re playing and one I pray does not yield the harvest you’re sowing.

I am not calling for violence of any kind. I’m merely reading the handwriting on society’s wall. When you silence the voices espousing ideas you don’t like, you don’t silence the ideas, you just give them no peaceful outlet. Those ideas go on in secret, frustrated and building in pressure until the lack of freedom inevitably foments violence against the oppressors. Our Founders understood this. It’s human nature. The right to express an opinion is a natural human liberty as necessary as oxygen. That’s not just Trump supporters. That’s everyone. Our Founders acknowledged that right in the Constitution. They didn’t create the right. They acknowledged that it already existed.

If elections don’t matter, if the jury is a rubber stamp for the prosecution and the judge, and then you also stifle debate … what is left for the silenced but violence? You fear that Trump’s ideas will be accepted by many and that will somehow silence what you believe, but in reality, what silences your beliefs are your own attempts to silence the beliefs of others.

You can see what one of the American Founders had to say on the subject here.

On Being a Racist   10 comments

(Hubby Brad is making one of his rare guest appearances. Lela)

 

Hello, my name is Brad and I am a racist.

I must be a racist because the barista at Starbuck’s scribbled “Race Together” on the side of my cup. Apparently I look like a racist. Apparently Lela does not because her cup just had her name scrawled on the side along with the secret code for how she likes her coffee. Her friend Susan, who looks very Alaska Native, was also not blessed with the invitation to have a conversation with a white coffee-dispensing college student about race. My friend PJ — RACIST!

Lela and I are generally opposed to putting our images out on social media. It’s not like the NSA doesn’t know who we are or what we look like, but we don’t want to make it any easier for them. You’ll just have to take my word for it — I’m white. My eyes are blue-green, my hair is sort of honey brown and my skin — well, this time of year, it’s blindingly white. We don’t get a lot of sun in Alaska in the winter and since it rained all last summer, it’s been about 18 months since I’ve tanned. So I think this is the whitest I’ve ever been.

I know — disgraceful! How can I have any understanding of what darker-skinned people feel when my skin is this white? And I was buying coffee with another white guy at a bookstore! Can’t you just smell the white privilege?  White men who can read at a 6th grade level and afford designer coffee! Obviously we need to discuss race relations in America with our barista! I mean, she has dreds. She can’t possibly be a racist!

So here’s something to know about the inner workings of my mind. Like most human beings on the planet, I do have some prejudices. I prefer vanilla over chocolate ice cream, for example. I discriminate against flavorless Lower 48 blueberries in favor of tart Alaska blueberries. I like Jeeps better than Subarus which I prefer over Fords. If given a choice, I will choose movies that feature explosions over romantic comedies. I don’t like some people and love to hang out with others. I discriminate all of the time. We all do and that is not necessarily an evil thing. Trust me on this — Alaska blueberries — WAY better than Lower 48 blueberries!!!!

Ah, but is my choice of coffee companions an indication that I discriminate in favor of white people? Could be. I grew up in a rough New York City neighborhood during the bussing era of the 1970s. In the 5th grade, I was stabbed by a Puerto Rican girl for no reason I ever knew and I haven’t really had much use for Puerto Ricans since, but if you are a friendly Puerto Rican and don’t try to stab me, I’ll eventually warm up to you. You know the saying — once stabbed, twice shy, but you can prove to me that I can trust you. And, then I was once beaten up by two drunk (Alaska) Native men, so if you’re a drunk Alaska Native man harassing people in downtown Fairbanks Alaska, you might want to steer clear of me. I’ve learned to growl and threaten to bite rather than get kicked in the ribs again.

See — RACIST! Or maybe the Puerto Rican chick and the Native guys hurt me and I learned the lesson they were trying to teach me.

In high school, I was smitten by a black girl in my history class who would never give me the time of day. My best friend is an Alaskan Eskimo. My wife is part-American Indian. My very beloved daughter actually looks more Indian than her mother. Once I was the only white man on a remote job site and three of my black coworkers announced I could call them the “n-word”. I guess these non-whites have f failed to notice that I’m a bigot, huh?

I’m Irish American and like most American whites, I am uncomfortable with this topic. In fact, I feel like I don’t have a right to have a contrarian opinion on this subject. The only reason I’m posting this is that Lela insisted. It was about 17 years ago that my coworkers honored me by trying to let me into their group. I couldn’t say the “n-word” without blushing and choking. They thought it was funny and tried to get me to practice it, but I never could do it. Finally, they took pity on me and said I didn’t have to. But why was it hard for me to say it? They called each other “nigga” all the time. It appeared to be a term of endearment and camaraderie. I was honored that they gave me permission, but I couldn’t say it. Since then, I’ve asked quite a few white people if they could say “n-word”. I haven’t found any that could. They are absolutely embarrassed by the term.

Why?Because we’ve all been indoctrinated to never have bigoted thoughts about people of color and to never, ever say the n-word. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, but I want to just point out that there’s a double standard. White people have been taught to be careful of the sensitivities of non-whites, but non-whites are not necessarily held to the same standard.

Have you ever seen an Indian fella wearing a “Native Pride” hat? You see it a lot here in Alaska. I’ve often wondered what would happen if I wore a “white pride” T-shirt, but I fear getting beat up again, so I’ve never run that experiment. This week in Fairbanks, we’re having the Festival of Native Arts, where Native people get together for Native dancing and eating ethnic foods (muktuk and seal oil, yummo!) and non-Natives are expected to plunk down big money to go watch this, but they aren’t permitted to participate. We’re supposed to respect this exhibit as healthy cultural pride. What if Irish people were to get together for jig dancing or Germans were to get together for beer drinking and glockenspieling and say it’s okay for non-Irish to pay money to watch, but they can’t participate — what would be the reaction?

BIGOTS!

But what really bugs me is that 17 years ago, I could say “nigga” to a black man and he would call me friend, but today I don’t think those same men would honor me with that privilege because black people today are no longer judging white people by the content of their character, but by the color of our skin. White people are expected to apologize for being white, as if that is anything we can control any more than a black person can control being born black.

Doesn’t that sound a lot like racism to you? It sure sounds a lot like racism to me.

Tyranny By Another Other Name   Leave a comment

I like free speech and I like privacy. In fact, I think free speech depends on privacy.

 

Too bad the US government absolutely sucks at protecting our privacy.  Glenn Greenwald’s new book No Place To Hide reveals that the U.S. government tampers with Internet routers during the manufacturing process to aid its spying programs.

 

Do you really trust the government with control over the Internet? We know from the Fairness Doctrine that the government didn’t trust the media outlets to police themselves, so we can be sure that the government will need to technically verify whether the telecoms are treating data as they should, which will mean installing its own hardware and software at critical points to monitor Internet traffic.

 

We already know that , once installed, our government (and any other government able to hack in) will not use this access for benign purposes. They didn’t in the past. Why would they change their behavior now?

 

Oh, but you like Barack Obama and the current Chair of the FCC and you’re not worried that they will invade YOUR privacy or infringe upon YOUR freedom of speech. What happens if Jeb Bush is elected to the White House? What if Republicans remain in control of the House and Senate? That changes the dynamic a bit, doesn’t it?

 

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. – James Madison, The Federalist No. 51

 

I used to believe the US government was a benevolent and wise parent looking out for the best interests of society. When Jimmy Carter violated Alaska’s Statehood Compact and the provisions of ANILCA, I got real-world woke up. I see the US government as a dangerous tyrant, influenced by large corporations, seeking to control everyone and everything.

 

At the crux of the debate between proponents and opponents of Net Neutrality are that some of us have become aware that Skynet exists and others of you still want to live in dreamland.You want to believe that the US government is all-knowing with good intentions that will never change without your permission and all will be well. I don’t believe that because I look to history and see Woodrow Wilson outlawing political dissent and FDR locking up US citizens of Japanese ancestry. The US government topples elected democracies, fights unjust wars and interferes in world affairs. It executes American citizens in violation of 5th Amendment rights.

 

I don’t trust the government. It doesn’t matter which party is “in” at the moment because I’m convinced they’re two sides of the same coin called tyranny.

 

Regulations can start out with the best of intentions, but when enough red tape accumulates, we drown in it regardless. That leads to less freedom for us individually and for society as a whole.

Remembering the Fairness Doctrine   3 comments

This can be considered an installment of my media influence series. It isn’t over. I just got busy and distracted.

 

The American people just seem unable to learn the folly of allowing the administrative state to control anything in our lives.

 

When I was in college (early 1980s) there was a fierce debate underway about the unfairness of the Fairness Doctrine.

 

For those who are unfamiliar with the Fairness Doctrine, it was based on a 1949 Federal Communications Commission regulaion that requried broadcasters to “afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views of pulbic importantce.” It was overturned by the FCC in 1987 because, contrary to its purpose, it failed to encourage discussion of more controversial issues. It also violated the First Amendment, but who cares about that old piece of paper anyway, right?

 

The Fairness Doctrine was predicated on the idea that the airwaves were scarce and to assure that broadcasters did not stomp on one another’s signal, the government had to regulate access. From that came the idea that it could also regulate content. The FCC claimed that the only way to assure fair and balanced news and opinion was to mandate it.

 

In practice, controversial speech was silenced as the threat of random investigations and warnings discouraged broadcasters from airing what FCC bureaucrats might refer to as “unbalanced views.” Rather than encouraging debate, it stifled it. But it also skewed the news.

 

Those of us old enough to remember the late-1960s remember the “Silent Majority” – a vast number of ordinary Americans who never seemed to make waves. While protests swept college campuses and sucked up all the media attention, they were largely silent. But were they, really? We now know that as the media focused glowing attention on the affects of progressivism in the America a large groundswell of conservatives were forming that would eventually bring Ronald Reagan to the presidency, followed a few years later by the Contract with America. If you go back and look at broadcasts from that era, you don’t see any evidence of that groundswell. You have to go to print media to find it. There were a handful of local radio stations that allowed citizens to call in and espress opinions, but if the discussion skewed too far to the conservative end of the wading pool, the radio station management was likely to receive a call from the FCC telling them to balance their content.

 

I’m not saying there was a vast progressive conspiracy to keep conservative ideology off the airwaves. I’m saying that government is more likely to be staffed by progressives. It makes sense. If you feel that government should be small and limited, you’re less likely to seek employment with government. If you are a progressive, you are more likely to view progressive ideas as being more truthful and valid than conservative ideas. You are also going to get into a lather when the local radio station allows “unbalanced” views and you can do something about it. So the FCC became a watchdog and bulwark against conservative ideology creeping onto the airwaves.

 

In 1984, the Supreme Court concluded that the scarcity rationale underlying the doctrine was flawed and that the doctrine “inescapably dampens the vigor and limits the variety of public debate”. When the Fairness Doctrine was set aside in 1986, conservative talk radio exploded onto the scene. It didn’t need to build an audience because that previously Silenced Majority were thrilled to finally hear their own beliefs in public.

 

Of course, progressives don’t like that and there have been occasional attempts to bring back the Fairness Doctrine, especially to enshrine it in Congression law. Reagan vetoed one attempt in 1987 and later attempts have failed to pass Congress. As an independent regulatory agency (which ought to scare the hell out of all intelligent Americans), the FCC has the power to reimpose the doctrine without Congressional or Executive action.

 

Supporters of reviving the un-Fairness Doctrine base their argument on the same three faulty premises that the FCC used originally.

 

Scarcity

The broadcast spectrum is limited, supporters say, so they should be policed by federal bureaucrats to ensure that all viewpoints are heard. And yet there are thousands of radio and television stations nationwide as well as cable and satellite channgels and the Internet (more on that in a later post). There is little prospect for a information monopoly simply because of the incredible diversity of media.

 

Fairness

Federal policing is needed to guarantee fair access to the airwaves for a diversity of viewpoints. This is assuming that FCC bureaucrats have the ability to discern what is “fair”. The way the Fairness Doctrine was administered, each broadcaster had to offer air time to anyone with a controversial viewpoint. FCC regulators would arbitrarily determine what “fair access” was and who was entitled to it through selective enforcement. PBS in Fairbanks Alaska was a progressive wonderland with no FCC warnings in its jacket. KFAR in the same market would receive regular FCC warnings for listerners calling in and expressing their personal opinion. Gotta balance that! Both the Kennedy and Nixon administrations used the Fairness Doctrine to keep unfavorable reporting off the airs. What is “fair”? It all depends on your viewpoint, I guess.

 

Guaranteed Vigorous Debate

Supporters of the Fairness Doctrine then and now will assert that requiring broadcasters, under threat of arbitrary legal penalty, to “fairly” represent both sides of a given issue will result in more views being aired and will not affect the editorial content of a station. The reality was quite different. Under the Fairnmess Doctrine, with the threat of potential FCC retaliation for perceived lack of compliance, most broadcasters were reluctant to air their own opinions because it required them to also air alternative perpectives thatt their audiences did not want to hear. Free (regulated) speech became less free. It did not result in easier access to conversial views, but instead led to self-censorship. With the wide diversity of views available today, people seeking alternative viewpoints can simply change the channel or click on a different link.

 

Ah, but can they?

 

I see Net Neutrality as this era’s version of the Fairness Doctrine and I predict it will result in the exact same problems and with far more dire consequences.

Speaking Up While We Still Can   Leave a comment

When I was a kid, my mother posted this quote inside a kitchen cabinet.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

 

Martin Niemoller was a prominent Protestant pastor who became an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent several years in Nazi concentration camps. Niemoller believed that Germans, particularly the leaders of the leading Protestant churches, had been complicit in their silence in the Nazi imprisonment, persecution and murder of millions of people.

There was a time when I was a conservative and I felt comfortable with tough laws and long sentences, but with the passage of decades, I have come to realize that a great many Americans are locked up in our prison system because … just because. They didn’t hurt anyone. They offended some people by what they said. They made government officials uncomfortable. They demanded people think.

I don’t usually mock when others say things I disagree with, unless it’s directly to me, because I respect the right of everyone to make a fool of themselves. The world is a better place and liberty is best served when the marketplace of ideas is open to all … even to ideas that are ludicrous.

It’s time we learned to speak up for the right to speak up, even when we don’t like what’s being said.

Amending the First Amendment   Leave a comment

When the Citizens United case stripped the state of a powerful censorship tool, many progressives began discussing amending the First Amendment.

While I don’t believe the First Amendment would be at risk of major revision in a convention of the states to propose amendments, I’ve decided to deal with the issue more squarely than when I wrote my series on this six months ago.

Autumn of 2013, Senate Democrats (Jon Tester of Montana and Chris Murphy of Connecticut) proposed a constitutional amendment as an attempt to reverse the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United vs. FCC, which struck down restricts on political speech by corporations, unions and nonprofits. Many legal scholars at the time said that the amendment would eliminate all constitutional rights for nonprofit groups and many religious organizations. It would, some legal experts contended, also allow the National Security Agency to seize information on Americans at whim. It would have authorized Congress, states, and local governments to restrict what most newspapers publish, what most advocacy groups (including the ACLU, Sierra Club and NRA) say, restrict what is said and done by most churches, restrict the speech of labor unions, and seize the property of corporations without just compensation.

Does that sound hyperbolic? Hmmm ….

Nearly all major newspapers, magazines, book publishers, movie studios, record labels and broadcasters are owned by corporations. A company cannot participate in the stock market to raise investment capital if  it’s not an organized corporation. Most nonprofit organizations are organized as corporations, including most churches (though some states allow churches to hold a special type of corporate status). Many ordinary businesses (the feed store I buy my flour and dog food at and the locally-based bookstore, for example) are corporations who would have been affected by this proposed amendment.

At least that was what was claimed –

Here’s the wording of the Joint Resolution

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to clarify the authority of Congress and the States to regulate corporations, limited liability companies or other corporate entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state.

The following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States:

  1. We the people who ordain and establish this Constitution intend the rights protected by this Constitution to be the rights of natural persons.
  2. The words people, person, or citizen as used in this Constitution do not include corporations, limited liability companies or other corporate entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state, and such corporate entities are subject to such regulation as the people, through their elected State and Federal representatives, deem reasonable and are otherwise consistent with the powers of Congress and the State under this Constitution.
  3. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to limit the people’s rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free exercise of religion, freedom of association and all such other rights of the people, which rights are unalienable.

The funny thing is, philosophically, I agree with this. Corporations are not people and so should not hold individual liberty. That would be completely off the topic, however.

My point is that there are already attempts to amend the 1st Amendment. The proposal is languishing in committee and will probably never see the light the day, but if Congress passes it …

Do we seriously think that 38 states (75 separate legislative bodies) are going to ratify it?

Which is not to say that a convention of the states could not discuss whether individual rights really protect the liberties of mega-corporations. That might, given Citizens United, be a good conversation for us to have.

Our current government no longer follows the Constitution. It acts as if portions have been amended already. More tellingly, only slices of the population are up in arms about it. I’m going to go through the Bill of Rights and examine whether these acknowledgments are at any risk of being repealed or revised by a convention of the states and whether they haven’t already been effectively revised without our permission.

A convention of the states might make it clear that these rights remain with the people and Congress … and the Executive and Judicial branches — may not infringe upon our rights.

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