“Reassuring” Remarks on FEC Regulation That Should Deeply Trouble You
Why should FEC regulation of the internet concern you? More importantly, why should we not respond to the threat by asking for an exemption from such regulation? For the answer, just read these allegedly reassuring remarks by Russ Feingold, with the troubling parts in bold:
The FEC must tread carefully in the area of political communications on the Internet. Political news and commentary on the Internet are important, even vital, to our democracy, and becoming more so. For starters, the FEC should provide adequate protection for legitimate online journalists. Online journalists should be treated the same as other legitimate broadcast media, newspapers, etc. and, at this point, I don’t see any reason why the FEC shouldn’t include legitimate online journalists and bloggers in the “media exemption” rule.
Are you comforted by this? Russ Feingold thinks you should be able to express your mind on the internet — if the government views you as a “legitimate” online journalist, that is. At least that’s Feingold’s view “at this point” — it could always change, you know.
Are you starting to get it? This is why you don’t ask the government for permission to express your views. Because if you ask, you concede that government has the right to decide what is deemed “legitimate.” And government might change its mind.
As Dan Lovejoy aptly says: “Creating an exemption recognizes the validity of the law in the first place.” That is why I have argued against signing the online petition asking our masters to grant us permission to speak.
When the Supreme Court upheld McCain/Feingold, I called it the repeal of the First Amendment. Many thought this was hyperbole. But it wasn’t. Everything we are discussing now flows straight from the law.
I think some people are getting it. Baldilocks quotes my recent rant and says:
I think you may have a point, Counselor. Most of us–left and right–are in agreement that McCain-Feingold is unconstitutional, but I think that we were beginning to resign ourselves to its existence, which is reflected in the letter. You may just be shaking us awake.
Excellent. That is exactly what I hope to do.
Baldilocks then says:
So now what? How do we legally dispatch McCain-Feingold?
You’re the lawyer, dude.
So: what do we do about it? I discuss that in the next post.
UPDATE: Welcome to Instapundit readers, and thanks to Prof. Reynolds for the link.