Saturday, January 23, 2010

Monetizing Speech - Is speech a freedom or property?

Given the reasons for establishing this blog last week's Supreme Court Decision is particularly relevant.

We have now made a progression of steps that have lead us beyond the looking glass.  We have gone from speech being an individual freedom to equating money with speech and now spending money to buy speech is a freedom conferred on a state created entity (corporations).

When you consider conservative rhetoric of "strict constructionism" supposedly barring anything that was outside consciousness of the founding fathers, it should be pointed out that corporations did not exist when the Constitution was written.  Since they were created in the late 19th century corps have gone from being an entirely financial entity to having all of the rights of a citizen just short of voting.

Corporations interests are now and always have been solely for the purpose of their commercial interests.  Commercial speech has always been held to a different standard.  i.e. They cannot make false claims about their products.  But enforcement of that standard depends on the political will of the government to police those claims.  Now we are told that corporations have a Constitutional right to intervene in the political process without any regulation what so ever.

At the same time we see here that Gannett - a corporation of some size and power - holds an effective monopoly of speech in a small town and when opinion expressed defies their view of the world they can, have and will likely continue to squelch that speech.

These are strange and troubling times indeed when artificial financial interests can gain the rights of living beings and then use those same rights to nullify what I think most of us thought was something that could not be taken away.

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