Wednesday, June 27, 2007

YOU CANNOT SPEAK UNLESS YOU HAVE THE MONEY

The Supreme Court recently ruled that if you are a corporation or union, you may pay to have political commercials put on which, while not directly calling for you to vote for a candidate, can indirectly influence your vote just before the election. They deemed this to be a Free Speech issue, protected by the First Amendment, the arguement coming down simply to money equals speech. Bench Memos at The National Review applauded this decision as a victory for Free Speech.

The Court also found that a high school student could indeed be punished for holding up a rather nonsensical sign at a high school function because he violated school rules and his speech was not in fact protected under the First Amendment. Bench Memos applauded this ruling as well, arguing that those damn high school kids just don't have the same rights as Corporations. Bench Memos, it seems, has no problem with Corporate Free Speech. It's just individual Free Speech they don't like.

I found one particular defense of the ruling in the "Bong Hits for Jesus" case completely nonsensical. The following is a quote from Clarence Thomas to defend his concurrent opinion in the case:

"I am afraid that our jurisprudence now says that students have a right to speak in schools except when they don’t—a standard continuously developed through litigation against local schools and their administrators. In my view, petitioners could prevail for a much simpler reason: As originally understood, the Constitution does not afford students a right to free speech in public schools."

Now, I'm no legal scholar. Nor did I read the entire opinion by Justice Thomas, but on its face, this is ridiculous. I did read the beginning of Justice Thomas' opinion, and even he concedes that the public school system did not exist until the 1800s, so saying that the Constitution did not originally afford students a right to free speech in public schools is absurd as there were no public schools at the time!

But beyond that, if we follow Justice Thomas' logic, he should not be handing down opinions as The Constitution as originally understood does not afford Justice Thomas any rights as a citizen. Nor does it afford women any rights as citizens. In point of fact, as originally understood, The Constitution disenfranchises a significant portion of the population. Now, while the good folks at Bench Memos may believe that that would be a good thing, I would beg to differ. Justice Thomas, as well as the four who concurred with him and Bench Memos, is wrong; plain and simple. Their position in this case is against individual liberty and for Corporatism. Even were we to read The Constitution as Charles Beard interpreted it, it is evident that The Bill of Rights was meant as a protection of Individual Liberty, not corporate liberty. It does not take a legal scholar to point out that the Tenth Amendment provides that all rights not enumerated within The Constitution to the national government revert to the people. That includes the right to put up nonsensical signs, even at a school function.

But the more important point is that Bench Memos feels this is a win for conservatives, if by conservatives we mean people who put Corporate interests before those of individual interests. This is in fact the position of the modern conservative movement - we should not protect individual rights, we should protect corporate ones. Look at the present immigration debate. Those damn dirty illegal immigrants are coming to the US to take jobs from American citizens, according to The National Review and others. But not once has The National Review stated that corporate sponsorship of illegal immigration is one of its root causes. They do not call for punishment of the corporation which employs illegal immigrants; they blame the immigrants for wanting to create a better life for themselves and their families. Something which all of our forefathers wanted to do in this country.

Or we can look to the present administration in regards to the concept of protecting the corporation over the individual. The Administration believes that it's dealings are sacrosanct and must be kept secret at all costs, while individuals' right to privacy (another issue the conservative movement does not believe in - just look at how they would like to be able to tell you what you can and cannot do in your own bedroom as a consenting adult) are simply swept out of the way as The Administration sees fit, and the Conservative Movement goes into paroxyms of ecstasy at the manliness of these cowards. You need only look at nearly every major institution of our Government under this administration to see that the underlying position taken by the Modern Conservative Movement is to protect and strengthen Corporate control while weakening individual freedoms. The Modern Conservative Movement does not believe in individual freedom. They do not believe that we can, in fact, make our own decisions. Unfortunately, they seem to be correct about at least 35% of the population. Most importantly, they are doing everything in their power to deny us what freedoms we have and to allow the entities that they believe to be the only ones with any rights to further manipulate us. The Modern Conservative Movement hates individual liberty.

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