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The Deputy Solicitor General argued that the Federal government should have the ability to ban books, movies, Internet expression, satellite transmissions, television, and even Amazon's book-downloading Kindle technology. He argued the government should even have the power to ban political expressions that are essentially 99% non-political. Sounds more like something Vladimir Putin would propose.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123802561318342585.html

McCain-Feingold. One Republican and one Democrat. It looks like Obama's lawyer used to work for George W. Bush.

Hopefully, this idiot will be fired.

(And some people foolishly think that one of the most important jobs of the First Amendment is to protect political expression...)
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Ross G.
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I always laugh people tell me that it's the politicians on the other side of the aisle that are threatening liberty. They all do it. They always have and they always will, and it's our job to not let them get away with it. McCain-Feingold is an absolute disgrace, and threatens the fundamental liberty of a free society. Were such a statute ever to apply to me I would simply ignore it, whatever the consequences.
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Chris R.
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I think only two Democrat senators and six Democrat representatives voted against it, but you can't totally blame the Democrats when idiot Bush signed the stupid thing...
 
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ZiggyZambo wrote:
I always laugh people tell me that it's the politicians on the other side of the aisle that are threatening liberty. They all do it. They always have and they always will, and it's our job to not let them get away with it. McCain-Feingold is an absolute disgrace, and threatens the fundamental liberty of a free society. Were such a statute ever to apply to me I would simply ignore it, whatever the consequences.


Come on, let's try to keep a semblance of reality on this.

McCain-Feingold is a very flawed law that has its heart in the right place: In a country where anyone can spend any money they want on media ads, you might as well throw democracy down the toilet, and move towards the 1 dollar, 1 vote system. If you are going to let big money rule the country anyway, at least do it on principle.

Controlling how some interests can manipulate other people's votes is a core part of running a democracy. If we take freedom of speech as an absolute, then maybe we wouldn't ban straight vote purchasing. Or maybe allow business owners to fire their employees due to the way they vote. If you don't think that either one of those is acceptable, you are already limiting freedom when it comes to the ballot box: the question is just how far should we limit it.
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Ross G.
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chiddler wrote:
So you'd go ahead an publish a 500 page attack ad on a politician you didn'y like under the guise that it was a biography? Or are you just talking out of your backside.


If I wanted to? Yes. The quality of the work isn't the question. The legal right to publish it is what's under attack. Since you're in NZ I won't assume you're familiar with our constitution. Here's the first amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." It does not say "...unless it's close to an election."

chiddler wrote:
The reality is, you personally will never ever do anything that could possibly be affected by this law or anything like it. Its easy to proclaim your defiance of a law thats never going to affect you.


I agree that this law will probably not apply to me. That's why I said, "Were such a statute ever to apply to me...", meaning any law that prohibits me from speaking for or against a political candidate.
 
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chiddler wrote:
So you'd go ahead an publish a 500 page attack ad on a politician you didn'y like under the guise that it was a biography?


Apparently the Chief Justice essentially asked if there would be a problem with a 500-page book where only one page contained something that might be considered electioneering. The Deputy Solicitor General thought that this should be banned too.
 
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Amazingly enough, it sounds like part of the discussion had to do with whether a business should be allowed to advertise a Hillary Clinton action figure.

"What if Wal-Mart wanted to run ads touting an action figure of a political candidate, Chief Justice John Roberts asked, could that be regulated? 'If it's aired at the right place at the right time,' Stewart said."

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iqtChVqKsb...

To put this in gaming terms, I guess anyone wanting to advertise a new version of a political board game better watch out for Big Brother...
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sikeospi wrote:
I think only two Democrat senators and six Democrat representatives voted against it, but you can't totally blame the Democrats when idiot Bush signed the stupid thing...


FYI, its "Democratic senators, and Democratic representatives." Don't bother arguing this, it will make you look silly.
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chiddler wrote:
In reality, were there a law that threatened to lock you up for speaking your mind, I'm almost certain you'd choose to shut up. Almost everyone does.


And you'd be wrong. That fact that most people will surrender freedom for convenience is simply sad.
 
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wargamer66 wrote:
FYI, its "Democratic senators, and Democratic representatives." Don't bother arguing this, it will make you look silly.


Yes, normally Democrats are very Democratic, but they are quite Democratic when it comes to taking away freedom -- or objecting to the very word "freedom".
 
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Banning things certainly sounds scary, but I wouldn't panic based on a single indirect quote.

Anyway, the next paragraph specifically limits the "ban" to speech that is financed by a union or corporation. I'm fine with this. I am adamantly against anything that curtails an individual's right to free speech, but I don't think corporations have any right to free speech in the first place. We already limit corporate "speech" through truth in advertising laws and lobbying restrictions, and I think that's a good thing.
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Calling the deputy solicitor general an idiot for doing his job, and doing it well? That's idiotic. Are the lawyers who defended OJ Simpson (those that still live) idiots if you believe that OJ was guilty? You should be happy if every single application of McCain-Feingold that you dislike is argued as theoretically possible by the office of the solicitor general. It is only with this sort of scrutiny and exposure that anybody is ever likely to overturn this thing in the first place.

It's not the job of the solicitor general or her staff to choose which laws of the land get enacted, and taking the lawyers to task for arguing the cases they are assigned is pointless.
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MisterCranky wrote:
Calling the deputy solicitor general an idiot for doing his job, and doing it well? That's idiotic.


And I foolishly thought he took an oath to uphold the United States Constitution.

I guess he's just following orders like a good little Nazi...
 
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Max Fightmaster
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sikeospi wrote:
I guess he's just following orders like a good little Nazi...

Godwin's Law. I win.



Seriously though, your argument would be far more compelling if you weren't leaning on alarmism and hyperbole quite so heavily. Try cutting the "ZORMG!!! Free Speech is dead and Obama is having teh rapes with it in its coffin while it is still warm!!! HitlerNazis!!!" stuff, and try putting things in perspective a bit more.

This law is not an attempt to rig elections (quite the opposite), and it's not a large-scale (or particularly unwarranted) attack on free-speech. It's not perfect in its wording my any means, but it's ambition is valid and its intent noble. Free-Speech can't be an absolute right(see: Libel, Indecency, Inciting Crime) in any civilised society, and in this 'information-age' it does makes sense to curb it slightly in this fashion, in order to stop elections being won and lost on the back of corporate 'special interest' group's bankrolls.

I mean, wouldn't you prefer elections to be about the candidates and their policies, rather than about which party has the richest and most vocal supporters? Because the former option is what this act is trying to encourage.

It's not out to gag anybody or to opress their right to an opinion. It's just trying to stop big-dollars from buying elections by filling the airwaves with privately funded propaganda. Something that flies in the face of the principle of fair elections.

By all means argue that McCain-Feingold is badly worded, and that you think it perhaps bans a litte bit more material than is warranted. But please drop all of the crazy talk about Nazi's and book-burnings, because that's nothing more than ridiculous alarmism.
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sikeospi wrote:


And I foolishly thought he took an oath to uphold the United States Constitution.

I guess he's just following orders like a good little Nazi...


I have highlighted the only portion of what you said that came close to making sense.
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Grift wrote:
It's not out to gag anybody or to opress their right to an opinion. It's just trying to stop big-dollars from buying elections by filling the airwaves with privately funded propaganda. Something that flies in the face of the principle of fair elections.


For the sake of argument, I'll accept this characterization of the law as accurate (since I do not know one way or the other).

The notion of the government judging what is or is not "propaganda"--making decisions about what content is permissible--ought to be at least a little alarming to lovers of free speech. Good motives don't necessarily make for good law.
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bjlillo wrote:
chiddler wrote:
ZiggyZambo wrote:
chiddler wrote:
In reality, were there a law that threatened to lock you up for speaking your mind, I'm almost certain you'd choose to shut up. Almost everyone does.


And you'd be wrong. That fact that most people will surrender freedom for convenience is simply sad.


I always pity people who have nothing in their lives more important than their principles. I have children, and wouldn't choose to go to jail on a point of principle and leave them without a father. If you have nothing to live for apart from your pride I guess it makes sense, otherwise it doesn't.


So you like to teach your children to stick to their principles except when it's hard?shake


There is just a different principle at practice here: be there for my family. That is the principle that I don't sacrifice.
 
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chiddler wrote:


Er - neither the executive nor legislative branch would make such a decision. The courts, who are not directly elected, would. Why would you imagine that legal decisions would be taken by anyone other than the judiciary?


Who cares what individual branch of the government makes the decision? What does that have to do with what he said? Don't bother, I'll answer my own questions: It has nothing to with what he said, and it's even more bothersome that political appointees would have more control over the issue than elected representatives. At least elected representatives could possibly relate to the McCain-Feingold implications on some very personal level, but judges who don't have to undergo the ignominy of having some anonymous group funding a smear campaign against their appointments will never be sufficiently conversant with the situation to judge it! You may insert the emoticon of your choice now.
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Koldfoot wrote:
topherbear wrote:
bjlillo wrote:
chiddler wrote:
ZiggyZambo wrote:
chiddler wrote:
In reality, were there a law that threatened to lock you up for speaking your mind, I'm almost certain you'd choose to shut up. Almost everyone does.


And you'd be wrong. That fact that most people will surrender freedom for convenience is simply sad.


I always pity people who have nothing in their lives more important than their principles. I have children, and wouldn't choose to go to jail on a point of principle and leave them without a father. If you have nothing to live for apart from your pride I guess it makes sense, otherwise it doesn't.


So you like to teach your children to stick to their principles except when it's hard?shake


There is just a different principle at practice here: be there for my family. That is the principle that I don't sacrifice.
There are lots of people in jail for lesser principles than speaking one's mind. There are people in prison who refuse to rat out the real culprit of a given crime (think gang members). I like to think I am more principled than a gang member.

Providing for one's family is a principle that must be balanced with other principles. A man who is known as a principled man should be able to count on others to provide for his family if he can't.


Standing up for principles like freedom of speech is a service to all society, for the cost of sacrifice by you and those close to you. It's a long-term benefit to millions at a huge cost to your family. When it works, we call those people heroes.

Not that it's immoral not to be a hero. It's an individual choice.
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jessitron wrote:
Koldfoot wrote:
topherbear wrote:
bjlillo wrote:
chiddler wrote:
ZiggyZambo wrote:
chiddler wrote:
In reality, were there a law that threatened to lock you up for speaking your mind, I'm almost certain you'd choose to shut up. Almost everyone does.


And you'd be wrong. That fact that most people will surrender freedom for convenience is simply sad.


I always pity people who have nothing in their lives more important than their principles. I have children, and wouldn't choose to go to jail on a point of principle and leave them without a father. If you have nothing to live for apart from your pride I guess it makes sense, otherwise it doesn't.


So you like to teach your children to stick to their principles except when it's hard?shake


There is just a different principle at practice here: be there for my family. That is the principle that I don't sacrifice.
There are lots of people in jail for lesser principles than speaking one's mind. There are people in prison who refuse to rat out the real culprit of a given crime (think gang members). I like to think I am more principled than a gang member.

Providing for one's family is a principle that must be balanced with other principles. A man who is known as a principled man should be able to count on others to provide for his family if he can't.


Standing up for principles like freedom of speech is a service to all society, for the cost of sacrifice by you and those close to you. It's a long-term benefit to millions at a huge cost to your family. When it works, we call those people heroes.

Not that it's immoral not to be a hero. It's an individual choice.


"If a man has not found something worth dying for, he is not fit to live." -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

(I found several versions of the quote, so perhaps it's not completely accurate, but this seems to be the version used by his son.)
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sikeospi wrote:
"If a man has not found something worth dying for, he is not fit to live." -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"What a retarded and over-dramatic quote. Pure grandstanding bullshit." - Noam Chomsky


Might be paraphrasing a bit there, but I think that captures the essence of what he was trying to say.
 
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Isn't it reasonable to say that we would admire the people who would go to jail fighting for free speech, and understand the people who would choose to stay out of trouble to better care for their children? I personally would find the first decision incomprehensible by someone in my family situation, but I wouldn't judge them as foolish or self-centered idealists necessarily.

I agree with OP that this law is scary, and hope that the SC can find in their tea leaves a tidy way to allow the law to be used against abusers while not allowing abuse of the law itself.

EDIT: Bad grammar, as usual. This is not to imply that there is no more bad grammar.
 
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McCain-Feingold is just another example of when both parties agree the results can be dangerous. At least McCain and Bush supported it.

Both parties have supported relaxing the lending standards as a way to promote home ownership. Now the banking and housing sectors of the economy look like atomic bombs were dropped upon them.

Other than Obama most of the Democrat presidential nominees supported the war in Iraq.

Both parties have their reasons for not wishing to confront the issue of illegal immigration.

Now all books and movies and Internet expression are to be judged by a group of government-loving bureaucrats to see if some small element might be offensive to the mighty politicians just because they don't like to criticized? It will be a sad day if the supreme court doesn't get hold of this situation especially before gets even worse...

 
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