Sunday, January 24, 2010

Steve Chapman: Free Speech for Corporations

RealClearPolitics - Free Speech for Corporations: "During the 2008 campaign, a group called Citizens United put together a documentary, 'Hillary: The Movie.' Remember seeing it on cable TV? No, you don't, because the organization decided it couldn't show the film without the risk of felony prosecution. It had every reason to be afraid.

The problem was that the movie was not only about Clinton but made the case that she should not be president. Worse, it was supposed to be shown during -- get this -- an election campaign. That, under the federal law, made it verboten."

Good commentary on Citizens United v. FCC, the recent USSC decision that says corporations have political free speech rights. Much of the lefty reaction to this decision raises the specter of multinational business corporations flooding the airwaves with pro-capitalist propaganda. I have not waded entirely through the gigantic pile of opinions the court generated in this case, including a 90 page dissent, but I am not sure these fears are realistic. It should be kept in mind that Citizens United is a not-for-profit corporation that was formed to do political advocacy from a conservative perspective. They didn't show their political documentary during an election campaign because it would have been a felony. As Chapman points out, there is something pretty disturbing about that.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

After my experiences with HOAs, which are also non-profit corporations, and learning that such experiences are common, I am much less sympathetic to the idea of corporations having "rights" -- including the right to free speech and lobby in campaigns -- than I used to.

I'm also a lot less sympathetic to Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, Libertarians, capitalism, etc. for promoting and defending HOAs as free market entities, but that's another story.

And I say this not as some left-wing Obamunist, but somebody who still believes that corporations should not pay income taxes (and have believed that since I read Milton Friedman's "Free To Choose" 25 years ago).

The problem with denying corporations free speech rights is that "news" organizations are corporations (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, NY Times, etc.). A conflict of values that needs to be worked out.