Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Rock the Boat

HR581 isn't the only cocked gun trained on the blogsphere. The FEC gun barrel is aimed at bloggers under the guise of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

John Samples of Reasononline offers this:

... the federal government is about to come down hard on

Here's why. In 2002, Congress passed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law which restricted political advertising by corporations and labor unions on television and radio. The Federal Election Commission—the agency charged with implementing McCain-Feingold—initially decided that Congress had not intended to restrict political speech on the Internet.

Last fall, a federal judge said exempting the Internet from the law's restrictions on political speech would undermine McCain-Feingold. Now the FEC is back at it trying to figure out how to restrict political speech on the Internet.

If you care about freedom of speech, there are good reasons for
concern. The FEC may conclude that allowing political advertising by campaigns and parties on websites will undermine the restrictions on ads in McCain-Feingold. Ads on the Internet would be a loophole to McCain-Feingold that
the FEC should close.

But bloggers don't necessarily work for a campaign or a political party and thus should not fall under McCain-Feingold, right?

Don't be too sure. Bloggers often endorse candidates or parties in an election. Those endorsements are of value to the candidates and may end up being treated as a campaign contribution, subject to limits and disclosure. Bloggers may also contribute to a campaign by linking to a candidate's website or republishing a candidate's press release.

Of course, The New York Times can endorse candidates for office and promote their causes, and you might think that bloggers would enjoy the same First Amendment protections. But you would be wrong. The FEC has not given news sites or bloggers what is tellingly called "the press exemption" from campaign finance laws. What bloggers say and do may well fall under federal campaign finance restrictions.

We need to rock this boat, hard, and rock it NOW.

Here's how. The Online Coalition is a bi-partisan group formed after FEC Chairman Bradley Smith gave an interview on CNET in which he suggested a "coming crackdown" on bloggers and online journalists. They have drafted a letter and petition to be given to the FEC when they release their proposed rules to govern us.

Here's the link. I've signed this petition. So have 2800 other concerned people either in our media or reading us. Thomas McCay over at AmericanEX has likened bloggers to modern minutemen, shoulder to shoulder on the bridge at Concord. We are being pushed. It's time to push back.

Please, take the time to endorse this effort and pass the word.

Ours may be small voices for truth, but it's big truth.


At March 15, 2005 10:06 PM, Blogger frstlymil said...

Thanks for the heads up, AND the links. This is too important to sit out.

At March 17, 2005 10:10 AM, Blogger Vulture 6 said...

Alas, somethign we agree upon. but if THEY have their way, we will not have our say.

At March 18, 2005 7:16 AM, Blogger ThomasMcCay said...

In a time when almost all of the media is corporate owned and marching in lock step with the regime, the blogosphere has become one of the last sources of genuinely independent news and opinion.

How else would you have known about the demonstrations in Europe for the Bush visit? The phony news stories, the fake reporters, and news from Iraq that is not filtered by the State Department and squeezed through a Faux news portal.

Of course, we have a tremendous advantage. We aren't selling anything and no one supports us. Ergo, we are too hard to control. A bunch of individual citizens with a public voice. That just can't be, say the neocons.

Most of us are not journalists. But we are often intelligent citizens with stories and opinions that belong in the public arena.

You dn't believe what a writer says? Check his/her links and sources. That is easy to do. In fact, much easier than checking the sources of much of what is official 'news'.

This is important enough that bloggers, writers, Web site owners, and the readers who support us, truly need to stand together and have a unified voice. We are certainly not a unified political group but we do face a common enemy.

This is a place where we must stand.

At March 22, 2005 9:34 AM, Blogger ~Betsy said...

The scary part is that not many people seem to be aware of or care about the far-reaching effects of these different bills; laws that pretend to protect us as they infringe on our rights. Of what is our governemnt afraid? Are we the new terrorists as we exchange ideas and comment on our world today?

Thanks for the links. I've passed the petition to many people, even those who voted for Bush. We ALL need to be diligent.


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