I post this as a classic example of how the right-wing has hacks the most blunt, vulnerable minds.
John Edwin Jackson
Would you believe this: A movement rises to strip free speech from corporate America, to take the right to speak from PACs and churches and businesses and any other group that is an “artificial entity.”
They would take away free speech — one of the most basic of all human rights — and they would do this right here in America.
The startling thing, to me, is that the movement is winning in so many ways. The startling thing, to me, is that I run into so many people who agree with them. The startling thing, to me, is that while this issue has hardly caught the public’s eye, when it has, people are buying in with it.
The startling thing, to me, is that (if I’ve been told correctly) Montana’s voters have passed legislation calling on leaders to push for a constitutional amendment stripping free speech from corporate America. A citizen’s initiative also passed in Colorado, but it called only for corporate campaigning limits, not actually stripping free speech altogether from corporations. California is considering putting an initiative on the ballot. Voters in about 175 local entities have passed initiatives calling for amending the Constitution, and the governing bodies, themselves, of about 350 local entities have passed measures pushing for a constitutional amendment.
This might be more than just a small, extremist minority. It might be a substantial portion of America that is siding with the idea that corporate America should not be accorded the right to free speech. In an America whose history has been a steady march to extend freedoms to more and more, giving it to women, to blacks and others as we have advanced, this might well mark the most significant step backwards. It might be the most successful effort ever to take rights away.
Listen to their arguments, and tell me if it doesn’t allure even you: Corporations are not people, and money is not free speech, they say. They look at all the PAC money unleashed in the last election, and can see it wasn’t just. They see special interests controlling America so deeply that our leaders make their decisions based not on what is best for the common person, but what is best for corporate concerns.
You, the citizen, probably take it all in and say, “True, true, true,” to each and every point. And you would ask why it is I am opposing such principles.
You read from the wording of the proposed amendment, and tell me if there is cause for concern:
“Artificial entities . . . shall have no rights under this Constitution.”
My reply? If you seek no more than campaign spending limits, or if you want to do no more than to remove special interests from government, then word your proposed amendment accordingly. But to say artificial entities — meaning businesses and churches and political action entities — shall have no rights, that is dangerous language. That is language that does more than just assuring that money is not free speech; it is language that strips liberty and freedom from parts of our society.
Nor will achieve its aim, if the aim is to stop PACs from spending so much, for what is to stop a rich person from buying the ads? The payer of the ad simply shifts from being a PAC to being a person.
I say, only humans have rights, so it is only humans that can lose them. If we are to take rights from anyone, we can only take them from people. The piece of paper establishing Citigroup as an entity could care less about its constitutional rights. So, if only people have rights, how is it truthful to say that this amendment would not restrict the rights of people, that it would affect only corporations and artificial entities, but not people?