[FoRK] Justice Defends Ruling on Finance

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Thu Feb 4 15:56:42 PST 2010

Russell Turpin wrote:
> On Thu, Feb 4, 2010 at 1:47 PM, Damien Morton <dmorton at bitfurnace.com> wrote:
>> Here's a way of drawing the line: make a distinction between a corporation
>> formed for the purposes of speech and one formed for the purposes of
>> business. ...
> Even in the days of the founders, the companies that ran the presses
> were formed to make a profit. And it was those companies to which the
> 1st amendment specifically refers to as "the press," and in equal
> terms with freedom of speech. There is no reasonable way to parse the
> 1st amendment as providing less protection of expression for NBC than
> it does for you and me.
> An alternative to trying a run around the 1st amendment, either
> legislatively or by repeal, is to focus on reforming electoral
> mechanics. Money has a large influence on elections not simply because
> money is influential, but also because current electoral mechanics is
> focused on maintaining party politics, and gives voters only a very
> restricted kind of choice. Admittedly, that reform also seems distant.
> But it would be healthier, in my opinion, than trying to cut through
> the 1st amendment.
I agree.  It is already illegal to take bribes, sell a senate seat, 
etc.  Bound things more carefully and far more in the light of day, 
through laws and social pressure, and the relevant fears can be addressed.

A prerequisite to fixing things is having candidates that are A)truly 
honest, intelligent, and care about doing a good job and B) citizens 
that are not intent on acting like a pack of rabid dogs.  Unfortunately, 
we currently have way too many of the latter, whipped up by agents that 
are clearly not aligned with the former.

Thinking about Fox "News", I actually think I would welcome most 
corporate alternatives.  It is hard to believe that many corporations 
could survive without much leveler heads controlling communications.  
Fox is an anomaly because their value proposition is specifically to do 
what they are doing.  It's kind of like having WWF put in charge of 
anti-violence campaigns.  Haliburton running a peace conference 
("Behold, our new PeaceMaker 3.0!"  To borrow from a great line in Iron 
Man "the weapon you only have to use once").


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