Liberal Utopia

What your world would be if everything liberals wanted, they got. Open the door at the bottom of its Elysium fa├žade and take a glimpse of hell.

Repealing the Free-Speech Blackout


Common Cause cries, "Don't pay attention to that ban behind the regulation!"

"We have no sense that there's an outcry to overturn BCRA, particularly after the Supreme Court upheld it," said Mary Boyle, spokeswoman for Common Cause, a key supporter of the campaign finance legislation.

Boyle also reiterated the argument of campaign reform supporters that the new law does not ban speech but simply regulates and requires disclosure of those paying for a political message.

See there? Nothin' to worry about. (You can come back now, Toto.)

Unfortunately for the anti-freedom of speech Moonbats of Oz, Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett (MD-6) and his growing band of cosponsors (50, at last count) are saying, "Not so fast."

Last month he introduced a bill that eliminates what's effectively a free-speech blackout imposed by the government on any private groups' ability to even mention a federal candidate's name on TV, much less inform the people about that candidate's voting record - even if it's about a bill she's currently voting on - during the blackout period. "But we have The New York Times and Newsweek to inform us. Why do we need to hear from just normal people?" A bad question. I'll let Congressman Bartlett take a good shot at it:

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA) was signed into law by President Bush on March 27, 2002 and key provisions were upheld by the Supreme Court on December 10, 2003. This bill introduced a new term into the campaign finance rhetoric: "electioneering communication."

Electioneering communication is defined by BCRA as any broadcast, cable, or satellite communication that refers to a clearly identified federal candidate within thirty days of a primary or sixty days of a general election and that reaches 50,000 or more people in the relevant district or state. Under BCRA, labor unions and corporations (including trade associations, interest groups, and other nonprofits established as corporations) must pay for such communications with PAC funds only.

I am firmly committed to protecting our Constitution. As stated in the First Amendment to the Constitution; "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press". No constitutional right is absolute, and this is why I believe that money can and should be limited in the political process. However, it is clearly a violation of the First Amendment to restrict organized group communications (including informational and issue advocacy radio or TV broadcast communications) and limit what people can say about a candidate and when they may choose to speak out. The First Amendment was founded on the freedom of speech and was specifically designed with free political speech in mind. This is a right that should be protected for all; it is a right and a privilege that inherently protects and advocates for a Union serving the best interests of all its citizens.

In order to repeal the most glaringly unconstitutional provision in BCRA, I will be introducing the FIRST AMENDMENT RESTORATION ACT OF 2004. This will repeal the ban on non-PAC-funded issue advocacy (and other such references to federal candidates) thirty and sixty days before primary and general elections, respectively.

Please join me in protecting the First Amendment rights of political free speech for our nation!

[from his letter to colleagues, "Restore First Amendment Rights to the American People" (DOC file)]

The bill ensures that the Times and Time aren't the only ones informing the voters about their candidates during the last 60 days of an election. That's when most people really start paying attention to all the hubbub in elections.

Supporters of the bill include Concerned Women for America, Center for Individual Freedom, The Liberty Committee, and Second Amendment friends like TriggerFinger (which is understandable, seeing how the Free-Speech Blackout takes effect around the same time Congress decides whether to try again to extend the sunsetting assualt-weapons ban).

Add Liberal Utopia to that list.

On the right I've put up a Free-Speech Blackout timer that counts down to the second how long before the blackout starts and, once it does start (at 12:01 a.m. on September 3), the time remaining before it ends. Please feel free to add this countdown timer to you own blog/website if you wish (I explain how below). I believe it hits home how wrong any such selective speech blackouts are in a country whose citizens purportedly pride themselves on always standing up for freedom.

The timer links to The Liberty Committees' web page because they have a short explanation and some write-your-Congresscritter info. If enough of our Representatives and Senators hear from the supposed owners of this country (i.e., us), there's a good chance the Bartlett Act will throw a very cold bucket of water on these kind of disgraceful speech restrictions and leave the opponents of our First Amendment melting... melting... melting... melting....

Anyhow, here are the steps for adding the timer to your web site:


<script language="JavaScript" src="http://ourworld.cs.com/viewer2k/liberalutopia/freespeechblackout.js">



(like this:)

<body onLoad="fsboTime()">


<script language="JavaScript">
// CSS values (adjust; or leave blank "" for default):
fsboCSS = "font-family:Georgia,Serif;font-size:.85em;color:#000000;";
// -->

The images used by the timer are already at the CompuServe freespace I have, so there's no pre-downloading or uploading involved. All the code's variables start with "fsbo..." to make them unique, in case you're running other JavaScripts.

If you have any questions please post them in the "amens."

Lastly, Mary Boyle was wondering where all the outcries were regarding BCRA; so I'm listing some of the articles and other information I found on either Representative Bartlett's amendment or the underlying act. More like a groundswelling backlash after realizing what the thing's going to actually do to our freedom of speech and freedom of assembly:

"Bill to Repeal Restrictions on Broadcasts During Election Season Introduced in House," OMB Watch, February 23, 2004.

Roscoe G. Bartlett (MD-6), "Congressman Roscoe Bartlett Introduces HR 3801 to Restore American's First Amendment Rights," U.S. House of Representatives, February 12, 2004.

John Samples, "Beginning of the end?" Washington Times, March 4, 2004. ("Back to First: The Beginning of the end of McCain-Feingold," National Review.)

Sarah Taylor, "Reform bill: wolf in sheep's clothing," Indiana Statesman, March 3, 2004.

Kimberly Powers, "Prominent lawyer discusses free speech and politics," Louisville Cardinal, March 9, 2004.

"Headlines at a glance: 'BCRA Backpedal?,'"State & federal Communications, February 23, 2004.
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