August 30, 2009

Hillary: The Supreme Court Decision

Freedom of speech is a tricky issue. For one thing, it's something to which most Americans are rather attached, and something we'll defend vehemently. It's something that, when openly subjected to governmental restraint, makes citizens cry foul and start murmuring about a second American Revolution (...or donating less to political campaigns, which might scare our governmental officials even more). And since this is true, the government attempts to secure our right to freedom of speech, or at least make us think it is secure.

But there are exceptions to every rule, convolutions in every case...

In a soon-to-be-seen Supreme Court case concerning the legality of a negatively-slanted documentary about Hillary Clinton, the convolution is this: If the corporately-financed documentary is ruled to be legal, then corporations could have free reign to distribute propaganda in favor of their chosen candidates or against their chosen candidates' opponents. This would violate and thus make void parts of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, which restricts corporate spending (the idea presumably being to give corporations less control over political campaigns and thus over the country). However, if the documentary (aptly entitled "Hillary: The Movie") is ruled to be illegal, then the right to free speech will have been incredibly restricted-- and according to the First Amendment, that's not allowed. A society in which the government can control the content of movies (and there's talk, though not action, of books and other media being equally restricted) doesn't sound too much like the traditionally all-about-freedom America.

So, the Supreme Court is faced with a quandary: Uphold the corporation's right to freedom of speech, even when it means that elections that change the course of this country's future could be influenced by money? Or quash freedom of speech and allow the elections to progress uninfluenced unfairly by the corporations... but influenced by the government's regulation?

I certainly don't like the idea of corporations pouring propaganda into campaigns already filled with monetarily motivated media; I hate the idea that the rich have a better chance of winning elections. But I'm not too thrilled about the idea of government restriction, either. I mean, just thinking about a country without freedom of speech terrifies me.

All in all, I'm thinking that the documentary should be declared constitutional. At least that way candidates of both political parties have to deal with the added support or opposition of corporate groups. The elections will be influenced by corporations, something I'm not excited about, but I figure the alternative- government control of political speech- is too awful to even contemplate. If the government was given that much control over campaign propaganda, then the political party currently in power could give one party's candidates a very unfair advantage.

What do you think? Is it more important to preserve non-corporate elections-- or freedom of speech? Think carefully before you answer, because though you're only one person, one person's opinion can matter...

And sometime very soon, only nine (very educated, well-informed) people will have the chance to decide the path of this nation.

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