Hello once again ATS.
A few minutes ago I came across an AP news story, a couple of hours old, that bites as my sensibilities and has led me to want to share some thoughts
upon what I see as a very divisive and important issue in our current society - the fallout of the Supreme Court ruling known as Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
. A subject discussed last night at a private dinner
at which Justice Alito was a speaker.
For those who are not family with Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee
, the crux of the argument boiled down to the following
That corporations, being comprised of groups of individuals, are inherently entitled to freedom of speech. One of the main arguments involved was that
media outlets, such as television and radio networks, and print media can exercise this "right" through selective reporting and editorialization- so
why shouldn't other types of corporations have similar avenues of expression through the use of their financial power.
This is a brief and simplistic summary, but one that I think represents the core issue.
In the real world we've all recently experienced the fallout of Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee
( and at least one other finding
by a lesser court ) in the appearance of those pesky Super PACs ( Political Action Committees )... those wonderful folks with seemingly bottomless war
chests and not much concern about how accurate their ads are - or how positive of a message they may or may not contain.
In short, what Citizens United v. Federal Elections Committee
accomplished was to say that since YOU, as an American have a right to political
opinion and activism, then corporations should also have the same right.
The problems inherent to this are immediately obvious. Most of us do not have millions or billions of dollars that we are willing to toss into
mudslinging political ads. Most of us - regular citizens - aren't multinational in nature - conflicted by a need to make all of our masters happy at
once. You or I might base our votes upon things like how well our local infrastructure is working. Or upon our local property values. Or even upon our
religious convictions and whether or not they are being properly respected by law and legislation. Most of us don't have a motive to base our politics
upon trade levels with China - or whether or not labor happens to be cheaper in India. These multinational corporations, however do.
So the court has afforded these corporations a freedom - a right - that was legally given to the People, NOT to corporate entities and especially not
to corporate entities with inherent foreign interests.
Oh, and now that money has been back-doored into the notion of free speech? Well, even collectively, we are left on the losing end of this battle - as
our collective net worth still wouldn't match that of just the top 2 or 3 multinationals.
But, so be it. The die is cast, and until we can persuade the policy makers to change the rules, we are stuck with this situation.
From the article:
Alito told roughly 1,500 people at a Federalist Society dinner this week that the First Amendment protects political speech, whether from an
individual or a corporation. His comments to the overwhelmingly conservative and Republican crowd were part of his broader analysis of arguments put
forth by the Obama administration in recent years that Alito said would curtail individual freedoms in favor of stronger federal power.
"The question is whether speech that goes to the very heart of government should be limited to certain preferred corporations; namely, media
corporations," he said. "Surely the idea that the First Amendment protects only certain privileged voices should be disturbing to anybody who believes
in free speech."
Reread that carefully and see where the battlefield really lay. Notice the exclusion of the term "The People". Alito sees it as a war between big
government and big business. His beef seems to be only that media companies have a more effective means of influencing government than do other
Let me reiterate... We, The People
aren't even in the mix here.
In my opinion, media - often referred to as the Fourth Estate
is a two edged sword - one that
often works against us, but can also be the greatest weapon we have in defending ourselves from tyranny. Even today - as exemplified by ATS, Twitter,
Youtube, Facebook, and a myriad of other incarnations - media can empower us as easily as it can mislead us. In fact print media was one of the
primary tools in the Revolution that created this great nation. I am aware that many in the halls of ATS dismiss all media as a mind control tool. To
them I say that it is a tool and can be as productive as it can be destructive.
My preference here, between media and other corporations is also based in transparency and the potential for feedback. Simply put, if a news program,
newspaper, commentary show, or magazine seeks too fervently to manipulate me, I have the option of ceasing to interact with it. I have the power of
choice and discernment. But these Super PACS? Just finding out who finances them is an involved process - and there is no recourse even if we do know
who is paying for them. It's not like we can just change the channel and make them go away. They don't care about ratings, advertising dollars, or
view feedback. They function independent of public opinion. In fact they only exist TO alter that opinion.
President Obama - whether you agree with him or not - had this to say about Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
in a State of The
At President Barack Obama's State of the Union address soon after the court's ruling in January 2010, the president said the court "reversed a
century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests - including foreign corporations - to spend without limit in our
Though Justice Alito famously mouthed the words "Not true" after hearing those words, I believe those words to be painfully true and accurate. We have
just witnessed it in this past election cycle - the most divisive and detrimental election cycle in living memory. It is my belief that the money from
Super PACS were the number one factor in creating the emotional furor which will historically define the year of 2012 in future history books.
For a sitting Supreme Court Justice to make these statements at a $175.00 per plate dinner is, in my opinion unethical. Justices attending fund
raising events is against their code of ethics. In this case the hosts of the dinner say that they lost money on the dinner and that, therefore, it
cannot be construed as fundraising. By their own numbers they made $262,500 for that one night. I hardly believe they lost money.
What say you ATS? Should corporations have this much say in the Democratic process? Should the elitists really be able to flaunt it this much?
Justice Samuel Alito Wiki
Citizen United v. Federal Election Commission Wiki
Federalist Society Wiki
edit on 11/17/12 by Hefficide because: (no reason given)
edit on 11/17/12 by Hefficide because: (no reason