Friday, March 24, 2006

Bloggers Beware

Looks like the attempt to protect bloggers from regulation by the FEC, under the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, is about to hit the House floor for debate. There are many who oppose this attempt to allow myself and my fellow bloggers our rights to free political speech. Free political speech is the cornerstone of democracy and bloggers are no different than that fellow standing on a soap box, in the public square, so many years ago. Any attempt to regulate his free political speech, would have met with a firestorm of protest. The blog, is merely electronic version of the soap box and public square. If the FEC is going to regulate the blogs, by using some sort of formula to figure out how much a blogger has "contributed" to a candidates' campaign, then the FEC should have to do the same to a campaign volunteer handing out a candidates' literature, or to any organization that provides volunteers to any candiates' campaign (are you listening Big Labor?). Jason Barnes provides some details on those for protecting the free political speech of bloggers and those that are opposed.
"Bloggers -– The Second Front

The House, meanwhile, is considering the Online Freedom of Speech Act proposed by Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, The "blogger protection bill," as it is known in some circles, simply codifies the current status of Internet bloggers. Senators Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Harry Reid, D-Nev., are co-sponsoring a similar bill in the Senate.

Blogger-backers believe the bills are necessary because the Federal Election Commission is considering whether to apply the rules of McCain-Feingold to Internet communications. In fact, FEC Chairman Michael Toner delayed a long-awaited decision on the matter until the end of March to allow the House to consider Hensarling's bill.

Given Toner's public support for the measure, bloggers believe the delay was a warning. "It couldn't be more clear," wrote Michael Krempasky, one of the founders of Red State, a popular conservative blog. "Pass [this bill] or face regulations on the Internet, period."

Instead, the House passed on the opportunity to vote on the bill. It was held up in committee. At present, it does not appear that it will pass before the FEC decision. A staffer in Hensarling's office told NewsMax they anticipate floor debate sometime during the week of March 28, but it's still unclear whether it will pass at that point."
It makes one wonder why Congress is so hesitant to protect the basic American right of free political speech. What is it that they are afraid of, or who is behind the efforts to block this type of legislation?
"Traditional media organizations have come out in favor of increased regulation. "It is imperative," wrote the New York Times in an editorial, "that the courageous lawmakers who supported the McCain-Feingold reform law four years ago stand together against making the Internet a cornucopia of political corruption."

Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, countered, "A better argument for the New York Times would be to tell America that they really want to end political conversation on the Internet to resurrect their power over political commentary.""
It is not really surprising that the New York Times favors restricting the free politicall speech of the blogosphere, they are likely afraid of the competition. Typical of the types at the Times and other opponents of keeping the blog free from FEC regulation, their view issimplyy stated as 'free speech for me, but not for thee'. Any FEC regulations that stifle the free political speech rights of bloggers, is sure to end up in a court battle. This is about your First Amendment rights!

As for me, should the FEC makes rules that limit my First Amendment right to express my opinion on core political issues, I will not obey those rules. - Sailor

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