Political And Other Miscellany From A Stout Democrat In Dallas Texas.
"Politics is the only game for adults." --from Robert A. Heinlein's Double Star

Thursday, April 28, 2005

FREE SPEECH FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE: This is unremarkable, and exactly what you would expect to read from such a person:
A Republican political consultant under indictment on charges of taking illegal corporate contributions in the 2002 House races is urging lawmakers to defeat a bill to tighten the state's ban on corporate and labor union spending in Texas political campaigns. John Colyandro was indicted by a Travis County grand jury last year on charges of illegally accepting corporate contributions for Texans for a Republican Majority, or TRMPAC.

Colyandro, as executive director of the Texas Conservative Coalition, a bipartisan group of 83 House and Senate members, recently wrote an analysis for the group urging legislators to vote against a bill that would completely ban corporate and union money from Texas elections. "The Texas Conservative Coalition cannot support any attempt to curtail or limit the freedom of speech as secured under the First Amendment," the analysis says.
What is surprising, shocking, and sad, is what comes next in that same article:
Fred Lewis, executive director of Campaigns for People, said Colyandro should have stayed away from commenting on the bill as long as he is under indictment on campaign finance law violations. "It seems to me that someone who has been indicted for allegedly violating a statute should not be allowed to analyze bills to clarify the law," Lewis said. "It seems to me that they are too emotionally involved and have too many conflicts of interests."
Fred, a good person striving uphill against big money in Texas politics, teeters on the very edge of the pit where he would be advocating censorship of such servants of Mammon. His advice is tantamount to saying a person cannot urge a change of laws he is charged with breaking. Even if that were true (and it is not, as long as the Bill of Rights still stands), whatever happened to considering a person innocent until proven guilty? No, it would not surprise me if TRMPAC broke the law, but as the good guys we should not just assume it, and use that as an argument that anyone should remain silent. Frankly, even those who already have been convicted still have the right to call for repeal of the law they violated.

As for the specific issue of this or other bills to restrict political speech, I personally am against them. I say let anyone contribute whatever they want, AS LONG AS absolutely everything is reported, and that information is freely available on-line and at libraries, so the voters can know just who is backing which candidates. If a candidate is rolling in million-dollar checks from corporate CEOs, I can decide for myself who he'd be representing. The alternative is to let some authority (perhaps even elected legislators) get to decide just how much free speech a person is entitled to have. I'm an absolutist about opposing even angelic elites having such power, and certainly not the far lesser beings in office today. As Jefferson said, "I know of no safe repository of the ultimate power of society but the people. And if we think them not enlightened enough, the remedy is not to take power from them, but to inform them by education."


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