Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Not the WHITEMAN'S bitch" -- Wisconsin govt ballot committee votes to block candidate's ballot slogan

A fun article -- go read it.

What makes these officials think the Constitution has a gigantic freeway-sized hole in the First Amendment that says, apparently subvocally, "Congress shall make no law respecting freedom of speech -- as long as it's not obscene, offensive, or derogatory"?

First, this is exactly the kind of political speech the courts have been most interested in "protecting".

Second, her slogan *exactly* describes her politics; I'd bet every potential voter in her district would know precisely whether they'd want to vote for her, without needing to ask another question.

Third, since when is political offensiveness a crime?

And fourth, when did 'WHITEMAN' become a protected class?

(And let's not even get into the whole issue of "protected speech" as a mischaracterization of the Constitution and the First Amendment. The First Amendment did NOT carve out a set of categories of speech that are protected from government interfernce -- this would suggest that everything else is not protected. No -- the Constitution listed specific powers the government could exercise, none of which involved deciding whether someone could be blocked for obscenity or offensiveness -- but just to underline the point, the highlighted key examples of areas where the government has not, by any massaged misinterpretation, been granted power.

In fact, some objected to calling out these eight areas (of the original Bill of Rights) for specific mention, on the grounds that future generations might misunderstand and think that these are the *only* areas in which government may not intrude. The authors of The Federalist Papers, mocked this fear, noting that to misinterpret the rest of the Constitution to gain this belief, future generations would have to brush aside the plain implications of other parts of the Constitution. So they added the 9th and 10th Amendments just to double-underscore the point.

Of course, the skeptics were right and the Federalist Paper authors (including James Madison) were wrong: Major-league Constitutional scholars including a Supreme-Court nominee of recent years (Bork) have simply asserted that the 9th and 10th Amendments are dead letters, having no practical significance. Because if they did have practical significance, half the stuff the government does would be plainly illegal.

And you think *I* am a radical!

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