The Cost of Free Speech

Wisconsin Administration drags its feet on controversial new protest law.

We Americans are having to slowly adjust to the uncomfortable reality that money now equals free speech and that the more money you have, the more “free” speech you can use to push the opposition into irrelevancy. In a system of government that is supposed to protect the rights of the minority, most who visit and write at FtB see the citizens united decision as an infringement on American freedom.

But compared to the new protest laws under consideration in Wisconsin, citizens united somehow seems downright fair. At least C.U. gave the minority the slimmest chance to dissent, now in Wisconsin you might not even be able to exercise you right to free speech against the government without forking up cash beforehand. Any gathering of four or more persons espousing a political message will have to file for a permit 72 hours prior to the protest.

That is insane and from a state that practically tossed out the welcome mat to the Tea Party. I mean the people who would likely speak out against injustice are NEVER poor. This action is so downright evil, in that good old fashion robber baron/gilded age/Upton Sinclair way that I can’t help but picture the powers that be wearing anything other than a monocle while drafting this terrible piece of legislation. At least the ACLU is already stepping in here. While I don’t agree with everything the ACLU defends, I have to admit that we would be a lot less free if not for those principled lawyers.

I hope to the FSM that this thing fails. The law is not well thought out and may be just another political ploy against the upcoming recall but, I feel like I have to take a shower to wash off the disdain I feel for the Governor of Wisconsin every time I read about that state these days. Please recall this guy.

(Source: TPM)


  1. Steve says

    Even if such a law passes, I predict a quick demise at the district court level. Since the law is an infringement on the right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances, the standard of review will be “strict scrutiny”: that is, there would need to be (1) a compelling government interest to justify the infringement; and the law (2) would need to be narrowly tailored to meet the compelling need; and (3) use the least restrictive means to do so.

    I suspect this law will fail on the first point: what compelling necessity exists to require people to pay to protest?

    Permitting may turn out to be OK. In the event of a large protest, the police need to know if streets need to be closed, or if ambulances will need to be on standby. But as long as the permit is free and there are no restrictions on where the protest can be held (well, apart from the ususal ones, such as protesting ON an active military airfield, or in the general population recreation area at a prison, and the like), I am not too upset over the matter.

    However, the fatal flaw will be in charging people to exercise their first amendment rights. I just can’t see any federal court going along with that.

    I’m taking bets. :)

  2. says

    back in 1996/97 i took a seminar course on jesus at 2000. how he was imagined as a man by scholars. a common belief that ran through the entire event, which was given credence by the presence of such persons as marcus borg himself (a deeply devoted jesus scholar and seminarian), was that jesus would be the first to admit that his past teachings were not hard and fast, black and white gospels. that his care for the world and the humans on it extended past the era during which he lived. the overwhelming majority of us admitted that his short time on our planet was a graceful honor, just as it is an honor to behold each of us in our flawed humanity. i cannot claim to know what his thoughts on abortion, gay marriage, and other hotbed issues would be. neither can any of you. but i can imagine that his compassion extended past the narrow views so adhered to by the zealots who make true conversation nearly impossible.

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