Sunday, April 20, 2008

Free Speech

Ah, is a King's work never done?

After returning from a lovely weekend in the countryside, I come back to find a plea for help. It seems that at issue is the issue of free speech, as protected by the First Amendment.

McBride, in her weekly space-filler at the Waukesha Freeman, takes state Representative Don Pridemore to task for suggesting a bill that would require third party groups running ads in elections to name the people that donate to their cause. As usual, McBride's argument is convoluted and circular. She tries to make a point, but offers no rationale behind her point. For a more clear and well written piece on this issue, I found Owen Robinson, in on of his rare posts of more than a few words, to be much clearer in presenting the issues.

Now, obviously, I don't have a problem with anonymity, as that neither capper, nor King of the Left Hate, are the names that my parents gave to me. Nor is my real name Liz Woodhouse. However, I am also a mere blogger. I am but a single voice among the thousands on the Internet. My influence on any given election is negligible, as evidenced by Walker's re-election. Oh sure, sometimes a blogger will strike gold and find a piece of information that could change an election drastically, but those times are rare.

The same can't be said for the third party ads. Their influence on elections are undeniable. Every election cycle, our TVs, our radios and even some web pages, like the JSOnline, are inundated in political ads. Many, if not most, of these ads are produced and paid for by these third parties. They have also become increasingly negative and vulgar, and often play very loosely with the facts. All one has to do is look at the latest kerfuffle regarding All Children Matter to see some of the problems with these groups.

In his post, Owen argues that naming the people that contribute to these organizations could have some real, and some very negative, impact on the people that donate, without really affecting the outcomes of the elections. I respectfully disagree with him.

While Owen's scenarios could hold true, that is only if the person continues to donate to these groups. The person also has a right to contribute to any group or movement that is more responsible on how they get their message out. There may still be repercussions, but that is much less likely if there are no slanderous statements made in the first place.

I don't know if there is a solution that everyone could be happy with, but I personally believe that there is some sort of compromise possible. Something to the effect that anyone donating less than a set amount, say $100 to a movement, can remain private. This way, most average individuals would have their privacy remain intact, but the people that would be more of an impact player would be named, so that people can see who's really behind a group. This way, the average citizen could still support whatever cause they wish to without fear of repercussion, but those with greater sway and swag would be identified, and their real intents may become clearer.

One other issue that demonstrates McBride's poor journalistic skill is her use of attributions, or lack thereof. McBride writes:
The speculation derived from a blogger who admits she was completely making it up. The best line came from Freeman columnist James Wigderson, who opined that he’d like to see my husband in the state Assembly because "after the first meeting he’d probably demand mandatory Breathalyzer checks for his colleagues."

Now, I am sure James is pleased to see his name in print again, being the publicity hound that he is. But why wouldn't she name the other blogger, who actually helped to inspire at least this paragraph, and several posts? Is it jealousy? Or is there some other reason, like maybe Paul is really toying with an idea of running?

Who knows? But for those of you who might have missed it, as I wrote last week, the blogger is Cindy Kilkenny, and this is her post.

And on an ending note, it is no wonder that McBride would be against this sort of bill. She is probably afraid that if it was noted that, say she or her husband, had donated to one of these sliming agencies, she might receive the same treatment that she gives to other people who chose to cast aside their cloak of anonymity.


  1. it looks like paul is running and now he can say it never dawned on him until this came up and showed him so much support

  2. It's the hypocrysy that amazes me. As a journalism something or other you would expect support for freedom of speech. She expresses such out of the fourth side of her mouth. Her blog calls to mind practices and printings of the Third Reich.

  3. anon 8:17 why do you say it now looks like paul is running?