Bloggers Might be Fined $200,000 by the Federal Govâ€™t
By: Warner Todd Huston
Thomas Paine wrote one of the most famous tracts of the Revolutionary era. Titled “The Rights of Man”, it was a tract that many said, should it not have existed, the Revolution could not have occurred. In fact, historians contend rightfully, that the writings of our founders and their contemporaries were incredibly important as much for their content as for their ability to spread the ideas over which we went to war with Great Britain across the hard to travel geography of early America.
Our Founders were true “grassroots” organizers. Without their words, we could not have won the Revolution.
Now the Federal government wants to destroy that same sort of process used to spur our citizens to free themselves from Monarchical despotism. The Federal government today wants to quash the ability of small citizen’s groups to disseminate information to like minded people by instituting oppressive reporting rules and by claiming they are “lobbyists” bound by Congressional oversight. And if they don’t they face oppressive fines.
Under the legislation, grass-roots organizations that attempt to “influence the general public” to contact members of Congress would have to register as lobbyists and file financial reports — or face a $200,000 fine. The requirements could apply to a preacher who goes on TV or radio and tells listeners to call their congressman in support of a particular issue, such as a constitutional amendment against homosexual “marriage.”
It could also affect internet Bloggers and emailing services that advocate for certain policies or political positions before an audience of hundreds or thousands of continuing visitors to their sites.
But issue groups spanning the political spectrum — from National Right to Life and Focus on the Family to the League of Conservation Voters and the American Civil Liberties Union — say the expanded definition of lobbyist will imperil citizens’ constitutional rights to free speech and to petition the government.
“This bill goes way too far,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU’s Washington legislative office. “This gets at the citizen groups who are really the ones making their voices heard about our democracy.”
And so it does. With their ballot box win behind them and in their rush to fool the public that they are “doing something”, the Democrats are trying to force a bill on the American people that is anti-American and little more than a refined version of the Alien and Sedition Acts of the 1790s that threw newspaper editors and political leaders in jail in this country.
Senator Robert F. Bennett (R., Utah) attempted to add an amendment to the bill that would exempt grassroots agencies.
“This should be struck from the bill,” Mr. Bennett said. “I was taught in civics in high school that [contacting Congress members] was what we were supposed to do.”
Not if your imperial Democratic Senate has their druthers, Mr. Bennett.
Our Founders fought for the God given rights of men and one of those rights is the right to free political speech. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Thomas Paine and many hundreds of their brothers at arms toiled for years behind their pens to raise the consciousness of their fellow citizens to free us from the shackles of the King. We bloggers are the direct descendants of the tract writers, newspaper publishers, and article authors who were our Founding Fathers.
Right now, they all are spinning in their graves as Congress tries to eliminate free speech.