There was a time in this country…and it was not all that long ago…when everyone, regardless of ideology, would absolutely cringe at the thought of regulating political speech.
Beyond the obvious speech protections enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the simple notion that people should be able to speak their minds, particularly when it comes to political matters, is as ingrained in the historical fabric of America as much as anything is.
Sadly, however, that view of speech and political thought within our borders is very much in jeopardy. For one thing, there are the frequent surveys about which we now read that indicate younger folks, in particular, seem perfectly fine with putting legal limits on expressions they view as offensive.
Unfortunately, such misguided notions are not merely the province of the youthfully exuberant. As it happens, even older Americans – some of whom, by virtue of their professional experience, should clearly know better -seem quite comfortable with limiting political discourse.
Case in point: Former Federal Election Commission (FEC) chairwoman Ann M. Ravel, who called for such limitations during a speech she gave recently at UC Berkeley (where else?), according to the news site Heat Street.
“We know that there’s a lot of campaigning that’s moved to the internet, whether it’s through fake news or just outright advertising and there is almost no regulation of this, very little,” she griped. “And so that the disclosure that we expect as to who is behind campaigns is not going to exist soon.”
Ravel appeared to be reiterating her previously-voiced objections to political speech in alternative forums, something that is clearly a pet concern of hers. Previously, she had called for so-called “alt-right” sites to be subject to “regulation,” and said, as well, that internet-based political activities rightly fall under the “purview” of the FEC.
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large