John Ostrowski over at Townhall.com wrote an opinion piece on blogging yesterday that’s mildly disturbing.
The Internet is the newest and most free medium of communication, which can be used to check both government and the mainstream media. This means, of course, that the government is already looking to regulate it. If certain legislators have their way, the end of free blogging on the Internet will come sooner rather than later.
Basically, the beginning of the end is coming not with a bang but a whimper.
Political bloggers have thus far dodged the regulatory bullet. The McCain-Feingold Bill, which drastically curtailed freedom of speech by imposing limits on soft money contribution, does not apply to Internet speech””for the moment. The FEC sought to codify that “public communications” (which can be regulated under McCain-Feingold) did not include the Internet, but that addition was struck down by a District Court. In March of this year, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) tried to rectify this problem by proposing the “Online Freedom of Speech Act,” which would have excluded online content from “public communications.”
In response to this move, an alternative anti-free speech bill was proposed that would place under regulation those sites whose expenditures totaled more than $10,000 annually. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine) and Charlie Bass (R-N.H.), was laughably titled “Internet Free Speech Protection Act.” This is a pure example of Orwellian double-speak, as the purpose of the bill is certainly not the protection of free speech on the Internet. This fact didn’t stop Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), a supporter of the Allen bill, from issuing a press release condemning Hensarling’s bill as the one being “deceptive.”
Two different bills floated around the House back in March, one seeking to strengthen the protections for the internet and another seeking to regulate it. Well, in a compromise, the FCC is now regulating political ads online. It’s not much, but they have their foot in the door and we’re going to have to put up a vigorous defense to kick that foot back on out.
We could start by making sure that this cumrag of a Representative, Charlie Bass, doesn’t see the inside of the Beltway ever again. Free Staters, kindly introduce that man to the business end of a ballot box if you will.