June 4, 2014

Here’s what a statesman and constitutionalist sounds like

Slaying canards: Ted Cruz defends the First Amendment, which is being challenged by a Senate Democrat-led Constitutional Amendment proposal. Forget your party affiliation for the moment; it matters not a whit. Either you believe in the Bill of Rights or you don’t. It’s a time for choosing.

A friend of mine on facebook takes issue with me (and Cruz, and Ted Kennedy, and the history of liberalism up until its current New Left usurpation), writing:

Money is not speech, rather it is the size of your megaphone. Anyone can say whatever they want. Limits on the purchase of mechanisms to promote your speech is not a Costitutional right.

[…]

The first Amendment is “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Just as people have the right to peaceably assemble, but not in the middle of the Baltimore Beltway at rush hour, and just as people have freedom of speech, but not to commit slander, most agree that reasonable limits on these rights are accepted. For those who are literalists of the Constitution, speech should be speech, not buying commercials on TV or buying adds in newspapers. Words mean something and the writers of the Constitution chose the word “speech” to mean something.

Of course, originalism — and the intentionalist principles upon which it’s founded — doesn’t require literalism. It instead commands we look at signs — in this instance, “speech,” — and understand what was meant by both the authors and the corporate intent of ratification as it applies to that signifier. Because it is in those two procedures — the addition of a referent to the signifier in order to turn it into a sign, and so to mean something specific to some specific historical actors, matching their intent to the second order representation that is the signifier, as part of a code, used in a specific context for a delineated purpose; and then the corresponding decoding of that sign and agreement with its intent, which led to ratification of that language — that are what determines meaning, not what we might now do with the word “speech” or “well-regulated militia” or “commerce.”

And there are ways to find out, as closely as is possible, what was intended by “speech” as it was used by the authors and ratifiers. One might consult Madison’s notes, or read the political philosophers who were so crucial to the thinking of our founders.

I will say this: at the very least, pamphleteering would be considered speech — cf. Common Sense — and should a government seize or regulate all paper, printing presses, pens, etc., this would technically leave speech free while at the same time intentionally limiting its ability to be disseminated. It’s like allowing you to buy a car but then refusing you gas.

The last thing we’d want, I’d posit, is for Congress to get involved with telling us when and how we can organize to speak on behalf of political candidates or causes. We already have a ridiculous rate of near-perpetual incumbency. What this is aimed at doing is criminalizing various forms of political speech and protecting the ruling elite from a populist uprising.

In fact, it’s such an abomination that even Ted Kennedy at one point spoke out against it.

There is no debating this. And bumper sticker cop-outs like “money doesn’t equal speech” are no stand in for rigorous argument.

(h/t TRS and sdferr)

Posted by Jeff G. @ 10:39am
29 comments | Trackback

Comments (29)

  1. I had an argument with a socialist friend of mine on exactly these same lines a couple of weeks ago, with my buddy (let’s call him Dick) arguing that money is not speech, and corporations are not people. It was terribly frustrating to try to get him to see the hollowness of his arguments, and to see where his policies would inevitably lead.

    “I don’t have enough money to buy airtime to make known my policy concerns. But if I get together with a hundred like-minded friends, we can pool our resources to buy that airtime and have our voices heard. How can you claim to support giving people a voice when you’re trying to keep me and my hundred friends silent?”

    “No, no no — if you want to get together to raise money for a political ad, that’s fine. I’m just trying to stop corporations from buying elections.”

    “But what if the hundred of us want to form a committee of some sort, to protect ourselves from individual liability in the likely event that you and your friends come after us with some bullshit legal maneuver?”

    “We’d never do that!”

    “You do it every day, Dick. You camp out on our front lawns, you complain to our bosses, our customers, our suppliers, our shareholders, all in an effort to silence us. You harass us, and our families, and our neighbors, just because we hold political opinions that you guys decide makes us ‘Enemies of the People’ and therefore fair game for anything. Can you not understand why we need anonymity and legal protection in order to defend ourselves?”

    Dick’s a good enough guy that we can have these heated arguments and still share a beer later, which makes him the very least worst Socialist I know. I just hope that some of my arguments sink in over time.

  2. I have the same hope. The guy I argue with is a UN doctor or some such; he’s a smart guy. But he’s awash in leftist bullshit. That’s what happens to a lot of smart Jews: they think that because they are smart, they understand politics way better than they actually do. It’s a thing.

  3. There are Udalls abroad in the land. Udalls are much like the slow loris, appearing simply cuddly-cute but harboring a toxic bite.

  4. Why does Rush Limbaugh hate America?

  5. Just as people have the right to peaceably assemble, but not in the middle of the Baltimore Beltway at rush hour, and just as people have freedom of speech, but not to commit slander

    I am rusty of my constitutional arguments but, the concern for keeping people off the beltway is safety not because their speech will get an “unfair advantage” over other speakers. Also, slander is a tort which deals with the consequences of one’s speech but, not a limit on speech in general.

    These people are trying to limit the speech of certain people and of certain content plain and simple and has nothing to do with time, place, or manner restrictions.

  6. You are correct, Bear. If slander were treated as a crime rather than a tort, that would violate the First Amendment.

  7. Is it possible to push our examination of political speech and with that examination, our efforts at persuasion of those who would readily silence political speech, those who make as though such silence could be a good for men, somehow, some way, making our political order “better” — and we do make the distinction between political speech and other sorts of speech simply due to the political context in which the right to unfettered political speech is discovered and found to be inescapably necessary to our governance, though making that distinction does not eliminate from protection instances of speech which are not initially recognized as political — metaphorically backward toward that elemental aspect of hoi anthropoi, an element found to make them or define them as hoi anthropoi, i.e., men, as such? That is, speech is one among the handful of fundamental phenomena concerning human beings, a phenomenon which distinguishes human beings at first sight from other beings. We don’t find human beings taken together without speech, though now and then individuals may happen to be mute. We sometimes say it’s our nature to possess and use speech. So much so, we see, that some genetic biologists dedicate themselves to a search for speech associated genetic traces. And even possibly find those.

    However, there does seem, at times, a political doctrine among the nominally designated political left, which seeks to eliminate nature from our understanding of our political life, or even possibly from our account of life in general, replacing that rejected scheme with, on one hand, History, an unfolding materio-dialectic, and on another hand among the positivists, Science divorced from commonsense.

    Perhaps our efforts at persuasion should begin, in other words, at the beginning, even possibly without explicitly laying out where the conversation will end up, but building slowly from one fundamental agreement to the next, when finally we arrive at the thought of the founders and framers? This, rather than attempting to persuade by means of working our way backwards from the completed complex political assumptions of the founders and framers regarding political right?

  8. Perhaps our efforts at persuasion should begin, in other words, at the beginning, even possibly without explicitly laying out where the conversation will end up, but building slowly from one fundamental agreement to the next,…

    sdferr, I tried that in this twitter conversation regarding abortion. At least it stayed civil.

  9. Killing offspring is common both to human beings and to other animals — so again we might say that infanticide is “by nature” — though we don’t see other animals artfully intervening to do that killing at the early developmental stage of embryo or fetus.

    Animals other than human, however, don’t build political orders as we understand political orders (cities) — cities being another phenomenon apparently unique to human beings, and a phenomenon largely possible because speech is available to the human beings, i.e., it is by means of speech that political orders are built — nor do we see those other animals codifying changeable law or regulation for the governance of cities. Dunno where all that goes though, or even whether it applies to the problem you confronted, Darth.

  10. “Why does Rush Limbaugh hate America?’

    The Koch Brothers? Or is it just an axiomatic truth that self evidently is and has no cause?

  11. Sdferr wrote:

    Perhaps our efforts at persuasion should begin, in other words, at the beginning, even possibly without explicitly laying out where the conversation will end up, but building slowly from one fundamental agreement to the next, when finally we arrive at the thought of the founders and framers? This, rather than attempting to persuade by means of working our way backwards from the completed complex political assumptions of the founders and framers regarding political right?

    Do we have the time to accomplish this?

    Or can we create an accelerated version of this process?

  12. So, it’s ok if the government establishes the Church of Global Warming while ordaining scientific ministers and declaring carbon dioxide emission a sin, but the Club for Growth can’t fund a study and produce a report that debunks this “settled science”.

    Got it.

  13. Or can we create an accelerated version of this process?

    Do you have something in mind along those lines, Bob?

    Often I think that Nature will be back sooner rather than later to teach us these lessons again and it will ground us once more toot sweet (there’s my French for you). Which, that’s gonna be rough. Edifying but rough.

    I’d very much like a version where we can learn these lessons once more without the pain normally associated. Maybe that’s a pipe dream.

  14. >I’d very much like a version where we can learn these lessons once more without the pain normally associated. Maybe that’s a pipe dream.<

    defunding the fed gov't ain't a pipe dream. start with epa and work backward.

  15. why let the proggtarded define the fed gov’t?

  16. What accounts for the wisdom (or better yet, practical knowledge) to defund the federal government in a large enough percentage of the population to attain this goal, nr?

    We agree on the goal. We do. It’s a worthwhile goal. I’d even define it as a “good” goal.

    How to make worthwhile and good goals generally known as such though? That’s the problem.

    Many members of the populace have never defeated a bully by punching them. Never fed themselves by killing an animal. Never built a thing by working hard. They don’t have practical knowledge. Nature means nothing to them.

  17. I don’t actually know the answer to the question about an accelerated course of persuasive conversation, Bob. Considering that the time from the discovery of nature down to today is some 27 to 26 centuries, a few hours, or even days of serious, careful conversation seems reasonably well accelerated already. But even then of course we may not succeed at our effort, either with an interlocutor or ourselves, to the extent that the conversation is an effort of learning on our own part as well.

  18. Imagine hearing of a Hobbesian world where man has a natural right to kill another man in self-defense if you’ve never even been elbowed in a game of basketball.

    It doesn’t even make sense to them.

  19. the fed gov’t cares more than your state about “pollution”? subsidiarity is the answer to your question. they know about the individual response.

  20. >It doesn’t even make sense to them.<

    that is why you shoot the taliban traitor. to show the peeps what is acceptable. the brain dead will acknowledge THAT

  21. Or, in the alternative Bob, ask our friend newrouter how much time the business might take, on account he’s had the experience of exposure to something like that conversation for a few years right here, and so could have some insight into the possibilities.

  22. at this point, throw the baracky under the bus or the republic?

  23. > Are you willing to spend time studying the issues, making yourself aware, and then conveying that information to family and friends? Will you resist the temptation to get a government handout for your community? Realize that the doctor’s fight against socialized medicine is your fight. We can’t socialize the doctors without socializing the patients. Recognize that government invasion of public power is eventually an assault upon your own business. If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he’ll eat you last.

    If all of this seems like a great deal of trouble, think what’s at stake. We are faced with the most evil enemy mankind has known in his long climb from the swamp to the stars. There can be no security anywhere in the free world if there is no fiscal and economic stability within the United States. Those who ask us to trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state are architects of a policy of accommodation.

    They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong. There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right. Winston Churchill said that “the destiny of man is not measured by material computation. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we are spirits-not animals.” And he said, “There is something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty.”

    You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.

    <
    link

  24. Thank you all for your responses.

    I’m sated on the rather tasty food for thought.

  25. I just watched the two videos. Cruz is a powerful speaker.

    Of course, that means he must be stopped, by an means necessary.

  26. Cruz is committed to put the K-bosh on the commies, cuckoos and criminals currently corrupting our capital!

    That is all.

  27. cruz gotta goldman wife like cantor. the stupid club.

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