Former FEC chairwoman, Ann M. Ravel has renewed her call for regulation of political speech on the internet. Though the mainstream media has been shown to be the largest purveyor of fake news around, Ravel and other progressives have set their sights on the source of news they cannot control.
While chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission, Ravel called for right-leaning websites like Breitbart News and the Drudge Report to be regulated. She claimed that such sites were dangerous and it was within the FEC’s purview to oversee all internet activities. That included the placement of political viewpoints on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Ravel reflects how the left, once the self-proclaimed champion of free speech, now find it dangerous and in need of regulation. For them, the first amendment and the rest of the Constitution is only useful when it furthers their agenda and is otherwise irrelevant.
The founders of this country knew well how those in power seek to squelch the thoughts and words of those who are not in power. That resulted in the First Amendment:
“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.”
It should be chilling to those who believe in democracy that the FEC has been dominated by this kind of thought both before and after her tenure. Lois Lerner used her position both with the FEC and the IRS to wage war on the Tea Party movement and other conservative groups.
Either progressives like Ravel don’t understand why our Founders wrote words like the First Amendment or hate it.
Much of the motivation for the First Amendment was the protection of political speech. Fake news and smear campaigns are not new but first Americans understood free speech, even when false, is much better than state controlled speech.
They did not write the Constitution to outline a structure for government but as a check against human nature. They understood the need for freedom in the marketplace of idea is the new Republic and wanted the government to stay out of it.
Ravel spoke recently at an event at UC Berkeley School of Law called “Future of Democracy” where she once again called for the regulation of political speech and ads on social media.
“We know,” said Ravel, “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. And so that the disclosure that we expect as to who is behind campaigns is not going to exist soon. Some people are even predicting that by 2020 most of the advertising is going to move from television to the internet, and I think this is a serious issue that requires a lot of discussion.”
Following the narrative that Russians stole the presidential election, she claimed that the use of Facebook and other social media platforms by political campaigns is a problem.
“I’ve talked to a lot of campaign consultants,” she said, “and they pay some groups in Holland or in Russia who figure out who the target audience might be and then they go through circuitous mechanisms to put ads or fake news or whatever it is on Facebook.”
This attack on sites like the Drudge Report is nothing new. Democrats tried but failed to expand the FEC’s regulatory powers to cover social media posts and other forms of political speech on the Internet in 2015. That move was prompted by liberal watchdogs who complained to the FEC that presidential candidates like Jeb Bush and Martin O’Malley were skirting finance laws to campaign by using social media.
Conservatives stalled the vote, saying that the additional powers would chill political speech on the Internet and rightly so.
The Founders knew free and anonymous speech was essential in a free Republic not governed by a king but by the people. Liberty was more important than anything.
Eliminating unfettered free speech is essential to statist agenda. The National Socialist German Workers Party, the Communists, Stalinists all destroyed freedom by first restricting free speech.
Freedom of speech is the foundation of a free society and the First Amendment is first for a reason. It must be our most precious and most protected freedom.
~ Liberty Planet