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Your Views: Money in politics corrupts idea of free speech for all
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Regarding John Stossel’s June 25 article on free speech, I suggest the First Amendment was intended to protect individuals from arrest or corporal punishment as reprisal for infringing speech.

Corporations cannot be arrested or jailed, nor can they be placed in stocks or lashed. They don’t feel pain and they do not bleed. Corporations don’t need or deserve the protections of this law.

Officers and shareholders of a corporation enjoy protection of their speech as individuals. Here they are equal to all other men. Still, Stossel insists corporations are persons and their rights must be protected.

Meanwhile, conservatives have done their best to eliminate unions because they do not wish workers to have powers of speech similar to those Stossel supports for corporations. Conservatives have attempted to prevent unions from collecting and bundling money from members used in the same manner as corporate cash. If Stossel believes free speech is so important then why do conservatives strive to limit workers’ freedom of speech?

Stossel says in politics, money is speech. If this so, it’s only because the establishment wants it that way. Elimination of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 started a trend that has produced a condition of civil discourse where money overwhelms and effectively silences the voices of the weak, minorities and the powerless.

The Fairness Doctrine ensured regular discussion in local media of issues of public importance in a manner that was honest, equitable and balanced. This produced an informed public and an electorate appropriately equipped to vote. That’s gone now and the vacuum has been filled with paid advertisements and articles promoting the perspective of large corporations and the wealthy.

Who can afford to run a media advertisement in dozens of states to serve a political interest? Certainly not the poor. In fact, most Americans could not do it. This inequality could be resolved or mitigated by reinstituting the Fairness Doctrine.

Federal regulations could require broadcast and newsprint media to furnish free or subsidized time and space for opposing views on political issues. Have conservatives supported this concept? No, they are adamantly against it.

The conservative agenda has given corporations and wealthy individuals an immense propaganda megaphone to deliver their message that cannot be matched by the common man. In this respect, the right to speak and be heard is not equal.

I suggest America was a better place when the Fairness Doctrine effectively protected society from the steady drumbeat and corrupting influence of unlimited, one-sided political propaganda.

I’m not against money in politics, just money used in a manner that corrupts or undermines the foundations of our democracy. When an unlimited amount of money is spent in a way that results in people losing faith in the system, or leaves them feeling that the system is rigged, we all lose.

If money and corporate power trump the government’s interest in maintaining a civil society where citizens are equal and the electorate uniformly believes in the fairness of the system, then we don’t have a democracy; we have something approaching fascism.

Bruce Vandiver