Saturday, January 3, 2015

An Open Letter to the Federal Election Commission

Dear FEC Commissioners,

The right of free speech, especially that of free "political" speech is enshrined in the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States. I am, therefore concerned that the FEC is considering ways to further increase the FEC's power to regulate political speech online. The federal government has already over-stepped its bounds in regulating the messages I am able to see and hear on television, radio and other public forums. The FEC already regulates the paid placement of political advertisements on the Internet. We do NOT need to give the government power to further regulate free speech by individual Americans.

Existing regulations already suppress a robust debate over our nation's futureis. Increasing government meddling with the sacred American right to voice his opinions in the public square is a very very BAD idea, I don't care whether you are on the political left or the hard right. Regulating what can appear on blogs, social media, video platforms and other places online is a clear violation of the First Amendment. The Internet IS the modern public square. We have the right to assemble there, to speak there and to worship there if we wish and no politician has the right to take those sacred rights from us in order to protect his or her cushy government job.

We know who to turn our backs on without our nannies in government having to tell us what is worthy to see and hear and what is not. Handing to a government agency the power to control what we see and hear opens the door to abuse by those who disagree with what is being said by American citizens. The problem with bureaucracies with too much power is that eventually they seek, not to protect the rights of the citizens they serve, but instead to protect their own jobs in government "service". If you wish to "serve" do so by protecting the citizens you represent. We can decide for ourselves what we believe. We are not a stupid people. We realize that there are liars in the public square. You do not need to point them out to us. There are frauds and phonies out there raising their voices and demanding our attention. We know that already. Leave us be to deal with them ourselves.

As a citizen I should be able to say what I wish in the open forum of the Internet so long as I do not harm others or suppress the speech of others. Remember this. Just because a majority of opinions being expressed in the public square disagree with your own, does not mean that those opionions are wrong or that they need to be suppressed. Sometimes, you simply lose the debate. Sometimes even, if the citizens dislike what you're doing, you may lose your job if you do not act in good faith to represent those citizens. That is one of the great checks and balances we citizens reserve as a way to limit the power of government to oppress us.

Placing increased power to regulate speech on the Internet in the hands of any government agency is not only dangerous, but also hands the Commission the kind of power to suppress that almost inevitably expands to suppress economic activity and screw up whole economies. The Internet is the last bastion of free market capitalism we have left. We tamper with that at our peril. Like the market for goods and services, the market of ideas and beliefs has made America strong for almost a quarter of a millenium. We do well to continue to protect what has made us strong.

The Internet is the the most democratized marketplace we have in this rapidly changing world. It is given to you to protect that marketplace for the free exchange of goods, services and ideas. You are not called to shape that marketplace to your own ideas of what is fair and just and right, only to keep it open and free. Let us decide what we want to listen to and who we want to ignore. We are grownups. Please do not arrogantly treat us like dim-witted children. In doing so you insult all Americans.

Thank you for your consideration.


Tom King

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