Special Kinds of Speech

More

I have to admit, I'm kind of shocked by the number of people willing to advance the theory that political speech done by trade associations is not real political speech, or that it's okay to use the threat of regulatory punishment to shut down political speech just as long as you don't actually seize the printing presses.

This simply doesn't fit within either of the main free speech exemptions we've carved out for corporations:  regulating fraud in commercial speech, and regulating cash in politics.  This is pretty clear-cut political speech, and there is not question of undue financial influence in politics, or the use of the regulated airwaves.  Nonetheless, the Democrats are making a very clear-cut effort to shut this political speech down using the power of the state.  I thought that liberals and libertarians were pretty much on the same page that sanctioning people for their political speech was not okay, but apparently not--or at least, not in all cases.

Is it legitimate for the administration to ask for support in exchange for a good deal on legislation?  It's not something I'm happy about, but not something that tickles my First Amendment alarm either. 

But it is not okay for the administration to say, "If you publish a report saying that our plan will make premiums go up, we will use our regulatory authority in an entirely different matter to punish you."  I don't see how that's much different from saying, "If journalists criticize the administration, we will use our commercial speech authority to undercut your ad revenue".  Enterprises, even commercial enterprises, have a right to put forth political arguments.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In