Sunday, September 28, 2008

Are the Candidates Coke vs. Pepsi on the First Amendment?

I vowed not to vote for McCain because of his atrocious record on first-amendment issues, but it's looking like Obama may not be much better:
Instead of, say, crafting a response ad [to the NRA], Obama's team had general counsel Robert F. Bauer send stations a letter [pdf] arguing that "Failure to prevent the airing of 'false and misleading advertising may be 'probative of an underlying abdication of licensee responsibility.'" And, more directly: "For the sake of both FCC licensing requirements and the public interest, your station should refuse to continue to air this advertisement."
As Radley Balko notes:

You know, if you’re going to run as the antidote to the current administration’s abuse of power, silencing of political foes, and suppression of dissent, sending chill letters threatening to shut down TV stations that run ads critical of you isn’t exactly the way to show off your bona-fides.

McCain’s hardly a paragon of free speech. But Obama’s choice to threaten government censorship as his first resort–while still a candidate–doesn’t bode well for how he may treat his critics as president.

It's a shame that the two-party system doesn't allow us to branch out meaningfully to other parties or candidates. But I'll still probably end up voting for Barr, because I can't stomach the policies of either of the two "real" candidates.

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