Although I find the news depressing most of the time and take days off when I don't watch national political news, once in a while my Yahoo page will have a headline I can't ignore.
The Supreme Court has come up with a ruling that says the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.
Like most legalese this can be taken several different ways. One side of the Supreme Court insists that to vote against the ruling would curtail First Amendment rights to citizens.
What citizens? What people? Oh, yes, I remember, corporations are individuals.
Justice Stevens said the majority had committed a grave error in treating corporate speech the same as that of human beings.
"The difference between selling a vote and selling access is a matter of degree, not kind," Justice Stevens wrote. "And selling access is not qualitatively different from giving special preference to those who spent money on one's behalf."
Justice Kennedy's majority opinion said that there was no principled way to distinguish between media corporations and other corporations and that the dissent's theory would allow Congress to suppress political speech in newspapers, on television news programs, in books and on blogs.
"When government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought," Justice Kennedy wrote. "This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves."
Above quotes from Adam Liptak's January 21, 2010 article in the Washington Post.
What does all this jibber-jabbery mean? First and foremost, someone messed up big time when they declared corporations to be individuals with all the rights and liberties of a human being.
Second, allowing news media to report as news whatever opinion they choose with no obligation to tell both sides of the story or to be non-biased is not a good thing.
There are headlines in special interest magazines, newspapers or blogs, that make it obvious that they offer opinion as well as (or in place of) fact.
The real question here is which corporations can throw money at candidates in the traditional "good ole boy -- you wash my hand I'll wash yours" system of politics so obvious in Washington.
Let us try to find out just what a corporation is -- and who runs it. Good luck with that! Although deemed a "human" just try to find one person to declare themselves to be the corporation.
Even those high-paid CEOs are not really the corporation. They are under the ruling of a board of directors. Who are all of those board members? Most can be found, some are other corporations or other businesses. It can get pretty convoluted. The board members answer to the share holders; in theory at least.
Since finding all the information on large corporations is so difficult, how can we be certain who they represent and whose interests they are throwing money around to protect or advance?
OK, here's what I think both sides of the ruling are saying.
Based on the ruling years ago from the Supreme Court, a corporation has the same rights and must be treated like any "individual"and as such corporations have First Amendment Rights to state their opinions.
Because large, wealthy, powerful (internationally connected) corporations --made up of sometimes unknown, uncounted individuals -- can also be media corporations (the news television or radio networks, newspapers, magazines, etc.); any corporation should not be censored and should be allowed to say whatever it wants whether it is truth or not, to try to sway voters in any campaign of any person seeking election.
I suppose this isn't news as far as what goes on behind closed doors during campaigns. Throwing in random use of outright propaganda to sway elections might be something new to most voters in America -- maybe not. It's hard to tell propaganda from real news sometimes and apparently it will soon get a lot harder -- at least during elections.
Allowing corporations with unknown political agendas, possibly funded by non-Americans to buy political power in the United States government might be something we should all ponder a while.
Until the next time friends remember that this column is an opinion. Feel free to do your own research.