Sunday, January 27, 2019

Politicians Can't Silence a Voice They Can't See, So Democrats Want to Ban Anonymous Speech

Anonymous speech is deeply ingrained in our American democratic tradition. American democracy not only permits anonymous speech, it depends upon it.

Anonymous speech was critical to the establishment of our democracy. Thomas Paine wrote “Common Sense” anonymously; the pamphlet reached and influenced a greater percentage of the population than the TV ads we see in our election seasons today — and certainly with greater impact.

Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison anonymously wrote the Federalist Papers, the influential articles advocating adoption of the Constitution.

Anonymous speech also has been important in ensuring that the benefits of our democracy extend to all Americans. In the 20th century, civil-rights opponents often sought to deprive civil-rights advocates of anonymity in order to bring commercial and social pressure upon them.

Recognizing that the real purpose of identifying those who associate with political advocacy groups is often to chill their free expression, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that anonymous speech is essential to our freedom. In NAACP vs. Patterson, the court wrote: “It is hardly a novel perception that compelled disclosure of affiliation with groups engaged in advocacy may constitute … a restraint on freedom of association. … Inviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs.”

We do, of course, require disclosure of direct donations to candidates. But courts have held that a core reason those laws pass constitutional muster is that a contributor is free to contribute to advocacy groups not controlled by the candidate. Compelled-identification laws would, therefore, deprive current campaign-finance laws of an important part of their constitutional foundation.

History teaches that broadly accepted ideas that are held dear, and even taken for granted, in one generation often could only be espoused under the protection of anonymity in a previous generation.

Let’s protect anonymous speech, not weaken a fundamental freedom on which our democracy has been based.



Anonymous said...

Liberals are evil and they want to be in charge.

Bird of Paradise said...

The Nazis the Communists the KKK BLM,NBPP'ANTIFA amd the DNC all Liberals because Liberals want conservatives silenced to

ScienceABC123 said...

Protecting anonymous speech would seem to be fairly easy. Just require the proponents of banning anonymous speech to recognize their efforts would make it illegal for media to use/cite anonymous sources in news reporting.