Friday, July 08, 2005

This is just Wrong!

I enjoy listening to talk radio during my drives to and from work. I can listen in the morning to one of several stations, one of which is my favorite KVI, a local Fox News affiliate.

In the mornings I listen to Kirby Wilbur, and sometimes I drive home in time to catch the last bit of John Carlson - both intelligent right-thinking hosts who cover the gamut from local politics to international issues.

Recently the state legislature passed a law which will raise the gas taxes we pay by 9.5-cents per gallon, starting immediately this June with a 3-cent per gallon raise. Very quickly an initiative (I-912) was registered, and petitions have been out for signature for the last month. Much discussion was held during Kirby and John's shows regarding the tax, the state's woeful inability to keep spending down and lack of accountability, and the current petition drive status.

Now, a judge has decided that the amount of time spent by the hosts correlates to advertising for the campaign!!

In support of free speech, and KVI
Friday, July 8, 2005

Judge Christopher Wickham of Thurston County Superior Court trod dangerously on the First Amendment last week.

He ruled that Kirby Wilbur and John Carlson of KVI Radio had pushed the gas-tax rollback initiative so zealously on the air that it amounted to advertising. Therefore, he ruled, the campaign had to report their support as a political contribution.

The campaign duly estimated the value of Wilbur's and Carlson's support at $10,000 each for the month of May, and reported it to the government.

See what is being done here. The judge is following a simple syllogism:

All political contributions may be regulated;

Speech is a political contribution;

Therefore, speech may be regulated.

Whoa there, Judge Wickham, there's this little thing called the First Amendment. Perhaps you've heard of it?

I understand that there is a concern in keeping political discourse open to both sides of an issue when there are elections pending, and both candidates are provided with equal access to the airwaves. But what-in-hell does that have to do with public discussion on an initiative?

By the way - both John and Kirby have also donated their personal time to the petition drives, and both also donated money. There is no question that they supported the initiative, as do at least 230,000 other people who signed the petitions. But they actively tried to bring onto their shows opponents of the initiative for discussion, there was no forcing of an issue down the throats of the public.

First McCain-Feingold and the threat of applying it to bloggers, now this. Our rights are being chipped away bit by bit. I hope and pray that this is fought in the appellate courts - it needs to stop NOW!


Heartless Libertarian also has some words on this.