By William B. Turner
The problem with the notorious Citizens United decision is not that it protects free speech. The problem with it is that it gives free speech rights to corporations, which should have no rights at all under the US Constitution. The only entities that should be able to claim rights in our system should be natural born humans. When humans assemble and create fictitious beings for business purposes, which is what corporations are, we have a problem.
The First Amendment to the Constitution reflects the belief that the truth will win by itself in any competition of ideas. That victory may come more slowly than we would like sometimes, but it pretty much works out that way. So, the truth that slavery was a hideous injustice that we should not allow in the United States finally triumphed. It took seventy-six years and a war that is still the deadliest for US citizens we have ever engaged in to get there, but we got there.
The Supreme Court has been very consistent about defending this principle with its decisions, and we mostly like that. They did go overboard in expanding First Amendment rights to include corporations, but that was a sin of excess.
The First Amendment and the underlying belief about how to get to the truth are core principles of liberalism. It is very rare for liberals to find examples of speech we might want to censor. Leave it to Steve Bannon to come up with an exception.
Everyone who cares about truth, justice, and the American way should know that a PAC associated with Bannon is now running ads attacking Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating the so-called president.
This is extra sleazy, even by Bannon’s very low standards. We’re accustomed to having PACs participate in political campaigns. They’re inherently sleazy, but they’re part of the reality of our politics.
Mueller’s investigation is political in the sense that he is investigating a sitting president and that president’s election campaign, but Mueller’s work is not political, it’s legal. He is looking for violations of criminal law. Anyone who values the rule of law, as “conservatives” supposedly do, should deplore political attacks on a special prosecutor. The whole point of having a special prosecutor is to insulate his work from ordinary political influence.
Mueller has been a highly dedicated civil servant for decades, but he has never run for office. Even though they work for the same entity, we recognize a sharp distinction between political and nonpolitical employees of the federal government. Politics is supposed to be how we keep control over the federal government. We choose who makes the ultimate decisions. But once they have decided, we want nonpolitical people to implement the decisions because politics is too changeable and invites too much corruption to allow for effective administration.
Mueller should be immune to politics.
The other problem with political attacks on Mueller is that the ethics of his position prevent him from responding. He has to keep his investigation strictly confidential until he is ready to indict someone, and he has done an amazingly good job of exactly that.
The great irony here is that Mueller doing his job very well leaves him unable to defend himself.
Everyone who cares about getting the truth about the so-called president and his various illegal acts last year during the campaign needs to be aware of political attacks on Mueller and refuse to credit them. So far, there is no good reason to doubt Mueller’s professionalism, competence, and integrity.
By attacking him, Bannon is cheating. Unfortunately, we cannot prohibit Bannon’s attacks. We can only refuse to listen and condemn them loudly.
Shut up, Steve.