No Free Speech For House Members

Posted: 07/10/2008 by that's Elbert in Internet, liberal, Politics, socialism, socialist, Technology, US House, web sites, YouTube
Tags: , ,

I posted a link in a previous post regarding some rules House Democrats wish to pass restricting free speech of House members on the Internet. As reported on The Next Right:

In typical fashion, House Democrats are trying to pass rules that stifle debate and require regulation. Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) sent a letter to the Chairman of the Committee on House Administraion Kevin Brady. The letter is a response to a debate about whether the House should allow members to use YouTube, first raised by Rep. Kevin McCarthy back in April. From that story:

The reason is simple enough: The Franking Commission frowns on official links to campaign-related Web sites, political parties, advocacy groups and “any site the primary purpose of which is the conduct of commerce.”

Well, Capuano’s proposal is a disaster. It creates a list of sites, maintained by the Committee on House Administration that members are allowed to post material.

House Republican Leader John Boehner released a statement on July 8, Which I’ve reprinted below:

I’m writing to alert you to an attack on free speech that is making its way through Congress. This attack, which should concern activists of all political affiliations across the ideological spectrum, comes in the form of a new congressional rule that would prohibit Americans from viewing content published by Members of Congress on websites that are not “approved” by the Committee on House Administration, the panel that creates rules governing the internal operations of the U.S. House.

Millions of Americans today utilize free, unregulated and uncensored websites like YouTube on a daily basis to not only obtain information from their elected leaders about what’s going on in their government, but to also give feedback and easily share that information with others. The advent of new media technology has empowered American citizens with real-time information about the policy debates and actions being undertaken by Congress. This has increasingly forced Congress to become more transparent and made it easier for American citizens to hold their elected leaders accountable.

The Committee on House Administration is considering a new rule that could bring this trend to a screeching halt. The Committee is considering the adoption of new rules that would require outside websites such as YouTube to comply with House regulations before Members of Congress could post videos on them. Under the proposal, the House Administration Committee would develop a list of “approved” websites, and Members of Congress could post content only such websites. The rule has been proposed by the Democratic chairman of the Commission on Mailing Standards, Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA), and is being considered for adoption by the Committee on House Administration, chaired by Rep. Robert Brady (D-PA). A copy of Rep. Capuano’s letter is available at http://gopleader.gov/UploadedFiles/Capuano_letter.PDF.

If the proposed rule is adopted, the free flow of information over the Internet between Americans and their representatives will be significantly curtailed. Americans who currently use free websites like YouTube to obtain uncensored daily information about congressional policy debates will instead be forced to go to websites “approved” by the House Administration Committee in order to continue getting such information. This would amount to new government censorship of the Internet, by a panel of federal officials that is neither neutral nor independent.

House Republicans, led by Reps. Vern Ehlers (R-MI), Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Tom Price (R-GA), have expressed their opposition to this attack on Internet freedom and proposed an alternative solution that would allow Members of Congress to continue posting content at sites of their choosing.

In response to this situation The Sunlight Foundation has started a campaign on Twitter called Let Our Congress Tweet. If you’ve got a Twitter account, stop by and take a look. A post on their blog says it simply:

If Members can use whatever brand of inkpen, or any brand of paper, or buy whatever shoes they want, they should be given radically expanded freedom to use the Internet, and make the same empowering discoveries that their constituents are. Even if that same pen was once used to scribble a ransom note.

It appears that House Democrats wish to control the debate and stifle political speech. Honestly, between their support of the Fairness Doctrine and this mess, these guys have more in common with Castro or Ahmadinejad or Stalin than our founding fathers.

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