NEW CASTLE —
“It’s not my fault”
That was the subliminal message delivered by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito last week when he offered comments on the infamous Citizens United decision.
In that 2010 case, a 5-4 majority on the high court said government could not restrict the rights of private organizations to engage in political speech. As Alito noted in his address at a Federalist Society gathering, the ruling, which Alito supported, basically blocked the ability of government to dictate terms of the First Amendment.
All well and good. But in a world full of unintended consequences (but in this instance, not surprising consequences), Citizens United contributed greatly to the tone of this year’s election, an ugly deceitful contest where roughly $2.5 billion was spent propagandizing the American people.
And it was all in the name of free speech.
It’s worth noting that dreary political ads did not originate with Citizens United. Instead, this ruling merely upped the ante and magnified the misery in the nation’s modern campaign system.
Now that the election is over, I challenge anyone to show me how all of this money — and the “speech” it created — served the greater good. Did it educate the voting populace? Did it enlighten the citizenry? Did it shine much-needed light on the dark recesses of the nation’s political structure?
I don’t think so. Instead, I think it did little more than apply generous amounts of grease to the nation’s cultural skids, as both parties competed in a rhetorical race to the bottom.
Yet as a supporter of free speech, I don’t necessarily blame Alito and his brethren who backed Citizens United — at least not completely. The court, after all, is supposed to rule on what is and is not constitutional. It’s up to the rest of us to fashion a functional society based on the results.
Ideally, the purpose of free speech is to allow people with good ideas to share them with others. It’s this marketplace of ideas that allows a healthy society to advance, grow and readjust itself when things go off track.
Another function of free speech is to give buffoons the opportunity to tell us who they really are. There are plenty of examples of this in our society. That includes many of the political ads that ran in recent months.
But a key factor in making proper use of free speech is to challenge nonsense. It’s necessary to expose foolishness and discredit it. Otherwise, it earns a legitimacy it does not deserve.
This is where the American people need to step up when confronted with silly and offensive political campaigns. Tolerating them or ignoring them isn’t enough. If you are disgusted with the current state of campaigning in this country, fight back.
How? By letting candidates and their staffers know what you think. By condemning the vulgarities of the political system at every turn, regardless of the party encouraging them.
Remember, this is your political system that’s being brutalized. Isn’t it time you took it back?
NEW CASTLE —
“It’s not my fault”
Heartbleed raises the stakes on Internet security
My column last week dealt with Internet and related scams, along with steps people can take to protect themselves. Today’s column could be termed Part 2 of that topic, albeit from a different angle.
John K. Manna: Proposals in Harrisburg fail to reflect reality
My, how time flies. The city of New Castle is in already in its eighth year as a distressed municipality under state Act 47.
Lugene Hudson: Celebrate Easter like Helen Martin
What’s cookin? That’s one of our favorite questions at Culinary Conversation. We love when readers share some of their favorites. This week, Helen Martin of New Castle stepped up to the plate to answer that question regarding Easter dinners.
Mitchel Olszak: There’s no reason to be surprised by modern scams
P.T. Barnum once observed that there is a sucker born every minute. Judging from the people who complain about being caught up in computer scams, I think he was too conservative in his count.
John K. Manna: Decyphering results of state Democratic survey
It’s no surprise that Tom Wolf is far ahead of other Democratic candidates for governor, according to a recent poll. After all, Wolf has been flooding the airwaves with ads, effective ones at that, as evidenced by this Franklin & Marshall College Poll.
Culinary Conversation: From main dish to dessert, some recipes for your holiday table
We all have our favorite memories of Easter dinners. While bunnies, chocolate eggs and peeps show up in the kids’ Easter baskets, the dinner table gets to showcase all of those wonderful spring delights that have finally come out of winter hiding including asparagus, sugar snap peas, broccoli and carrots.
Mitchel Olszak: Doubting the basic intelligence of ravens nevermore
Every now and then, I find myself watching the ravens around my house. That’s because their behavior is fascinating, and at times more than a little disturbing.
Culinary Conversation: Go on; give someone the raspberries
It was my first bowl of red raspberries for the season. And I was jubilant. Plump, juicy and delicious to the last bite, those little nuggets of sweetness satisfied. After this stretched-out, dismal winter, I was ready for a little taste of spring.
Culinary Conversation: Greens, cakes among reader’s recipes
Weeks always start out better when something pleasant arrives in the mail. No, I didn’t win the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.
Culinary Conversation: Add Girl Scout cookies to your recipes
Usually, this time of year, I have a secret stash in my freezer. It doesn’t usually remain a secret for long, though. But when the Girl Scout cookie shipments started arriving, this house had no deliveries.
- More Columns Headlines
- Heartbleed raises the stakes on Internet security