Thursday, January 18, 2007

Will the 500th visitor here please leave?

A friend sent me this article from World Net Daily. At first I was skeptical because I think Joseph Farah tends to hype things. But I looked up the bill and he's right. Congress is proposing to further regulate what we once called "freedom of expression".

The proposed legislation is included in Senate Bill 1. I looked it up on the Thomas website this morning. It seeks to add some forms of "grassroots lobbying" to the list of entities required to register as lobbyists. It is a convoluted bill, but in essence it states that an activity called "paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying" will be a regulated activity requiring registration (a license from the government to practice free speech).

This "paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying" includes by negative implication any attempt to influence the general public if directed at more than 500 people. The "paid" element seems to include any payment whatsoever. If a group of people pooled their resources to print a brochure, or if a blogger received payment, perhaps just to cover expenses, it probably would apply.(Note, there is a $25,000 per quarter provision for "Grassroots Lobbying Firms", but this seems to be independent of "paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying").

There are a flurry of amendments that have been proposed seeking to remove this language, but the legislation as drafted now is appalling. Political free speech used to be the most protected right under the Constitution. Now it looks to be on its way to becoming the most regulated.

Here is the quoted segment of section 220 of S1. You can look it up for yourselves at (type in S.1 in the bill number search, there is no permanent link).

(A) IN GENERAL- The term `paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying' means
any paid attempt in support of lobbying contacts on behalf of a client to
influence the general public or segments thereof to contact one or more covered
legislative or executive branch officials (or Congress as a whole) to urge such
officials (or Congress) to take specific action with respect to a matter
described in section 3(8)(A), except that such term does not include any
communications by an entity directed to its members, employees, officers, or
THEREOF- The term `paid attempt to influence the general public or segments
thereof' does not include an attempt to influence directed at less than 500
members of the general public.

So, if this bill passes, please do not send me any money. And if you are the 500th person to see this post, please leave immediately. Or at least don't tell anybody.

I have no intention of registering.


Lauren said...

I think I'm exempt if I'm the 500th person because I'd be getting paid too in our community property jurisdiction. So you probably can't even ad Ad Sense to your blog and get paid by advertisers because you're influencing somebody else--but that isn't clear as yet. They just haven't thought about it.

I think free speech only applies to the liberal establishment press. That infocracy is out to get bloggers, who report things quicker and more plentifully, and draw more public involvement. The LEP is imitating blogs now by having those stupid public feedback forums. Honestly, some people's speech should be regulated, but I realize that isn't the point.

I am going to provide public information about Ron Paul favoring his candidacy, only I am going to pretend he is my cat so I don't have to register as a lobbyist, just in case people start giving me money for Ron Paul thinking he is my cat. That guy who started a website and claimed he was going to eat his rabbit if people didn't send him money--he'd have to register as a lobbyist for rabbit retention.

The really spooky thing is that people making up these laws never think anything is funny.

Victorbravo said...

That's a great idea. Coolidge for president! Wait, didn't that already happen?

I think this disclaimer at the end of every post might do the trick:

NOTICE AND DISCLAIMER. The above post is solely directed at my 499 dearest friends. You know who you are. If you are not one of the select number, please do not act upon the information stated herein. It was not directed at you. You may act independently, but by reading this disclaimer you hearby agree that you were not influenced by this communication, in any fashion, to contact any member of Congress, any member of the Executive branch of the U.S. government, or any other government official, and that you were not influenced to be a grassroot, tuber, or rhizome. Act at your own risk. For internal use only. Do not apply externally.

Ruben said...

Vic, I just wanted to assure you that I was not influenced by this post. I wanted it to be a matter of public record that you exercising free speech made no impact upon me.

Victorbravo said...

Thanks Ruben.

It is a comfort to know I have no influence.

Victorbravo said...


I saw that the amendment to strike section 220 passed by 55-43, thanks to a few sensible Democrats. So the immediate problem is put behind us. Still, that is too close of a call.

I'm sad to report that our two Senators voted in favor of clamping down on free speech.

Mike Pitzler said...

I thought it was always illegal to scream "First Amendment" in a crowded blog.

Ryan S. said...

I used consider WND a more respectable media outlet.

Hype Things might be an understatement, though it has some good op-eds.