Freedom of Speech is not just Freedom of the Press

Werner Hetzner, Communication Director of the Capital District Libertarian Party in a letter published in the Times Union on February 4th ask “Did the framers really intend freedom of speech only for the press,” and continues to inquire “Why should the press be more equal and lobbyists less free?”

The letter was in response to a TU Editorial about the Joint Commission of Ethics in which the Times Union took exception to an extension of their mandate into possible oversight of the press.

In his letter, Mr Hetzner pointed out that the Times Union often fails to “object to limits on speech for groups you don’t agree with or find offensive, including “lobbyists, …political consultants, communications specialists or public relations executives” and concludes with the statement “surely newspapers regularly try to influence elections and legislation just like lobbyists.

Picking up on a discussion we had at a recent CDLP monthly meeting at Brown’s Brewing Company, he went on the paraphrase Martin Niemoller “First they came for the Lobbyists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Lobbyist… Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me,” He warned that free speech could be threatened and regulated away. “The ‘Commerce Clause’ has long been a weapon to ‘come for’ many politically inconvenient people, groups and institutions in the past,” and suggested that without vigilance in the defense of all speech, the press “may well be next.”

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