Friday, November 07, 2008

Political ads and freedom of speech

I'm a firm believer in freedom of speech and the right to run political ads. With that being said, from time to time things may show up that I or the visitors may object to or find offensive.

This is the United States of America. People for or against something have a right to state their case. If we take away that right, then our democracy has failed.

When Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton and other patriots sat down to write out the U.S. Constitution and the Bil of Rights, they knew that several rights had to be guaranteed to the people. Among them was the first amendment.

The First Amendment is allowing people the right to freely express themselves and the right of the media to question the government. "Congress shall pass no law..." exists because in Europe, the news was filtered. Challenging one's government was forbidden. It is our duty as citizens and our duty for those of us in media to question our government, to write about our government and more importantly, speak out on issues that we find objectionable.

That being said, there times during the election that banners popped up on the various websites that managed that some people may have found offensive. Sometimes, the ads spoke out against California's Prop 8 and sometimes they spoke for Prop 8 (to ban gay marriage).

An entity providing ad space can pick an choose which ads they want to run. They cannot, however run ads for one party, but not another. An entity (such as Google Ads) cannot knowing run an ad that they know to be false. They also cannot dictate what the content of the ad.

If you cannot see through this, then you do not understand U.S. election law. But more importantly, you do not understand the basic principles of the First Amendment. If you disagree with a political ad there are two choices. One, simply ignore the ad (if you stare at an ad you have a problem) or two, simply don't go back.

In the United States, it's our freedom of speech that ensures our democracy continues to thrive. In the United States, freedom of speech is liberty.

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