Freedom of speech is under attack courtesy of Texas House Speaker Joe Straus. He is effectively trying to stuff as much speech as possible into the definition of “political advertising,” hassling average Texans out of the conversation. In his interim charge to the General Investigating & Ethics Committee Straus commanded the following:
Review the definition of “political advertising” and determine whether the definition should be expanded to include content contained in blogs and other types of Internet communications.(For the complete list of interim charges click here.)
By changing the definition of “political advertising” in this way, Straus would effectively quash the ability of ordinary citizens to discuss politics online. All of a sudden your tweet about supporting a candidate would be a political advertisement instead of free speech and you’d have to file an ethics report with the State of Texas. There would have to be monetary values tied to blog posts, tweets, facebook statuses, etc. and the burden of that reporting would be on you!
When I first read the charge I had to do a double-take. The very idea of making citizens file ethics reports over personal tweets and blog posts seems like something we might expect from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, not a REPUBLICAN Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives! What should startle Texans is that Joe Straus, leader in the race for Speaker of the a Texas House with 99-51 Republican advantage, is pushing this issue from the wrong side.
Straus needs to clarify this asap or he is going to spark a blogger mutiny... if there is one thing bloggers on all sides of the political spectrum agree on it is that rules preventing them from expressing themselves freely should be quashed... and peeps proposing such rules should be crushed.
Team Straus has done some obvious blogger out reach and it is probably paying off... but they need to explain this in a hurry or there will be a big grass roots revolt against him... nothing quite angers Republican activists like the threat of losing even a part of their free speech....