No Speech for You!

seinfeld_soupnaziWith each passing day, life inside the confines of the Albuquerque Journal must be getting weirder and weirder.  In addition to having little in the way of a firewall between their political agenda and their news reporting (and in some cases openly flaunting this journalistic taboo), the Albuquerque Journal has now anointed itself the sole arbiter of what a person or organization can say.

Really.

The Albuquerque Journal has transformed itself into the Speech Nazi.  If you’re going to say something publicly, you better not step out of line.

Say something that comports with the Journal’s political agenda and you’re engaging in free speech.  Say something the Journal disagrees with and you might be “straying” into the yet-to-be defined “political arena.”

In today’s lead editorial, the Albuquerque Journal dug up the past and again displayed their unwillingness, or their inability, or both, to comprehend First Amendment law.  It’s truly puzzling, especially from a newspaper that purports to vigorously defend the First Amendment.

The lead…

The Bernalillo County Republican Party is taking a page out of the Center for Civic Policy playbook. GOP official Rick Abraham says robocalls condemning Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chávez’s support for a streetcar system — and raising the specter of a tax increase to fund it — are to educate residents.

O.K., I thought, and decided to read on to the inevitable omissions and obfuscation in the following paragraphs.

The close…

It all smacks of CCP’s “voter information outreach” circa 2008, which involved slick attack mailers of the kind which clog mailboxes only during an election. They were mailed, however, more than 90 days before an election and used none of the words in the official electioneering lexicon, like “elect,” “vote for” or “defeat.”

The tactics pioneered here by CCP have opened a new can of political worms. If the courts or lawmakers can’t resolve the problems, the game that two can play will be played by everybody in the political arena. -“Two Can Play Political ‘Education’ Game,” Albuquerque Journal June 15, 2009.

Click here for the full editorial (you may need a subscription).

Just as I suspected, obfuscate and omit, political agenda trumps established law.

Reading the final two paragraphs, it’s as if the law doesn’t matter.  It’s as if any speech that’s not mass-produced on a newspaper printing press is somehow second-class.  It’s as if certain inconvenient elements of First Amendment law don’t apply inside the Journal Center.

Really.

Not two weeks ago, the Albuquerque Journal sung the praises of Mayor Martin Chavez and the “City Academies” program.  Despite their failure to critically examine all facets of the program, there was no “straying” into the political arena.  Nothing about the editorial “smacked” of “politics.”  Nothing about the editorial “quacked like a duck.”

At least not in the minds of Journal editors.

Readers of the Albuquerque Journal, beware.  It’s not enough that the Journal might not like what someone has to say.  Journal editors are now saying they won’t even defend someone’s right to express an opinion that differs from their company line.

It’s as if they’re telling the world…

“No speech for you!”

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3 Responses

  1. I’m confused — I’ve canvassed pre-election for the Sierra Club before (pre-CCP) and the same rules applied then.

    Advocacy of this sort was common well before CCP hit the scene. Is the Journal’s editorial board deliberately misremembering, or do they truly not know that this has been happening (legitimately!) for years?

    • It’s a big mystery, Sophie. As I wrote in the post, either Journal editors are unwilling to admit, or unaware of how the First Amendment actually applies to a broad range of speech.

  2. […] I discussed in an earlier post, top brass at the Journal have been heavily involved with a local nonprofit called the Foundation […]

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