The Journal’s Jihad

The Albuquerque Journal’s bizarre jihad against the First Amendment to the United States Constitution is alive and well.  Following Independence Day, the state’s paper of record conveniently breached the firewall between its news section and its editorial section, yet again, as it circled back to “cover” the nonprofit sector in New Mexico.

By now, those familiar with the Journal will recognize its tactics:

  1. Story placement: Publishing a “story” about a new nonprofit in yesterday’s edition – the story was placed on the front page, above the fold.
  2. Juicy headline: You can almost hear Ron Burgundy reading this one –“Conservatives Look to Nonprofits, Move a Response to Liberal Efforts.”  Really.  Is that the title of a guest opinion piece?  No, it’s the title of a “news” story.
  3. The follow-up editorial in today’s edition: “Real Voter Education.”
  4. The inability, or refusal, to acknowledge thirty years of established Supreme Court legal precedent on the First Amendment.

This final tactic (the refusal or inability to actually discuss First Amendment law) is what is most damning to the Journal’s credibility.  In fact, it’s really an affront to Journal readers.  To treat readers like adults and actually analyze well-established law would be diametrically opposed to the Journal’s political agenda.  It’s that simple.

But, it gets even more bizarre.

As I discussed in an earlier post, top brass at the Journal have been heavily involved with a local nonprofit called the Foundation for Open Government.  As you can see here, the first and perhaps most important charge for FOG (as listed on their own site) is to help the public “understand and exercise their First Amendment rights.”  I wonder how the Journal editor squares the FOG mission with his paper’s year long Jihad against the most basic of American rights.

Really.  On the one hand, there’s the “promotion” of the First Amendment through FOG, while at the same time a concerted effort by the state’s paper of record to avoid a thoughtful discussion of First Amendment law.

It’s the kind of cognitive dissonance that leaves one speechless.

Free Speech means the right to criticize politicians – and NM politicians don’t like it

free-speech-zone1Let’s face it.  Elected officials don’t like to be criticized – and especially not in public.

There’s nothing wrong with that.  They have feelings too.  But criticism goes with the territory.  And there’s a big problem when those same officials attempt to use their powers to stifle the public’s exercise of free speech.

Under the U.S. Constitution, the right of free speech, including the right to discuss and dissent and to criticize the public acts of governmental officials, is afforded the highest protection from government interference.

That’s why it’s so alarming that two measures to clamp down on free discussion of governmental actions are being rushed through the New Mexico Legislature. These two bills, HB808 sponsored by Rep. Paul Bandy (R-Aztez) and SB652, sponsored by Sen. William Payne (R-Albuq.), have earned the “Politician Protection Act” tag, along with HB 891, sponsored by House Majority Leader Ken Martinez and Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez.

Some of the legal theories being dredged up to attack the non-profits certainly should make any lover of the Constitution shudder.  Take the argument employed in committee testimony recently by Deputy Attorney General Phil Baca, who drafted HB808 at the direction of House Minority Leader, Rep. Ken Martinez (D-Grants).  “Under New Mexico state law, we’re sovereign… We don’t have to grant tax exempt status to any organization we want…We’re an independent sovereign,” Baca said.

Considering the source, such neo-Confederate legal argumentation was both surprising and more than a little shocking.  One half expected a band in the back of the room to strike up “Dixie.”

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