Today, in a historic vote the Online Freedom of Speech Act was defeated in the House of Representatives. It actually had majority support by a margin of 225 to 182, but because it was entered as a 'Motion to Suspend Rules and Pass' it needed a 2/3 majority to win. The act would have amended the Federal Election Campaign Act to guarantee that restrictions on political endorsements in the media would not apply to private individuals expressing political opinions or preferences on the web. In other words, it guaranteed freedom of speech to bloggers who might have it taken away by partisan bureaucrats during an election using the campaign finance reform rules.
Here's the entire text of the act:
- Paragraph (22) of section 301 of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 431(22)) is amended by adding at the end of the following new sentence: "Such term shall not include communications over the Internet."
Pretty simple and straightforward. If you voted for it, you want bloggers to have free speech. If you voted against it you want to muzzle free exchange of ideas on the web. Nothing ambiguous or open to interpretation in the one-sentence bill.
Lest you're one of those who continues to labor under the impression that the Democratic Party is the party which supports freedom and civil rights, the bill was defeated on overwhelming opposition by Democrat representatives and was strongly supported by Republicans. 179 Republicans voted 'yea' and only 38 voted 'nay'. 143 Democrats voted 'nay' and only 38 voted 'yea'. The numbers don't lie. There was clearly an organized effort by Democrats to kill this bill. If even half of the Democrats had voted in favor of free speech on the internet the bill would have passed.