- Your Town
To the editor,
The bulk of Jim Brown’s guest column last week consisted of ad hominem attacks, self-congratulations, straw man arguments, and distortions. He then concluded rousingly:
“The next time you hear a Chicken Little tell you that the sky is falling because your Montana neighbor now lawfully can pay for a political advertisement, you can respond that Montana’s big sky got even bigger because the United States Supreme Court has rightfully denied government officials in Montana the power to determine who may legally speak and who may not, and further deprived them of the power to dictate where you can get your information about government policies and political candidates.”
There may be a more shameless pile of, uh, misinformation in print somewhere, but I’d be hard pressed to find it. Brown’s conclusion contains at least three gross falsehoods:
1. The Corrupt Practices Act of 1912, which the Republican-dominated Supreme Court recently reversed, never prevented “your Montana neighbor” from buying a political ad. It prevented large corporations from spending huge amounts of money on political ads in order to defeat political candidates who refused to do what they wanted them to do. There’s a big difference, and Brown knows it.
2. The Corrupt Practices Act never allowed government officials to decide who could legally speak and who couldn’t. In Montana individuals and corporations have always had the right to speak. They just couldn’t do it by spending unlimited amounts of unaccountable dollars. This, of course, was before the Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court that found, absurdly and corruptly, that corporations are people and money is speech.
3. The Corrupt Practices Act never dictated where Montanans could get their information about government policies and political candidates. What it did was prevent corporations and wealthy individuals from drowning out, with lavishly funded propaganda campaigns, information from sources they didn’t want people to read or hear.
Brown’s vision of America is a very troubling one. It’s an America that is run for and by the corporations. It’s an America where Big Money rules absolutely. It’s an America where clever people like him can make a good living lying to us about what their corporate masters are trying to do to our democracy.