A learning moment

Michelle Malkin is the most recent blogger to bring this to my attention.  Someone else did a few days ago but I can’t seem to find that post right now. 

The story is that some wacko judge ruled that two radio talk show hosts (I’ve met and talked with both personally, but those are stories for another time) were campaign contributors because of their on the air support of an effort to eliminate a gas tax increase in Washington State.  The Seattle Times carried the AP story

KVI and Fisher Broadcasting executives were aghast. They said talk-show hosts John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur were only doing what political commentators and newspaper editorial pages do across America: discussing issues and recommending action.

“Each host is entitled to his own opinion on the issues of the day,” said Dennis Kelly, a top official at Fisher Broadcasting, KVI’s parent company. “We don’t agree with the premise of the ruling. If the judge’s ruling holds, it will have a chilling effect on talk and news shows across America. It was a really unwise ruling.”

The Seattle Times editorials, somewhat surprisingly, had strong words against this ruling:

See what is being done here. The judge is following a simple syllogism:

All political contributions may be regulated;

Speech is a political contribution;

Therefore, speech may be regulated.

Though state law sets no spending limits on initiative campaigns, it does set a limit of $1,375 per contributor to state election campaigns. Suppose, then, that Dino Rossi ran for governor again, that Wilbur and Carlson strongly supported him, and that the Rossi campaign were required to report it as a $20,000 in-kind contribution by Fisher Broadcasting.

In that case, Fisher would have violated the law. And how? By speaking on political topics during an election campaign.

Two years ago, when the federal campaign-finance law reached the U.S. Supreme Court, dissenting justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas warned that something like this would happen. We doubted it; it seemed clear to us that the law applied to ads, not editorial content. We thought Thomas was over the top when he said campaign-finance law was leading toward “outright regulation of the press.”

Judge Wickham has made a step toward just that. It is a dangerous, unconstitutional ruling. The losers need to appeal it and the appellate courts need to reverse it.

The more astute people on the left have began realizing that all that power they gave, and in this case are giving, to government is more and more being put in the hands of their political enemies.  The editorial writer(s) were able to think far enough ahead to see they could be next.  I don’t know the exact process that occurred in their mind(s) but I envision it was something like what Lyndon Johnson articulated.  This is what we call a learning moment.  It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine them having a learning moment about firearms as a result of this same incident.