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An open letter to my congressman about online freedom of speech

Last week, the House failed to pass HR1606, the Online Freedom of Speech Act. Among the 38 Republicans who voted for (correction -- against) it was Jeb Bradley (R-NH), my own Congresscritter, whom I voted for last November. Kevin tipped me off to this action, and wondered if I would like to write Congressman Bradley to express my displeasure.

Hmm... my boss wants to know if I'd like to personally yell at a politician who's threatening my work here at Wizbang. I think I'm gonna have to think about this one for a while...

(Text of letter in the extended section)

As stated in the letter, I will post any response I receive.

Dear Congressman Bradley:

I am a lifelong New Hampshirite, and have lived in Manchester for the last 15 years. Last November, I was proud to cast my vote for you, and was delighted to see you win another term in Washington.

Last week, however, I found myself doubting the wisdom of that vote.

HR 1606, the Online Freedom of Speech Act, came up for a vote -- and you were one of the people who helped defeat that measure.

I am not only a citizen of New Hampshire, and a constituent of yours, but I am also an editor of a weblog. Under the name "Jay Tea" (a nom de plume derived from my initials), I am one of three people responsible for the site www.wizbangblog.com. I have been a proud member of that staff for almost two years, and have written probably in excess of a thousand pieces in that time. And we have grown until we have reached the point of being consistently in the top 20 weblogs -- occasionally cracking the top 10.

One of my primary interests is in politics. While I do tend to give Massachusetts politics a bit more attention than New Hampshire, that is largely because there's simply so much more to get outraged about in the Bay State -- and it helps cast New Hampshire in a more favorable light in comparison. Further, during the last presidential campaign, I spent a great deal of time discussing Senator John Kerry's candidacy, offering opinions and insights on Senator Kerry gained from our proximity to his home state to our average daily audience of over 11,000 people.

My work at Wizbang is essentially a hobby. I receive absolutely no regular pay for my efforts there, and expect none. I do it for the sheer pleasure of writing, the satisfaction of building and being a part of an online community, and sharing with others my thoughts, observations, and beliefs, while learning from them. It is no exaggeration to say that Wizbang has become one of the most important parts of my life.

Recently, the FEC has said that it intends to start regulating political speech online, to impose onerous burdens on those of us who choose to exercise our First Amendment rights to speak out on political matters, completely independently of any candidate, group, or party.

Yes, there have been some abuses of freedom of speech. But I have always believed that the "best answer to bad speech is more speech," not to curtail the rights of all to curb the wrongs of some. HR 1606 would have preserved that principle, Congressman, and prevented the FEC from stripping me and countless others like me of our Constitutionally-guaranteed right to speak freely, to say what we think and feel in this amazing new medium. And your vote, sir, was a blow to my rights that I can not and will not take lightly.

I would very much like to hear the reasoning behind your decision to vote against HR 1606, sir, and whether or not that decision would stand should it arise again.

A copy of this letter is being posted at www.wizbangblog.com, and any response I receive shall be posted publicly as well.

Sincerely yours,

"Jay Tea"


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Comments (14)

That anyone feels they need... (Below threshold)

That anyone feels they need a special exemption from previous legislation to protect their right to free speech is utterly appalling.

They can shove their exemption.

I want the First Amendment back.

"Among the 38 Republicans w... (Below threshold)

"Among the 38 Republicans who voted for it was Jeb Bradley (R-NH)..."

Shouldn't that be "voted against"?

On a more serious note, have you, Kevin or Paul taken *Patterico's Pledge*?

"If the FEC makes rules that limit my First Amendment right to express my opinion on core political issues, I will not obey those rules."--Patterico's Pledge

I took it here

http://htfdidthishappen.blogspot.com/2005/10/pattericos-pledge_18.html

(I'd have done that as a trackback, but I don't know how.)

And I just found out my little trained weasel Mike Doyle (D-PA14) also voted against it. He's a backbencher in one of the safest seats in the House (around here they don't count the votes, they weigh them). And he does exactly what he's told, just like any good little lap dog. So a respectful e-mail asking him to reconsider would be a waste of time. He's getting flamed.

I have taken the Patterico ... (Below threshold)

I have taken the Patterico Pledge.

I put on my banner months ago.

Jay Tea,Don't hold y... (Below threshold)
sell higher:

Jay Tea,
Don't hold your breath waiting for a response from our rep. I wrote him earlier in the week to let him know my distaste for his vote against HR 1606. I also asked him, as I do every time I write to him, why he voted the way he did. I have yet to receive an answer on any subject. He deserves to be voted out next year. However, that puts me in a tough spot, since I would never vote for a democrat here in NH, and it is unlikely that a conservative would run against him.
I hope your position here at Wizbang gets you a response. I look forward to it.

Who are the other 37?... (Below threshold)

Who are the other 37?

Have you seen anything on w... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Have you seen anything on why Jeb and Bass voted the way they did? I didn't see anything in our paper on the vote, so the paper didn't much seem to care.

I have written Bass a few times, and have always gotten responses back.

I can drop him a note.

NH has the dinstinction of having their entire house delegation vote against freedom of speech (of course there are only two but using "entire" sounded more ominous).

I really hope more people s... (Below threshold)
ALa:

I really hope more people start to care/read about this...something that could soon affect all of us.

A detailed listing of the v... (Below threshold)
Bat One:

A detailed listing of the vote on this bill, including an alphabetical list of who voted how, can be found at http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2005/roll559.xml.

Bat One

Bat One, that link you prov... (Below threshold)

Bat One, that link you provided is broken.

I think McCain/Feingold is ... (Below threshold)
Ken:

I think McCain/Feingold is a travesty, but if I were in Congress I think I'd vote against any bandaid to fix distortions caused by it. Sort of like Social Security: the best way to get it fixed is to remove all exemptions so everyone has to be in the system and suffer its failings. Maybe that is the approach of your Congressman.

fatman...just select the se... (Below threshold)
-S-:

fatman...just select the secondary link that is displayed on the error page...takes you right to the (U.S. House) Clerk's site.

<a href="http://clerk.house... (Below threshold)
-S-:

http://clerk.house.gov/

'Course, you then will have to search out respective legislators...

Jay Tea...excellent letter ... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Jay Tea...excellent letter but perhaps you are not receiving response/s BECAUSE of your affiliation with Wizbang (or, any well read/highly trafficed blog site). As in, "no comment."

Which is disappointing, nonetheless. I find your letter a very worthwhile one, deserving of a response...I long ago resigned myself to always seeing a disappointing, even confounding vote from my two Senators (both Democrats) but now even the Representatives are joining in. I'm trying to imagine why Congress has just voted TO award 30,000 more VISAs rather than raise the price of existing lot, under the ruse of trying to find some money to pay for the aid for Katrina damages. Congress is just not making any sense these days, just no sense at all.

Bat One's link works - just... (Below threshold)
AnonymousDrivel:

Bat One's link works - just exclude the terminating period.

But, I'll repeat with Yeas (225) and Nays (182).




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