"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." Theodore Roosevelt
Political bloggers who offer diverse views on Republicans and Democrats, war and peace argued on Thursday that they should be free of government regulation. The notion was echoed by some members of the government agency trying to write rules covering the Internet's reach in political campaigns. Amid the explosion of political activity on the Internet, a federal court has instructed the six-member Federal Election Commission to draw up regulations that would extend the nation's campaign finance and spending limits to the Web. The FEC, in its initial rules, had exempted the Internet.
Bloggers told the Committee on House Administration that regulations encompassing the Internet, even ones just on advertising, would have a chilling effect on free speech. The FEC vice chairman also questioned the necessity of any rules. "I strongly believe that the online political speech of all Americans should remain free of government review and regulations," said Michael E. Toner. Toner argued that political activity on the Internet fails to meet the campaign finance law's threshold to stop corruption or the appearance of corruption. Toner urged Congress to pass a law that pre-empts the court's action and ensures that the Internet remains exempt from campaign finance rules.
Michael J. Krempasky, director of the Web site RedState.org, said that if bloggers have to meet a government test every time they discuss politics, "the reaction will be completely predictable: rather than deal with the red tape of regulation and the risk of legal problems, they will fall silent on all issues of politics."