Free speech for me, but not for thee
只许州官放火 不许百姓点灯

The Supreme Court ponders whether speech curbs are constitutional
最高法院就是否立法限制言论自由进行探讨

“HILLARY: THE MOVIE” is unwatchable. From the first frame, it presents a dreary caricature of Hillary Clinton as a power-crazed harpy with no redeeming qualities. She is cynical, manipulative, dishonest and ruthless—and so on for 90 excruciating minutes. Wasn’t there at least a dog she once omitted to kick, or a child whose lollipop she didn’t steal?
“希拉里:大电影”禁止公映。第一项罪名,这部影片用低劣的手法对希拉里-克林顿进行了讽刺,将她描述为一个对追求权力狂热到无以复加的人物。她愤世嫉俗,善于操控,虚伪且毫不留情—而这一切乐此不疲的持续了让人难熬的90分钟。是不是有只狗她忘了踹上一脚,或是有个孩子的棒棒糖她还没偷?


That said, “Hillary: the Movie” is no duller or more biased than much of what passes for journalism these days. And it is clearly political speech, which the constitution’s first amendment unambiguously protects. “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech,” it says. Not “thoughtful, balanced speech”; just “speech”. Yet the creators of the movie were forced to drop plans to distribute it via cable television for fear of stiff fines and long jail terms.
有人说,比起现在的新闻界,“希拉里:大电影”并不显得更为无聊或持有偏见。这是一项立意鲜明的政治演说,并且还受到了宪法第一项补充条例的明确保护。该条例中写道:“国会无权立法…限制言论自由”。这里说的并不是“经过深思熟虑,考虑周全的言论”,而就是“言论”。然而,由于惧怕高昂的罚金和牢狱之灾,该电影的制作者被迫放弃了在有线电视播放此片的计划。

The reason is that Congress has in fact passed a number of laws that abridge the freedom of certain groups to say certain things, in certain ways and at certain times about—wait for it—politicians. Among these laws is the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, better known as McCain-Feingold after its senatorial sponsors. Among other things, this law bars corporations or unions from financing the broadcast of electioneering messages about candidates within 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election.
他之所以这么做是因为国会实际上已经通过了一些法案,限制了某些团体在个别时间用个别方式对个别事务的言论自由—没错—这里的个别事务就是指政客们。在2002年的《跨党派竞选改革法》,也就是人们所熟知的麦凯恩-法因戈尔德法案中就有相关法令。另外,这项法案限制企业或联合组织在初选前30天或大选前60天,使用资金利用广播对候选人的竞选信息进行宣传。

The Hillary movie was made by a conservative group called Citizens United, which wanted to release it during the Democratic primaries last year. The group calls its creation a documentary, which would be exempt from McCain-Feingold’s strictures. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) ruled it was the equivalent of an attack ad, and could therefore not be paid for with money from for-profit corporations. Citizens United is a not-for-profit group supported mostly by individual donations, but it has also received donations from private firms. It sued the FEC on free-speech grounds, and the case came before the Supreme Court earlier this year. Instead of deciding it on narrow grounds, the court took the unusual step of asking for it to be re-argued, to examine the constitutionality of a large part of America’s campaign-finance system. It heard arguments on September 9th.
这部关于希拉里的电影由一个叫做“公民联合会”的保守组织制作,他们本打算在去年民主党初选前放映此片。该组织称这部影片是一部纪录片,因此不受麦凯恩-法因戈尔德条例的限制。联邦选举委员会将其裁定为攻击性广告,因此该影片的前期投资公司可以拒付款项。公民联合会是一个非营利性组织,主要依靠个人捐款的支持,不过该组织也接受来自私人企业的捐款。公民联合会依据自由言论法而对选举委员会进行了起诉,并且该案在今年早些时候已经送达到最高法院。但不同于往常对案件性质进行进一步确定,这次法院要求该案重审,以审视美国选举金融体系中大部分运行程序的立法合法性。该案于9月9日进行了听审。

The case for campaign-finance curbs goes something like this. Corporations have a lot of money, which could give them a lot of influence. So they should be barred not only from giving large amounts to candidates but also from paying to disseminate views that might affect an election. If they wish to raise money to express political views around election time, they must form a “political action committee” (PAC), jump through regulatory hoops and raise only limited amounts of money from each donor. The counter-argument is that this system (which is much more complicated than described) does not work. It has not kept money out of politics: the amount spent on presidential elections has grown relentlessly. And the complexity of campaign-finance law makes it hard even for well-meaning candidates to be sure they are not breaking it. John McCain, who ought to know better, was accused of an arcane but serious violation last year.
削减竞选资金的情况由此开了先例。企业拥有大笔资金,而这些钱可以给他们带来巨大的影响力。所以他们不仅应该被禁止向竞选者捐赠大量资金并且也应该被禁止传播足以影响选举的信息。如果他们想要通过捐钱而在竞选期间发表政治观点,他们就必须得成立一个“政治行动委员会”,该委员会不受常规的限制并且每位捐款人只许捐赠一定数目的资金。反对意见则认为这种体系(远比所描述的要复杂)根本不可能运行。而且这也没有使钱权脱离:总统选举期间的捐款数一路飙涨。而竞选筹款法的复杂性,使得一些善意的候选人也很难保证没有违反该法。约翰麦-麦凯恩,就应该对此法十分了解,然而在去年的选举中他却意外被指控严重违反该法。

Big companies can hire lawyers to help their PACs find their way through the maze, but the little guys get lost. And some states have tried to use campaign-finance laws to stifle debate. In Washington state, prosecutors claimed that a friendly discussion of an anti-tax campaign on a radio show was a political donation that the campaigners should have declared. In Colorado, a group of homeowners protesting a plan to incorporate their neighbourhood into a nearby town were sued for displaying yard signs without registering as a PAC. Free-speech advocates won these cases, but they needed lawyers to do so.
大企业可以聘请律师为他们的“政治行动委员会”指点迷津,但是小企业却迷失了方向。并且有些州试图利用竞选筹款法来限制辩论。在华盛顿州,就有人举报在广播秀中进行的一次关于降低税务的友好的讨论受到了政治资助,那么竞选人就应该事先进行声明。在科罗拉多州,一群业主计划将周围的邻居组织起来一起并入附近的一个镇,却因没有到政治行动委员会进行注册就擅自挂牌而遭到起诉。根据自由言论的主张这些案子都最终胜诉,但是仍旧需要律师的帮助。

Another effect of campaign-finance laws is to protect incumbents. That, suggested Justice Antonin Scalia on September 9th, may well have been their purpose. Incumbents have no trouble getting on the evening news. Their challengers are often unknown, and making it harder for them to raise money increases the odds they will stay that way. Outsiders can sometimes break in, as Barack Obama spectacularly showed. But the big donations that jump-started the insurgency of Eugene McCarthy, the anti-war candidate who prompted Lyndon Johnson not to seek re-election in 1968, would be illegal today.
竞选筹款法的另一个作用就是保护在职者。根据安东宁-斯卡利亚法官在9月9日的听审中的暗示,这一目的很可能已经达到。晚间新闻将不会出现在职者被卷入麻烦的报道。他们的挑战者通常都不为人知,因此他们更难争取到更多的捐款来保证留职的胜算。有时候还会半路杀出程咬金,就像奥巴马的惊人当选。而大规模竞选资金引发的混乱始于尤金-麦卡锡,这位反战的竞选者使得莱顿-约翰逊在1968年无缘连任,他的竞选行为即使到今天应该也是违法的。

Newspapers and television stations are exempt from the strictures of McCain-Feingold, so they can spend vast sums supporting or hounding political candidates without fear of reprisal. Some media firms, such as the New York Times, see no problem with denying other corporations the same right. But five of the nine Supreme Court justices seem to find it troubling. If a politician promises to ban tobacco, asked Chief Justice John Roberts this week, is it fair to ban tobacco firms from responding?
报纸和电视台可以免受麦凯恩-法因戈尔德法案的追究,因此他们可以使用大量时间报道支持或反对竞选人的新闻而不用担心受到报复。一些传媒公司,比如纽约时报,对其他公司拥有同样的权利并无异议。但是最高法院超过一半的法官却不这样认为。审判长约翰-罗伯茨在本周就发问道,如果一位政客承诺禁烟,便禁止烟草公司进行回应,这是否公正?

And now to books
现在轮到出版自由了

Free-speech enthusiasts fear that unless the first amendment is jealously guarded, it will be abused. And they have reasons to do so. Earlier this year the federal government claimed the power to ban books that support or oppose a named candidate, if those books are financed by a corporation, as most books are, and published too close to an election. That could include anything from Michael Moore’s rantings to John Kerry’s ponderous autobiography. This week, the solicitor-general appeared to retreat from this outrageous claim, saying that the FEC almost certainly would not ban books. But what about pamphlets? And why should something so fundamental depend on a bureaucrat’s whim? With bloggers and YouTube continually blurring the line between advocacy and journalism, it is growing ever harder to regulate corporate speech coherently. The Court may well tell politicians to stop trying.
一些自由言论主义者对此表示担忧,除非第一补充条例被完全的执行,否则就该法律就会被滥用。并且他们(政客们)也有理由这么做。如果如大多数书籍一样,涉及到支持或反对某一特定候选人的书籍由某企业赞助出版,并且非常邻近某次选举,根据联邦政府今年早些时候的要求,这些书将被禁止出版。这将包括从麦克-摩尔激昂的演说到约翰-克里冗长的自传的一切书籍。本周,副检察长出面并且撤销了此次引发民愤的诉讼案,并表示联邦选举委员会基本上不会禁止书籍的出版。那小册子呢?而且为什么这么根本的问题却因官僚们的一时兴起而被决定?随着博客和YouTube持续模糊着个人主张和新闻界的界限,对社团言论的监管将越来越难。法院应该警告这些政客停止这样的尝试。