First Amendment Primer (for Righties)

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Civil Rights, Obama Administration, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Righties do love their First Amendment rights, but they don’t understand them very well. For example, on the Right it is commonly believed the right to freedom of speech includes a right to not be disagreed with. (This is something I’ve written about before, so for examples, see “This Is Rich,” and “America Has Lost Its Mind.”)

But no, dear ones, it does not. The free speech part of the First Amendment protects you from government interference of your speech. For example, if you own a newspaper, and a government agent drops by every day to decide what stories and editorials you can or cannot print, that would be infringing on your rights. However, if the mayor of your town publicly complains about your news coverage, but doesn’t try to stop you from covering news as you see fit, that is not an infringement on your rights.

By the same token, government cannot tell you what to say. If a government agent came to you with propaganda and demanded you print it in your newspaper, you would be within your rights to say no, I won’t. Bwt this is another point often lost on righties. For example, for years conservatives in several states have been passing laws that determine what a physician must say to a woman seeking an abortion, even if the physician thinks the speech is garbage and doesn’t want to say it. This, my lovelies, is an obvious infringement on the physicians’ right to free speech, but so far several red states have gotten away with it.

U.S. case law has long recognized that “speech” is sometimes non-verbal, so that opinions expressed in gestures or art, for example, enjoy the same protection as editorials and speeches. For this reason, courts have long recognized that burning a U.S. flag in protest of some federal government policy, as offensive as that might be, is protected speech. Even so, conservatives have wanted to make flag burning illegal or unconstitutional for years. By the same token, you can count on conservatives to be first in line to stop the display of art they don’t like. Conservatives have issues with academic freedom, also, and want to control what is said in classrooms. (Note to rightie readers: forcing children to recite prayers in a public school classroom is an infringement of their right to their own free exercise of religion, never mind an infringement of the establishment clause.)

Freedom of speech is not absolute. You cannot drive around in your neighborhood at 2 a.m. blasting your political opinions through a megaphone, for example. There are limitations on the display of pornography. Graffiti and naughty words may get you fined. But on the whole, speech is pretty much a free-for-all here in the U.S., as it should be. Expect to take what you dish out.

I bring this up because of a couple of recent episodes involving free speech rights.

Paul Guaschino was driving with an “impeach Obama” bumper sticker on his car, when another driver flipped him the bird. We assume that the other driver was objecting to the bumper sticker, which is not necessarily true, but that’s how Guaschino took it. Guaschino followed the other driver to a traffic light, and while both vehicles were stopped, Guaschino got out of his car and began to pound the other vehicle with a baseball bat. The other motorist, recognizing unhinged craziness when he saw it, fled. Police apprehended Guaschino and filed criminal charges against him.

As Digby said,

But you have to love the irony of somebody exercising his freedom of speech, as he has every right to do, but gets enraged and violent when someone exercises theirs in response. I suppose it’s just intense frustration that, after all they’ve been told, the majority of the country doesn’t agree with them and actually thinks they’re jerks.

But of course, the usual righties are cheering for Guaschino, whereas if a leftie so much as looks at a conservative cross-eyed, all lefties are goons and thugs.

But this brings me back to my original point, which is that conservatives believe freedom of speech includes protection from being disagreed with (sorry about the dangling participle). I ran into this post the other day (featuring a shout out to our own c u n d gulag!) written by a rightie blogger who believes criticism of Faux Snooze amounts to an infringement of Faux’s right to free speech, i.e., pretending to be a news organization while really being a mouthpiece for whatever agenda Rupert Murdoch is pushing this week. And the blogger thinks it is just OUTRAGEOUS that people — including President Obama — trample on Faux’s First Amendment rights by saying such things as I just said, because it’s the truth. But as gulag pointed out in the comments,

that he continues to allow FUX Noise the use of the PUBLIC AIRWAVES, to spread their stupid, ignorant, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and/or homophobic, propaganda!

Just like Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot, and Saddam Hussein, did in their Totalitarian states!

Snark. It’s a beautiful thing. And protected by the First Amendment!

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49 Comments

49 Comments

  1. joanr16  •  Feb 5, 2013 @2:39 pm

    Alas, if Righties understood snark, they’d use it and not baseball bats to have the last laugh. I suspect their takeaway from gulag’s (as usual) finely-honed snark would be: “Huh-derrr, lookathis, this hippie librul sez right here that Obama’s a totalitarium dic-tater!”

    Still, a baseball bat is less final than a gun, in most instances, so I suppose the bird-flipper should count some blessings. There’s a damn good reason I’ve stopped advertising my politics where I live.

  2. Swami  •  Feb 5, 2013 @2:44 pm

    U.S. case law has long recognized that “speech” is sometimes non-verbal,

    Yeah, like toting an AR-15 on your back at a peaceful public gathering rather than screaming with a bullhorn that you’re a complete fear ridden asshole who doesn’t have enough sense to understand basic social conventions.

  3. c u n d gulag  •  Feb 5, 2013 @2:47 pm

    Well, seems like someone sure went to a lot of trouble to try to “out” me, didn’t they?
    LOL!
    Not that he got everything right.
    I think everyone here will attest to the fact that I’m neither a misogynist, nor a racist.
    Not even close. (I’m curious where he even got that idiotic idea from).
    But if being against some of the stupid apartheid policies by recent Israeli governments regarding the Palestinians qualifies me as being “anti-Israel,” then color me guilty, there JSF. I ‘calls ‘em as I seez ‘em!’
    And it seems I’m not alone:
    “At present, the view of the international community, as reflected in numerous UN resolutions, regards the building and existence of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as a violation of international law.”
    That’s from this wiki:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaza_Strip_Israeli_Settlements#Gaza_Strip

    Thanks for spending so much time on me, JSF.
    But you don’t scare me.
    Like FDR, “I welcome their hatred.”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9yoZHs6PsU

    Stupid and ignorant people, like this JSF dipsh*t who obviously has way too much time on his hands, are allowed their opinions, too.
    And the rest of us have the right to mock them, or snark at them, in return.

    Oh, and besides being wrong about me being a misogynist and racist ,you also the home town wrong, JSF, you stupid dipsh*t!

  4. c u n d gulag  •  Feb 5, 2013 @2:52 pm

    OY!
    That last part should read, “…you also got the home town wrong, JSF, you stupid dipsh*t!”

  5. maha  •  Feb 5, 2013 @2:56 pm

    (I’m curious where he even got that idiotic idea from).

    In rightie world, [any bad attribute] = liberals. The “any bad attribute” could be fascist, communist, racist, elitist, hypocritical, crazy, stupid, anti-American, anti-God, goon, thug, whatever. It’s all interchangeable. In their minds, if it’s a bad thing, then it must describe liberals. It doesn’t have anything to do with what you actually do or say.

  6. c u n d gulag  •  Feb 5, 2013 @3:08 pm

    Yeah, maha – and probably just a smidgen of projection on the racism and misogyny.

  7. Swami  •  Feb 5, 2013 @3:28 pm

    gulag ….Looks like you lost your effectiveness a liberal operative. You’ve been compromised. You took a hit for the cause!

  8. c u n d gulag  •  Feb 5, 2013 @3:39 pm

    Swami,
    Just tell me what time and what phonebooth to be in, and I’ll be ther…

    Oh, wait! Ain’t no more phonebooths for us compromised operatives to wait in until the assissin shoots us full of lead.
    Where are us compromised operatives supposed to go, so no innocent bystanders can be hurt in the execution?
    I know – the local Dairy Queen is shut down this time of year, so how about I wait outside there? But send a competent hitman – there’s a lot of foot and vehicular traffic on that road.

  9. Swami  •  Feb 5, 2013 @3:44 pm

    Don’t go to Mexico…look what happened to Leon.

  10. Rick Massimo  •  Feb 5, 2013 @4:03 pm

    Sen. Moseley-Braun was pilloried (and rightly so) abut 20 years ago for saying that there was a Constitutional right not to be offended.

    Righties laughed uproariously at such a ridiculous idea.

    Now, in complete earnestness, they say there’s a Constitutional right not to be told you’ve offended someone.

    I used to say righties hated America. Now, I dunno – they might like it if they knew the first thing about it.

  11. c u n d gulag  •  Feb 5, 2013 @4:12 pm

    Swami,
    I LOVE the food!
    And the culture.
    But it’s to damn hot down there for a Uke/Russkie!
    I’d have to walk around like Mr. Freeze.

  12. c u n d gulag  •  Feb 5, 2013 @5:36 pm

    Ok, I’m finally done covering-up our faux-granite countertops.

  13. Swami  •  Feb 5, 2013 @9:10 pm

    Here’s a little something that fits nicely into the wingnut thinking process that says you must crush any deviation from acceptable thinking. There are no conflicts here! It’s the tried and true concept of zero tolerance. The kid should have gotten a couple of months at a Correctional Corporation of America facility.

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/2nd-grader-suspended-over-imaginary-grenade-224740937.html

  14. paradoctor  •  Feb 5, 2013 @11:22 pm

    “Speech be free for me but not for thee.”

    Nothing new there, it’s standard hypocrisy.

  15. paradoctor  •  Feb 5, 2013 @11:37 pm

    cund: I think he got misogynist from your calling Sarah Pain a “tw*t”. Alas, I too think that was over the top. “Twit” fit her fine.

    I shall forever treasure her interview with the turkeys being blood-drained right behind her. Very educational; both about bird-killing methods, and Sarah Plain’s cluelessness.

    But no, I don’t miss her.

  16. Swami  •  Feb 6, 2013 @1:26 am

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/eric-cantor-says-undocumented-children-offered-citizenship-194427232–election.html

    “One of the great founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents.”

    Anyone know where I can get a remedial course in our great founding principles? Cantor might be refering to Thomas Paines’s description of the relationship between King George III and the American Colonies as he wrote in a remote analogy in his essay Common Sense, but for some reason I don’t think that’s the founding principle that Cantor is referring to.
    Where do I research to find that great founding principle?

  17. c u n d gulag  •  Feb 6, 2013 @7:05 am

    paradoctor,
    Yeah – not one of my prouder moments.

  18. Lynne  •  Feb 6, 2013 @11:18 am

    No need to defend yourself here, C U N D Gulag. As Barbara asserts, if Liberals aren’t limp as wet washrags (and we come close, occasionally) then we are all a danger to the system (i.e., we dare to disagree).

    Congratulations on being singled out. Hahahaha! You must really have gotten under the collective skin.

  19. c u n d gulag  •  Feb 6, 2013 @11:54 am

    Lynne,
    Thanks.
    But verbiage DOES matter, and in retrospect, I wish I hadn’t called that idiot Sarah Palin, the “T-word.”
    I stooped down to her level.

  20. paradoctor  •  Feb 6, 2013 @1:04 pm

    Swami: there is to be no “corruption of blood”. Meaning no hereditary crimes. It’s in the Constitution, article 3, section 3: “No attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture, except during the life of the person attainted.”

  21. Swami  •  Feb 6, 2013 @1:52 pm

    paradoctor…Thanks for setting me straight…although I could find enough wiggle room in my mind, and in the wording of that passage to belabor the point..The word “except” stands out.

    Cantor – 1 Swami -0…. But I still reserve the right to declare that Cantor is a disingenuous slimeball who is using the cover of being concerned about the welfare of children to divide the immigration debate and show himself as caring. He’s the pied piper.

  22. forest_street  •  Feb 6, 2013 @5:04 pm

    I hate Fox”News” as much as the next sentient being, but it’s cable programming, and therefore no public airwaves are injured or besmudged by their transmission.

  23. Swami  •  Feb 6, 2013 @5:19 pm

    OK, do over…http://www.lectlaw.com/def/c315.htm

    Swami-1 Cantor-0

    :) I’m enjoying my mulligan stew!

  24. Tom B  •  Feb 6, 2013 @7:44 pm

    “in several states have been passing laws that determine what a physician must say to a woman seeking an abortion, even if the physician thinks the speech is garbage and doesn’t want to say it.”
    It violates the Hippocratic oath to give false information to a patient. I’d think such laws would have no chance of surviving a court challenge.

  25. paradoctor  •  Feb 7, 2013 @2:10 am

    c u n d : Your contrition is sincere, for they’re still beating you with your overstep. Your error was inprecision; for the challenge of the First Amendment is not just to insult people, but to insult them in just the right way. It’s a matter of artistry. Note that above I called she-who-must-not-be-named Sarah “Pain”, then Sarah “Plain”.

  26. Swami  •  Feb 7, 2013 @2:10 am

    I don’t want to trash this thread up with irrelevant stuff that appears unrelated, but it is important to be aware of the many forms and different manifestations of the conservative mind.Whether it be expressed as Taliban, wingnut, Christian right, teabagger, conservative, Fundy, or a host of other names. There are common elements they possess that binds them all together.
    Those elements can be identified by qualities of intolerance,rigidity, lack of compassion,lack of reason, blind adherence to dogma, doctrine and unexplored principles. The list can go on and on….but using the term “un-liberal” effectively encapsulates that quality of mind that we must come against in order to progress as a species.
    So here’s a link to illustrate what I’m trying to convey..See if you can find the common elements that could easily connect a Repug Senator to Taliban Chieftain even though the claim to be diametrically opposed.
    http://news.yahoo.com/pastor-apologizes-role-prayer-vigil-connecticut-massacre-021918940.html

  27. paradoctor  •  Feb 7, 2013 @11:57 am

    Swami: the common element is tribalism. Maha: this deserves a post of its own.

  28. maha  •  Feb 7, 2013 @12:18 pm

    paradoctor — in the more than ten years I’ve written this bog, I’ve written about tribalism in U.S. politics quite a lot. Maybe not lately, but it’s kind of old ground for me.

  29. Swami  •  Feb 7, 2013 @1:43 pm

    The answer is: there is no answer. I think the most common element is insecurity.Wanting to find a fixed position in a world that is in constant flux. The continual battle between good and evil, light and dark, negative and positive, right and wrong.

    We’re all just dust in the wind…. :)

    But that doesn’t change my belief that the Repugs( for the most part) are all a bunch of deceitful,conniving butt weasels.

  30. Cabal315  •  Feb 8, 2013 @1:13 am

    To be fair, flipping someone off is a personal, directly confrontational form of “free speech”—I’d never flip off a stranger for the explicit reason that it’s a clear provocation and a good way to start a fight. That doesn’t mean that it gives someone the legal (or moral) right to attack me—I’m glad Guaschino was arrested for escalating it—but I’d expect it if I did the sign language equivalent of telling a stranger “Hey a**hole, f*** you.” Who does that?

    But yes, conservatives are only interested in rights as they apply to conservatives—everyone not like them is undeserving of these same rights. FL governor Rick Scott recently signed a bill that promotes religious freedom in schools—clearly as a backdoor way to get Jesus “back” into the schools—but it apparently didn’t occur to him that people who believe in other Gods might also take advantage of that.

    What’s good for me is not good for thee.

  31. Wonder Woman  •  Feb 9, 2013 @1:28 am

    Many good points about free speech. I assume, however, that these would also be examples of what the government cannot do, as infringements upon our rights:

    Forcing private companies to describe nutritional values of foods.

    Forcing physicians to ask questions of patients and then not be able to treat those patients unless the questions are answered.

  32. maha  •  Feb 9, 2013 @8:05 am

    Forcing private companies to describe nutritional values of foods.

    That’s silly. Requiring companies to fully disclose all the attributes of the products they sell isn’t an infringement of expression; it’s a regulation of commerce that protects the public. Taken to logical consequences, if that’s an infringement of expression, then companies would be able to mix chalk and water and sell it as milk.

    Forcing physicians to ask questions of patients and then not be able to treat those patients unless the questions are answered.

    Example?

    ; i

  33. c u n d gulag  •  Feb 9, 2013 @8:55 am

    Wonder Woman,
    As to your first point about labeling foods, YOU have the “right” to eat any crap you want – labeled, or not. People have the “right” to eat lawn trimmings and raccoon poop if they want – and no labeling is involved.
    MY “right,” as an ‘infomed’ citizen, is to get the information I need, to see if I want to join you in your “right” to eat that crap. And I know that I don’t want to eat any lawn trimmings and/or raccoon poop. Why? Because I can see what it is.

    Government, aka: all of us, is there for many reasons.
    One of the good reasons, is to educate the public, not just in schools, but to let us know what’s in our food so we know whether to eat it or not (there are also religious reasons for this – think “Kosher” or “Halal”).
    Should our local, state, or our federal government, NOT label what is considered a safe speed limit is on the highway, or on that nearby hairy-ass curve above a cliff around the mountain?
    Labeling the speed limit, and ticketing me for exceeding it, or going too slow, is infringing on my right to drive as fast or slow as I feckin’ want to – and to kill myself, and/or my passengers, and/or some other poor schmuck coming to that hairy-ass curve above a cliff from the other direction, or who I smack from behind because I’m going 80 and that persons cautious, and going 30, pushing that poor schlub off the cliff into the river?

    What we eat today is NOT what we ate a century ago. And we don’t get most of it from the farm or butcher nearby.
    If I had some religious Jewish and/or Muslim friends, who kept Kosher and/or Halal, come over to my house for dinner a century ago, I’d know better than to wrap prawns in bacon, or serve pork-chops and lobster.
    In today’s hyper-pre-processed food world, don’t I have the right to know that some company is using pork fat in making whatever’s in a box or can in my fridge, or cabinet? This way, I know not to serve my Jewish and/or Muslim friends something that is against their religions dietary laws. Or if I do, and I want to be an asshole, serve it to them anyway, and after they finish eating it, tell them, “Hey, you know that _________ you just told me you loved? Well, I just want you to know, it had bacon fat in it – just for flavor. It’s not like you had a slice, right?”

    So, what you think is intruding on YOUR rights, is something the rest of us want as OUR right.
    I want to know what’s in my food. I want to know if a company is using genetically modified foods, like meat, grains, fruits, and veggies. My non-Christian friends have the right to know that, unless I’m an asshole, I won’t serve them some pre-processed food with bacon fat in it.

    Kind of like guns.
    It may be someone’s 2nd Amendment Right to own a gun. But it’s also my right not to have that person walk around in public wearing it – unless that person is in law enforcement.
    Because, if I don’t see a badge, how am I supposed to tell whether they’re are “good” guy with a gun, or some asshole who likes to carry a gun around, flashing it like it was his dick, or a crook, or a lunatic on his way to shoot-up a Kindergarten?
    Having the right to own a gun, doesn’t mean that a person has the right to carry one win their pocket, like if was some religious totem that’s worn around a believers neck, or wrist, or ankle.
    People have the right to have, or not have a gun. Other people should have the right not to be exposed to that person’s right to have a gun everywhere those other people go.
    Want a gun for protection of the family, house, and property? Great! Keep it at home.
    Want a gun to hunt with? Great! Take it out when you’re ready to shoot Bambi or Thumper for dinner.

    Capiche?

    And I have a hard time comprehending why some Libertarian morons wouldn’t want to know what Galt’s Hearty Man Dinners has in it?
    There has to be a powerful level of “TEH STOOOOOOOPID” to not care about what’s in the food that they eat, and/or serve their family and/or friends – assuming those feckin’ nitwit have any.
    I’m talking about EPIC feckin’ stupidity – like, the kind of stupidity that should make a person get on their knees three times a day and thank their God(s), or nature, that breathing is an involuntary reflex.
    Yeah – THAT kind of epic stupidiy!!!

    As for you second point – uhm… what the hell IS your second point?

  34. maha  •  Feb 9, 2013 @9:13 am

    As for you second point – uhm… what the hell IS your second point?

    I’m guessing it’s some right-wing misinformation about “Obamacare,” but I can’t say for sure.

  35. maha  •  Feb 9, 2013 @9:16 am

    Also, too, in the rightie hive mind “consumer protection” is blasphemy against the Holy Free Market, blessed be it.

  36. c u n d gulag  •  Feb 9, 2013 @9:54 am

    Yes, and they’d gladly eat a heaping bowl of the Holy Free Market’s Cheer-Anthraxio’s for breakfast. “And don’t forget kids, put a cup of Chalk-milk in that bowl, for all of it’s chalky goodness!”

    I can’t even think of what to say to a person who is stupid and brainwashed enough to NOT care what they, and the people near and dear to them, eat.
    I think I proved that in the 100′s of word-turds above.

  37. Wonder Woman  •  Feb 9, 2013 @3:21 pm

    Knowing what is in a product as far as ingredients is one thing. It is my understanding that now restaurants must disclose nutritional information and calorie counts for dishes – including salad bars.

    If people don’t want to eat in restaurants that don’t provide this – can’t they just choose to not eat there? I agree that people should be able to know if something is beef or pork or if it has sugar or salt in it. But being penalized for not disclosing how many calories are in a slice of pizza – or being prosecuted if you are wrong – seems like a First Amendment infringement.

    As for the Affordable Care Act, I had read that certain questions were now mandated between physicians and patients during annual check-ups. The only link that I can find to this is this one:

    http://pjmedia.com/blog/a-physicians-new-reality-patients-ask-me-to-break-the-law/?singlepage=true

    I’ve tried to research it online directly to the Affordable Care Act, and cannot find it. My apologies; I would rather find something in the Act itself.

    If this physician is saying something that is not so – again, my apologies. If he is correct, however, I don’t believe that a doctor should be forced to make any specific inquiries with a patient, with the exception of current standards that could lead to immediate loss of life (suicide, murder, etc.)

  38. maha  •  Feb 9, 2013 @5:36 pm

    I agree that people should be able to know if something is beef or pork or if it has sugar or salt in it. But being penalized for not disclosing how many calories are in a slice of pizza – or being prosecuted if you are wrong – seems like a First Amendment infringement.

    What is the difference between salt and calories? Why would it be OK to require listing salt but not calories? That makes no sense. Lots of people are on calorie restricted diets, and it’s not always easy to guess from just the ingredients how many calories are in something. There’s no First Amendment infringement here; people who sell products are required to make public what is in the products. Period.

    The PJ Media article you link to is absurd. Whoever wrote it must have the IQ of a eggplant, even if he is a physician. I will explain:

    He is referring to a new Medicare benefit, stipulated in “Obamacare” that Medicare recipients may receive one annual “wellness visit” without being required to pay the $20 (or whatever it was) co-pay. The physicians are still reimbursed by Medicare; they aren’t being asked to work for nothing.

    This went into effect in 2011. The purpose is to encourage people to get checkups, because when medical problems are caught early they are cheaper to treat. In theory, if lots of people get their “free” visits to the doctor’s office it might actually save the Medicare system money. If the physician orders any tests or treatments, they are not part of the “wellness visit” and are to be paid for, by Medicare if covered.

    Again, this only applies to Medicare and Medicare Advantage, and all it provides is that for the basic “checkup” only the co-pay is waived. Again, if the patient requires treatment for something, either the patient or Medicare or Medicare Advantage pays for it.

    Obviously, the guy who wrote the PJ Media article had a very half-assed understanding of what the new law required. It sounds as if patients are asking him to give them free treatment as part of the “free” wellness visit, but that isn’t the deal. He just needs to explain to them that anything beyond the basic “wellness visit” has to be paid for as it was before.

  39. Wonder Woman  •  Feb 9, 2013 @9:47 pm

    I do not have any definitive guidelines about the Affordable Healthcare Act requirements on speech. Let’s just say that I agreed with your original points about privacy and freedom of speech…. and that I don’t want doctors forced to tell women anything about abortion by politicians – nor general health, either, by politicians.

    As for ingredients and calories – a world of difference. It’s impossible for restaurants to really know how many calories are in various foods without tremendous expense. Disclosing the actual ingredients is something else; there may be many, but they can be listed. You may believe that it’s all right to penalize a business because they either don’t list caloric and nutritional data, but I sure do not.

    If you don’t like eating in places that don’t disclose, then either only eat at places that choose to provide you with that information – or – figure it out at home.

    Freedom for everyone.

  40. maha  •  Feb 9, 2013 @10:56 pm

    I do not have any definitive guidelines about the Affordable Healthcare Act requirements on speech.

    It’s not a requirement about speech but a requirement of procedure. Here are the guidelines for the wellness visits. As you can see, it doesn’t tell doctors what to say, but what the wellness visit is supposed to accomplish. Arguing that this is somehow an infringement of a doctor’s free speech is utterly bogus. It certainly doesn’t limit what a doctor can say. The whole idea of the wellness visits is to start a dialog between the doctor and patient, for pity’s sake. However, if the doctor does any procedures beyond what’s in the guideline he can bill the patient for them.

    And keep in mind, this only applies to Medicare and Medicare Advantage, which are funded by taxpayers. If the government is going to spend taxpayer money, it’s not unreasonable for the government to establish parameters for what’s being paid for, to keep people from running up the tab.

    As to the calorie requirement — as I understand it, the federal law applies only to big chains of 20 or more restaurants, not Mom and Pop cafes, and the big companies really ought to have the resources to calculate calories for their standard menu items. I happen to appreciate the calorie counts. Some restaurants are using it in their advertising, notice, so it doesn’t seem to be a problem.

    Even so, I don’t see this as a speech issue at all. You might argue that it’s an unfair overreach of federal power (I don’t think so) or some such, but speech? I’m not sure you quite get the concept of speech. Requiring a corporation to publicly disclose something about their products is just plain not a speech issue, but a commerce issue.

  41. Wonder Woman  •  Feb 9, 2013 @11:26 pm

    Sorry, Maha. Your link requires a login; no information available there. I find it unfortunate that it IS so difficult to find data about all of it…. but – I suppose it is such a gigantic bill, that is not shocking.

    As for the rules about food labeling – apparently grocers are worried that the law will be extended to them, too:

    http://foodaction.net/

    I agree with you about food labeling; I like it when I’m able to get information on nutrition. But my opinion is that retailers shouldn’t be forced to provide this, and face jail if they do not.

    And – it surely seems like speech to me.

  42. maha  •  Feb 9, 2013 @11:50 pm

    WW — you can get to the article without logging in by googling

    medicare annual wellness visit guidelines

    and it’s the first article that comes up, at least for me. If you get to it through google you don’t have to log in. And, anyway, it’s a free login. And if that doesn’t work, try the second hit, or the third, or the fourth. There’s a lot of information that comes up with the right search.

    The information is not hard to find; it’s only hard to find for you. If you are searching for “speech guidelines” you are going to have a hard time, because THEY ARE NOT SPEECH GUIDELINES. THERE ARE NO SPEECH GUIDELINES.

    And – it surely seems like speech to me.

    By the same token, filling a box with rocks and selling it as candy would seem like a speech infringement to you. Or, at least, it’s the same principle. Free speech is a civil liberty, and civil liberties by definition are rights of individuals. Corporations are not individuals — well except to Mitt Romney and Antonin Scalia, but they are nuts — and corporations that sell stuff to the public are required to disclose all kinds of stuff the board of directors probably rather not, including stuff about executive salaries and quarterly profits, and that’s not a free speech issue. It. is. not. a. free. speech. issue. but. a. commerce. issue.

    Sorry, I’m very tired, and I feel as if I’ve been conversing with a tree stump. This conversation is over now.

  43. Swami  •  Feb 10, 2013 @2:47 am

    Wonder Woman…Were you born in Brooklyn? Both of my parents and my grand parents were born in Brooklyn. Go Dodgers! But I don’t smoke that stuff any more..the cyclohexanol didn’t agree with me. It was like bouts of short time instant Alzheimers, but it didn’t effect my driving ability. I was born in Nassau.

  44. maha  •  Feb 10, 2013 @8:55 am

    Prediction: Wonder Woman will continue to look for the “speech guidelines” for the wellness visit program, and she won’t find them because they don’t exist, but this will prove to her that the Obama Administration is secretive about what’s really in “Obamacare.” This is how wingnut mythology evolves.

  45. c u n d gulag  •  Feb 10, 2013 @9:25 am

    A-yup, maha – that secretive KenyanSocialistFascistCommunistAtheistMuslimHeathen, is being secretive.
    I’m surprised that the right didn’t call Obamacare, “Shariacare.”

    And I, for one, am not surprised that even though you titled this post “First Amendment Primer (For Righties),” and tried to explain the difference between perception and reality, that, when righties came across it, they still didn’t get it. You can’t teach a brain-dead dog new tricks.

  46. Wonder Woman  •  Feb 10, 2013 @10:25 am

    Actually, I did find the guidelines – and you can, too, here:

    http://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Medicare-Learning-Network-MLN/MLNMattersArticles/downloads/MM7079.pdf

    To have a “wellness” annual check-up covered, a doctor must counsel a patient about smoking, nutrition, weight loss, physical activity – among others.

    Why this does not seem like “coerced speech” for a doctor to some of you, I cannot determine. Requiring that a variety of topics are covered by a doctor by the governmetn sure does to me.

    And – I wonder why so many of you seem compelled to be so insulting. Do you not wish to have a dialogue with anyone who doesn’t share your own viewpoints? Are none of you ever wrong?

    How to you believe you can improve our country if you write off roughly 50% of its people as “brain-dead” or akin to having Alzheimers?

    I would be interested in hearing anyone’s opinions. If you can explain why belittling and insults seem to be so much a part of your posts here, too – I’d appreciate hearing why.

  47. maha  •  Feb 10, 2013 @11:08 pm

    To have a “wellness” annual check-up covered, a doctor must counsel a patient about smoking, nutrition, weight loss, physical activity – among others.

    Why this does not seem like “coerced speech” for a doctor to some of you,

    wow, you really are brainwashed. I’m sure there’s nothing I can say that would make a dent in the fog of ideological bullshit, but for the record, this is a service that Medicare is paying the doctor to perform, and this is Medicare spelling out what service it is paying for. Doctors can always refuse to accept Medicare patients if they find this onerous. It does not tell the doctor what to say, but what to do if he chooses to accept Medicare patients and they come in to receive this service. Private insurance companies also make procedural stipulations that doctors have to follow to be in their networks, and what Medicare is doing is no different. The program is not putting speech in doctor’s mouths or compelling them to say anything in particular; they can say whatever they think best helps them provide the service.

    This is nothing at all like what many right-wing states are doing, which is giving physicians specific, word-for-word statements they must read to patients seeking an abortion, and often those speeches lie about medical facts. Doctors are being compelled by government to lie to their patients. THAT’S an infringement on speech.

    Now, as I said, talking to you really is as like talking to a tree stump, so you’re done now.

  48. Swami  •  Feb 11, 2013 @1:09 am

    I would be interested in hearing anyone’s opinions. If you can explain why belittling and insults seem to be so much a part of your posts here, too – I’d appreciate hearing why.

    To answer is to concede? Well, quite frankly I see you as a troll. I see things in your writing that leads me to believe you’re an accomplished troll. I could be hyper-vigilant or completely paranoid, but either way your writing ability surpasses your thinking ability so I have to conclude you’re playing some sort of a word game.

    Forgive me if I’m wrong. Take a look at the bold print above and study the dynamic of how it’s constructed and what it says or “seems” to say. Are you from New York? Both of my parents and…..

  49. maha  •  Feb 11, 2013 @8:11 am

    To answer is to concede?

    The answer is that I lose patience when I realize someone is being deliberately obtuse and that I’m wasting my time trying to reason with them.



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