Scott Tibbs
Submitted to the New York Times,
December 30th, 2004

Back to Letters to the Editor.

Like a lamb to the slaughter
To the Editor:

Sadly, the New York Times has published yet another editorial (December 29) attacking the right to freedom of speech. What the Times fails to understand is that once you establish a precedent that free speech can be restricted by government, everyone is at risk for this power to be used against them. Without the First Amendment, the Times may not exist.

The Times complained about the 527 groups serving as the conduit for political attack ads during the last campaign. What of the Times' own editorials criticizing President Bush, Senator Kerry or other public officials? Are readers of the Times to think that the editorial board believes the mainstream media are the only ones qualified to express an opinion? I would like to see the Times explain just why political speech in a paid advertisement is so different from political speech on a newspaper's editorial page.

Perhaps the Times should disclose the voter registration records and political contributions (if applicable) of its staff. If the Times is (as I suspect) dominated by registered Democrats, would the editorial page then be subject to FEC regulations? After all, we would not want political partisans using "the nationís newspaper of record" to score points for their candidate or party.

The answer to free speech is not censorship. The Times should know better than anyone that a silenced population (or a silenced press) cannot expose abuses of government. The answer to free speech you don't like is more speech to refute the "offensive" speech. Instead, the Congress passed and the President signed an Orwellian law restricting the right of the American people to criticize them close to an election, when it really matters, in the name of "clean campaigns". And the Times follows right behind, like a lamb to the slaughter.

Scott Tibbs