...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Thursday, June 24, 2004
      ( 1:04 PM )
Censorship and Protection

What strange times we live in. Did I just say that out loud?

Today we hear two diametrically opposed policies out of Washington. The first is censorship: the FEC wants to ban television commercials of Michael Moore's Farenheit/911 movie after July 30. The basic argument is that it is a campaign issue, not a commercial movie issue. The problem is, the censorship will effect other documentaries and the freedom of filmakers to advertise their films.

The FEC ruling may also affect promotion of a slew of other upcoming political documentaries and films, such as “Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War,” which opens in August, “The Corporation,” about democratic institutions being subsumed by the corporate agenda, or “Silver City,” a recently finished film by John Sayles that criticizes the Bush administration.

Another film, “The Hunting of the President,” which investigates whether Bill Clinton was the victim of a vast conspiracy, could be subject to regulations if it mentions Bush or members of Congress in its ads.

Since the FEC considers the Republican presidential convention scheduled to begin Aug. 30 a national political primary in which Bush is a candidate, Moore and other politically oriented filmmakers could not air any ad mentioning Bush after July 30.

Basically, Moore's freedom as a citizen filmaker to express his opinions through his documentary is being curtailed by censorship. He doesn't work for the Kerry campaign or for a 527, he doesn't belong to any group that is using the film as a campaign tool. Simply put, it's anti-Bush, and so the Bush government is doing everything it can to stop it. I have a feeling, that this will be moot in terms of commercial sales - by July 30, Moore won't need commercials; the movie will sell itself.. But that isn't the point.

MEANWHILE, the Supreme Court has decided that some people simply don't have to comply with the law.

The president is not above the law, Kennedy wrote, but there is a "paramount necessity of protecting the executive branch from vexatious litigation that might distract it from the energetic performance of its constitutional duties."

He said "special considerations applicable to the president and the vice president suggest that the courts should be sensitive to requests by the government" in such special appeals.

I'm sorry, but this decision DOES mean that the president (and vice president) is above the law, which is not what they decided regarding Clinton. We can all agree that sometimes there are unseen national security issues at stake when a President or Vice President makes some sort of decision or does some sort of research that they don't want disclosed publicly. But this is about conspiring with energy corporations and influence on national domestic energy policy. This is about transparency and the ability for citizens of this country to feel comfortable with the idea that the government is acting in our best interest. The Supreme Court has said we have no such guarantee and we can't force the goverment to prove it. They have left it open to go back to the lower, court, but this will keep the information from being revealed until long past this election.

What do these two pieces of news teach us today? One, if you are a private citizen and you want to express your opinion or even try to sell it commercially, you no longer have that right. Who CARES if Moore's film is a diatribe against Bush - that's Moore's right. The Bush people can make their own documentary if they want to. The point isn't the content, the point is the right to air it. This government and its supporters are only about stifling debate and silencing dissent. Second, if you are a powerful energy corporation or a vice president who has allowed an energy corporation to influence government policy for whatever reason, you're allowed to keep that a secret.

Who has the power in this country is the question we need to be asking ourselves. Is the power in the hands of the people, or in the hands of the powerful, whose interests are nowhere near those of the peoples? Hopefully the answer will be somewhat found in numbers. The numbers of people who go to Moore's movie. The number of people who vote. The number of people who work for change. I hope all those numbers will increase and show others that while we may not have the money, power or influence that corporations currently do, it doesn't have to stay that way.

UPDATE: Encourage the courageous.

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