Archive for Thursday, May 23, 2013

Editorial: Guns, speech

May 23, 2013


Various loopholes may limit the impact of a bill that bans the use of state funds to promote or oppose gun-control measures, but the measure reflects a disregard for free speech that should concern Kansas residents.

The bill, which is on its way to the governor after winning approval Tuesday in the Kansas House, would prevent local governments and school districts from using state tax dollars to hire lobbyists to influence gun-control issues. The measure had the strong backing of the National Rifle Association, which uses considerable private money to promote its position on guns.

The bill passed this week addresses only gun control issues, but some legislators already have said they would like to pursue broader restrictions on the use of state funds for lobbying efforts. Earlier this year, legislators considered trying to prohibit the use of state dollars to express an opinion on legislation dealing with “any legal product.” However, they apparently realized that such a broad mandate could affect such things as the state health department promoting less tobacco use or state highway officials working to decrease drunken driving.

Nonetheless, at least some legislators believe the legislation that passed could prevent a state entity like the Kansas Board of Regents from providing advocacy or testimony on gun issues on state university campuses.

The measure raises unsettling questions about support for free speech in the state. Why would state legislators want to limit the range of viewpoints and information they receive on any measure they are considering?

The effort to restrict lobbying apparently grew out of some legislators’ displeasure at school districts hiring lobbyists to seek additional state funding. Why shouldn’t public school districts be allowed to take their case for increased funding to the Legislature? Why shouldn’t state universities be allowed to hire lobbyists to speak on their behalf?

It would be easy enough for either K-12 schools or state universities to show that any money they spent on lobbying came from non-state sources, but why would legislators want to send such a speech-stifling message to Kansas residents?

Passage of this measure may be an indication that lawmakers didn’t have enough to keep them busy while they waited on the governor and legislative leaders to hammer out a compromise on taxes and the state budget. It’s another reason for the Legislature to wrap up its essential business and call it a day.


Lawrence Morgan 4 years, 11 months ago

This is a very important editorial. More on it soon.

Would you like your boss to carry a gun while you are working?

How about your teacher carrying a gun while conducting class? Is that the way we want to go?

When guns stifle free speech, that is going way too far.

Liberty275 4 years, 11 months ago

"Would you like your boss to carry a gun..."

I wouldn't mind in either case as long as they have a CC license. Do you think your boss is going to shoot you? How about Miss Betty from 4th grade English? Do you think she is going to shoot you? What's the problem? They might be able to fire back at a criminal?

somebodynew 4 years, 11 months ago

"Why would state legislators want to limit the range of viewpoints and information they receive on any measure they are considering?"

Because we will do it THEIR way !!! They know best. Just ask them. Better yet, you probably can't ask them, they will TELL you what to think and how to act. If you dare to ask you will probably be in trouble.

If this doesn't scare people, then then the people of Kansas have no hope.

skinny 4 years, 11 months ago

They are trying to protect your constitutional rights from the likes above! I think some forget this is a free country!~

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

What about our 1st amendment rights?

Given the conflation of spending money with speech which is common today, prohibiting entities from spending money is equivalent to stifling their 1st amendment rights.

skull 4 years, 11 months ago

Don't forget about religious freedom problem ramming those beliefs down your throat. That'll keep 'em quiet.

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 11 months ago

No one can force you to "believe" anything. You have to make that choice all by yourself, and then you have to decide whether you want to act on it or not.

Liberty275 4 years, 11 months ago

I think there are exceptions, Stockholm Syndrome for instance, but in practice, you are right. People can and do believe what they want.

Brock Masters 4 years, 11 months ago

No one's first amendment right is being stifled. Anyone or any entity can speak out in support of gun control. The only prohibition is they can't use money appropriated by the legislature.

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

Well, I might agree, but then I think the CU decision is wrong, and that spending money isn't equivalent to speech.

But, given that decision and the fact that our courts seem to have concluded that spending money on political advocacy is in fact protected speech, telling them they can't spend money on political activity is interfering with their 1st amendment rights.

Once the money has gone from the state to the other entities, the money belongs to the other entities, and they should be able to spend it how they like.

Brock Masters 4 years, 11 months ago

jafs the government gives money with strings attached all the time.

Do you think the federal government would have allowed the state of Kansas to spend money given them to run ads opposing Obamacare when the money was intended to develop a health exchange?

Grants and other funding is given and the receiving party can't spend it how they like.

They can all their own money that they want, but money appropriated by the state has strings attached to it. Don't like it then find your own funding.

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

Well, if it's specifically given for certain purposes, you're right.

But, if that were the case, then there'd be no need for this law, so it must not be the case here.

Brock Masters 4 years, 11 months ago

All appropriated money is given for a reason but now it is clear what you can't do with the money.

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

If it's given for specific purposes, then there'd be no need for this law.

I think it's fine for government at any level to give money for specific uses, like education or infrastructure, etc. But, there's a real difference between that and this law, which disallows use of the money to exercise 1st amendment rights.

If money is given for specific things, and the entities use them for other things, that's essentially "theft by conversion", and wrong. I'm sure that there are remedies for that.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 11 months ago

How much money does it cost to speak? Doesn't this essentially say that if you receive money from the state, for whatever reason, they have the right to tell you to shut up, even if your speaking doesn't entail any identifiable expense, other than the time it takes to utter these illegal statements?

Frederic Gutknecht IV 4 years, 11 months ago

This is definitely the biggest problem with this "bill". It gives our mightily righteous state government the right to sue any entity it feels is challenging its rule. Their lawsuit doesn't need to have much, if any, "merit". They can beat our actions and speech back with our own funds, and probably any funds provided by their illustrious supporters.

Liberty275 4 years, 11 months ago

You don't pay to speak, you pay to be heard. I'm surprised Jafs. How do you not get that?

elliottaw 4 years, 11 months ago

Already lost the 4th amendment, the 5th is tested all the time and you can be thrown in jail now for not talking, there is no real religious freedom

jonas_opines 4 years, 11 months ago

"Why would state legislators want to limit the range of viewpoints and information they receive on any measure they are considering?"

The same reason anyone wants to limit the range of viewpoints and information they receive. Because they want to maintain their personal opinion as Truth and they can only do that by insulating themselves.

Brock Masters 4 years, 11 months ago

Just like those that support gay marriage who tried to destroy the owner of Chick fil a for expressing his view on gay marriage.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 11 months ago

In the case you cite, it's individuals stating that they won't patronize the restaurants of someone who clearly wishes to discriminate against them, and wants public policy to support his bigotry. They've asked those who agree with them to join in that boycott. They've in no way attempted to prevent him, or anyone else, from speaking his mind, or to prevent anyone who so desires to eat at his restaurants. Being able to choose where you spend your money, and share your opinions about it, seems like a fairly direct extension of the 1st Amendment.

That's not at all comparable to the government telling government employees that they can't speak at all on certain subjects if their statements don't toe the party line, even if they have expertise and data that contradict that party line. That's downright Stalinist if you ask me.

Brock Masters 4 years, 11 months ago

Oh bull. They tried to shut him up with their boycott and all the hate hurled at him. It happens all the time.

And the government is not telling employees they can't speak. They can speak but have to do it on their time and their dime.

elliottaw 4 years, 11 months ago

actually no they are telling them they can't speak or hire anyone to speak for them

oldbaldguy 4 years, 11 months ago

a viable and vibrant democratic party would stop this. we do not have a functioning opposition party in this state.

George Lippencott 4 years, 11 months ago

Help me here. Are we arguing that there is a free speech right to public funds to argue a cause?

Liberty275 4 years, 11 months ago

The government nor anyone representing a government should ever be allowed to argue a cause. If a person is off the clock, I think they should be allowed to do anything that doesn't violate another's rights, including holding a dumb sign on a sidewalk.

Brock Masters 4 years, 11 months ago

This editorial is a bit hypocritical considering the censoring that is done on these forums. The post don't violate any rules but the moderator doesn't like the post so they delete it.

Now of course this is a privately owned site so they can do what they want but it seems hypocritical to rail against stifling speech when they do it here everyday. Especially when the censoring isn't done on rule violation but dislike of the content.

Liberty275 4 years, 11 months ago

I think they are a tad tight. I wish they would just filter the spam and obscenity and let people say what they think.

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