Corporations Have NO Freedom of Speech Rights by Jack Rooney
Humans "speak" - corporations do not. The mistake of ascribing human attributes to inanimate objects, things, or states; it is called "anthropomorphism". From Webster's Online see: "Main Entry: an·thro·po·mor·phism Pronunciation: -"fi-z&m Function: noun Date: 1753: an interpretation of what is not human or personal in terms of human or personal characteristics : HUMANIZATION - an·thro·po·mor·phist /-fist/ noun http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary.
Statements like the sayings "the tree moaned in the wind" or "the long arm of the law" are examples of anthropomorphic statements. Nice imagery, nice poetry, but unfortunately not accurate, and when it comes right down to issue of truth, such statements are simply not true. Although we as humans are moved by the imagery of such statements, as much as we are moved by the imagery invoked by the words of any poem, there is no corresponding reality in the world which would make the statement empirically true. Such assertions put forth casually are sometimes called "figures of speech" or metaphorical speech. But when they are espoused in the context of the law as if they were some kind of profound and invincible truth, the speaker often makes them from either gross ignorance or as an attempt at deception. This is exactly what the corporate lawyers are doing when they talk about corporate rights and corporate freedom of speech and other such nonsense.
Legal reasoning is not poetry. Humans moan, not trees, and the law does not have arms except in a metaphorical or analogical sense. Corporations do not speak, and they do not have rights.
Anthropomorphism, as a form of metaphor or analogy, is the human activity of comparing something to that which it is not. It gives or assigns or ascribes human (anthro) attributes or qualities or characteristics to a thing or state or process or phenomena which the thing really does not have or possess in the real world. To say, "the corporation spoke to the shareholders", or the senate, or the people, or "it has a right to speak" is as absurd as saying a "corporation has arms or legs and can run a four minute mile."
Corporations do not have "rights" and they do not "speak". Rights are intrinsic to humans, not inanimate objects or transcendental, incorporeal, abstract entities like corporations. Corporations exist only because they are granted permission to exist by the state through approval by the state, the people, usually the Secretary of State, acting on behalf of the people, of one of the States of the United States. Corporations are transcendental states established under contract law. The president of the corporation may speak to the people as presumably representing some sort of vaguely defined collective will of the shareholders, but he/she still speaks as an individual human being, the corporation itself has no vocal cords or lips or tongue, and it makes no more sense to say a corporation can speak and has the right to do so than it makes sense to say a tree or a rock or the sky can speak or has the right to do so.
Corporations are regulated by the state; at least that's the way it is suppose to be. The state is regulated by we the people, at least that is the way it is suppose to be as outlined in our Declaration of Independence, the Articles of War Against the King of England, the Constitution of the United States and Articles. But corporations are turning our constitutional government upside down when allowed to influence, indeed even support, promote, and appoint the state officers, executives, and regulators who are suppose to be their corporate overseers.
America's great internal problem with corporations contributing to and influencing the political reality of our government with money and material influence they routinely exert on the political process, and, ultimately, on the politicians who are suppose to be serving us, is that it stands government on it's head. One of the primary functions of the federal government as outlined in the Constitution is to "control and regulate commerce" (Constitution of the United States, Section 8, Clause 3), but when corporations are allowed to influence the decisions of the decision makers with money through campaign contributions, we now have a situation where the regulated are regulating the regulators, the "controlled" are controlling the controllers. Allowing the regulated to regulate the regulator defeats the entire purpose of our constitutional government.
To cover over their corporate criminal activities, bribery and influence peddling of the most insidious kind designed to undermine the foundations of rightful and legitimate government itself, the corporate presidents and attorneys and spokespersons feign ridiculous demure in response to these charges with absurd claims that the corporations have rights protected by the constitution, and the politicians claim publicly before God and the world that they are not at all influenced by the corporate gold dust.
Corporations have no rights protected by the Constitution of the United States. Although any shareholder has rights as an individual, and every individual has a free right of association and free speech, those rights are not in any way transferred, assumed, subsumed or granted the collective abstract association they form under contract law as an incorporated body. Permission is given to the corporation by the state and then its shareholders to act on behalf of the shareholders in running the day to day operation of the corporate business and affairs, but that permission is nothing more or less than a grant of authority and not an inalienable right. Inalienable rights, like the right to speak freely, to assemble peacefully, to bear arms, to be secure in one's personal property, to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are rights intrinsic to humans and can not be transferred. You can not transfer your right to happiness to another. If you give someone power of attorney to speak or act for you, you have not transferred your inherent, inalienable right any more than you can hand someone your arm to use for a day and return it to you the next - when corporate presidents or officers speak for you or do this or that on your behalf, they are only exercising their "permission" to speak or do for you that which you have granted authority to them to do, but they are not exercising your inalienable "right" to speak. That's why they are called inalienable rights, often "human rights". The Constitution does not grant human rights, or inalienable rights, or rights of any kind to corporations. Nowhere in the Declaration of Independence, the Declaration of War, the Federalist Papers, The Bill of Rights, or any of the historical documents surrounding the founding of this nation support any such notion of corporate free speech rights or any corporate rights whatsoever. In fact, these documents all suggest the opposite.
If one wants to argue that corporations have free speech rights, then one must at the same time be prepared to accept the notion that they also have the right to liberty and happiness. You shall never see a corporation either smile or shed a tear. Would the corporate spinmasters also want to argue next that the corporations have an inalienable right to bear arms? This is exactly where their argument would lead if you grant them the claim to rights premise they put forth as a proposition of truth.
We must not buy into the anthropomorphist's bogus free speech rights claim for corporations or their corporate claim to any rights whatsoever. It is merely a subterfuge designed to turn the tables on legitimate forces of government by deception to allow the corporations to escape regulation and control of we the people, to tamper with the lawmaking process that regulates them, to overturn democratic principles, to write the laws to their own advantage, and to otherwise stack the deck in their own favor. Corporations have privileges and responsibilities granted and allowed to them by we the people under the control and regulation of our duly elected officers, executives, and agents, but corporations have no rights.
The recent campaign finance reform is a step in the right direction, but it is not sufficient, and if we are not to become slaves to the mighty super-corporations, all corporate influence to the political process must be eliminated. The people are the masters of the state, and the state is the servant of the people, and it must not be turned the other way around by the giant corporations.
Also see: The First Amendment Sword
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