Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why do Conservatives Hate the Bill of Rights and Want to Curtail Free Speech?

Not All Free Speech, Just the Speech They Do Not Want

One of the strongest tenets of Conservative philosophy is that free speech is nearly absolute.  The successful drive to allow unlimited campaign contributions has been based on the right of free speech.

This doctrine has been carried to the extreme to support the totally illogical argument that opposes a state program that provides additional resources to someone who is taking state funds for a campaign when the opponent using private money is heavily outspending that candidate.  Such action by the state is deemed an infringement on free speech by the privately financed candidate, even though there is absolutely no restraint on how much the privately financed campaign may spend.

So it always comes as a surprise to The Dismal Political Economist when Conservatives attack and regulate free speech, although it should not since hypocrisy is a key element of Conservative philosophy.  For example, Conservatives has pushed through “gag” laws that both limit a physician’s discussion of abortion and which proscribe certain speech that the physician must say.

Thanks to The Incidental Economist we have been alerted to another violation of free speech by Conservatives in Florida.  This is a report by a physician in Florida commenting on a new Florida law.

Fla Gov. Scott Reassuring a Future Voter that
His Doctor Will Not Try to Protect Him From an
Accident with a Firearm

There’s one customary question, though, that I’m no longer allowed to ask. In June, Gov. Rick Scott signed a law barring Florida doctors from routinely asking patients if they own a gun. The law also authorizes patients to report doctors for “unnecessarily harassing” them about gun ownership and makes it illegal to routinely document firearm ownership information in a patient’s medical record. Other state legislatures have considered similar proposals, but Florida is the first to enact such a law.

The law provides an exemption if the question is “relevant to the patient’s medical care or safety,” though it doesn’t specify what would qualify as relevant. Penalties for violating the law include disciplinary action by the Florida Board of Medicine, which could include citations, fines and “remedial education.”

So a pediatrician’s questions about gun safety in the house are “off limits”.

The Florida chapters of the A. A. P., the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Physicians have filed a suit contesting the law as a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech. . .
“There’s no political agenda — we’re talking about the safety of children,” said Dr. Lisa A. Cosgrove, president of the group’s Florida chapter. “The best way to protect them is to teach the parents how to protect them.”

Hey Watch Your Speech - Fla Gov. Rick Scott is Checking on You

The Dismal Political Economist doubts if the suit will succeed.  After all the courts use the Freedom of Speech issue to protect the rights of the wealthy and restrict the rights of the non-wealthy, and children, whose safety may be at stake are definitely the non-wealthy.

As for Conservatives, if there is a conflict between Freedom of Speech and the quest for unlimited gun rights, well, we now know which side they will be on, don’t we.

Since there is an exception, The Dismal Political Economist would urge all Florida physicians to simply take the position that all firearms questions are relevant to a patients health and safety.  Why, because they are.  And don’t we believe that the government shouldn’t limit free speech?  It is in the Constitution, maybe just not in the version Conservatives carry around with them.

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