“Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press . . .”  — The First Amendment.  Congress continues to regulate speech in violation of the Constitution.  What we need is to have power returned to the people in their communities to regulate speech and the press.

Right now pornography is a more protected medium of expression than explicitly political speech.  Thanks to the McCain Feingold Campaign Finance bill there are severe limits on the freedom of political speech in the last 30 to 60 days prior to an election, the most important time for open discussion and airing of issues before any election.

Congress has outlawed child pornography but does not know what to do with computer generated images of child porn.   Because of these laws underage kids are now facing problems of being listed on sex offender registries for the rest of their lives for sending pornographic images of themselves or others from their phones with cameras.

This week the Supreme Court will be hearing a case about a movie maker who filmed some dog fighting and used video from other sources in his films.  The film maker was sentenced to 37 months in jail although there were no allegations that he was involved in staging, encouraging, or participating in the dog fights.  The film was found to violate a federal law against trafficking in depictions of animal cruelty.  Michael Vick who organized and paid for a dog fighting ring was only sentenced to 23 months in prison.  The law makes exceptions for videos that have some kind of educational, religious, historical, journalistic, or artistic value but without clear guidelines people who make these videos may face unfair prosecution.

We need a return to local controls again.  Freedom of speech with local influence and restrictions according to the values of the community.

In the early 1800’s the First Amendment applied to the Federal Government, not the states.  Not only could a state persecute people for their religion, but the individual states and municipalities could abridge freedom of speech and of the press.

One example in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (“The Church”) was action taken by Joseph Smith and the City of Nauvoo against the Nauvoo Expositor.  The Expositor printed some very inflammatory articles calling for violence against the leaders of The Church.  The city council of Nauvoo met and after taking evidence and having a hearing on the matter declared the Expositor a public nuisance and ordered it destroyed.

Is that such a bad model?  Just imagine if that kind of local control was given to the people again!  Communities and cities could ban pornography and other salacious material.  There would be public airings of difficulties and then people and businesses would know what kind of speech is allowed in their city or community.  Likewise there would be some other communities that would pander and cater to lower and baser elements of society.  When the same rules are applied to an entire State or Nation there is a race to the lowest common denominator for what is barely acceptable speech.  This never allows for a community that wants higher standards.

On a community or even a city level, you can have a marketplace of acceptable speech where community values would rule and allow for a better mix of what is or is not acceptable.  Let the communities have more control.

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