Is It Free Speech|If You Pay For It?

     A new era is about to dawn for civil rights in America.
     Finally, a neglected, abused group of citizens is on the verge of realizing the dream of equality.
     Or maybe not.
     I’m speaking (actually, writing) of course about those much-maligned, legally-restricted citizens known as corporations. Soon their dreams of being able to speak freely in our society may be realized.
     The U. S. Supreme Court apparently is going to decide whether the government is violating the First Amendment by regulating corporate speech.
     Well, not exactly speech. You see, there’s an equal protection element to this too: corporations have a disability. They don’t have mouths. So the only way they have of communicating is by spending money. It’s kind of like a paralyzed person communicating by blinking eyes – one billion for yes, two billion for no.
     I know some of you, steeped in a tradition of prejudice and misinformation, are convinced that corporations are somehow less than human – that they’re something to be avoided, despised and kept out of our schools.
     But anyone who’s gone to law school knows better. Corporations are persons. They can sue and be sued. They pay their taxes and they can serve the military. Isn’t it time they got the rest of their rights?
     I can’t wait to see how the Supreme Court deals with this. I can feel the agonizing screams from the twisted arms of Goddess Logic as justices on both the left and right take her on.
     Think about it (if you dare).
     It’s assumed that justices on the right want to favor corporations. Justices on the right are known for their compassion for the oppressed. But those guys are also known for insisting on enforcing the “original intent” of someone or other in history. But what Revolutionary figure championed the right of massive corporations to spend billions buying legislators?
     It’s assumed that justices on the left want to restrict the influence of giant amounts of money in public affairs. How do you square that with a belief that anyone should be able to say anything? After all, you can’t really be heard in this country without spending millions on promotion or going on a reality show.
     Yes, most of us can go on the Internet, but how many of us reach more than a couple of buddies and some guy we barely knew in high school who seems to think we were best friends?
     The only real way to communicate consistently in America is with lots of money. Sure, that eliminates 99.9% of us, but if we really wanted to say something, we should have made some money.
     So corporations should soon get their rights to free (actually, paid) speech. When that happens, can other rights be far behind?
     Inter-marriage. I predict that Delaware will be the first state to legalize corporate marriage. This can be between two companies or between a man or woman and a company.
     Now you’ll be able to answer the question “If you love your office so much, why don’t you marry it?” with the answer, “The date’s been set.”
     (Aside: What happened to all the marriages to dogs and cats in the states that legalized gay marriage? Were they performed in secret?)
     Voting Rights. Just because a corporation can’t fit into a polling place doesn’t mean it should be denied one of the basic perks of a democratic society. You wouldn’t deny a fat human the right to vote if he couldn’t fit into somebody’s garage.
     Absentee ballots should do the trick. We just need to make sure dissolved corporations don’t vote in Chicago.
     Social Security. Clearly, one of the greatest injustices suffered by corporations is denial of pension rights.
     Lehman Brothers wouldn’t have gone away if it had only been able to fall back on Social Security. Of course, Social Security might have gone away….

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