Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Regulation of Political Speech, Soviet-Style

A few weeks back, I (justifiably) made fun of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign's insistence on making Catholic churches disclose their funding, due to the churches' advocacy in favor of the gay marriage ban. It seemed to be a clear example of attempting to thwart a church's right to disseminate their teachings.

Often times, people reach for hyperbole to describe such actions. They'd say things like "that sounds like something the Nazis would do," or "what is this, Communist Russia?" However, in this case, I don't need to use hyperbole - Russia has done it for me (and since I just read a book on Russia, it makes me an instant expert).

From USA Today:

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia — The Kremlin might back away from a new law that would force churches and religious groups to report to the government on their services, sermons and sources of income.

The rules, contained in a law passed in April, have sparked outrage among human rights groups, churches operating in Russia and Western governments, including the European Union. The Russian government passed the law in an effort to monitor the activities of organizations such as Amnesty International and Doctors Without Borders, foreign-funded groups that President Vladimir Putin has warned might interfere in domestic politics.

During his seven years as president, Putin's government has asserted greater state control over independent Russian media and business. It also has eliminated most political opposition in parliament and turned the country's governorships from elected to appointed jobs...

The country's religious leaders say the reporting requirements are onerous and a painful reminder of the religious suppression of the Soviet era. "We think it's wrong and even impossible to comply," says Thaddaeus Kondrusiewicz, the Catholic archbishop in Moscow.

Well, I have news for Russian citizens - there are groups here in Wisconsin that think it's a great idea.

The Wisconsin Democracy campaign is afraid of religious organizations that attempt to influence politics, so they try to regulate their speech. The Kremlin is afraid of religious organizations that attempt to influence politics, so they regulate their speech.

And just for the record, The WDC is the group that most newspapers are completely comfortable with writing Wisconsin's new campaign finance reform laws. If you want Mike McCabe to be in charge of how much speech you are allowed with regard to candidates and elections, his group is for you.