Free Speech: Going, Going ...

Molly Ivins

Eternal vigilance is the price of ... um, well, guess we can't say that anymore. We might get sued. Mostly when we think of threats to free speech, it's government actions or laws we have in mind -- the usual bizarre stuff like veggie libel laws or attempts to keep government actions or meetings secret from the public. Sometimes you get a political case, like then-Gov. George W. Bush's effort to stop a Bush-parody site on the Internet. The parody, run by a 29-year-old computer programmer in Boston named Zack Exley, annoyed Bush so much that he called Exley "a garbageman" and said, "There ought to be limits to freedom." (That's not a parody -- he actually said that.) Bush's lawyers warned Exley that he faced a lawsuit. Then they filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission demanding that Exley be forced to register his parody site with the FEC and have it regulated as a political committee.