Anonymous Speech IS Free Speech

The ability to speak anonymously or use a pen name is a pillar of free speech.

The decision to publish anonymously was important for two reasons: It let the authors speak with a single voice and, as Madison was already an important voice in shaping the Constitution, allowed the arguments to stand on their own merits. As Federalist “No. 1” explains, “My arguments will be open to all, and may be judged of by all.”

But despite its clear importance to America’s founding and its enshrinement in the First Amendment, the ability of Americans to anonymously advocate ideas they care about is under attack at the state and federal level.

Non-profit organizations such as the NAACP or the National Rifle Association have for decades vigorously partaken in the public policy debate. To keep their doors open, non-profits have generally relied on the support of thousands of members who believe in the organization’s mission. But politicians and bureaucrats in states such Missouri, South Dakota, Washington, and Oregon are risking diminishing that support considerably. Voters in South Dakota and Washington will be asked next week to vote on ballot initiatives requiring supporters’ personal information be reported to the government. Public officials in Missouri and Oregon, meanwhile, are backing legislative measures implementing this free speech-chilling policy. Similar efforts are underway, or will be soon, in other states.

The sad fact is that forced disclosure would open people up to harassment and violent attack. If these laws pass, individuals’ names, home address, contributions, and more will end up in a searchable government website, where anyone could use the information to target their opponents. Ultimately, this could stifle people’s willingness to speak out and support causes they believe in—exactly what TED’s Chris Anderson warned.

Posted by: Howie at 02:24 PM


1 We have already seen harassment and personal attacks on people merely for supporting a policy or showing up to a rally. It is time to stop this unAmerican disrespect for our citizens.

I am for disclosure, and also steep punishment for interfering with public debate by harassment or violence.

Posted by: Valerie at November 02, 2016 03:27 PM

2 The more the left demands disclosure of contributors to organizations such as the NRA, the more I feel obligated to arm myself, just in case.

Last I checked, I still have a right to defend myself and my community.

Posted by: Gork at November 02, 2016 05:19 PM

3 So Valerie, did you see any of the destructive occupy people get jailed AND fined or punished in any way?
Did you see any of the people beating Trump supporters being jailed AND fined or punished in any way?
Did you see any of the black lives matter people being jailed AND fined or punished in any way for all of their destruction?
So you want disclosure so that any of us that dislike the proceeding groups policies can be easily found by them. BUT, you have Not seen any punishment.
Tell me again how that will work. I am missing something here.

Posted by: Kafiroon at November 03, 2016 10:18 AM

4 Well, that just screws the Government's "See Something, Say Something"!

Posted by: Phil at November 03, 2016 10:23 AM

5 Proper disclosure to be correct would REQUIRE every public officials twittery and social media blatherings to have THEIR title and office and official complaint contact info posted WITH EVERY ONE OF THEIR POSTINGS.

but you know that these closet-commies will always only have RULES FOR THEE, BUT NOT FOR ME

Posted by: burgundiaal at November 03, 2016 04:06 PM

6 @burgundiaal

Part one, correct public business is public.

Part two, WRONG!

Unpopular speech deserves special protection, the reason they put this in there is simple, the king hanged people for writing even less than sedition.

If you've no anonymous speech, unpopular speech or speech unpopular with the government is suppressed.

Also you can't have a free press. Because anonymity is central to their sources. The sources' right to remain anonymous rests on the right to anonymous speech.

Posted by: Howie at November 03, 2016 06:24 PM

7 No big deal. Did you know the Clinton Foundation is registered in Canada? Why would they do that? Because in Canada one doesn't have to disclose who gives to groups like the Clinton Foundation. Then the Canadian branch of the Clinton Foundation donates the money to the Clinton Foundation in New York City. Slick huh! This allows to keep who is sending them money a secret. There's always a way.

Posted by: Greyrooster at November 06, 2016 06:34 PM

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