Toys Aren’t People

A lot of people in this country have had chips on their shoulders about the Citizens United decision allowing corporations to spend money on political speech. “Corporations aren’t people! The 1st Amendment doesn’t apply to them!” these people say.

Well, the Russian government just used this same argument to ban a protest using toys to make its point. The idea was that these toys would hold protest signs, visually expanding the ranks of protestors even in the midst of the Siberian winter. Well, the Russian government says the toys can’t participate in the protest, because “they’re not people.” What’s next, banning the use of protest signs because they’re not people either?

It’s time for everyone to admit that the tools of speech are protected just as well as yelling from a soapbox by Freedom of Speech provisions in the US Bill of Rights and elsewhere. “Freedom of Speech” means that in protesting, you’re free to organize, to use protest signs, to buy things that aid your message, and to put them on display without any limits that may chill your speech.

This means that, in the United States, a group of people organized as a corporation, pooling their money to buy ads and contribute to political campaigns are constitutionally protected to do so. Likewise, people organized into unions have the same rights. There can be no government-enforced financial limits on speech without violating the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution.

Don’t like it? Grit your teeth and deal with it like a responsible human being who respects the rights of other human beings. Punch a pillow if you have to. But if you want to keep your right to freedom of speech, then you can’t infringe on the rights of others. That’s what it means to have equal rights to freedom.

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