Harvard Law School Professor Larry Lessig and President Barack Obama are birds of a feather. They both joined the faculty at the University of Chicago Law School in 1991 with similar goals and almost identical political objectives. They were part of the new wave of young radicals who wanted to use the law to reshape America and its culture. And they have worked in tandem in pursuit of their dreams ever since.
Fast forward to today and Lessig is focusing his energies on undermining a key pillar of American democracy, free speech. He has started the ???SuperPAC to end all SuperPACs???. As he asserts in his own video: ???we want to spend big money to end the influence of big money ??? embrace the irony.??? Well, here???s something not so ironic, his PAC is called ???MayDay PAC???, as in the annual holiday to celebrate socialism. MayDay bills itself as a ???crowd-funded non-partisan Super PAC??? that loads its staff with the far left and pays them with the ???big money??? they are so opposed to. Lenin would be ashamed.
It???s because of this dogmatic opposition to speech that Lessig???s MayDay PAC is opposing candidates who have supported conservative free-speech rights like Michigan???s Congressman Fred Upton. Indeed, it was recently reported that MayDay will spend $1.5 million to target Upton, whose support for constitutionally protected speech appears to be an unforgivable sin for MayDay apparatchiks.
So how did Lessig get to the point where he so actively works against important individual rights? Where Barack Obama pursued elected office to implement his agenda, Lessig remained in academia to achieve the same purpose. Both men want to curb the right to free speech, and both have raised millions of dollars to limit 1st Amendment rights. Indeed, they???ve both declared that because money in politics is so dangerous, they must raise record amounts of it to prevent others from having the right to do the same.
Both men also see free enterprise as incongruous with the rights of regular Americans, and both are mystified when companies do not happily reduce their profit margins when their intellectual superiors suggest it.
Both men support ???net neutrality??? (the proposal that would dictate to internet providers how they may conduct business). Lessig is one of the principal architects of net neutrality; Obama is its chief protagonist.
Yes, Lessig and Obama are birds of a feather, or at least they were until 2011. That is when Larry Lessig announced that President Obama had betrayed his radical roots and had disappointed the movement. That???s right, Larry Lessig believes that Barack Obama is too conservative.
And Lessig has put his time and money where his mouth is. He spent many years working to undermine intellectual property rights, losing his biggest battle in 2003 when the US Supreme Court ruled 7-2 against his client in the Eldred vs Ashcroft case. Fortunately, the Court upheld the right of Congress to determine the appropriate length of protection for inventors and authors to preserve their property interests. Only liberal Justices Breyer and Stevens found Lessig???s arguments to be of any interest whatsoever.
So, if Lessig finds irony in his own efforts to stifle free speech, here???s what I find ironic: He works tirelessly to diminish free speech by curbing the financial support of it, and he simultaneously condemns companies for being interested in markets rather than engaging in the ???free exchange of ideas??? (i.e., intellectual property). The explanation to this conundrum is rooted in how Lessig uses the word ???free???. When it comes to the free exchange of intellectual property, he wants ???yours??? to become ???mine??? as quickly as possible (as in, ???what???s yours is mine???). Conversely, when it comes to free speech, he wants ???mine??? to remain ???mine??? so it can never be ???yours???.
The American Conservative Union believes in free speech, free markets and property rights. Those concepts have generated the greatest wealth and prosperity for the most people all over the world. But before anyone buys what Larry is selling, they should remember the wise advice given by mothers and fathers and teachers and friends everywhere: nothing in life is free.
Dan Schneider is the Executive Director of the American Conservative Union.