An open letter to my congressman about online freedom of speech

Last week, the House failed to pass HR1606, the Online Freedom of Speech Act. Among the 38 Republicans who voted for (correction — against) it was Jeb Bradley (R-NH), my own Congresscritter, whom I voted for last November. Kevin tipped me off to this action, and wondered if I would like to write Congressman Bradley to express my displeasure.

Hmm… my boss wants to know if I’d like to personally yell at a politician who’s threatening my work here at Wizbang. I think I’m gonna have to think about this one for a while…

(Text of letter in the extended section)

As stated in the letter, I will post any response I receive.

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Dear Congressman Bradley:

I am a lifelong New Hampshirite, and have lived in Manchester for the last 15 years. Last November, I was proud to cast my vote for you, and was delighted to see you win another term in Washington.

Last week, however, I found myself doubting the wisdom of that vote.

HR 1606, the Online Freedom of Speech Act, came up for a vote — and you were one of the people who helped defeat that measure.

I am not only a citizen of New Hampshire, and a constituent of yours, but I am also an editor of a weblog. Under the name “Jay Tea” (a nom de plume derived from my initials), I am one of three people responsible for the site I have been a proud member of that staff for almost two years, and have written probably in excess of a thousand pieces in that time. And we have grown until we have reached the point of being consistently in the top 20 weblogs — occasionally cracking the top 10.

One of my primary interests is in politics. While I do tend to give Massachusetts politics a bit more attention than New Hampshire, that is largely because there’s simply so much more to get outraged about in the Bay State — and it helps cast New Hampshire in a more favorable light in comparison. Further, during the last presidential campaign, I spent a great deal of time discussing Senator John Kerry’s candidacy, offering opinions and insights on Senator Kerry gained from our proximity to his home state to our average daily audience of over 11,000 people.

My work at Wizbang is essentially a hobby. I receive absolutely no regular pay for my efforts there, and expect none. I do it for the sheer pleasure of writing, the satisfaction of building and being a part of an online community, and sharing with others my thoughts, observations, and beliefs, while learning from them. It is no exaggeration to say that Wizbang has become one of the most important parts of my life.

Recently, the FEC has said that it intends to start regulating political speech online, to impose onerous burdens on those of us who choose to exercise our First Amendment rights to speak out on political matters, completely independently of any candidate, group, or party.

Yes, there have been some abuses of freedom of speech. But I have always believed that the “best answer to bad speech is more speech,” not to curtail the rights of all to curb the wrongs of some. HR 1606 would have preserved that principle, Congressman, and prevented the FEC from stripping me and countless others like me of our Constitutionally-guaranteed right to speak freely, to say what we think and feel in this amazing new medium. And your vote, sir, was a blow to my rights that I can not and will not take lightly.

I would very much like to hear the reasoning behind your decision to vote against HR 1606, sir, and whether or not that decision would stand should it arise again.

A copy of this letter is being posted at, and any response I receive shall be posted publicly as well.

Sincerely yours,

“Jay Tea”

Stepdaddy dearest
A notion with which I cannot concur


  1. Stephen Macklin November 5, 2005
  2. fatman November 5, 2005
  3. Stephen Macklin November 5, 2005
  4. sell higher November 5, 2005
  5. Asher Abrams November 5, 2005
  6. Just Me November 5, 2005
  7. ALa November 5, 2005
  8. Bat One November 5, 2005
  9. fatman November 6, 2005
  10. Ken November 6, 2005
  11. -S- November 6, 2005
  12. -S- November 6, 2005
  13. -S- November 6, 2005
  14. AnonymousDrivel November 6, 2005