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Buying a Cantaloupe
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On C-Span this morning they were talking about campaign finance reform again.

What gets me is the assertion (mostly by people who don't want campaign finance reform) that giving money to someone is speech, and therefore protected under the First Amendment.


The definition of speech is an interesting question. The written and spoken word would seem to be covered. Burning crosses or flags, or draping giant pictures of aborted fetuses on overpasses (this happened recently in Dallas), are less clear, but most people, I would think, would still define them as expressions of points of view.

But giving money to someone? Under this broad definition of speech, I have a Constitutional right to buy a cantaloupe. I am, after all, asserting my preference for cantaloupes, right? My aunt also has a Constitutional right to give me $20 for my birthday. Are we still in the realm of speech?

Seems to me that if you define speech this broadly, there isn't much of anything that isn't speech. Monetary transactions are no longer just transactions then. They're expressions of points of view.

In the recent case of a Muslim woman in Florida who would not remove her facial scarf for a driver's license photo, I heard many people arguing that driving was not a right, but a privilege. But if giving money to someone is protected under free speech, why wouldn't driving be considered speech as well? Or riding a horse? Or climbing a tree? Or trading a goat for a chicken?

Where exactly do we draw the line at what speech is?

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