Citing the Maine Democratic Party’s attack on Maine Examiner for what the Maine Democratic Party deemed a “dangerous precedent” of anonymous political speech, WGBH commentator Dan Kennedy provides a brief history lesson on anonymous political speech going back to the founding fathers of the United States.
Kennedy, points out that the authors of the Federalist Papers all remained anonymous to defend the Constitution and that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission that “anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority” and places the Maine Democratic Party among a list of officials and institutions of both parties who WGBH says took actions to diminish free speech across New England.
According to WGBH, this is the sixth year the Muzzle Awards have been published by WGBH News, a Boston’s local NPR affilliate. Before they were published by WGBH, the Muzzles were published by the Portland Phoenix.
The awards are named after the Jefferson Muzzles, from the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, which have been awarded since 1992 and are designed to call attention to those who would censor free expression.
The Maine Ethics Commission dismissed the Maine Democratic Party’s complaint attacking Maine Examiner without even launching an investigation.
Mainstream media outlets in Maine confirmed that the Maine Examiner stories in question were true, debunking the accusations made by the Maine Democratic Party. WGBH’s Kennedy wrote that the Maine Democratic Party received this dubious distinction because they were trying to “censor speech.”