“Football” Congressman Exposed: He’s a Big Annoying Meanie!
My friends at the libertarian Reddit recently informed me of the Department of Justice’s bizarre letter to Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) regarding restructuring of – not the economy, health care, or gay rights, no – college football. Specifically, CNN Political Ticker reports that Senator Hatch raised a complaint with the Obama administration about the lack of a national championship in college football, which he views as the result of violations of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act on the part of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). Perhaps that sounds a little strange, as if the government is taking the Sherman Act and using it to change the policies of the private sector in a manner only tangentially related to trust-busting. Indeed, it is exactly that, as Obama was actually quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying he would “throw [his] weight around a little bit” in college football in order to get a proper playoff system established. The claim that the government is throwing its weight around in private affairs is one I expect to hear Rush Limbaugh making on a slow news day, not Obama openly stating as a bragging point.
When I read about this atrocity, I had to wonder about Senator Hatch and his political ideology. Whereas the Republican platform claims to advocate a limited federal government and interference in private affairs only when it is necessary for the public security, it seems improbable that Hatch could believe the lack of a college football championship is a threat to anyone’s security. What I found surprised me perhaps more than it should have. Although the senator has a moderate amount of respect for fiscal responsibility, repeatedly voting against economic stimulus bills and advocating a balanced budget, his honest Republicanism and regard for the Constitution ends there. On the issues, Senator Hatch is a neocon, a theocrat, and a big fat bully. He has a history of arbitrarily doing just what Obama loves – throwing his weight around – whenever he sees something that he does not like.
The senator’s concept of rights and free speech is odd, to say the least: “…we must amend the Constitution to restore the historic right to protect the flag. … We are not interested in diminishing free speech. But, by restoring the traditional power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag, we are drawing the line between legitimate free speech and destructive conduct.” Democrats and Libertarians in the audience will wince at the idea of an amendment to prohibit flag-burning. But Republicans and all rational persons should writhe in agony at the use of the phrase “right to protect the flag”, which means, “right to use violent force to protect the flag” (as that is the only way the government can enforce any law), which means, “right to use violent force to stop other people from destroying property they created and own as a public statement.” Apparently Hatch believes that just after the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness comes the right to force other people not to destroy something they own if it runs contrary to customary social values.
This arbitrary and inexplicable concept of rights may explain why, in 2004, Senator Hatch tried to outlaw the internet. Being that he was irritated with the rampant copyright violation on the internet, and obviously had never committed this crime himself, Senator Hatch proposed the INDUCE Act, which would have changed copyright legislation so that anyone who deliberately facilitates copyright violation would be tried for the violation itself. The bill qualified ‘deliberate inducement’ of violation by “whether the activity relies on infringement for its commercial viability.” What websites and services rely on copyright infringement for their commercial viability? To put it simply, all of them – or at least all of the ones you and I visit on a daily basis. The internet is a highly competitive economy, and most high-traffic sites operate on a fairly low profit margin. Cut out ten percent of their gross revenue, and they become inviable. What percentage of the page views on sites like Google, Youtube, MP3Raid, MegaVideo, and even Wikipedia derive from searches for illegitimate material? Not all or even most, but enough. Even Facebook would be dragged into court, as a common use among teenagers for the site is the redistribution of photographs of friends, which (believe it or not) is in violation of international copyright law. The point to recognize here is that relying on copyright violation for economic viability does not mean dealing explicitly in illegal transactions – it simply means benefiting from them to a significant degree. The very same network effect that makes the internet such a valuable resource also makes it impossible to completely separate oneself from the crime committed on it.
Orrin Hatch also voted in favor of federally prohibiting homosexual marriage while attempting to prohibit it Constitutionally. When Stephen Colbert and the progressives complain about the angry-white Christian-right, Senator Hatch is the sort of man they target. His inconsistent principles and inappropriate use of the term ‘rights’ to describe bullying by the government give the freedom-loving conservatives a bad name. He hangs tightly along party lines on denouncing welfare and blocking excessive spending, but party lines are his only motivation – he cannot be construed to have a philosophical understanding of the failures of government while he still views it as a morally acceptable way to force his Christian values and personal whims on the population of the United States. As a pious Mormon, Senator Hatch ought to ask himself whether Jesus would use political power to change the game of football.