Formalizing Censorship through the IRS

As of February 1, IRS Reg-134417-13 ruling, intended to curtail political participation by non-profit groups, received 20,880 comments. The IRS will take comments until February 27, 2014.

Our population is a little over three hundred and ten million. In view of that, twenty thousand comments is a pitiful showing. It most certainly is not enough to demand thorough rejection of this extraordinary ruling. I can only conclude that most Americans are unaware of the ruling, let alone know what it actually proposes. So let us be clear.

The IRS Reg-134417-13 ruling proposes to forbid non-profits to hold voter registration drives, advertise, promote, and engage in activities regarding any political incumbent or candidate. It forbids fundraisers for political incumbents and candidates, prohibits any kind of political activity including rallies, political mailings, teas, Meet & Greets, forums and gatherings of any kind that deal with political issues. It forbids a non-profit to support or oppose, discuss, or question those seeking political office. It forbids the gathering of signatures on petitions with political content of any kind, including nominating petitions and the advice, suggestion or request that the electorate support or oppose House and Senate bills.

By extension, such drastic restrictions would be applicable at every level of government -- federal, state, and local -- and to all political offices, agencies and departments that involves any kind of support or opposition to any kind of legislation whatsoever. There is little to no difference between a 501c(3) and a 501c(4). Once applied to one, you can bet the ruling will soon be applied to the other.

No issue is as threatening to our freedom and well-being as this ruling. Even gun laws are of less importance. For instance, if the IRS can dictate to us who we can talk to and about what, we've no legal way to talk to any candidate or incumbent, nor anyone else about supporting or opposing gun laws -- or any other "political" issue.

It is a certainty that once made into law, politicians and bureaucrats will rush to interpret "political" to mean anything they want it to mean. That means any subject they choose will be included in "political issues."

Make no mistake, this ruling is not about non-profits. It's about the freedom to communicate ideas and preferences -- i.e., your values -- to anyone about anything. What happens when under the cover of "political issues" we are forbidden to talk to those who propose such laws? You know the answer.

This ruling constitutes a danger to far more of us than the membership of non-profits. It is not a simple violation of the First Amendment. It is a proposal to do away with the First Amendment entirely and in effect institutionalize censorship.

Censorship is the most basically sweeping means of tyranny. Once imposed, your rights are obliterated, your life is no longer yours.

You say, "But it's aimed only at non-profits!" Is it?

We all know that churches are presently prohibited from discussing politics from the pulpit. We know that many business and military organizations are presently frightened to speak out on political matters for fear of reprisal, the least of which is losing their non-profit status. We all know that the IRS deliberately delayed applications for non-profit status to certain organizations that the federal government -- i.e., politicians and bureaucrats -- look upon with a jaundiced eye.

Certainly, we all know that Harry Reid has repeatedly condemned "Tea Party Republicans," and that many in Congress and the media have joined the chorus. We all know that Tea Parties are non-profits. And some of us know individuals who are so fearful of being associated with Tea Parties that they seem mentally paralyzed. Such paralysis is the result of accepting bureaucrats' edicts as if they were an unavoidable, inevitable part of reality -- like gravity -- not to be argued about, criticized, rejected or opposed.

All of this has escalated into a generalized, widespread feeling so that now the IRS feels no concern in proposing such a ruling as IRS Reg-134417-13. Does anyone think the IRS will stop there?

Americans should speak out against this unconscionable attack on our right to discuss, agree or disagree about political matters. They should comment in opposition to the IRS Reg-134417-13 ruling. They should contact everyone they know inside and outside their state, asking them to comment as well.

If you doubt the scope and fundamental danger of this IRS ruling, consider the following: A government that has the legal authority to forbid what citizens may or may not talk about is a government that has the legal authority to shackle your mind, your ideas. Shackling thought and discussion means the full "transformation" of our Republic into a totalitarian dictatorship.

It can't happen here? Think again. Make a comment opposing the IRS Reg-134417-13 ruling.

Sylvia Bokor writes a newsletter for New Mexico residents on state issues, and a National Newsletter, which discusses other political issues from a broader perspective.