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"If you run to the press and trash us, it never helps."

subtitles: "do not exercise your 1st amendment rights or else."




> subtitles: "do not exercise your 1st amendment rights or else."

Thank you for this textbook example of the common misunderstanding that the 1st Amendment protects people from all consequences of their speech.


The 1st Amendment restricts the laws that Congress may pass. Corporations are (in most jurisdictions) formed as a privilege granted by law, and foreign corporations are licensed to operate by law.

Of course, that relies upon strict logic, when the justice system relies somewhat upon political expediency and kritarchic traditions.

If you believe that free speech is a basic human right, common to all natural persons, then any consequence of any speech, no matter how odious or damaging, is preferable to the consequence of attempting to alter or stifle the words before they are said. But the former can be seen, and the latter cannot.

We cannot know the value of speech left unsaid for fear of retaliation.

So while the U.S. foundation law does not explicitly protect freedom of speech from any entity other than the U.S. governments, its commercial codes and corporations laws do govern the behavior of incorporated businesses, so in theory, they should contain provisions for stripping away corporate privileges as punishment for engaging in behaviors denied to the government, or be considered unconstitutional otherwise.

Such arguments are not likely to go far in the courts, however. Quite a lot of judges own stock in at least one corporation.

If you say something I don't like, I can hold it against you personally, and I can direct my unincorporated businesses to do likewise. But I cannot direct a corporation's resources towards viewpoint-based discrimination, even if I own 100% of the voting stock.

The realpolitik is that so long as your business makes the proper political campaign contributions, major offenses become minor, and minor offenses are overlooked. Really, the common misunderstanding is that politicians pay more heed to the constitution than their own interests.


> But I cannot direct a corporation's resources towards viewpoint-based discrimination, even if I own 100% of the voting stock.

Yes, you can. It'd be idiotic if a person could sue a company because said company refused to hire them after it was discovered that the candidate for hire had a long history of being a nazi apologist and holocaust denier. I'm open to correction on this point, but blaming it on rampant corruption in the justice system based on judges' conflict of interest is veering hard into tinfoil hat territory.

I'm not a fan of corporate personhood, but at the same time I can completely understand how an entity should be free to decide which persons or companies it does business with, and behavior/speech are totally valid criteria in this decision.


I am not a lawyer. I believe that in an aggregation of people, the assemblage itself does not have greater rights, powers, or abilities than those possessed by the individual members. It cannot do more than its members.

It can, however, by voluntary cartel cooperation, do less. Thus, while people individually have the right and ability to discriminate based on viewpoint, they agreed upon the creation of their government to deny the aggregate that right, as a means to protect its minorities from the agency problem.

Corporations, being a creation of that government, cannot assume powers that their creator does not possess. Sole proprietorships and partnerships, being creations of the people directly, can discriminate to the same extent as their creators--as much as they please. Corporations cannot discriminate in that fashion because their creator cannot.

The people do not create the corporation. They petition a government to create it and grant full operational control of it to them. That is an important distinction.

Allowing the government to create a separate entity under its authority that can do more things than it can is simply abrogating the original cartel agreement. You might as well not have a government acting as the middleman at all. Just raise a private army and do as you please.


Wikipedia lays it out pretty clearly[1]:

> The basis for allowing corporations to assert protection under the U.S. Constitution is that they are organizations of people, and the people should not be deprived of their constitutional rights when they act collectively.

You're free to disagree and pursue an amendment to change this reality, but this has been settled case law for quite a while now.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_personhood


I don't like to point fingers, but lawyers can write buggy code and relase it into the wild, too.

My logic is sound. I'll reduce it to a smaller example case for simplicity. The world has exactly 3 people in it. Between the 3 of them, they can do exactly as much as 3 people can possibly do. However, left to their own devices, their efforts are not coordinated. They sometimes duplicate their efforts, and sometimes interfere with one another. You can imagine them as n-dimensional vectors pointing away from a common point.

The sum of their magnitudes defines the sphere of human influence. If they all voluntarily pointed in the same direction, they could reach a point on this sphere. If that cooperative vector is projected onto each of their natural vectors, its magnitude could be greater than their own, working independently. (It could also be less.) Those people for whom it would be greater can realize an advantage by cooperation.

So these 3 form a civilization. They decide that they will allow the others to constrain the direction of their natural effort vectors, so they are not coincident with their goal vectors. Note that prior to the agreement, they could point in any direction they pleased. They voluntarily limit their own freedoms for mutual advantage. They establish rules that still allow some leeway in choosing direction, but encourage a direction that still yields cooperative benefits. These rules run the gamut from laws governing capital crimes to the dinner table etiquette for eating escargots.

So far, so good. We have reduced human society to 3 arrows in space, and their sum vector. Take a moment to bask in the nerdliness before we continue.

Now let us imagine that the vectors of two participants are more closely aligned to each other than with the third. These two decide to form a company. The rules of the company provide additional rules that encourage different vectors from those of larger cooperatives. The two participants change their vectors accordingly, and suddenly the sum of all three effort vectors projects longer magnitudes on their goal vectors and a shorter magnitude onto the third person's goal.

The company has a smaller sphere of influence than the civilization, having radius equal to the magnitude of only two effort vectors rather than three. But the closer alignment of goals allows more efficient cooperative rules.

Being separate influences, the company rules could provide enough of a benefit that company participants could decide to break civil rules. In this instance, anyone participating in the civil agreement but not the company agreement would be able to correctly say that the company is incompatible with the civilization, and the civil rules should be amended to compensate. Perhaps it would institute a rule for corporations, to establish a mechanism for creating companies that do not undermine the civilization's rules.

Now, the two people in the company could decide to continue only under their company rules. But in that case, they should not expect that third person to continue under the civil rules. That third person may, in fact, have to conter-compensate his effort vector to achieve a longer projection of the sum-of-efforts vector on his goal vector.

By this model, any company that does not include in its ruleset all the same rules as the civilization should not expect to benefit from those rules.

The conceit that a corporation is legally equivalent to a natural person in the purview of the government is limited by the fact that the government is the only entity that sees it as a person. You have to choose to wear special glasses to see it that way. Everyone else sees it as a legal fiction, and only plays along insofar as the arrangement benefits them--that is, as long as the corporation acts in the public interest.

The facts remain that corporations are creations of the government, and the government should not be able to create anything with powers that it does not itself possess. Should people wish to cooperate using an entity with additional powers, they must do so directly, without the assistance of their intentionally-limited-in-powers government. In that case, they will be unable to realize any advantages from the massive cooperative benefits the government may access. While the private partnership can do no less than its partners, it can also do no more. Tapping into more cooperative benefits requires adhering to stricter cooperative rules.


> I don't like to point fingers, but lawyers can write buggy code and relase it into the wild, too.

Buggy code generally gets fixed when people realize it's a bug. This release has been in production for over a century, repeatedly reviewed and confirmed as a 'feature.' In the eyes of the law, corporations are associations of people, and people don't have to surrender their other rights just because they exercise their right of association. I totally agree that corporations should have fewer rights than people, but this isn't how the world works and likely won't ever be.


1st amendment rights only apply to the government.


No one is claiming that it's illegal. People can give up their rights as long as it's voluntary. It's generally seen as wrong or socially unacceptable to require that though.


And government grants corporate charters. They, and we need to remember this fact.

And, corporations can be unmade as a punishment.


Do you have a legal precedent to point to? The Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments to the constitution) didn't even apply to state governments until the 14th amendment.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incorporation_of_the_Bill_of_Ri...


> Do you have a legal precedent to point to?

For revoking corporate charter? Every jurisdiction which grants them also already reserves the power to revoke them. E.g., Delaware: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/decode/8/1/X/284


For revoking a corporate charter for violating a customer or partner's 1st amendment rights.


What precedent would one need?

You ask the government for a license to incorporate. You pay some money to facilitate this incorporation.

This is no different than a drivers license. The gov't can say yea or nay to that under criterion they decide.


It's also just plain wrong. There are many cases where running to the press has been the solution.




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