Free speech is under threat in New Mexico. A new bill, S.B. 96, would allow the state government to access its citizens’ private information, including the causes they support. This move, much like a similar bill in South Carolina (S.255), would create an environment where private information is readily available to the government and intimidation based on that information is a probability.
Remember a few years ago when IRS employees began specifically targeting hundreds of conservative organizations for extra scrutiny and delay? That is the kind of retaliation citizens of New Mexico could be subjected to if S.B. 96 were to become law. Those who choose to privately take action as concerned citizens would be open to scrutiny and possible retaliation. We saw it happen at the IRS, and it’s a realistic fear at the state level as well.
Free speech does not mean speech in its loudest and most visible sense. Several of the Founding Fathers themselves chose to speak under anonymity when they wrote the Federalist Papers. The First Amendment covers both kinds of speech – public and anonymous – and no government entity should reasonably take that away.
Civic engagement should not be a gateway to retaliation for the citizens of New Mexico. For the sake of protecting that engagement and protecting the freedom of speech, we hope Governor Susana Martinez will reject SB 96 if or when it arrives at her desk.