The First Amendment's freedom of speech gives us all the right to say what we like, often for the purpose of trying to convince the government or the electorate to follow a certain course. It promises that the government will not prevent you from saying it or punish you for having said it.
It does not guarantee a right to be immune from criticism or to influence public policy from behind a curtain.
Yet that is exactly what some critics of Utah's public disclosure laws want. They object to the rule that the people of Utah be told who has given money to various so-called nonprofit corporations that are set up to run what too often amount to anonymous and inaccurate smear jobs against candidates for public office.
Officials of something called the Institute for Justice object to the law, last year's HB43, saying some people will be deterred from giving money if their identities are public.
Nobody is trying to stop speech TV ads, websites, handbills, billboards even when the messages are rough, nasty or full of lies. That remains protected by the First Amendment, reflecting the faith of our founders that the people can take all that in and still make good decisions.
What the law is trying to stop is the growing tactic of mounting attacks on candidates for public office without the electorate having a clue who is behind them. That happened in Utah, as big bucks funneled anonymously from the payday loan industry were used to bring down political opponents of that business and of their fair-haired boy, the now-disgraced former Attorney General John Swallow.
If the people who now fund such campaigns want to stand up in front of God and everybody and make their case, nobody would dream of stopping them.
They just have to have the guts to let everybody know what they are doing. And run the risks that go with the rough and tumble of real free speech.