Corporate Free Speech

Can someone tell me, in small words and simple simple sentence construction, why exactly corporations have free speech rights, or any rights of citizenship, for that matter?

Perhaps it's time for us to reconsider exactly what purpose they serve in society. They are useful machines for making money and limiting risk, and I'm not suggesting we should do away with them for that purpose, but it seems to me that they've turned into a Frankenstein's monster of sorts.

The kinds of rights they're asking for boggle the mind. Nike has argued, unsuccessfully thus far, that it has the right to lie, and Pacific Lumber Company recently underwrote a recall attempt against Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos because GASP! he had the balls to do his job.

The article I've linked goes into greater depth on this subject and gives many more details, but here's the point I want to make. When individuals try to pull the kind of crap that some of the corporations are currently trying, at the very least there's a face that protestors and law enforcement officials can go after. But how do you arrest Nike? Or Wal-Mart? Or Pacific Lumber? I think we're long past due reexamining the citizen status of corporations--they have most of the advantages and few of the responsibilities accorded to citizens, and the extreme amounts of money they control makes them for more powerful than most people could ever conceive.

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