The Press Herald’s support of efforts to force the National Organization for Marriage to reveal the donors who contributed to its 2009 campaign against gay marriage in Maine is predictable, but also shortsighted (“Our View: State panel should shed light on anti-marriage donations,” May 21).

It is useful to recall that the limits on political contributions and disclosure requirements are intended to prevent the corruption of politicians.

It is one thing to require disclosure of contributions to candidates or elected officials who may engage in what the Supreme Court in its recent McCutcheon ruling calls “quid pro quo corruption.”

That is unlikely to be the issue in spending on social policy questions, but the disclosure rules still apply, and not for the better.

In the same decision, the court notes that “disclosure requirements may be a burden on speech, but they often represent a less restrictive alternative to flat bans on certain types or quantities of speech.”

The problem is that the burden on speech has become greater than the court ever envisioned.

Disclosure rules are increasingly used not to prevent or expose corruption, but to compile an enemies list that can be used to deride, harass and intimidate those who oppose progressive policy proposals.

The “ridicule” that the Press Herald suggests may be a cost of democratic participation is just as likely to be an abusive personal attack or some form of retribution.

In this climate of intolerance, the trade-off between relaxed limits on contributions and rigorous disclosure requirements has become a devil’s bargain in which speech, privacy and civility are the losers.