Archive for the ‘Censorship’ Category
How unpopular is the IRS’s proposed rule that would limit 501(c)(4)’s? I think that looking at a sampling of the organizations opposed to the rule would indicate the rule’s foolishness. Let’s start with this criticism from the League of Women Voters:
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has proposed very significant changes in the regulations that govern what kind of political activity and how much of that activity a Section 501(c)(4) organization can carry out. This step is our best chance to rein in the secret “dark money” that has been polluting our elections since the Supreme Court’s terrible decision in Citizens United. At the same time, the current proposal would undermine the League’s ability to conduct truly nonpartisan voter service activities across the country.
The LWV truly thinks it’s nonpartisan even though their agenda definitely fits into the Democrats’ agenda. That’s why it doesn’t hide its feelings by saying that they don’t have a problem reining in “the secret ‘dark money’” that’s allegedly polluting elections since the Citizens United v. FEC ruling. Leftists like LWV aren’t the only organizations that despise the IRS’s proposed rule. Americans for Tax Reform, aka ATR, opposes the proposed rule, too:
According to the IRS’s own website, groups “qualify for exemption under section 501(c)(4), [if] the organization’s net earnings [are] devoted primarily to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes.” This allows a myriad of citizen groups to educate their communities about issues which would affect them. Because of these activities, citizens can research laws and disseminate the information for free to those who might be impacted by the policies.
But with the proposed changes, organizations would lose their tax exempt status if they continued to spend sizable parts of their budget on the most basic civic activities. Among these activities are:
•Voter registration drives and “get-out-the-vote” drives.
•Distribution of any material prepared by, or on behalf of, a candidate or, by a section 527 political organization (PAC).
•Preparation or distribution of voter guides that refer to candidates (or, in a general election, to political parties).
•Holding any event within 60 days of a general election (or within 30 days of a primary election) at which any candidate appears as part of the program.
Under these criteria, any effort to educate the public about candidates, or the laws being passed by legislatures would be construed as “political activity” and will be used to suppress the free speech of social welfare groups. Candidate debates, although they are useful to the general public, would be shut down in a Machiavellian attempt to prevent ideologically inconvenient groups from threatening the government’s agenda.
This is McCain-Feingold in regulatory form. The BCRA, aka McCain-Feingold, was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in its Citizens United v. the FEC ruling. The Supreme Court ruled BCRA unconstitutional because it limited citizens’ rights to participate in the electoral process, which the First Amendment prohibits.
Both ATR and the LWV recognize the fact that the IRS’s rule would eliminate citizens groups from participating in the political process. That’s why they’re both opposing the IRS’s proposed rule.
What’s stunning is the volume of opposition to the IRS’s proposed rule. According to the IRS’s website, 122,135 comments had been left on the proposed rule. By comparison, there were 7,000 comments left for the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Apparently, Al Franken thinks he’s in a competitive race. The first sign that he thinks he’s in a competitive race is that he’s sending out fundraising appeals almost daily. Here’s Sen. Franken’s latest fundraising appeal:
“American Crossroads Preparing to Enter the Game.”
– Roll Call, 2/7/2014
Have you heard of American Crossroads?
It is a super PAC that spent more than $104 million in the 2012 elections. Apparently, they’re getting ready to spend big again.
And the man behind the Crossroads curtain is none other than Karl Rove — who recently called me out by name and pointed to Minnesota as a pickup opportunity for Republicans in 2014.
Crossroads is firing up the attack machine. We need to be ready to fight back. And this month, that means hitting our $200,000 goal. Can you give $5 or more before the deadline?
American Crossroads is one of those groups spawned by Citizens United. And let me tell you, Rove and his pals have a great reason not to like me.
It’s not because they don’t like my jokes. They know I don’t support the special interest, anti-middle class, Karl Rove agenda. I support the protecting Medicare, preserving net neutrality, reversing Citizens United agenda.
I work for families, not super PACs. They may have millions of dollars to spend on attacks, but I’ve got something better: You.
I know you are all committed to strengthening our grassroots efforts. So let’s make sure we’re ready for whatever Rove can throw at us. Give $5 or more toward our $200,000 goal today.
Thank you for your help this month.
I’ll give Franken this: he’s got chutzpah. What other person would whine about Karl Rove’s “special interest, anti-middle class agenda” after voting for every major piece of President Obama’s economic agenda that’s left the nation’s economy struggling? Sen. Franken’s ideological blinders won’t let him admit that Obama’s economic agenda has crippled job growth, stunted economic growth and given special breaks to President Obama’s biggest bundlers. (Think Solyndra, aka taxpayer-subsidized boondoggles.)
For all his whining about Karl Rove’s special interest, anti-middle class policies, Franken has voted for initiatives that’ve left the middle class working part-time or part of the army of chronically unemployed people who’ve been searching for jobs since 2009.
Sen. Franken, why haven’t you supported the Keystone XL Pipeline project? The State Department’s report says environmental impact will be minimal. Is it because you’re beholden to anti-science militant environmentalists? Apparently, you don’t give a damn about blue collar workers who would be put to work building that pipeline.
Sen. Franken, why haven’t you supported the PolyMet precious metals mining project in your own state? Is it because you won’t say no to Minnesota’s militant environmentalists? Is it because you only support blue collar union miners in word, not deed?
That’s the definition of being controlled by anti-middle class special interests. Minnesota deserves better. Minnesota deserves a senator who’ll fight for the middle class.
Technorati: Al Franken, Net Neutrality, Censorship, Citizens United, Special Interests, Solyndra, Militant Environmentalists, Keystone XL Pipeline Project, PolyMet Project, Union Jobs, Democrats, Election 2014
This article should frighten Constitution-loving Americans across the political spectrum. Here’s why:
Schumer during remarks to the Center for American Progress argued that Tea Party groups have an unfair financial advantage over left-leaning groups because of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, at one point even suggesting that President Barack Obama go around Congress to impose stricter campaign finance laws.
“It is clear that we will not pass anything legislatively as long as the House of Representatives is in Republican control, but there are many things that can be done administratively by the IRS and other government agencies — we must redouble those efforts immediately,” Schumer said.
“One of the great advantages the Tea Party has is the huge holes in our campaign finance laws created [by] the ill advised decision [Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission],” he added. “Obviously the Tea Party elites gained extraordinary influence by being able to funnel millions of dollars into campaigns with ads that distort the truth and attack government.”
First, it’s worth noting that Sen. Schumer’s speech is intellectually dishonest. Next, it calls into question whether he or the other signatories to his letter cherish the Constitution or whether they’re willing to sacrifice the Constitution for political expediency.
These questions are aimed specifically at Sen. Schumer and Sen. Franken:
- Do all political organizations have the right of free speech or do only some political organizations have First Amendment protections?
- If only some political organizations have First Amendment protection, who determines which political organizations have First Amendment protections and which political organizations don’t?
- Why do you think that the IRS is the right enforcer of who’s protected by the First Amendment?
- What part of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights can you cite that prohibits political speech for some organizations but protects poltiical speech for other organizations?
- Shouldn’t the Supreme Court be the final arbiter of what’s constitutional and what isn’t constitutional?
- Finally, why haven’t you demanded that the IRS be investigated for targeting citizens because of their political beliefs?
The reality is that Sen. Franken and Sen. Schumer don’t think in terms of what’s protected by the Bill of Rights or the Constitution. They think in terms of what will help them politically. With them, it’s never been about constitutionality. It’s always been about what’ll help them politically.
Technorati: Al Franken, Chuck Schumer, Bill of Rights, Constitution, First Amendment, Citizens United, IRS, Democrats, Election 2014
A loyal reader of LFR has sent me some hilarious fundraising emails from the Franken campaign. Here’s Sen. Franken’s latest fundraising appeal:
Can you hear that ominous buzzing sound? That’s Washington Republicans, planning their next attempt to hold our economic recovery hostage by playing political games with the debt ceiling.
In case you don’t remember the last manufactured crisis, Republicans threatened to refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless we agreed to their demands, meaning we could have defaulted on our national debt for the first time ever — causing a terrible economic crisis.
It was irresponsible. It was reckless. And now many seem willing to do it again.
Don’t let them. Click here to help me tell Republicans in Washington not to play games with the debt ceiling and threaten our economic recovery.
We don’t know what demands Republicans will come up with this time. And we only have one demand of our own: Do your job.
After all, Minnesotans are doing their part to bring our economy back from the recession. They’re working hard every day, opening small businesses, doing the things the middle class has always done to make our country stronger.
Now Washington has a job to do: make sure the full faith and credit of the United States remains strong. And refusing to do that job — playing political games with the debt ceiling — is downright dangerous.
We need to send a clear message to Washington Republicans: Don’t play games with the debt ceiling. Click here to sign my open letter.
Right now, Republicans in Washington are debating exactly which demands they want to make before they agree to do their job. And the buzz about another manufactured crisis is getting louder. That’s bad news for our economy.
So let’s drown out that buzz with a clear message of our own: Don’t play games. Do your job.
Click here to add your name!
Thanks for your help,
P.S.: Defaulting on our debt may sound like a boring bookkeeping term, but it would be an enormous economic disaster, one that economists say would cost us jobs and could put us into another recession. Don’t let Washington Republicans play games with this — it’s too important. Click here to sign my open letter!
This afternoon, the House passed a clean debt ceiling bill. Only 28 Republicans voted for it, including soon-to-be-former Speaker Boehner. It’s worth paying attention to the fact that Sen. Franken insists that the floundering economy is coming back.
That’s stunning because President Obama delayed the employer mandate a second time because he’s seen that it’s a job-killer that will cost lots of Democrats their jobs in the Senate next year.
Here’s another paranoid ranting from the Franken campaign:
In his recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove called me out personally and pointed to Minnesota as a possible pickup for Republicans this fall.
Karl Rove’s the puppet master of a few of those Citizens United-spawned special interest groups. In the 2012 elections, his Crossroads groups spent more than $176 million — mostly attacking candidates.
So you might understand why this shout out isn’t really a good thing in an election year.
If Karl Rove has Minnesota on his radar, we don’t have time to waste. We’ve got to be geared up and ready to fight back. This month, we need to hit $200,000 to fuel our grassroots efforts. Can you contribute $5?
It’s not like Karl Rove would be praising me for my work for Minnesota — protecting net neutrality, reversing the effects of Citizens United, fighting for Minnesota families.
I don’t work for the Karl Rove, special interest agenda. They’d rather see someone in this seat that’s more friendly to them. So they will attack and smear, lie and spend, to get one of their friends to replace me.
And that’s why I have you — my fantastic grassroots supporters — fighting back to make sure that strategy doesn’t work.
Help us hit our $200,000 goal this month. Be one of the first to give $5 now.
Thank you for your support.
P.S.: We need to show Karl Rove and all of the special interests that if you target Minnesota, you have to face us. Give $5 or more right now toward our $200,000 February goal.
This part was especially hilarious:
It’s not like Karl Rove would be praising me for my work for Minnesota, protecting net neutrality, reversing the effects of Citizens United, fighting for Minnesota families.
How many Minnesotans will head into the voting booth next November and exclaim ‘I’m voting for Al Franken because he protected net neutrality’? How many people will say ‘I’m voting for Franken because he’s for reversing the effects of Citizens United’?
Here’s another line worth laughing at:
I don’t work for the Karl Rove special interest agenda. They’d rather see someone in this seat that’s more friendly to them. So they will attack and smear, lie and spend, to get one of their friends to replace me.
I can’t deny that Franken doesn’t work for Karl Rove. I can’t deny that Franken works for the DFL’s anti-jobs special interests either. Notice how Franken hasn’t said a word about the Keystone XL Pipeline project. He hasn’t said a thing about the proposed PolyMet precious metals mining project in northeastern Minnesota either.
That’s because Sen. Franken is doing everything possible to say he’s a friend of union rank-and-file (he isn’t) without alienating the hardline environmentalists. He’s trying to maintain his support amongst these groups that hate each other. If Sen. Franken truly cared about the union rank-and-file, he’d fight to make PolyMet a reality. He isn’t doing that.
People know that I’m Karl Rove’s biggest fan. However, if given the choice between trusting Rove or Franken, that isn’t a difficult choice. Franken hasn’t done a thing to strengthen Minnesota’s economy. Franken’s focus has been on silencing President Obama’s opposition by having the IRS target conservative organizations that applied for tax exempt status. That’s what he meant when he said he’d worked on reversing the effects of Citizens United:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A group of seven Senate Democrats urged the Internal Revenue Service on Monday to impose a strict cap on the amount of political spending by tax-exempt, nonprofit groups.
The senators said the lack of clarity in the IRS rules has allowed political groups to improperly claim 501(c)4 status and may even be allowing donors to these groups to wrongly claim tax deductions for their contributions. The senators promised legislation if the IRS failed to act to fix these problems.
“We urge the IRS to take these steps immediately to prevent abuse of the tax code by political groups focused on federal election activities. But if the IRS is unable to issue administrative guidance in this area then we plan to introduce legislation to accomplish these important changes,” the senators wrote.
The letter was signed by Senators Charles E. Schumer, Michael Bennet, Sheldon Whitehouse, Jeff Merkley, Tom Udall, Jeanne Shaheen and Al Franken. It follows an earlier letter, sent to the IRS by the same of group of senators last month, that also urged the IRS to better enforce rules pertaining to 501(c)4 organizations.
Sen. Franken teamed with Chuck Schumer, Michael Bennet, Sheldon Whitehouse, Jeff Merkley, Tom Udall and Jeanne Shaheen in encouraging the IRS to intimidate the Democrats’ opponents.
There’s little question that the IRS targeted TEA Party activists and other conservative organizations. There’s no question that these senators intended conservative organization to be singled out for additional scrutiny.
Sen. Schumer is one of the nastiest partisans to ever serve in DC. He certainly isn’t calling for the targeting of hardline progressive organizations. That means Sen. Franken willfully signed onto silencing political speech he didn’t like.
Rather than supporting Sen. Franken, thoughtful Democrats who still believe in the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights should help boot him from office. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights is more important than electing a partisan for the long-term health of this great nation.
Hans Spakovsky’s post on the Heritage Foundation’s blog is a fantastic one-stop-shopping-center for what the IRS’s proposed rules mean:
On Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee questioned IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. The Committee released an email it had obtained from inside the Treasury Department showing that back in 2012 when it appears that the IRS was in the middle of trying to prevent conservative organizations from being granted tax exempt status, the administration was already planning to draft new regulations restricting the political activity of the same organizations. The email was sent by Ruth Madrigal of the Office of Tax Policy at Treasury to Lois Lerner, the IRS official who refused to answer questions from Congress about the scandal by asserting her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
That June 14, 2012, email indicated that Madrigal and Lerner would be devising the new rules “off-plan,” which is federal government-speak meaning that their plan would not be published on the public schedule of the IRS. What is significant about this email is that it flatly contradicts prior assertions by the Obama administration that the proposed new regulations defining “candidate-related political activity” were planned only after the IRS scandal was made public in order to “clarify” the regulations. Instead, it appears the administration not only tried to delay and prevent conservative organizations from receiving their tax-exempt status prior to the 2012 election, but was also already planning new regulations that would stifle their political speech and potential criticism of the administration.
In short, the Obama administration intended to silence its critics while violating Americans’ constitutional rights. The Obama administration didn’t hesitate in crushing TEA Party organizations’ First Amendment rights.
If we had an attorney general that was interested in justice, Lois Lerner would’ve been prosecuted and convicted already. That’s because she lied to Congress about the IRS scandal was restricted to a couple rogue IRS agents in their Cincinnati office. That’s before finding out that she knew about the proposed new rules that would intentionally trample TEA Party organizations’ First Amendment rights.
What’s most important is that Chuck Schumer and Al Franken think it’s a good idea for the IRS to redouble their efforts of improperly investigating and harassing these TEA Party organizations.
This is just the continuation of the Democrats’ assault against the Citizens United ruling. That’s the ruling which said that it’s better to have more political speech. Democrats disagree, insisting that less political speech, especially that which happens close to an election or primary, is desirable.
When the Citizens United ruling took away the FEC’s ability to limit speech in 2010, the administration switched to Plan B. That meant the IRS would replace the FEC as the federal government’s agency in charge of limiting political speech. John Hinderaker’s post highlights what the Obama administration thinks of political speech. Here’s part of a speech Lois Lerner gave on the subject:
What happened last year was the Supreme Court–the law kept getting chipped away, chipped away, in the federal election arena. The Supreme Court dealt a huge blow, overturning a 100-year-old precedent that basically corporations couldn’t give directly to political campaigns. And everyone is up in arms because they don’t like it. The Federal Election Commission can’t do anything about it.
They want the IRS to fix the problem. The IRS laws are not set up to fix the problem: (c)(4)s can do straight political activity. They can go out and pay for an ad that says “Vote for Joe Blow.” That’s something they can do as long as their primary activity is their (c)(4) activity, which is social welfare.
Q: When did political speech become a problem to be fixed? A: When this administration took over. It’s been their habit to eliminate political speech that doesn’t sing from their hymnal.
The telling line in Ms. Lerner’s speech is “The IRS Laws aren’t set up to fix the problem: c4s can do straight political activity.” Corporations still can’t contribute to candidates’ campaigns. That shouldn’t mean they can’t spend money campaigning on issues important to them. If unions have the right to campaign on issues important to them, then corporations have the right to do the same.
This article does an excellent job explaining the IRS’s proposed new rules:
But under the proposed rules, which would remove a 501(c)(4)’s tax exemption if it engages in virtually any political activity, if they choose to do so collectively, rather than individually, the organization will be subject to income tax on the amount it collects. If an individual spends $1,000 on posters, he will get $1,000 worth; but if he donates $1,000 to the organization, it will have to pay $350 to the IRS and will be left with only $650 to purchase posters.
That’s the Obama administration’s ‘fix’ to the free speech ‘problem’.
Technorati: Lois Lerner, President Obama, Censorship, First Amendment, Citizens United, IRS, FEC, Unions, Corporations, Poltical Campaigns, Democrats, Elections
Thursday, Cleta Mitchell testified that the IRS scandal is real and that the investigation is a sham:
I wholeheartedly agree. During her testimony, Ms. Mitchell delivered this devastating information:
When Lois Lerner and President Obama accused line agents in Cincinnati of being responsible, ladies and gentlemen, that is a lie and I knew when Lois Lerner said that in May of 2010, when she admitted it was happening, after we knew it was happening — we knew we were being targeted — it’s just that she admitted it. But I knew it hadn’t happened in Cincinnati because the first time I became aware of this, another group I represent filed for tax exempt status in 2009. And besides cashing our check for our filing fee, we did not hear from the IRS again until June of 2010. And we didn’t hear from Cincinnati. We heard from Washington.
Ms. Mitchell was a one-woman Cat-4 hurricane yesterday. Unfortunately for Democrats, she wasn’t done with that refutation of the Democrats’ chanting points:
This group did one thing, one thing only. For all of the fall of 2009 until the spring of 2010, it lobbied against Obamacare, something that it is allowed to do 100% of the time. We did not get the tax exempt status for that organization until July of 2013.
Ms. Mitchell’s law firm is one of the top law firms in the nation. They didn’t get that reputation by being sloppy. Their record-keeping is meticulous. For the Democrats to insist that this is a sideshow and that the scandal is phony is belied by these documents. It’s real. It’s chilling political speech. That’s the Chicago Machine’s way.
The IRS is picking up where the FEC was told it couldn’t go in Citizens United v. the FEC. The IRS is using the FEC’s definitions in its rulemaking to stifle political speech.
Watch the entire video. It’s riveting TV. In fact, I’d recommend watching Catherine Engelbrecht’s opening statement, too:
I’m thankful that citizens like Cleta Mitchell and Catherine Engelbrecht have stepped forward rather than being silenced. They’re the personification of American patriots.
Technorati: Cleta Mitchell, Catherine Engelbrecht, IRS Investigation, OSHA, FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Federal Elections Commission, Weaponized Government, Citizens United, TEA Party, Censorship, Obama Administration, Democrats, Elections
In the 1970′s, Democrats touted themselves as the greatest defenders of free speech. By contrast, the Democrats of today are the the greatest practitioners of censorship. This WSJ article is proof that Democrats are especially good at political free speech intimidation:
In recent weeks, special prosecutor Francis Schmitz has hit dozens of conservative groups with subpoenas demanding documents related to the 2011 and 2012 campaigns to recall Governor Walker and state legislative leaders.
Copies of two subpoenas we’ve seen demand “all memoranda, email…correspondence, and communications” both internally and between the subpoena target and some 29 conservative groups, including Wisconsin and national nonprofits, political vendors and party committees. The groups include the League of American Voters, Wisconsin Family Action, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Americans for Prosperity—Wisconsin, American Crossroads, the Republican Governors Association, Friends of Scott Walker and the Republican Party of Wisconsin.
One subpoena also demands “all records of income received, including fundraising information and the identity of persons contributing to the corporation.” In other words, tell us who your donors are.
The term fishing expedition jumps to mind. So does the term censorship. Ditto with illegal searches. Here’s why those terms apply:
The subpoena demand for the names of donors to nonprofit groups that aren’t legally required to disclose them is especially troubling. Readers may recall that the Cincinnati office of the IRS sent the tax-exempt applications of several conservative groups to the ProPublica news website in 2012.
The censorship thugs weren’t gentle. They didn’t request anything. They demanded things that they didn’t have a legal basis to ask for. Asking for confidential tax filings is illegal because IRS filings are confidential under federal law.
Expect some IRS employees to to get convicted of federal crimes and doing some serious prison time for giving Pro Publica confidential IRS documents. As outrageous as that is, that’s just the tip of the iceberg:
The subpoenas don’t spell out a specific allegation, but the demands suggest the government may be pursuing a theory of illegal campaign coordination by independent groups during the recall elections. If prosecutors are pursuing a theory that independent conservative groups coordinated with candidate campaigns during the recall, their goal may be to transform the independent expenditures into candidate committees after the fact, requiring revision of campaign-finance disclosures and possible criminal charges.
That’s admitting that they’re doing this to intimidate people who want to participate in the political process. That isn’t just unacceptable. It’s unconstitutional because it violates the First and Fourth Amendments. That’s before talking about the US statutes these warrants violate.
It’s notable that the new batch of subpoenas began flying just days before Democrat Mary Burke announced her candidacy for Governor. District Attorneys are partisan elected officials in Wisconsin, and Mr. Landgraf works for Mr. Chisholm. Neither of them returned our call for comment.
This isn’t litigation. It’s attrition. It’s painfully obvious that Mr. Landgraf and Mr. Chisholm are unapologetic Democratic political hatchetmen. It’s apparent, too, that they’ve used their office to a) threaten citizens who want to participate in the political process, b) intimidate legitimate political organizations and c) chill political free speech to help Democratic candidates.
They should be prosecuted for using their official positions as a campaign outlet for Democratic gubernatorial candidates, which is a clear violation of using elected offices for campaign purposes. My hope is that the Wisconsin AG opens an investigation into these Democratic anti-free speech thugs’ censorship campaign. They’re disgusting, not to mention that they’re criminals who should be removed from office.
Technorati: Witch Hunt, Censorship, Francis Schmitz, Bruce Landgraf, John Chisholm, Mary Burke, In-Kind Campaign Contributions, Corruption, IRS Documents, Democrats, Eric O’Keefe” Club For Growth-Wisconsin, Scott Walker, GOP, Election 2014
Some of the things I read in this article should make universities think twice before signing an agreement with Chinese universities. Here’s the story that isn’t getting told:
Many reputable and informed scholars of China have observed that the Confucius Institutes are marked by the same “no-go zones” that Beijing enforces on China’s public sphere. In an interview reported in The New York Times, June Teufel Dreyer, who teaches Chinese government and foreign policy at Miami University, said: “You’re told not to discuss the Dalai Lama—or to invite the Dalai Lama to campus. Tibet, Taiwan, China’s military buildup, factional fights inside the Chinese leadership—these are all off limits.”
The Confucius Institutes at North Carolina State University and the University of Sydney actively attempted to prevent the Dalai Lama from speaking. At Sydney, he had to speak off-campus, and the CI sponsored a lecture by a Chinese academic who had previously claimed that Tibet was always part of China, notwithstanding that it was mired in feudal darkness and serfdom until the Chinese democratic reforms of 1959. The Confucius Institute at Waterloo University mobilized its students to defend the Chinese repression of a Tibetan uprising, and McMaster University and Tel Aviv University ran into difficulties with the legal authorities because of the anti–Falun Gong activities of their Confucius Institutes.
Other taboo subjects include the Tiananmen massacre, blacklisted authors, human rights, the jailing of dissidents, the democracy movement, currency manipulation, environmental pollution and the Uighur autonomy movement in Xinjiang. Quite recently, Chinese government leaders explicitly banned the discussion of seven subjects in Chinese university classrooms, including universal values, freedom of the press and the historical mistakes of the Chinese Communist Party; this was part of a directive to local officials to “understand the dangers posed by views and theories advocated by the West.” It stands to reason that these subjects will also not be matters of free inquiry in CIs.
Academic censorship isn’t acceptable, whether it’s being promoted by a university through speech codes or whether it’s happening as a result of Chinese government interference. Censorship should be fought by these universities because their mission is to inform and educate. These universities’ mission isn’t to coddle Communist dictatorships.
More than one CI director has stated that his institute is free to discuss anything it wants to; the only problem seems to be with the things they don’t want to discuss. “We don’t know anything about the contract that [Hanban officials] force their teachers to sign,” said Glenn Cartwright, principal of Waterloo’s Renison University College, which houses the institute. “I’m sure they have some conditions, but whether we can dictate what those conditions can be is another story.” Human rights are not discussed in the Confucius Institute of the British Columbia Institute of Technology because that isn’t part of its mandate. According to director Jim Reichert, “our function is really focused on cultural awareness, business development, those sorts of pragmatic things.”
Saying that CI’s are “focused on…pragmatic things” is a way of saying “I’ve caved to the Chinese government’s political pressure.” If we want to teach the Chinese people something, we should teach them about the pillars of our republic.
It’s time to expose the Chinese government’s political interference. Most importantly, it’s time to expose the Chinese government’s attempt to stifle academic freedom in America.
Thomas Sowell’s latest column highlights the intolerant left. This isn’t an indictment of all liberals. In fact, I’d argue that it’s an indictment of hardline progressives, not liberals. When Howard Dean said that “This is a battle between good and evil and we’re the good”, he meant it. He really viewed conservatives as evil. That’s what’s inspiring the people Dr. Sowell wrote about:
An all-too-familiar scene was enacted on the campus of Swarthmore College during a meeting on May 4 to discuss demands by student activists for the college to divest itself of its investments in companies that deal in fossil fuels. As a speaker was beginning a presentation to show how many millions of dollars such a disinvestment would cost the college, student activists invaded the meeting, seized the microphone, and shouted down a student who rose in the audience to object.
Although there were professors and administrators in the room, including the college president, apparently nobody had the guts to put a stop to these storm-trooper tactics. Nor is it likely that there will be any punishment of those who put their own desires above the rights of others. On the contrary, these students went on to demand mandatory campus “teach-ins,” and the administration caved on that demand. Among their other demands are that courses on ethnic studies, and on gender and sexuality, be made a requirement for graduation.
It isn’t a secret that political correctness runs rampant on college campuses. It isn’t even a secret that these activists/barbarians/thugs target conservatives. See Ann Coulter and Karl Rove about that.
What hasn’t been talked about is the need to stand up to these activists/thugs. I don’t propose stripping these activists’ First Amendment rights. That’s censorship, which I can’t support. What I’m advocating is for people to stand up to these activists/thugs, then verbally embarass these activists/thugs in public.
I learned early in life that the best protection against loud-mouthed bullies isn’t defensive in nature. The best protection is giving bullies a bloody nose. Letting thugs know that you aren’t backing down gives them something extra to think about.
Another analogy is a basketball team bringing the ball up against a full-court press. As long as the team doesn’t exploit the weakness of the press, the defensive team doesn’t have an incentive to stop pressing. Exploiting a press’s weakness leads to easy layups in short order. Suddenly, the cost of pressing is too high.
Translating that into dealing with these activists/thugs is simple. Putting them on the spot, then ridiculing them, is a way to send the message that you aren’t putting up with their crap. A perfect response might be “So you think only you have the right to speak? Who elected you dictator? What makes you think that your opinions are better or more important than mine?”
Back in the 1960s, the University of Chicago was a rare exception. As Professor George J. Stigler, a Nobel Prize–winning economist, put it in his memoirs, “our faculty united behind the expulsion of a large number of young barbarians.”
The sky did not fall. There was no bloodbath. The University of Chicago was in fact spared some of the worst nonsense that more compliant institutions were permanently saddled with in the years that followed as a result of their failure of nerve in the ’60s.
In short, they stood up to the activists/thugs. Not only did they survive, they won the fight. The key is to let these activists/thugs know that they can’t win by being thugs. They’ll have to win on the merits of their ideas. That thought frightens them. In fact, if they thought they could win on the merits, that’s what they’d do.
This paragraph should frighten people:
It’s not just academics who won’t defend decency. Trustees could fire college presidents who cave in to storm-trooper tactics. Donors could stop donating to institutions that have sold out their principles to appease the campus barbarians. But when nobody is willing to defend civilized standards, the barbarians win.
This quote should be must reading for people who’ve been pressured by activistss/thugs:
All it takes for evil to succeed is for a few good men to do nothing. Edmund Burke
When activists/thugs do a hostile takeover of a room, that’s evil. That’s the time to confront the activists. That’s when they need to get the message that their tactics (stunts, intimidation?) won’t help them win the fight they’re picking. Only then can order be restored.
People are right to question President Obama’s commitment to the First Amendment. Recent scandals show the Obama/Holder Justice Department is willing to trample on reporters’ First Amendment right to gather and disseminate information. In a bygone era, that was known as reporting.
The Obama/Holder Justice Department’s assault on the First Amendment isn’t limited to intimidating reporters. George Will’s column offers proof that they’re willing to stretch their campaign of censorship to college campuses:
Responding to what it considers the University of Montana’s defective handling of complaints about sexual assaults, OCR, in conjunction with the Justice Department, sent the university a letter intended as a “blueprint” for institutions nationwide when handling sexual harassment, too. The letter, sent on May 9, encourages (see below) adoption of speech codes, actually, censorship regimes, to punish students who:
Make “sexual or dirty jokes” that are “unwelcome.” Or disseminate “sexual rumors” (even if true) that are “unwelcome.” Or make “unwelcome” sexual invitations. Or engage in the “unwelcome” circulation or showing of “e-mails or Web sites of a sexual nature.” Or display or distribute “sexually explicit drawings, pictures, or written materials” that are “unwelcome.”
In short, the DOJ is lending its autharitorian boot to students’ throats. This isn’t just about censorship. It’s about censorship without the right to due process:
Under 2011 rules that establish a low standard of proof, Kaminer says, “students accused of harassment are to be convicted in the absence of clear and convincing evidence of guilt, if guilt merely seems more likely than not.” And schools are enjoined to “take immediate steps to protect the complainant from further harassment,” including “taking disciplinary action against the harasser” prior to adjudication. So the OCR-DOJ “blueprint” and related rules not only violate the First Amendment guarantee of free speech but are, to be polite, casual about due process.
The DOJ’s actions in putting these guidelines together is appalling. They’re disgusting, too. The thought that a student could be ‘convicted’ of making “unwelcome” comments just on the basis that it’s likely they’d be convicted is disgusting.
This isn’t about eliminating true sexual harassment. It’s about censorship. If “unwelcome” comments are harassment, then everything is potentially harassment.
When the Education Department was created in 1980 (Jimmy Carter’s payment to the National Education Association, the largest teachers union, for its first presidential endorsement), conservatives warned that it would be used for ideological aggression to break state and local schools to the federal saddle. Lukianoff says:
“Given that the [OCR-DOJ] letter represents an interpretation of federal law by major federal agencies, most colleges will regard it as binding. Noncompliance threatens federal funding, including Pell grants and Stafford loans.”
The message is clear: Obey or the students get hurt. What’s interesting is that the DOJ would sign off on this unconstitutional mandate. This is the type of case that SCOTUS would swat down with a 9-0 opinion.
I’m not surprised by DOJ’s decision. They’ve shown they won’t hesitate to intimidate reporters. Why would it be surprising that they’d be willing to impose censorship (First Amendment) without due process (Fifth Amendment)? That’s as surprising as finding out Bill Gates made money last week.