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Archive for the ‘Censorship’ Category

It’s clear that the DSCC will do everything possible to defeat Ron Johnson, (R-WI). Unfortunately for them, Russ Feingold is known for just one thing: the BCRA, aka McCain-Feingold. Russ Feingold is half of the dimwitted duo that wanted to restrict people’s ability to voice their worries about politicians during an election cycle. Let’s highlight that.

Russ Feingold thinks that government should have the right to restrict what citizens say and when they can say things. That’s because Russ Feingold is one of those politicians that think they know what’s best and that citizens have to be told what to do for their own benefit.

That’s the epitome of elitism. It’s breathtaking that elitists want to protect us uppity peasants from ourselves.

We need straight shooters like Ron Johnson in the Senate. Follow this link to contribute to Sen. Johnson’s campaign. Re-electing Sen. Johnson should be one of the Republicans’ highest priorities in 2016.

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When Wayne Lela and John McCartney wanted to distribute literature that contained their views on homosexuality and other sexual matters at Waubunsee Community College, the administration tried barring them from distributing their literature. Thankfully, Lela and McCartney fought back:

As FIRE reported last July, the pair filed their lawsuit after an administrator barred them from distributing literature on campus containing their views on homosexuality, religious liberty, and free speech rights because it was not “consistent with the philosophy, goals and mission of the college” and would be “disruptive of the college’s educational mission.” According to the complaint, a letter to Lela and McCartney from WCC’s attorney made clear that the literature’s criticism of homosexuality was the motivating factor behind the ban. Lela and McCartney are represented by the Rutherford Institute and Chicago attorneys Whitman Brisky and Noel Sterett of the law firm Mauck & Baker, LLC.

In January, my colleague Susan Kruth reported that U.S. District Court Judge Robert W. Gettleman issued a preliminary injunction ordering WCC to cease its viewpoint-based censorship and allow Lela and McCartney to resume distributing literature on campus, noting that “provocative speech is entitled to the same protection as speech promoting popular notions.” Today, the Rutherford Institute and Mauck & Baker announced that the parties have settled, with WCC paying $132,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees and agreeing to allow Lela and McCartney to distribute their literature outside the doors to the student center without having to sit behind a table.

I particularly appreciate this part of the judge’s opinion:

“provocative speech is entitled to the same protection as speech promoting popular notions.”

There’s no need to protect popular speech because nobody objects to it. The only speech that needs protection is controversial or upsetting speech. That’s the category of speech that people object to. This is what’s disappointing:

While we are pleased that WCC seems to have recognized the futility of continuing to seek the authority to censor views it disagrees with, it is unfortunate and unacceptable that it took nearly a year of litigation, a court order, and a $132,000 bill to get there. After decades of judicial opinions, it should not be news to any public college administrator that the First Amendment applies fully on campus. Sadly, as FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project proves, it appears that some administrators will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into compliance with the First Amendment.

FIRE has been kicking college administrators’ butts in court for quite a while. Universities’ attorneys know what the precedents are. They’re aware of the judges’ rulings. It shouldn’t have to be this way.

Glenn Reynolds’ column highlights just how oppressive campus progressives are:

Feminist professor Laura Kipnis of Northwestern University published an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education in February, decrying “sexual paranoia” on campus and the way virtually any classroom mention of sex was being subjected to an odd sort of neo-Victorian prudery: “Students were being encouraged to regard themselves as such exquisitely sensitive creatures that an errant classroom remark could impede their education, as such hothouse flowers that an unfunny joke was likely to create lasting trauma. … In the post-Title IX landscape, sexual panic rules. Slippery slopes abound.”

This article sat poorly with campus activists, who in response reported her for sexual harassment, on the theory that this article (and a follow-up tweet — yes, that’s right, a tweet) somehow might have created a hostile environment for female students, which would violate Title IX as interpreted by the Education Department. Because, you see, female students, according to feminists, are too fragile to face disagreement. And they’ll demonstrate this fragility by subjecting you to Stalinist persecution if you challenge them, apparently.

It gets worse:

The university’s investigators wouldn’t tell her who made the charges or even, for some time, what the charges were, which is typical of these Kafkaesque proceedings. While Kipnis was allowed to bring a faculty “support person” to her hearing, “support person” was not allowed to speak. After the hearing, a Title IX complaint was filed against the speechless “support person.”

It’s clear that Northwestern doesn’t think professors are entitled to the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights. It’s clear that they don’t think Professor Kipnis has the right to confront her accusers or the right to due process. What Northwestern is guilty of is conducting a kangaroo court, then pretending it’s rendered a real verdict.

Title IX, as its simple language provides, was intended to open up colleges to women, not to empower a Stalinist bureaucracy to torment people who don’t toe the feminist line. Congress needs to haul some Department of Education bureaucrats up for hearings, then rewrite Title IX to make clear that it doesn’t grant the kind of sweeping powers over academic expression that educrats have seized. Despite what they might think at the Department of Education, 1984 was written as a cautionary tale — not an instruction manual.

Simply put, 1970s feminists would bitch-slap 21st Century feminists. It’s apparent that 21st Century feminist ‘leaders’ think their followers would shrivel up and die if they heard anything that they disagree with. That’s quite the difference from the anthem of 1970s feminism. This chorus and verse highlights the difference between 21st Century feminism and 1970s feminism:

Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
(Strong)
I am invincible
(Invincible)
I am woman

You can bend but never break me
‘Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
‘Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul

Those aren’t the words of a delicate flower that’ll wilt the minute they hear anything controversial. They’re the lyrics of a battle-tested feminist.

I’ve believed that John Chisholm, the Milwaukee County District Attorney, was a vindictive partisan prosecutor long before George Will wrote this column. Will’s column chief contribution is that it focuses attention on several key points that should receive additional highlighting. Here’s one such point:

The early-morning paramilitary-style raids on citizens’ homes were conducted by law enforcement officers, sometimes wearing bulletproof vests and lugging battering rams, pounding on doors and issuing threats. Spouses were separated as the police seized computers, including those of children still in pajamas. Clothes drawers, including the children’s, were ransacked, cellphones were confiscated and the citizens were told that it would be a crime to tell anyone of the raids.

Some raids were precursors of, others were parts of, the nastiest episode of this unlovely political season, an episode that has occurred in an unlikely place. This attempted criminalization of politics to silence people occupying just one portion of the political spectrum has happened in Wisconsin, which often has conducted robust political arguments with Midwestern civility.

That’s what the threats and intimidation wing of the Democratic Party looks like. John Chisholm is a thug with institutionalized authority to ruin innocent people’s lives. He’s the ‘leader’ of the Wisconsin chapter of the Democratic Party’s threats and intimidation wing.

In collaboration with Wisconsin’s misbegotten Government Accountability Board, which exists to regulate political speech, Chisholm has misinterpreted Wisconsin campaign law in a way that looks willful. He has done so to justify a “John Doe” process that has searched for evidence of “coordination” between Walker’s campaign and conservative issue advocacy groups.

On Oct. 14, much too late in the campaign season to rescue the political-participation rights of conservative groups, a federal judge affirmed what Chisholm surely has known all along: Since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling 38 years ago, the only coordination that is forbidden is between candidates and independent groups that go beyond issue advocacy to “express advocacy”, explicitly advocating the election or defeat of a particular candidate.

Why Wisconsin ever passed these John Doe laws is inexplicable. It’s authority to start a fishing expedition, something that’s contrary to the principles of probable cause and the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. Chisholm’s goal might’ve already been achieved:

But Chisholm’s aim, to have a chilling effect on conservative speech, has been achieved by bombarding Walker supporters with raids and subpoenas: Instead of raising money to disseminate their political speech, conservative individuals and groups, harassed and intimidated, have gone into a defensive crouch, raising little money and spending much money on defensive litigation. Liberal groups have not been targeted for their activities that are indistinguishable from those of their conservative counterparts.

I’ve written before about weaponized government. Chisholm’s investigation (I hate using that term in this context) fits that description perfectly. It’s the personification of weaponized government.

It’s worth noting this sentence:

Liberal groups have not been targeted for their activities that are indistinguishable from those of their conservative counterparts.

I’ve seen nasty forms of weaponized government but this is the nastiest form of it. Law enforcement officials participating in this should be investigated, too. Their actions furthered this unconstitutional exercise of abusive government. Hans Spakovsky’s op-ed nails it:

Oral arguments were heard Tuesday before the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in O’Keefe vs. Chisholm, the so-called John Doe investigation in which local prosecutors in Wisconsin tried to criminalize political speech and activity on public issues. The 7th Circuit should uphold the lower court decision halting this Star Chamber investigation that violated basic First Amendment rights.

The fact that such a secret persecution of citizen advocacy organizations even occurred ought to be an embarrassment to a state that prides itself on being a progressive bastion of individual freedom. It is more reminiscent of a banana republic than the world’s foremost democracy.

Chisholm should be disbarred for intentionally violating private citizens’ civil rights. Then he should be tried and, hopefully, be convicted, then incarcerated for many years. He’s a nasty person helping the Democratic Party chill political speech. Saying that his actions are intimidating and that his tactics are the type that would be approved of by Joe McCarthy is understatement.

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During his interview with Esme Murphy, Rick Nolan reiterated his support for overturning the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United vs. the FEC lawsuit:

The Supreme Court ruled against BCRA, aka McCain-Feingold:

Independent Expenditures by Corporations

The Court overruled Austin, striking down § 441b’s ban on corporate independent expenditures. It also struck down the part of McConnell that upheld BCRA § 203’s extension of § 441b’s restrictions on independent corporate expenditures. The Court held that the “government may not suppress political speech on the basis of the speaker’s corporate identity. No sufficient governmental interest justifies limits on the political speech of nonprofit or for-profit corporations.” An analysis of this holding follows.

As Applied Challenge. First, the Court held that the case could not be resolved on an as applied basis without chilling political speech. Under an “as applied” challenge, the Court’s review of the law’s constitutionality is limited to the set of facts in the case before it. The Court therefore broadened the case from Citizens United’s initial narrower arguments, focusing only on Hillary, to reconsider both the validity of its prior decisions in Austin and McConnell and the facial validity of § 441b.

In reaching this decision, the Court reasoned that among other things:

1. Citizen United’s narrower arguments, including that Hillary is not an “electioneering communication,” are not sustainable under a fair reading of § 441b, and

2. it must therefore consider the statute’s facial validity or risk prolonging its substantial chilling effect.

The First Amendment’s protections apply to all political speech. The argument that ‘corporations aren’t people’ is laughable at best. Nowhere in the First Amendment does it say that the First Amendment protects only individuals. Does the Fourth Amendment protect only individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures? Of course it doesn’t.

But I digress.

Nolan said that he’s “the lead sponsor of new legislation in Washington to reverse Citizens United.” That means, according to the Supreme Court’s ruling, Nolan wants to reverse the chilling effect McCain-Feingold had on political speech. For those asking why that’s a bad thing, I’ll answer with a question. Do you want the government to say what’s acceptable speech and what isn’t? Before answering that question, think about this: Lois Lerner “served as associate general counsel and head of the enforcement office at the FEC“:

One of Lerner’s former colleagues tells National Review Online that her political ideology was evident during her tenure at the FEC, where, he says, she routinely subjected groups seeking to expand the influence of money in politics, including, in her view, conservatives and Republicans, to the sort of heightened scrutiny we now know they came under at the IRS.

Before the IRS, Lerner served as associate general counsel and head of the enforcement office at the FEC, which she joined in 1986. Working under FEC general counsel Lawrence Noble, Lerner drafted legal recommendations to the agency’s commissioners intended to guide their actions on the complaints brought before them.

Isn’t it frightening that a corrupt bureaucrat like Lois Lerner could be the final arbiter of what’s acceptable speech and what isn’t? If Nolan’s legislation passed, it’s possible a corrupt, hyperpartisan bureaucrat could determine which speech is acceptable and what speech isn’t.

Nolan’s legislation would make it illegal for unions to advocate for their endorsed candidates. Nolan’s legislation might be used to shut down ABM, Nancy Pelosi’s superPAC and the DCCC. Is that what Nolan wants?

I’d bet it isn’t. He’s been silent while the DCCC ran its disgusting ads. He’s been silent while Nancy Pelosi’s superPAC ran disgustingly dishonest ads. Apparently, Nolan only opposes money in politics when he’s in front of a camera. That isn’t a principled position. It’s a political position.

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I know it isn’t the highest hurdle ever constructed but it’s apparent that some citizens are smarter than Sen. Franken when it comes to the Bill of Rights. Here’s proof:

“Congress and the states may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.” This is a proposed constitutional amendment Sen. Al Franken supports along with 47 other Democratic senators. Hopefully in one of his remaining debates he will explain his reasoning for supporting this amendment and why incumbent congressmen like himself should be entrusted to set “reasonable limits.” Perhaps Democrats think we shouldn’t be exposed to too many ideas. It’s ironic his party supports such an amendment since the Democratic Party is far outspending the GOP in this year’s mid-term election.

This LTE hits the nail on the head in highlighting the silliness of thinking anyone in Washington, DC is capable of setting “reasonable limits” on fundraising spending during campaigns. To quote the great economist and philosopher Milton Friedman during his interview with Phil Donahue, “Just where do you suppose we’re going to find these angels who are going to organize society for us? I don’t even trust you to do that.”

The notion that government bureaucrats always care about families or individuals rights is myth. The sooner that myth is demolished, the better. The thought that an incumbent will set up election rules that don’t favor the incumbent is foolhardy. Thinking that Al Franken, Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer are interested in playing fair is intellectually insulting.

Yes, raising and spending money can be used to influence opinions and elections. That is what free speech is supposed to do.

It’s a beautiful thing. Shouldn’t “the rich” have the right to express their political opinions? If not, why not?

Actually, that’s just a trap. Who made any of us the impartial arbiter of what’s acceptable political speech? Is any of us so virtuous that we’d trust ourselves with never showing partiality? If you think that of yourself, then you’re either lying through your teeth or you’ve got a higher opinion of yourself than you should have.

Al that aside, the fact is that Sen. Franken has shown he isn’t the impartial arbiter of what’s acceptable political speech and what isn’t. He’s signed his name to a letter telling the IRS to crank up their investigation against conservative organizations by saying that they were involved in something suspicious. What that suspicious thing was wasn’t identified in Sen. Schumer’s letter.

What’s interesting is that Sen. Franken wants to give politicians the right to tell people that think differently than him that the First Amendment doesn’t protect them like it protects people that think like him. After that, he’s essentially saying that we should trust him with the authority to unlevel the political playing field.

No thanks.

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If there’s anything that’s obvious about this article, it’s that the Burke campaign and the security detail for Michelle Obama went too far last week:

Political campaigns make otherwise reasonable people go over the edge. The latest example surrounds Michelle Obama’s campaign visit to Milwaukee this week in support of Mary Burke, who is trying to unseat incumbent Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter, Meg Kissinger, was trying to interview people who were attending the event when campaign workers stopped her.

This sounds too much like a totalitarian state:

The partisan attacks worry Burke campaign spokesman Joe Zepecki. He called the Journal Sentinel newsroom and tried to have the mention of press restrictions deleted from the online news article. Editors refused. Zepecki then complained bitterly in emails to Kissinger and said it wasn’t news, nor was her inclusion in the article that people at the rally who needed to sit down were having trouble finding chairs.

Zepecki later told me no other reporters mentioned any of this in their news accounts. That just proves Kissinger is the only one who got it right. We can’t have politicians or their staffs dictating how news is covered, because you know they’d love to.

There’s a difference between controlling the message and controlling the reporters. Zepecki tried controlling the reporters. There’s no justification for that.

Fans of press freedom, and, yes, there are some left, praised Kissinger for exposing such a ridiculous rule and then interviewing anyone she darn well pleased. Opponents of Burke seized the opportunity to say, see, she would make a lousy governor who will keep all the people’s quotes for herself.

This isn’t proof that Burke would make a lousy governor. It’s proof that her first instinct is to control the media. That’s un-American. It shouldn’t be tolerated.

Thankfully, Ms. Kissinger didn’t let the thugs masquerading as campaign workers prevent her from telling the world what happened.

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This op-ed in the Wall Street Journal should frighten civic-minded people of all political persuasions. It paints the picture of what hardline progressives specialize in:

Last year Wisconsin prosecutors—at the behest of Milwaukee’s Democratic District Attorney John Chisholm —launched a secret criminal investigation involving almost every conservative advocacy group in the state. Armed law-enforcement personnel executed pre-dawn searches of the homes of consultants for the Wisconsin Club for Growth. The organization had engaged in “issue advocacy”—running ads that do not call for the election or defeat of a candidate—both before and during the extended cycle of recall elections for state officials following Gov. Scott Walker’s collective-bargaining reforms in 2011. At the same time, subpoenas were directed to approximately 30 other conservative advocacy organizations and their bankers and accountants.

In other words, hardline leftists like John Chisholm perverted the criminal justice system for political purposes. Chisholm and his thugs had a goal to silence conservatives’ political speech. It looks like they accomplished that mission while chilling political speech.

That’s as un-American as it gets.

The investigation has been stopped by a preliminary injunction in O’Keefe v. Chisholm, and it is the subject of legal wrangling in state and federal courts, but if Mr. Chisholm’s efforts were politically motivated, then he can already claim victory. As midterm elections near, Wisconsin conservative groups have been sufficiently intimidated amid the uncertain legal climate, or their money has been so depleted by courtroom fights, that they are not the force in the state that they were in 2012.

Chisholm has won this part of the fight but he hasn’t won the war. What’s needed is an army of thoughtful people who put the Bill of Rights ahead of short-term political gains. If that army doesn’t exist, then Chisholm’s won the war, not just this fight.

When short-term political gains are more important than fighting for the Bill of Rights, we’ve passed the tipping point as a nation. It’s time to fight for the Bill of Rights. It’s time to momentarily put partisanship aside and focus on doing what’s right. Chilling political speech through the courts is abhorrent. Utilizing unconstitutional laws to chill political speech is disgusting.

It’s been said that people shouldn’t subscribe to conspiracy theories the things that can be explained by incompetence. This isn’t about incompetence. It’s a plan that Democrats utilize because they don’t like taking criticism. They’ve used the IRS to stifle conservatives’ political speech. Senate Democrats just attempted to gut the First Amendment. There’s nothing accidental about the Democrats’ campaign against the Bill of Rights.

Campaign-finance lawyers often say that the process is the punishment, and that has certainly been the case in Wisconsin. I have witnessed it first-hand as my organization, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, consults with many conservative advocacy groups across Wisconsin.

After the raids became public knowledge, the prosecutors claimed that they were investigating allegations that the Wisconsin Club for Growth and other groups had illegally “coordinated” their speech on political issues with Gov. Walker’s campaign in violation of the state’s baroque and often inscrutable campaign finance laws. The investigators seized sensitive and highly confidential records of a good part of the state’s conservative infrastructure.

When Chisholm is laughed out of his final court, which will happen, he’ll still have won because he will have silenced conservatives. Winning in court wasn’t part of his fascist agenda. Chisholm’s goal was to intimidate people into silence. That’s called censorship.

I don’t trust people being the arbiters of what’s acceptable political speech and what isn’t. That’s why I cheered when the Senate’s bill, predictably, went up in flames.

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Al Franken and Sherrod Brown are just 2 of the Democratic senators that want to limit political speech. Truthfully, all 55 senators that caucus with the Democrats think that political speech should be regulated by the Senate. Here’s Sen. Brown’s latest attack on the First Amendment:

Dear ,

Where to start with Citizens United?

It’s brought unprecedented outside spending into our elections. It’s undercut the public’s faith in their elected officials. And it’s cowed Congress by putting a target on the back of any member who tries to stand up to special interests — like they did with me, when special interests spent $40 million against me in 2012.

Corporations are not people. The Declaration of Independence doesn’t say that “all corporations are created equal.” And there’s no good reason to pretend that corporations have the same rights as real, flesh-and-blood people.

But that’s exactly what Citizens United does, and in the process, it allows corporate cash to flood our elections and distract voters from issues that really matter.

Citizens United has done major damage to our democracy. Today, we start undoing that damage. Add your name to mine and demand an end to Citizens United.

Thank you.

Sherrod

First, I’d love hearing Sen. Brown, or Sen. Franken for that matter, explain where in the text of the First Amendment it says that corporations don’t have the right of political speech. Here’s the text of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The Founding Fathers meant for there to be robust debate of the issues. Notice, too, that they mentioned that “people”, not individuals, should have the right to peaceably assemble or petition their government “for a redress of grievances.”

Further, I’d love hearing Sens. Franken and Brown explain how a union is a group of individuals but a corporation isn’t a group of individuals.

The truth is that the Democrats’ attempt to amend the Constitution is all about election year politicking. The Democrats should be forced to explain why pro-Democrat political organizations should have the right to participate in the political process but pro-Republican organizations shouldn’t be allowed to participate in the political process. Finally, I’d love hearing Sens. Franken and Brown explain why incumbents should have the right to regulate anti-incumbent political speech. Why should I think incumbents are honest arbiters of what is and isn’t acceptable political speech?

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Yesterday, I got an email alert about a lawsuit filed by the Center for Competitive Politics challenging the constitutionality of another provision of McCain-Feingold. Here’s the heart of the matter:

The Independence Institute wishes to run two ads: one asking Colorado Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennett to support a federal sentencing reform bill, and one asking citizens to contact Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and urge him to initiate an audit of the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange. The McCain-Feingold law, along with a similar state statute, effectively prevents the group from raising money for the ads.

“This situation shows the damage to free speech caused by carelessly written campaign finance laws,” said David Keating, president of CCP. “Instead of advocacy on an important public issue, there will be silence. That’s unacceptable under the First Amendment, and is the reason why we filed this lawsuit.”

Prior to the passage of Obamacare, McCain-Feingold was the worst legislation in the last half century. I can’t even say that the intent behind McCain-Feingold was good. Its effect was to protect incumbents while limiting political speech.

There’s nothing honorable about either thing.

Here’s what McCain-Feingold does to issue advocacy:

Colorado and federal law treat speech about public issues as campaign speech whenever a candidate is mentioned in a broadcast ad within 60 days of the general election. Groups must either file public reports with personal details about donors who have provided funds for the ads, or refrain from speaking. The result is what First Amendment advocates call a “chilling” effect on advocacy, depriving the public of important speech about issues of public importance.

Here’s why disclosure in these instances is frightening:

Donors and speakers have many reasons to protect their privacy. Some fear retaliation from government officials who disagree with them. Others fear physical harm or threats to themselves and their families, vandalism to their property, loss of jobs, or boycotts of their business if they support unpopular views.

Over half a century ago, the Supreme Court ruled in NAACP v. Alabama that not disclosing donors to issue advocacy groups was constitutionally protected. Imagine the fury that the KKK would’ve visited upon the people supporting the NAACP.

While the threats are different today, the threats are just as real. Instead of fearing the KKK, these days, issue advocacy groups have to worry about the Justice Department, the IRS and other agents representing weaponized government.

It’s time to eliminate another disgusting part of McCain-Feingold. The sooner it’s eliminated, the better.

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