Archive for the ‘Censorship’ Category
Earlier this morning, I wrote this article with the intent of proving Donald Trump is a First Amendment-hating tyrant who hasn’t hesitated in intimidating reporters into not writing unflattering articles about him. It’s unforgivable when a politician attempts to chill free speech and limit the rights citizens have to gather information about their government.
This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. It isn’t right that a presidential candidate has banned reporters from public events because he didn’t like their coverage of him. That’s what fascists and third world dictators do. That’s unacceptable in the United States.
Chris Murphy is a Democratic senator from Connecticut and, as near as I can tell, a staunch advocate for censorship and a hater of religion. He can afford to be. He’s from Connecticut, which isn’t known for its deep religious roots.
Peggy Noonan is a former speechwriter for the greatest president of my lifetime, Ronald Reagan. She’s a gifted wordsmith and a lady of stature and dignity. Even when I disagree with her, which is occasionally, I still have immense respect for her. That’s because, at heart, she’s constantly cheering to see America at its best. She isn’t an ideologue. Instead, she’s a patriot. That’s why I couldn’t resist reading Ms. Noonan’s column about the fragile state of the First Amendment.
She noted that Sen. Murphy injected invective into the conversation about San Bernardino while it was happening, saying “Your ‘thoughts’ should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your ‘prayers’ should be for forgiveness if you do nothing—again.” Then Ms. Noonan made the observation that there’s “a real censorship movement backed by an ideology that is hostile to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”
Twenty years ago, that statement would’ve been laughed at. Today, thoughtful people furrow their brow and worry that Ms. Noonan is right. Then Ms. Noonan offered this insight into winning debates:
If you really are for some new gun-control measure, if you are serious about it, you just might wait a while, until the blood has cooled, for instance, and then try to win people over to see it your way. You might offer information, argument, points of persuasion. Successful politics involves pulling people together. You don’t use a tragedy to shame and silence those who don’t see it your way; that only hardens sides.
I won’t assume that Sen. Murphy is interested in winning a debate. (Ms. Noonan didn’t either.) It’s quite possible that Sen. Murphy only wants to speak up and be heard.
Now that the blood has started cooling, it’d be easy to criticize Sen. Murphy. I won’t do that, though. I’ll just add some information and, hopefully, a little insight into this nightmare. First, the information flooding in is that this wasn’t a criminal action as much as it was a terrorist attack. Though President Obama and the FBI have tap-danced around that possibility, the truth is that that proverbial train left the station when the FBI found literally thousands of rounds of ammunition, a bomb-making factory in the Farooks’ apartment and an assortment of pipe bombs and IED in the Farooks’ SUV.
The insight I have for Sen. Murphy is to start talking about how President Obama, the FBI and our other intelligence agencies can connect the terrorist network dots faster. They clearly were caught flat-footed on San Bernardino. Couple that with their unwillingness to call it what it obviously is and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
This post is meant as a bit of a thank you to Ms. Noonan for writing something insightful on the subject of winning debate. Here’s hoping for more sanity to break out shortly.
Prof. Mark Jaede has a lengthy history of being a DFL activist/operative. I first came face-to-face with it during the state government shutdown in 2011 but I’d heard of Jaede’s activism before that. This year, Prof. Jaede has taken his activism to a new level when Prof. Jaede complained publicly about this LTE. Specifically, Prof. Jaede complained that the St. Cloud Times editorial started by asking “Why are Muslim leaders silent?” in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks. Later in the editorial, the writer got more specific, saying that there “has been no such response from Muslim leaders around the world to express their condemnation of terrorism and to let the global community know the difference between the religion of Islam and extremism.”
Yesterday, Prof. Jaede posted something to SCSU’s discuss listserv. In his post to the discuss listserv, Prof. Jaede admitted that he’d done “something I have never done before. I wrote to a newspaper asking them to take down a letter to the editor.” Here’s Prof. Jaede’s letter to the St. Cloud Times:
I am writing in regard to the above-referenced letter that appeared today in the online edition of the Times.
The letter is not merely an opinion piece. It makes a claim of fact that is patently false. Muslims all over the world have denounced the terrorism of ISIS. Muslim leaders here in St. Cloud have denounced it, and the Times has printed their statements. Why would you print this letter when you know it to be both false and likely to further anti-Muslim bigotry in our area? And why have the comments been turned off? Responsible readers can’t even point out the falsehoods.
Much as I have disagreed with many opinion pieces in the Times, I have never before been moved to write to object to the publication of a piece. This letter crosses the line. It goes beyond free speech to libel against an entire religious community.
Please take it down, or at least publish a disclaimer pointing out the falsehood of its central claim.
It’s one thing to ask a newspaper to “at least publish a disclaimer” highlighting the inaccuracies of the LTE. It’s another to ask a newspaper to unpublish an article that’s been posted on their website. That’s called censorship, which is prohibited by the First Amendment. Prof. Jaede said that “this letter crosses the line” by going “beyond free speech to libel against an entire religious community.” The remedy for crossing that line isn’t to censor the writer. It’s to impeach them with your own LTE.
Methinks it’s time for Prof. Jaede to refresh his understanding of the First Amendment.
The good news is that we’re almost to the end of President Obama’s second term as Divider-in-Chief. The bad news is that we’ll have another divider-in-chief if we elect Donald Trump. David Drucker’s article is worth the reading.
Drucker notes that Trump is known for “his vow to ‘bomb the shit out of’ the Islamic State,” though his policies are “very much like Obama — and Sen. Rand Paul.” Think of Trump’s statements about letting Putin bomb ISIS. Anyone with a brain in their head knew that Putin wasn’t interested in ISIS. Putin intervened in Syria to protect Bashar al-Assad, not to obliterate ISIS. Trump the Alpha Male, however, couldn’t admit that. That’d require him to admit he didn’t know the world like he insists he knows the world.
Take his recent statements about bombing ISIS’s oil fields. That’s when he said “I’d blow up the pipes. I’d blow up the refineries. I’d blow up every single thing. There would be nothing left. And you know what? You’d get Exxon to come in there in 2 months. You ever see how good these guys are? They’ll rebuild that sucker and it will be beautiful. And I’d ring it and I’d take the oil.”
Destroying a pipeline shouldn’t take more than a single plane. (It isn’t like ISIS has an air force.) After that’s done, ISIS would still exist. It wouldn’t be irreparably damaged. The only thing that’d happen is that President Trump would thump is chest and declare that he’d made America great again.
The American people, apart from Trump’s true believers, would know that Trump’s rhetoric would outdistance his accomplishments by a country mile. If a reporter questioned whether he’d actually accomplished anything, it’s more likely that Trump would pull that reporter’s press pass than giving a thoughtful, detailed explanation to the reporter.
There’s no getting around this fact. A Trump presidency would be another term for another divider-in-chief. We’re trying to get rid of the divider-in-chief we’ve got. We certainly don’t need another narcissistic divider-in-chief.
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.
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
I am 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.
Technorati: John Chisholm, John Doe Investigation, Chilling Effect, Threats and Intimidation, Censorship, McCarthyism, Fourth Amendment, First Amendment, Civil Rights, O’Keefe v. Chisholm, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Democratic Culture of Corruption, Election 2014
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.
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.