Archive for the ‘Free Speech’ Category

Trump’s Fascist Tendencies, Pt 1: Flag Burning

December 4, 2016

Per the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, fascism is defined in this manner:

a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

Nation above the individual. Forcible suppression of opposition. Which brings us to this tweet from the President-elect:

It’s not surprising Trump believes this, as do a lot of self-styled “patriots.” Soon, the United States will be handing the daunting powers of the Executive Branch over to a man who hasn’t the faintest idea what liberty means, much like these “patriots.” The oath Trump will take includes the provision to “defend the Constitution.” There’s this tiny little amendment in that Constitution, the first one, that reads something like this:

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.

Flag burning is political speech at its most basic form. Noisy, abrasive, offensive political speech is the most American of American values. As libertarian entertainer (and former contestant on “The Apprentice”) Penn Jillette eloquently wrote,

Without the right to burn the flag, without that freedom of expression, the flag is just a piece of cloth. It means nothing. With that freedom, with our Bill of Rights, it’s the greatest symbol on earth. It’s magic.

Will the American flag eventually come to represent the very fascism America fought against in World War II? I hope that answer isn’t left up to Trump and his ilk.

Skepticism Of Global Warming Policies = Racketeering?

July 12, 2016

The Democrats have seemingly declared freedom of thought to be tantamount to involvement in organized crime:

But make no mistake: This coordinated campaign would be an assault on free speech even if it were not drenched in conspiratorial inaccuracy. Democratic lawmakers, attorneys general, and activists are systematically singling out free-market think tanks for potential criminal prosecution and one-sided disclosure requirements based on the content of the think tanks’ research and commentary. They are literally trying to criminalize dissent. If successful, they will establish as “fraud” or “racketeering” any future think-tank work that runs afoul of political orthodoxy.

Trump, Protesters, and Free Speech

March 17, 2016

A very insightful article from Andrew Napolitano on the recent Trump campaign events besieged with protests:

The legal issues here are complex and subtle, involving property rights and free speech. As a lessee of a government-owned building for his rally venue, Trump could not prevent any person from entering or remaining because of the person’s political views.

However, he could have asked the police to employ reasonable force to remove those whose behavior made it impossible for him to use the venue for the principal purpose for which he leased it. Since the First Amendment requires breathing room, the police must be extremely tolerant of protesters and may remove only those whose behavior physically prevents the use for which the venue was leased.

Stated differently, protest of political speech is itself protected speech, but protest cannot be so forceful or dominant that it vetoes the speaker.

Hillary Clinton And The First Amendment

February 6, 2016

Do you like free speech? If so, you shouldn’t like the idea of a Hillary Clinton presidency.

She has consistently backed government intrusions into communications devices, from content-filtering V-chips on television sets to anti-encryption back doors on iPhones. She has established as her litmus test for Supreme Court nominees a commitment to overturn 2010’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, in which a 5–4 majority overturned on grounds that “the censorship we now confront is vast in its reach” a federally enforced cable TV ban of a documentary film attacking a certain politician named Hillary Rodham Clinton. Several other laws that Clinton championed, including the Communications Decency Act (CDA) and the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), were opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and struck down by the Supreme Court as violations of the First Amendment. And she has grasped the flimsiest reeds of evidence to lay at least partial blame on artistic expression for everything from playground fighting styles to the Columbine massacre to, most infamously, the murder of four U.S. personnel in Libya.

More here.

Silencing Internet Speech

June 25, 2015

How are your tax dollars being used? To silence rude blog commenters:

In the comments section of the post, six readers published reactions that drew the investigative ire of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. In a federal grand jury subpoena dated June 2, the U.S. District Court commanded Reason.com to turn over “any and all identifying information” we had about the individuals posting those comments.

The subpoena led to a gag order, which is written about in the link above, and also here and here.

This is not about being proactive against a serious threat. Countless trolls, Facebook users, and Twitter users make stupid comments about a litany of things by the second. It’s about what these particular commenters were commenting on (the immorality of the drug war) and the target of their ire (a federal judge). Because in this country, you can make threatening or disparaging remarks all you want if the target is a celebrity, an athlete, a transgender celebrity, or a family-owned pizzeria. But heaven forbid the federal government becomes aware of your overheated phony threat to see someone within their employ fed through a hyperbolic wood-chipper.

The Reason Foundation will have the resources to navigate these challenges. The rest of us self-published bloggers exercising our free speech rights are probably not as fortunate. We should absolutely be able to speak truth to power and call out the immorality of a whole host of public policies. This story proves that we do….until we don’t.

Be careful out there.

The Secrecy Of The Death Penalty

March 6, 2015

To the law-and-order crowd that believes “if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide,” I ask: just WHY are you hiding, then??

Je Suis Charlie

January 8, 2015

jihad

This was my contribution to “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” over four years ago. Seems appropriate to post here in light of yesterday’s senseless atrocity.

Don’t Hack Me, Bro

December 19, 2014

Or feed me to the sharks.

Police Union To NFL: Discipline Your Football Players For Exercising Free Speech

December 1, 2014

SWAT Raids For Censorship

October 25, 2014

From George Will’s column:

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.

To bust out the paramilitary-style raids, law enforcement must have been dealing with violent criminals, or domestic abusers, or maybe terrorists? Try Wisconsin conservative activists. And who authorized the raid?

According to several published reports, Chisholm told subordinates that his wife, a teachers union shop steward at her school, is anguished by her detestation of Walker’s restrictions on government employee unions, so Chisholm considers it his duty to help defeat Walker.

“Chisholm” is Milwaukee County’s Democratic DA John Chisholm. “Walker” is Governor Scott Walker.

Note to anti-Citizens United activists: violent police raids are the natural means to justify your ends. Is this the America you really support? Because this could easily happen to you someday.