1

Theodore Roosevelt on Lincoln and Free Speech

On May 16, 1918 Congress passed an amendment to the Espionage Act of 1917,  This Amendment is known to history as The Espionage Act of 1918.  Here is the text:

 

Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully make or convey false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States, or to promote the success of its enemies, or shall willfully make or convey false reports, or false statements, …or incite insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty, in the military or naval forces of the United States, or shall willfully obstruct …the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States, or …shall willfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States, or the Constitution of the United States, or the military or naval forces of the United States …or shall willfully display the flag of any foreign enemy, or shall willfully …urge, incite, or advocate any curtailment of production …or advocate, teach, defend, or suggest the doing of any of the acts or things in this section enumerated and whoever shall by word or act support or favor the cause of any country with which the United States is at war or by word or act oppose the cause of the United States therein, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than 20 years, or both….

About 2000 people were prosecuted under the Espionage Act and the Supreme Court upheld the Sedition portion against a challenge that it violated the First Amendment.  A temporary war time measure, Congress repealed it along with many other war time measures on December 13, 1920.

Theodore Roosevelt was concerned that the Act would be used by the Administration to stifle criticism of the President, and he took up his pen in May of 1917 and wrote the following article:

 

 

LINCOLN AND FREE SPEECH

PATRIOTISM means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him in so far as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth–whether about the President or about any one else–save in the rare cases where this would make known to the enemy information of military value which would otherwise be unknown to him.

Sedition, in the legal sense, means to betray the government, to give aid and comfort to the enemy, or to counsel resistance to the laws or to measures of government having the force. of law. There can be conduct morally as bad as legal sedition which yet may not be violation of law. The President–any President–can by speech or action (by advocating an improper peace. or improper submission to national wrong) give aid and comfort to the public enemy as no one else in. the land can do, and yet his conduct, however damaging to the, country, is not seditious; and although if public sentiment is sufficiently aroused he can be impeached, such course is practically impossible.

One form of servility consists in a slavish attitude–of the kind, incompatible with self-respecting manliness–toward any person who is powerful by reason of his office or position.. Servility may be shown by a public servant toward the profiteering head of a large corporation, or toward the anti-American head of a big labor organization. It may also be shown in peculiarly noxious and un-American form by confounding the President or–any other official with the country and shrieking “stand by the President,” without regard to whether, by so acting, we do or do not stand by the country.

 

A distinguished Federal judge recently wrote me as follows:
“Last November [1917?] it seemed as if the American people were going to be converted into a hallelujah chorus, whose only function in government should be to shout ‘Hallelujah!’ ‘Hallelujah!’ for everything that the Administration did or failed to do. Any one who did not join that chorus was liable to imprisonment for treason or sedition.
“I hope that we shall soon have recovered our sense as well as our liberty.“The authors of the first amendment to the Federal Constitution guaranteeing the right of assembly and of freedom of speech and of the press. did not thus safeguard those rights for the sake alone of persons who were to enjoy them, but even more because they knew that the Republic which they were founding could not be worked on any other basis. Since Marshall tried Burr for treason it has been clear that that crime cannot be committed by words, unless one acts as a spy, or gives advice to the enemy of military or naval operations. It cannot be committed by statements reflecting upon officers or measures of government.
“Sedition is different. Any one who directly advises or counsels resistance to measures of government is guilty of sedition. That, however, ought to be clearly distinguished from ‘discussion of the wisdom or folly of measures of government, or the honesty or competency of public officers. That is not sedition. It is within the protection of the first amendment. The electorate cannot be qualified to perform its duty in removing incompetent officers and securing the repeal of unwise laws unless those questions may be freely discussed.
“The, right to say wise things necessarily implies the right to say foolish things. The answer to foolish speech is wise speech and not force. The Republic is founded upon the faith that if the American people are permitted freely to hear foolish and wise speech, a majority will choose the wise. If that faith is not justified the Republic is based on sand. John Milton said it all in his defense of freedom of the press: `Let truth and error grapple. Who ever knew truth to be beaten in a fair fight?’ ”

 

 

Abraham Lincoln was in Congress while Polk was President, during the Mexican War. The following extracts from his speeches, during war-time, about the then President ought to be illuminating to those persons who do not understand that one of the highest and most patriotic duties to be performed in his country at this time is to tell the truth whenever it becomes necessary in order to force our government to speed up the war. It would, for example, be our highest duty to tell it if at any time we became convinced that only thereby could we shame our leaders out of hypocrisy and prevent the betrayal of human rights by peace talk of the kind which bewilders and deceives plain people.
These quotations can be found on pages 100 to 146 of Volume I of “Lincoln’s Complete Works,” by Nicolay and Hay.

In a speech on January 12, 1848, Lincoln justified himself for voting in favor of a resolution censuring the President for his action prior to and during the war (which was still going on). He examines the President’s official message of justification and says, “that, taking for true all the President states as facts, he falls far short of proving his justification, and that the President would have gone further with his proof if it had not been for the small matter that the truth would not permit him.” He says that part of the message “is from beginning to end the sheerest deception.” He then asks the President to answer certain questions, and says: “Let him answer fully, fairly, and candidly. Let him answer with facts and not with arguments. Let him remember that he sits where Washington sat, and so remembering, let him answer as Washington would answer. Let him attempt no evasion, no equivocation.” In other words, Lincoln says that he does not wish rhetoric, or fine phrases or glittering statements that contradict one another and each of which has to be explained with a separate key or adroit and subtle special pleading and constant reversal of positions previously held, but straightforward and consistent adherence to the truth. He continues that he “more than suspects” that the President “is deeply conscious of being in the wrong; that he feels that innocent blood is crying to heaven against him”; that one of the best generals had “been driven into disfavor, if not disgrace, by the President” for insisting upon speaking unpalatable truths about the length of time the war would take (and therefore the need of full preparedness); and ends by saying that the army has done admirably, but that the President has bungled his work and “knows not where he is. He is a bewildered, confounded, and miserably perplexed man. God grant he may be able to show there is not something about his conscience more painful than all his mental perplexity.”
Remember that this is Lincoln speaking, in war-time, of the President. The general verdict of history has justified him. But it is impossible to justify him and not heartily to condemn the persons who in our time endeavor to suppress truth-telling of a far less emphatic type than Lincoln’s.

Lincoln had to deal with various critics of the “stand by the President” type. To one he answers that, “the only alternative is to tell the truth or to lie,” and that he would not “skulk” on such a question. He explains that the President’s supporters “are untiring in their efforts to make the impression that all who vote supplies or take part in the war do of necessity approve the President’s conduct,” but that he (Lincoln) and his associates sharply distinguished between the two and voted supplies and men but “denounced the President’s conduct” and “condemned the Administration.” He stated that to give the President the power demanded for him by certain people would “place the President where kings have always stood.” In touching on what we should now speak of as rhetoric, he says

“The honest laborer digs coal at about seventy cents a day, while the President digs abstractions at about seventy dollars a day. The coal is clearly worth more than the abstractions, and yet what a monstrous inequality in the price!” He emphatically protests against permitting the President “to take the whole of legislation into his hands”–surely a statement applying exactly to the present situation. To the President’s servile party supporters he makes a distinction which also readily applies at the present day: “The distinction between the cause of the President . . . and the cause of the country . . . you cannot perceive. To you the President and the country seem to be all one. . . . We see the distinction clearly enough.”
This last statement was the crux of the matter then and is the crux of the matter now. We hold that our loyalty is due solely to the American Republic, and to all our public servants exactly in proportion as they efficiently and faithfully serve the Republic. Our opponents, in flat contradiction of Lincoln’s position, hold that our loyalty is due to the President, not the country; to one man, the servant of the people, instead of to the people themselves. In practice they adopt the fetichism [sic] of all believers in absolutism, for every man who parrots the, cry of “stand by the President” without adding the proviso “so far as he serves the Republic” takes an attitude as essentially unmanly as that of any Stuart royalist who championed the doctrine that the king could do no wrong. No self-respecting and intelligent freeman can take such an attitude.

The Wisconsin legislature has just set forth the proper American doctrine, as follows
“The people of the State of Wisconsin always have stood and always will stand squarely behind the National Government in all things which are essential to bring the present war to a successful end, and we condemn Senator Robert La Follette and all others who have failed to see the righteousness of our nation’s cause, who have failed to support our government in matters vital to the winning of the war, and we denounce any attitude or utterance of theirs which has tended to incite sedition among the people of our country.”

In view of the recent attitude of the Administration as expressed through the attorney-general and postmaster-general I commend to its attention the utterances of Abraham Lincoln in 1848 and of the Wisconsin legislature in 1918. The Administration’s warfare against German spies and American traitors has been feeble. The government has achieved far less in this direction than has been achieved by a few of our newspapers and by various private individuals. This failure is aggravated by such action as was threatened against The Metropolitan Magazine. The Metropolitan–and the present writer–have stood and will continue to stand, “squarely behind the national government in all things which are essential to bring the present war to a successful end” and to support “the righteousness of the nation’s cause.” We will stand behind the country at every point, and we will at every point either support or oppose the Administration precisely in proportion as it does or does not with efficiency and single-minded devotion serve the country.

From this position we will not be driven by any abuse of power or by any effort to make us not the loyal servants of the American people, but the cringing tools of a man who at the moment has power.
The Administration has in some of its actions on vital points shown great inefficiency (as proved by Senator Chamberlain’s committee) and on other points has been guilty of conduct toward certain peoples wholly inconsistent with its conduct toward other peoples and wholly inconsistent with its public professions as regards all international conduct. It cannot meet these accusations, for they are truthful, and to try to suppress the truth by preventing the circulation of The Metropolitan Magazine is as high-handed a defiance of liberty and justice as anything done by the Hohenzollerns or the Romanoffs. [Roosevelt uses these royal families as examples of German and Russian tyranny, respectively.] Such action is intolerable. Contrast the leniency shown by the government toward the grossest offenses against the nation

with its eagerness to assail any one who tells unpleasant truths about the Administration. The Hearst papers play the German game when they oppose the war, assail our allies, and clamor for an inconclusive peace, and they play the German game when they assail the men who truthfully point out the shortcomings which, unless corrected, will redound to Germany’s advantage and our terrible disadvantage. But the Administration has taken no action against the Hear[s]t papers. The Metropolitan Magazine has supported the war, has championed every measure to speed up the war and to make our strength effective, and has stood against every proposal for a peace without victory. But the Administration acts against the magazine that in straightforward American fashion has championed the war. Such discrimination is not compatible with either honesty or patriotism. It means that the Administration is using the great power of the government to punish honest criticism of its shortcomings, while it accepts support of and apology for these shortcomings as an offset to action against the war and, therefore, against the nation. Conduct of this kind is a grave abuse of official power.

Whatever the Administration does, I shall continue to act in the future precisely as I have acted in the past. When a senator like Mr. Chamberlain in some great matter serves the country better than does the Administration, I shall support that senator; and when a senator like Mr. La Follette perseveres in the course followed by the Administration before it reversed itself in February, 1917 [urging that the U.S. stay out of World War I], I shall oppose him and to that extent support the Administration in its present position. I shall continue to support the Administration in every such action as floating the liberty loans, raising the draft army, or sending our troops abroad. I shall continue truthfully to criticise any flagrant acts of incompetency by the Administration, such as the failure in shipping matters and the breakdown of the War Department during the last fourteen months, when it appears that such truthful criticism offers the only chance of remedying the wrong. I shall support every official from the President down who does well, and shall oppose every such official who does ill. I shall not put the personal comfort of the President or of any other public servant above the welfare of the country.

In a self-governing country the people are called citizens.  Under a despotism or autocracy the people are called subjects. This is because in a free country the people are themselves sovereign, while in a despotic country the people are under a sovereign. In the United States the people are all citizens, including its President. The rest of them are fellow citizens of the President. In Germany the people are all subjects of the Kaiser. They are not his fellow citizens, they are his subjects. This is the essential difference between the United States and Germany, but the difference would vanish if we now submitted to the foolish or traitorous persons who endeavor to make it a crime to tell the truth about the Administration when the Administration is guilty of incompetence or other shortcomings. Such endeavor is itself a crime against the nation. Those who take such an attitude are guilty of moral treason of a kind both abject and dangerous.

13

The Truth Tends to Be Offensive

Jordan Peterson and Bill Maher discuss the fact that debating important ideas always involves offense, or the potential of offense.  Language advisory as to the below video.  One of the more pernicious taboos of our time is that ideas should be suppressed due to their offensive nature to some.  Politeness is important but it pales in comparison to freedom of speech.  Of course social justice warriors have mastered the art of the cry-bullying:  suppressing other viewpoints over alleged offense, while being immensely offensive.  Time, past time, to end this congealed nonsense.

 

 

 

 

9

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Niall Ferguson

 

 

Freedom is rarely killed off by people chanting “Down with Freedom!” It is killed off by people claiming that the greater good/the general will/the community/the proletariat requires “examination of the parameters” (or some such cant phrase) of individual liberty. If the criterion for censorship is that nobody’s feelings can be hurt, we are finished as a free society.

Where such arguments lead is just a long-haul flight away.

The regime of Hugo Chavez and his successor, Nicolas Maduro, in Venezuela, used to be the toast of such darlings of the American Left as Naomi Klein, whose 2007 book “The Shock Doctrine” praised Venezuela as “a zone of relative economic calm” in a world dominated by marauding free market economists. Today (as was eminently foreseeable 10 years back), Venezuela is in a state of economic collapse, its opposition leaders are in jail, and its constitution is about to be rewritten yet again to keep the Chavista dictatorship in power. Another regime where those who speak freely land in jail is Saudi Arabia, a regime lauded by Women’s March leader and sharia law enthusiast Linda Sarsour.

Mark my words, while I can still publish them with impunity: The real tyrants, when they come, will be for diversity (except of opinion) and against hate speech (except their own).

Niall Ferguson, British Historian

Go here to read the rest.

 

32

Free Speech for Me But Not For Thee

 

My favorite liberal, Nat Hentoff, takes aim at the campus brownshirts seeking to eradicate free speech:

Hostility to the exercise of free speech on American college campuses is nothing new. But what happened at Yale University, the University of Missouri and other colleges over the past two weeks is something new and frightening. The suppression of speech in academia has begun to spiral out of control.

Nicholas Christakis is a professor at Yale who lives with his wife in a student residence hall on campus. An internationally renowned physician and sociologist, Dr. Christakis was surrounded by dozens of angry students who showered him with curses and threats. Dr. Christakis’ offense? He refused to publicly apologize for his wife’s email that defended free speech and urged tolerance of offensive Halloween costumes.

Greg Lukianoff, the President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), was on the Yale campus to attend a free speech symposium and witnessed the incident. In the video Lukianoff posted on FIRE’s website, Christakis appears on the verge of being physically assaulted.

“Nicholas addressed the crowd for more than an hour, even after it became clear that nothing short of begging for forgiveness would satisfy them,” Lukianoff wrote in The Washington Post. “I’ve witnessed some intense campus disputes during my 14 years fighting for free speech, but nothing like this.”

The next evening — at a William F. Buckley, Jr. Program conference on free speech that had been planned months in advance — Greg Lukianoff’s speech was interrupted by a student who rushed the podium, shouting, before he was dragged out of the building by campus police. Attendees then braved a gauntlet of angry Yale students who cursed and ridiculed them. The Yale Daily News reported that “several attendees were spat on as they left.”

At the University of Missouri, a student photographer freelancing for ESPN was confronted by a mob of angry anti-racism protesters who tried to eject him from the public commons area where they had gathered. After he refused to leave, the students begin a coordinated effort to both psychologically and physically intimidate the reporter into leaving.

The protesters subjected him to intense ridicule, sometimes chanting in unison, as they gradually forced him backwards. They then began to falsely accuse the reporter of the very conduct that they themselves were directing against him.

MU’s student body vice president later tried to justify the students’ self-imposed restrictions on the press during an interview on MSNBC. She suggested that the First Amendment “creates a hostile and unsafe learning environment.” Continue Reading

11

Quotes Suitable For Framing: George Will

Liberal-Tolerance

If you believe, as progressives do, that human nature is not fixed, and hence is not a basis for understanding natural rights. And if you believe, as progressives do, that human beings are soft wax who receive their shape from the society that government shapes. And if you believe, as progressives do, that people receive their rights from the shaping government. And if you believe, as progressives do, that people are the sum of the social promptings they experience. Then it will seem sensible for government, including a university’s administration, to guarantee not freedom of speech but freedom from speech. From, that is, speech that might prompt its hearers to develop ideas inimical to progress, and that might violate the universal entitlement to perpetual serenity.

George Will

11

Indoctrination

 

I have always been pretty conservative.  Well, at least since the age of seven when I backed Barry Goldwater in 1964.  In college I often clashed with liberal professors.  I recall one education professor who went off on a leftist rant in class.  I stood it as long as I could and then yelled out, “That is garbage sir, pure garbage!”  The shocked look on my classmates was classic!  He graded my work in the course as an A anyway.  I have to hand it to all the liberal professors that I battled, that none of them downgraded me because of my stances.  Judging from the following at Instapundit, times have changed for the worse:

 

THEY OUGHT TO BE FIRED: It’s back to school time, and progressive professors at Washington State University are gearing up to suppress speech they personally find “offensive,” such as saying “illegal alien,” using the terms “male” or “female,” or failing to “defer” to the “experiences of people of color”:

In his “Introduction to Multicultural Literature,” for example, professor John Streamas informs students in his syllabus that he expects white students who want “to do well in this class” to “reflect” their “grasp of history and social relations” by “deferring to the experiences of people of color.”

The taxpayer-funded critical studies professor also writes in his syllabus that Glenn Beck is a member of a group of “insensitive whites.”

Streamas, who obtained his Ph.D. at Bowling Green State University, is most notable because he told a student who supports limits on illegal immigration: “You are just a white shitbag.” . . .

A second Washington State faculty member, Selena Lester Breikss, warns students in her “Women & Popular Culture” course this semester that they risk “failure for the semester” if they use the terms “male” or “female.” . . .

“Students will come to recognize how white privilege functions in everyday social structures and institutions,” Breikss adds.

Finally, not to be outdone, Washington State American studies professor Rebecca Fowler similarly warns students that she will lower their grades if they utter the phrase “illegal alien” at any time in her “Introduction to Comparative Ethnic Studies” course.

The taxpayer-funded Fowler proclaims that she bans students from using the phrase “illegal alien” because the Associated Press stylebook “no longer sanctions the term.”

The Associated Press stylebook is purely an advisory publication for professional journalists. It has no force of law whatsoever. . . . Public university students who dare to use the phrase “illegal alien” “will suffer a deduction of one point per incident,” Fowler warns.

Apparently these sensitive little snowflake professors cannot tolerate any disagreement. For their failure to tolerate a diversity of views and engage in actual teaching (rather than proselytizing), they should be terminated for “cause.” Parents and students should avoid this university at all costs, unless/until the University’s administration takes appropriate disciplinary action to ensure that all viewpoints are welcomed, even those that are “offensive.” It’s called “free speech,” and yes, it protects offensive speech, too. Continue Reading

5

Something Rotten in Denmark and the West

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Coming soon to a city near you?

Police in Copenhagen say they have shot dead a man they believe was behind two deadly attacks in the Danish capital hours earlier.

Police say they killed the man in the Norrebro district after he opened fire on them.

It came after one person was killed and three police officers injured at a free speech debate in a cafe on Saturday.

In the second attack, a Jewish man was killed and two police officers wounded near the city’s main synagogue.

Police say video surveillance suggested the same man carried out both attacks. They do not believe any other people were involved.

“We assume that it’s the same culprit behind both incidents, and we also assume that the culprit that was shot by the police task force… is the person behind both of these assassinations,” Chief Police Inspector Torben Molgaard Jensen told a news conference.

He said police would maintain a high presence in the city.

Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said it was “a very sad morning” and described the shootings as “a cynical act of terror against Denmark”.

“I am happy and relieved that police have disarmed the alleged perpetrator behind the two shootings,” she said in a statement. “I will continue to encourage everyone to follow police instructions and be vigilant.”

Early on Sunday, police said they had been keeping an address under observation in the district of Norrebro, waiting for the occupant to return.

When he appeared, he noticed the officers, pulled out a gun and opened fire, police said. They returned fire and shot him dead. The incident happened near Norrebro train station. Continue Reading

77

Blaming the Victims

Fan of Free Speech

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League is fuzzy on this whole free speech thing:

Bill Donohue comments on the killing of 12 people at the Paris office of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo:

Killing in response to insult, no matter how gross, must be unequivocally condemned. That is why what happened in Paris cannot be tolerated. But neither should we tolerate the kind of intolerance that provoked this violent reaction.

Those who work at this newspaper have a long and disgusting record of going way beyond the mere lampooning of public figures, and this is especially true of their depictions of religious figures. For example, they have shown nuns masturbating and popes wearing condoms. They have also shown Muhammad in pornographic poses. Continue Reading

8

Democrat Attempts to Gut First Amendment

a jealous faith

 

 

The contemporary left gives lip service to freedom of speech, but where they are in power they actively seek to ban the speech of those who disagree with them.  We see this clearly on campuses where speech codes, anathema to any concept of freedom of speech, are the order of the day.  It is no accident, as Marxists used to say, that representatives of the Democrat party are busily seeking to jettison the concept of free speech when it comes to elections.  Kevin Williamson gives us the details at National Review Online:

 

 

Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. Dissent is the lowest form of crime. If you are a drone in the hive of the Left, it is possible — easy, in fact — to believe both of those things at the same time.

Free speech just won an important victory in a federal courtroom, though it is shameful that the case ever even had to go to court. Ohio had enacted a plainly unconstitutional law that empowered a government panel to determine whether criticisms offered in political advertisements were sufficiently true to be permitted in the public discourse. Those who have followed the IRS scandal, the Travis County, Texas, prosecutorial scandals, or Harry Reid’s recent effort to repeal the First Amendment will not be surprised that this measure was used as a political weapon against a conservative group, in this case the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List. SBA List criticized a Democratic House member for having voted for the so-called Affordable Care Act (ACA), noting that the law will implicate American taxpayers in the funding of abortions, an entanglement previously minimized through measures such as the Hyde Amendment. Despite the fact that the ACA regime would, among other things, permit federal subsidies for abortion-funding insurance plans, the Ohio Inquisition ruled the ad impermissible, and banned it.

So much for free speech.

Fortunately, an Obama appointee whose ability to read the letter of the law had not been utterly drummed out of him ruled that the Ohio Inquisition obviously violated longstanding free-speech protections, the First Amendment notable among them. Last week, a similar case in Minnesota came to a similar conclusion.

Which is why Harry Reid wants to repeal the First Amendment.

Democrats pushing the measure to repeal free speech pretend that it is a campaign-finance measure, but the only criteria it establishes for Congress to ban an advertisement — or a book, or a film, or a television show, or a magazine — is that money is expended in an attempt to influence a political outcome. Under those rules, the Ohio Inquisition’s successful move to ban billboards critical of an embattled Democratic congressman would have been totally acceptable under the provisions of a gutted First Amendment.

The Ohio Inquisition, and the Minnesota Inquisition, and Harry Reid’s war on the First Amendment are hardly isolated episodes. Consider that the same Texas prosecutor that has indicted Governor Rick Perry on two felony counts for the so-called crime of exercising his constitutional authority to veto a bill — a bill providing funds to that prosecutor’s office — is now preparing to indict University of Texas regent and whistleblower Wallace Hall, on charges of . . . hmm.

The charges against Mr. Hall are odd even by the standards of Rosemary Lehmberg, the vodka-pickled Texas prosecutor whose videotaped tirade after a DUI arrest — she threatened to have sheriff’s deputies jailed if she was not given special treatment — led to Governor Perry’s veto of funds for her office, on the theory that he could not in good conscience sign off on funding for an agency under such non-credible leadership. Mr. Hall is accused of leaking private information regarding academic records; short of that, prosecutors want to charge Mr. Hall with the crime of leading people to “speculate” about certain information protected by privacy rules. For the record, I should note that, though I never have spoken to the man, the party to whom Mr. Hall is accused of leaking information and whose speculation he is accused of encouraging is me. Continue Reading

17

Vandalism, Battery and Robbery, Along With Being a Red Fascist

 

 

 

Hattip to Eugene Volokh at the Volokh Conspiracy.   A follow up to Foxfier’s post, go here to read it, about the Feminazi professor who assaulted a teenage pro-lifer and stole her sign.  The following is a report of the investing police officer as he interviewed the professor.  Imagine that he is speaking in Jack Webb’s Joe Friday, Just the Facts Ma’am, monotone:

 

 

 

I asked Miller-Young if she felt anything wrong had happened this afternoon. Miller-Young said that she did not know enough about the limits of free speech to answer my question. Miller-Young went on to say that she was not sure what an acceptable and legal response to hate speech would be. Miller-Young said that she was willing to pay for the cost of the sign but would “hate it.”

I explained to Miller-Young that the victims in this case felt that a crime had occurred. I told Miller-Young that I appreciated the fact that she felt traumatized by the imagery but that her response constituted a violation of law. Furthermore, I told Miller-Young that I was worried about the example she had set for her undergraduate students.

Miller-Young said that her students “were wanting her to take” the sign away. Miller-Young argued that she set a good example for her students. Miller-Young likened her behavior to that of a “conscientious objector.” Miller-Young said that she did not feel that what she had done was criminal. However, she acknowledged that the sign did not belong to her.

I asked Miller-Young what crimes she felt the pro-life group had violated. Miller-Young replied that their coming to campus and showing “graphic imagery” was insensitive to the community. I clarified the difference between University policy and law to Miller-Young and asked her again what law had been violated. Miller-Young said that she believed the pro-life group may have violated University policy. Miller-Young said that her actions today were in defense of her students and her own safety.

Miller-Young said that she felt that this issue was not criminal and expressed a desire to find a resolution outside of the legal system. Miller-Young continued and stated that she had the “moral” right to act in the way she did.

I asked Miller-Young if she could have behaved differently in this instance. There was a long pause. “I’ve said that I think I did the right thing. But I acknowledge that I probably should not have taken their poster.” Miller-Young also said that she wished that the anti-abortion group had taken down the images when they demanded them to.

Miller-Young also suggested that the group had violated her rights. I asked Miller-Young what right the group had violated. Miller-Young responded, “My personal right to go to work and not be in harm.

Miller-Young elaborated that one of the reasons she had felt so alarmed by this imagery is because she is about to have the test for Down Syndrome. Miller-Young said. “I work here, why do they get to intervene in that?”

I explained to Miller-Young that vandalism, battery and robbery had occurred. I also told Miller-Young that individuals involved in this case desired prosecution.

I later booked the torn sign into evidence at UCPD. I also uploaded the audio files of my interviews into digital evidence.

I request that a copy of my report, along with all related supplemental reports, be forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office for review. Continue Reading

19

Do We Have Free Speech?

I dislike mentioning the First Amendment when controversies like the Phil Robertson versus A&E brewhaha break out. After all, the First Amendment applies only to Congress (and the Supreme Court has ruled [incorrectly, if you ask me] that it applies to state governments via the 14th Amendment), and the actions of a cable network don’t really implicate the First Amendment. On the other hand, Ace of Spades makes a fairly compelling argument that this is too narrow an interpretation of what the First Amendment is all about.

It’s also untrue. Yes, the First Amendment, strictly speaking, applies only to the government. But there is a spirit of the First Amendment too, not just a restriction on government action.

 

And that spirit is this:

 

That we should have, to the extent compatible with ordered liberty, the maximum possible right to think and say and believe what we choose, and anyone who attempts to use force to coerce someone to think and say and believe something that is alien to them is acting contrary to the spirt of the First Amendment.

 

I’ve said this a dozen times:

 

The real, tangible threat to our right to think and speak as we will, as conscience, faith, or reason (or all three together) might impel us, is not from the government, but from our employers, and from the massively corporate media institutions that impose real penalties on people — fines, really, imposed by firings, suspensions, mandatory Thought Rehab and so forth — for daring to utter words other than the Officially Approved Institutional Corporate Slogans.

 

Yes, A&E has the right to suspend Phil Robinson. A&E also has the right to stand up for a broad and generous principle of Freedom of Thought and Expression.

 

Why does no one speak of that right? Sure, they have the right to act hostilely towards the spirit of the First Amendment and use coercive power to hammer people into only speaking the Officially Approved Institutional Corporate Slogans.

As I said, this is a very compelling argument, though I’m not sure I completely buy into it. In the case of employers firing people for expressing their free speech rights, true government coercion, it could be argued, would be actively prohibiting employers from firing employees for expressing unpopular opinions. Now, I personally think employers should give their employees wide latitude when it comes to expressing their opinions, and there are few examples I can think of where it would be acceptable to fire people for their political opinions.*

Which leads me to one of the most outrageous examples of over-reaction I’ve ever seen. Justine Sacco was a communications director for a firm called IAC – I say was because she was fired after tweeting the following:

Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!

The tweet was obviously a (really bad) attempt at mocking the concept of white privilege. It did not sit well with many of the purveyors of decency on the left, and within hours there was a social media firestorm. This woman with barely over 100 followers had become the locus of hate throughout the twitterverse, and soon her employers were compelled first to issue a statement of regret, and then to sack Sacco (sorry).

What was particularly heinous about the incident was how it revealed the true ugliness of social media, and I’m not referring to Sacco’s tweet. Her tweet was dumb, but clearly an example of poor humor and not racism or maliciousness. Yet this woman was hounded by the likes of Buzzfeed and other media outlets, and her tweet drew far, far, far more attention than it really merited. Like a pack of ravenous wolves, they descended on the metaphoric body of the tweet and made sure that not even a bone was left on the carcass. And why? Because of a really bad joke.

Now Sacco certainly deserves some share of the blame. After all, she was a communications director, and as such should have known better. And there’s something to be said about taking a more careful approach with social media. But are we really comfortable with getting a woman fired for a poor joke? Was her company’s bottom line really imperiled by Sacco’s crack? And of the millions of dumb tweets sent every day, why was hers one that merited such attention?

Sacco’s firing troubles me much more than Robertson’s suspension, which is not to say I wasn’t troubled by the latter. Robertson is a public figure, and he’ll be okay in the end. On the other hand, Sacco was fired because she tweeted something that offended certain people’s sensibilities. It had no bearing on her actual work with IAC, and it’s doubtful that her company’s reputation would have been damaged had they retained her. The social media pack mentality also does not speak well for our society as how many individuals mindlessly joined the herd without giving a second thought to what they were doing?

Most importantly I am just concerned about where we are headed culturally when we can’t make a public utterance without fearing the loss of our livelihoods. As Dale Price said, “If you say you believe in free speech but are routinely demanding “consequences” for speech you disagree with…you really don’t believe in free speech.” Sure we should be responsible for what we utter in public, but we need to have some perspective. I do not want to live in a country where it is acceptable to be easily fired for the flimsiest of comments.

For example, if the Chief of Public Relations for the Democratic National Committee suddenly took to twitter to rip into Harry Reid and Barack Obama, then it would most certainly not be inappropriate for the DNC to take action against that person. More seriously, I’m also thinking of teachers at Catholic schools who publicly dissent against Church teaching.

4

Government, the Biggest Bully of All

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

CS Lewis

 

3

Shut Up, They Explained

 

 

Jesus-hate-speech

 

 

Eugene Volokh at The Volokh Conspiracy takes a look at a bill in Minnesota that would have caused many of my classmates back in my school days to stand mute.

 

 

use of one or a series of words, images, or actions, transmitted directly or indirectly between individuals or through technology, that a reasonable person knows or should know, under the circumstances, will have the effect of interfering with the ability of an individual, including a student who observes the conduct, to participate in a safe and supportive learning environment. Examples of bullying may include, but are not limited to, conduct that:

  1. places an individual in reasonable fear of harm to person or property, including through intimidation;
  2. has a detrimental effect on the physical, social, or emotional health of a student;
  3. interferes with a student’s educational performance or ability to participate in educational opportunities;
  4. encourages the deliberate exclusion of a student from a school service, activity, or privilege;
  5. creates or exacerbates a real or perceived imbalance of power between students;
  6. violates the reasonable expectation of privacy of one or more individuals; or
  7. relates to the actual or perceived race, ethnicity, color, creed, religion, national origin, immigration status, sex, age, marital status, familial status, socioeconomic status, physical appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, academic status, disability, or status with regard to public assistance, age, or any additional characteristic defined in chapter 363A of a person or of a person with whom that person associates, but the conduct does not rise to the level of harassment. Continue Reading
26

This is the Way Freedom Dies

 

 

Canada no longer has freedom of speech.  The Supreme Court of Canada killed it:

In Saskatchewan (Human Rights Commission) v. Whatcott, the Supreme Court decided that born-again Christian William Whatcott was guilty of hate-speech for distributing flyers to neighborhoods in Saskatoon and Regina in 2001 and 2002. While the flyers used vehement language against homosexual practices and the homosexual agenda, they did not however directly attack homosexual persons. (The flyers are appended to the end of the decision linked above)

The Court focused on Whatcott’s main argument, namely that he loves homosexuals with a brotherly Christian love, and it is only their sexual activity that he denounces.

The Supreme Court found however that with regards to hate-speech, the distinction between ‘sin and sinner’ no longer applies. No longer can Christians give the defense before courts that one ‘loves the sinner, but hates the sin’.

“I agree that sexual orientation and sexual behaviour can be differentiated for certain purposes,” the Court stated. “However, in instances where hate speech is directed toward behaviour in an effort to mask the true target, the vulnerable group, this distinction should not serve to avoid s. 14(1)(b) [the hate-crime clause of the Code].”

“Courts have recognized a strong connection between sexual orientation and sexual conduct and where the conduct targeted by speech is a crucial aspect of the identity of a vulnerable group, attacks on this conduct stand as proxy for attacks on the group itself,” the Court stated.

The Court ordered Whatcott to pay the Human Rights Commission’s legal fees and to pay $7,500 in compensation to two homosexuals who were offended by his flyers. Continue Reading

7

Free Speech and the Left

 Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.

Abraham Lincoln

One of the more refreshing aspects of the fallout in the wake of the Cairo and Benghazi embassy attacks, is the degree that it has brought out in the open the contempt that many people on the political Left have for affording constitutional protection to speech which they despise.  A case in point is Sarah Chayes.  Ms. Chayes is about as establishment Liberal as it is possible to get.  A graduate of Harvard, the offspring of Abram Chayes, and  Antonia Handler Chayes, both luminaries of the academic and political Left, she had a career as a reporter for The Christian Science Monitor and National Public Radio.  Under Obama she was a special assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Her credentials and background therefore make her opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times of special interest.  In that opinion piece she argues that the Mohammed video would not be worthy of constititutional protection because it is meant to be purely offensive and intended to provoke a violent reaction.  It therefore constitutes the equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded theater:

 

While many 1st Amendment scholars defend the right of the filmmakers to produce this film, arguing that the ensuing violence was not sufficiently imminent, I spoke to several experts who said the trailer may well fall outside constitutional guarantees of free speech. “Based on my understanding of the events,” 1st Amendment authority Anthony Lewis said in an interview Thursday, “I think this meets the imminence standard.”

Finally, much 1st Amendment jurisprudence concerns speech explicitly advocating violence, such as calls to resist arrest, or videos explaining bomb-making techniques. But words don’t have to urge people to commit violence in order to be subject to limits, says Lewis. “If the result is violence, and that violence was intended, then it meets the standard.”

Indeed, Justice Holmes’ original example, shouting “fire” in a theater, is not a call to arms. Steve Klein, an outspoken anti-Islamic activist who said he helped with the film, told Al Jazeera television that it was “supposed to be provocative.” The egregiousness of its smears, the apparent deception of cast and crew as to its contents and the deliberate effort to raise its profile in the Arab world a week before 9/11 all suggest intentionality.

The point here is not to excuse the terrible acts perpetrated by committed extremists and others around the world in reaction to the video, or to condone physical violence as a response to words — any kind of words. The point is to emphasize that U.S. law makes a distinction between speech that is simply offensive and speech that is deliberately tailored to put lives and property at immediate risk. Especially in the heightened volatility of today’s Middle East, such provocation is certainly irresponsible — and reveals an ironic alliance of convenience between Christian extremists and the Islamist extremists they claim to hate.

Interesting that she trots out Anthony Lewis to shore up her argument.  Lewis, now 85 and retired, was for decades the uber Liberal’s uber Liberal at the New York Times and regarded as a First Amendment absolutist.  Unless he is now in his dotage, one can only assume that, like many on the Left, his dedication to free speech ends when he disagrees strongly enough with what is being spoken.

The argument that Sayes is making is an old one.  It is called the Heckler’s Veto, and it has been used throughout American history to argue that speech should be suppressed because of the violent reaction it might cause.  Liberals, back when they were truly liberal, use to fight against it.  Lately they have embraced it, most notably in erecting bubble zones around abortion clinic, and banning pro-life protesters from those zones.  In the case of Christopher v. Hill,  530 U.S. 703 (2000), the Supreme Court upheld such zones 6-3.  The scathing dissent of Justice Scalia is instructive:

The Court today concludes that a regulation requiring speakers on the public thoroughfares bordering medical facilities to speak from a distance of eight feet is “not a ’regulation of speech,’ ” but “a regulation of the places where some speech may occur,” ante, at 14; and that a regulation directed to only certain categories of speech (protest, education, and counseling) is not “content-based.” For these reasons, it says, the regulation is immune from the exacting scrutiny we apply to content-based suppression of speech in the public forum. The Court then determines that the regulation survives the less rigorous scrutiny afforded content-neutral time, place, and manner restrictions because it is narrowly tailored to serve a government interest–protection of citizens’ “right to be let alone”–that has explicitly been disclaimed by the State, probably for the reason that, as a basis for suppressing peaceful private expression, it is patently incompatible with the guarantees of the First Amendment.

    None of these remarkable conclusions should come as a surprise. What is before us, after all, is a speech regulation directed against the opponents of abortion, and it therefore enjoys the benefit of the “ad hoc nullification machine” that the Court has set in motion to push aside whatever doctrines of constitutional law stand in the way of that highly favored practice. Madsen v. Women’s Health Center, Inc., 512 U.S. 753, 785 (1994) (Scalia, J., concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part). Having deprived abortion opponents of the political right to persuade the electorate that abortion should be restricted by law, the Court today continues and expands its assault upon their individual right to persuade women contemplating abortion that what they are doing is wrong. Because, like the rest of our abortion jurisprudence, today’s decision is in stark contradiction of the constitutional principles we apply in all other contexts, I dissent. Continue Reading

21

Cardinal George on “Chicago Values”

Francis Cardinal George of the Archdiocese of Chicago is alleged to have predicted that for upholding the teachings of Christ he will die in his bed, his successor will die in a prison cell, and his successor will be executed in a public square in Chicago.  Therefore, I am unsurprised that he has written an open letter exploring the “Chicago Values” cited by Mayor Emanuel when he decided to attack the free speech rights of Chick-Fil-A:

 

 

 

Recent comments by those who administer our city seem to assume that the city government can decide for everyone what are the “values” that must be held by citizens of Chicago.  I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval.  Must those whose personal values do not conform to those of the government of the day move from the city?  Is the City Council going to set up a “Council Committee on Un-Chicagoan Activities” and call those of us who are suspect to appear before it?  I would have argued a few days ago that I believe such a move is, if I can borrow a phrase, “un-Chicagoan.”

The value in question is espousal of “gender-free marriage.”  Approval of state-sponsored homosexual unions has very quickly become a litmus test for bigotry; and espousing the understanding of marriage that has prevailed among all peoples throughout human history is now, supposedly, outside the American consensus.  Are Americans so exceptional that we are free to define “marriage” (or other institutions we did not invent) at will?  What are we re-defining?

It might be good to put aside any religious teaching and any state laws and start from scratch, from nature itself, when talking about marriage.  Marriage existed before Christ called together his first disciples two thousand years ago and well before the United States of America was formed two hundred and thirty six years ago.  Neither Church nor state invented marriage, and neither can change its nature.

Marriage exists because human nature comes in two complementary sexes: male and female.  The sexual union of a man and woman is called the marital act because the two become physically one in a way that is impossible between two men or two women.  Whatever a homosexual union might be or represent, it is not physically marital.  Gender is inextricably bound up with physical sexual identity; and “gender-free marriage” is a contradiction in terms, like a square circle. Continue Reading

15

Free Speech For Me But Not For Thee

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  I guess some public schools must not be quite clear on the First Amendment.  Jerry Buell is a 22 year veteran social studies teacher at Mount Dora high school in Florida, and he was teacher of the year for his school district in 2010.  However, after offending the gods of political correctness, he will not be in the classroom when school begins this year.  On July 25, 2011 he posted these comments on his Facebook page:

“I’m watching the news, eating dinner when the story about New York okaying same-sex unions came on and I almost threw up.  And now they showed two guys kissing after their announcement. If they want to call it a union, go ahead. But don’t insult a man and woman’s marriage by throwing it in the same cesspool of whatever. God will not be mocked. When did this sin become acceptable?”

“By the way, if one doesn’t like the most recently posted opinion based on biblical principles and God’s laws, then go ahead and unfriend me. I’ll miss you like I miss my kidney stone from 1994. And I will never accept it because God will never accept it. Romans chapter one.”

The school district suspended Buell because they are afraid that a homosexual student might be frightened or intimated by him.  Go here to see a video report of this farce.

Continue Reading

25

A Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes to You

In yet another effort to remain relevant to our political discourse, David Frum is partnering with William Galston to launch a new project that is sure to to revolutionize politics in much the same way the New Majority Frum Forum has.  It’s called “No Labels,” and I’ll let Frum describe it:

On Dec. 13, more than 1,000 citizens from the 50 states will convene in New York to change the odds. They are founding a movement – No Labels. Among them will be Democrats, Republicans and independents who are proud of their political affiliations and have no intention of abandoning them. A single concern brings them together: the hyper-polarization of our politics that thwarts an adult conversation about our common future. A single goal unites them: to expand the space within which citizens and elected officials can conduct that conversation without fear of social or political retribution.

Their movement rests on the belief that the real American majority wishes to reassert control over a political system mired in brain-dead partisanship. Those traveling to New York are going at their own expense. No Labels is gaining a thousand fans on Facebook each day. Citizens across the country are asking how they can get involved.

Frum is discouraged by our current political discourse and wants to turn things around:

Our political system does not work if politicians treat the process as a war in which the overriding goal is to thwart the adversary. At a time of national economic emergency, when Americans are clamoring for positive action, our government is routinely paralyzed by petty politics. Through the summer, as the economy teetered between recovery and stagnation, the Federal Reserve lacked a quorum because a single Republican senator took it upon himself to block Obama’s appointments. Republicans were only doing unto the Democrats as the Democrats had done unto them: In January 2008, as the country geared up for an epoch-making election, the Federal Election Commission lacked a quorum because one Democrat had put holds on President George W. Bush’s nominees.

Nor does the political system work if politicians treat members of the other party as enemies to be destroyed. Labeling legitimate policy differences as “socialist” or “racist” undermines democratic discourse.

Frum is understandably concerned.  Continue Reading