Filed under: Capitalism, Education, Freedom, History, Law, The Constitution | Tags: Doing Your Homework, In Defense of Freedom, The First Amendment
The Supreme Court heard arguments this week in a case aimed at overturning an Ohio law that makes it a crime to make false statements in a political campaign. Should you be able to make a commercial, write a column, put up a billboard, or make statements on the radio about a candidate that you know to be false, and are likely to affect the outcome of the election? Or is that a violation of free speech, and you should be able to say whatever you want, because they have the opportunity to deny it?
Rasmussen Reports took up the question. “Should the government be allowed to review political ads and candidates’ campaign comments for their accuracy and punish those that it decided are making false statements about other candidates?”
Fifty-five percent (55%) of Likely U.S. Voters believe the government should be allowed to review political ads and candidates’ campaign comments for their accuracy and punish those who are making false statements. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 31% oppose such government oversight. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided. Here are the survey questions’ wording. So only 31% have an understanding of freedom.
Mark Steyn believes that free speech in America is under serious attack, and I think he’s right. The notion that we must not offend anyone is characteristic of the left—yet ignored when they want to take someone on. (See Harry Reid) Some believe that the fear is not warranted, but look to the appalling firing of Brendan Eich at Mozilla. That wasn’t even words, but a six year-old political donation to an issue with which most Americans agree. American colleges and universities now have speech codes, and some even have “free speech zones.” Two colleges recently banned students from handing out free copies of the Constitution.
Free speech is essential for our country, yet always poorly understood. Everybody is for free speech until it is their ox that is getting gored. Free speech means you can be mortally offended, and all you get to do is talk back. Harry Reid can say the most obnoxious things about Republicans, and we can only point out that he is an ill-mannered jerk who is unfit the be a member of Congress, let alone a “leader.”We can suggest that the people of Nevada fire him when he next faces election — and that is our free speech right back at him.
Putting government in charge of monitoring free speech in electoral campaigns goes directly to the heart of the First Amendment, and it seems inconceivable that 55% of the people understand the First Amendment so little and in spite of all evidence to the contrary believe “the government” is a good and benign guardian of such things.
If you are proud of this country and you care about its future, teach your children about the First Amendment and its meaning, and arm them against those who would take away their rights.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Freedom, Heartwarming, Law, The Constitution | Tags: Catherine Engelbrecht, Oversight and Government Reform Committee, The First Amendment
Catherine Engelbrecht has had enough. She started out to be a citizen activist, she had seen vote fraud up front and ugly, so she founded True the Vote, a nonprofit organization for election integrity, and King Street Patriots, a citizen-led liberty group.
She and her husband had a small manufacturing business for twenty years, and had never had any contact with government agencies until she founded these two groups. Suddenly she was the object of agency interest—In 2011, her business and personal tax returns were audited by the IRS, each audit going back for a number of years.
In 2012 her business was subjected to inspection by OSHA when neither she nor her husband were present, and though the agency wrote that it found nothing serious or significant, they issued fines greater than $20,000.
In 2012 and again in 2013, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms conducted comprehensive audits at her place of business.
Beginning in 2010, the FBI contacted her nonprofit organization on six separate occasions — wanting to cull through membership manifests in conjunction with domestic terrorism cases. They eventually dropped all matters and have now redacted nearly all her files.
Eventually, all those attempts to intimidate have an effect. For Catherine Engelbrecht, it made her more determined. Her testimony included these rousing words:
But know this, my experiences at the hands of this government in these last five years have made me more determined than ever to stand before you and America and say I will not retreat. I will not surrender. I refuse to be intimidated. I will not ask for permission to exercise my Constitutional rights.
Filed under: Freedom, Law, Military, News, Politics, Pop Culture, The Constitution | Tags: The First Amendment, What's an Offense?, You Must Not Offend
Being opposed to bullying is a currently righteous position. Who could possibly be in favor of bullying, being mean, offending, or cruel — offending? Where do you draw the line? How about right where the Bill of Rights does? Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech. The current flap is about celebrity Paula Deen apparently using the dreaded “N” word 20 or 30 years ago. I am not familiar with Ms. Deen, who I understand is a celebrity chef and writes cookbooks. What I have gleaned from the media is that decades ago, she used a forbidden word, and for that crime, she is to be shunned, disgraced, her business ruined, and her livelihood destroyed. Really?
This has gone too far. We have called it “political correctness” and don’t exactly know what to do with it. We cringe, try to laugh it off, and are embarrassed by those who insist on taking it seriously. If a male, in the workplace, touches a woman’s arm to get her attention, he may find himself in trouble with Human Resources for a sexual assault, or for that matter for telling a woman that she looks nice. The U.S. military has in recent years become politically correct. The increasing inclusion of women and homosexuals has added to the tension. The current military concern is about sexual assault. One would think it would be about winning wars, but that’s not on the agenda. Unfortunately it turns out that most of the victims of sexual assault — are men.
You must not offend. If you offend, you will be punished. What offends depends entirely on the person offended, not on your own judgment or intent. The punishment will be dire, because the object is to stamp out all offensive speech. Or to rephrase it’s about control.
Life is hard, bad things will happen. You will be offended, perhaps deeply. Your feelings will be hurt. You will be embarrassed, humiliated, and shamed. There is no law that anyone can make that will protect you from offense. When you have the opportunity, you might remind people of the meaning of that precious First Amendment.
Filed under: Freedom, Politics, Progressivism, The Constitution, The United States | Tags: Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Freedom of Speech, The First Amendment
“I was expelled from Syracuse University for comments that I posted on Facebook.”
Syracuse University School of Education graduate student Matthew Werenczak was just trying to finish his masters degree early when he decided to take a summer course that involved tutoring at a local middle school. But after a comment he posted on Facebook about an experience he had at the school caught the attention of the Syracuse administration, Werenczak would be lucky if he graduated at all.
On the first day of Werenczak’s tutoring program at Danforth Middle School, he and another Syracuse student were introduced to their students by a member of the Concerned Citizens Action Program (CCAP). They happened to be the only two white people in the room. Shortly after the introduction, in the presence of Werenczak and the other white student teacher, the CCAP member, who is black, said that he thought that the city schools should hire more teachers from historically black colleges.
“This [comment] offended me, as well as the other student teacher in the room,” says Werenczak in FIRE’s latest video. “It just seemed inappropriate considering that the two student teachers happened to be from Syracuse and a not a historically black college.”
So Werenczak took to Facebook to write about the incident.
“Just making sure we’re okay with racism,” wrote Werenczak. “It’s not enough I’m … tutoring in the worst school in the city, I suppose I oughta be black or stay in my own side of town.”
“I was kind of trying to see if my friends or other peers, classmates would have a similar reaction to what I had,” says Werenczak about the reason for his posting the comment.
One reaction Werenczak didn’t see coming was an expulsion from the School of Education for the Facebook comments, which the school described as “unprofessional, offensive, and insensitive.” The school told Werenczak he could avoid expulsion by voluntarily withdrawing, or he could fulfill several requirements in order to gain a chance of “re-admittance.”
When Werenczak fulfilled the requirements and was still not readmitted to the school, he contacted FIRE for help.
“Hours after FIRE took the case public, Syracuse University backed down and I was brought back [into the program] and later graduated.”
Why is it always the educators in our universities that don’ t grasp freedom of speech. Our colleges and universities are hotbeds of attempting to censor speech that they don’t like. Thank goodness for FIRE.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Law, Politics, The Constitution | Tags: Citizens United v. FEC, The DISCLOSE Act, The First Amendment
You may not remember Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court decision that was first argued in March 2009, re-argued in September and finally decided on January 21, 2010. You can rest assured that Democrats remember.
Background: During the 2008 election campaign, the nonprofit group Citizens United wanted to make a film available on cable-on-demand that was critical of then-candidate Hillary Clinton. Because Citizens United is organized as a corporation, under the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law, its speech was banned. The movie was not allowed to be shown, and the law was backed by criminal sanctions. Section 441b makes it a felony for all corporations — including nonprofit advocacy corporations — either to expressly advocate the election or defeat of candidates or to broadcast electioneering communications within 30 days of a primary and 60 days of a general election.
The Democrats were OUTRAGED: Corporations are not entitled to free speech, political expenditures are not “speech”, protections of the Free Speech Clause properly apply to individuals not corporations, this will corrupt the democratic process, will radically increase powerful corporate influence in politics, blah, blah, blah. Democrats are afraid that corporations benefit Republicans, and free speech should not apply to anyone who might be critical of Democrats.
Democrats have never given up. A Senate bill titled the DISCLOSE Act — a bill they have been unable to get past the Senate, would require political organizations to publicly name their donors and the amounts they give. Now the Obama administration is attempting to bypass Congress and force publicly-traded companies to reveal their political donations through regulation. If Congress won’t pass the law we want, we will just do it with a regulation from the Securities and Exchange Commission. Bypassing Congress
Obama does not understand the tripartite nature of the three divisions of government, does not accept the equal power of the other two branches, and wants to overrule the other two with executive orders or agency regulations. He does not grasp the limits of executive orders, and has no intention of paying attention to them anyway. File this under ‘arrogance.’
The free speech clause in the First Amendment to the Constitution refers specifically to political speech. If free speech only applies to speech that is pleasing to you, then it isn’t free, and it isn’t freedom, but tyranny.
The ruling in Citizens United is a straightforward application of basic First Amendment principles: “When Government seeks to use its full power…to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought. This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves.”
What enrages Democrats even more than the idea of corporations engaging in political speech, is the idea of the Koch brothers making donations. These Libertarian philanthropists have become the Democrats’ boogie-men. They are blamed for everything, receive daily death threats, and Democrats just want to make them personally illegal. Whatever George Soros donates or controls is fine, as are all the massive donations from the Democracy Alliance representing big numbers of Democrat millionaires and billionaires. Powerline has a collection of pieces on the Democrat’s War on the Koch Brothers, that is worth your time. It’s funny too.
In August, Obama participated in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” question-and-answer discussion in which he announced that he would consider amending the Constitution “to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t revisit it.)”
And only today he took an oath “to preserve, protect and defend…” Guess he didn’t mean it.
Filed under: Education, Health Care, Law, Politics, Progressivism, Religion, The Constitution | Tags: Freedom of Religion, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, The First Amendment
I want to go back to the origins of this kerfuffle. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who has been given the authority to make hundreds of rules and regulations pertaining to ObamaCare, announced that all employers who offered health insurance for their employees, workers or members would be required to offer birth control, sterilization, and abortifacients at no cost. Catholics were appalled. This was a direct attack on the first amendment freedom of religion clause. Catholics were quickly joined by members of many other denominations.
They notified Secretary Sebelius that the requirement was unacceptable. Catholics provide a large percentage of the hospitals in this country, about 615, and not just hospitals but large medical centers, and 499 Long Term Care facilities. The hospitals are among the nation’s finest. There are around 6,900 k-12 schools, and many colleges and universities. All would come under the new regulation, which is in direct opposition to Catholic doctrine. The First Amendment is not about “separation of church and state,” but bans the state from making any law prohibiting the free exercise of religion.
Dr. Richard Land, one of the most influential evangelical leaders is president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He said flatly “We will not comply” with the HHS mandate. When Catholic bishops said they would have to close their hospitals — the American medical establishment said there is no way they could absorb that many patients. Do not misunderstand this controversy. It is a battle about freedom of conscience and religious liberty. It is not about “birth control,” nor is it about a “war against women.”
President Barack Obama, who swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, doesn’t have a lot of respect for that old worn-out document. Progressives, in general, see the Constitution as something to get around. They would prefer to re-draft it, bring it up to date — so it doesn’t interfere with things they want to do. Shallow, really shallow. Obama decided that he would take on the Catholic Church, that they were undoubtedly bluffing, and the rule was written into the Federal Register as law.
But what if the Bishops aren’t bluffing? The confrontation was not going the way Progressives wanted it to. Progressives determined to “redefine” the problem. Chairman Darrell Issa of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform announced that he would hold hearings. Just before the hearings were to open, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted to run in a more promising witness to testify. Chairman Issa looked at her qualifications, and decided that she was not only not qualified to speak, but had nothing to offer. So former Speaker Pelosi and cohort set up their own (pretend) committee hearing so they could get their witness’s testimony out to the public.
Enter the spurious Ms. Sandra Fluke (rhymes with cluck), a supposed 23-year-old coed in her 3rd year of law school at Georgetown Law, a Catholic institution. She testified that her active sex life made it necessary for her to spend $3,000 over 3 years for birth control. Well, she turned out to be 30 years old, the cost of birth control was no more than $9 a month at a nearby pharmacy, and she was a long time feminist activist who chose Georgetown because it was a Catholic institution and she wanted to take them on about abortion and birth control.
Now we have to go back a few years to the Bush administration, when Progressives were whining loudly in the press that they didn’t have any ideas because they didn’t have any think tanks like Republicans did. So they got together some big money from the Democrat 1%, and founded Think Progress — their very own think tank to give them ideas.
The problem was that their understanding of a think-tank differed from the Republican understanding of a think-tank. The big, long-established think-tanks like Heritage, the American Enterprise Institute, The Hoover Institution, The Competitive Enterprise Institute, Cato (Libertarian) , The Hudson Institute, and the Manhattan Institute all employed scholars to do serious research on policy. They attempt to provide the background of research that will help Congress to understand the pros and cons of legislation, and what research shows works and what doesn’t.
Progressives were more interested in getting and keeping power. Think Progress undoubtedly does research, but its interest is in strategy of how to defeat Republicans and how to win. That’s where the redefining of problems comes from. So the GREEN division of Think Progress came up with this gem: “Access to Birth Control is A Fundamental Component of Climate Survival” February 10, 2012.
Any morally acceptable pathway to prevent catastrophic global warming includes broad access to affordable birth control for the world’s women. The conservative war on birth control is a war on women’s rights, and thus on the rights of us all. Manmade global warming is one of the most troubling symptoms of economic and social injustice around the planet, and the ”countries in the developing world least responsible for the growing emissions are likely to experience the heaviest impact of climate change, with women bearing the greatest toll.” Researchers have found that empowering women to reduce unplanned pregnancies is one of the most cost-effective ways to combat greenhouse pollution.
Well. There is a perfect example of redefining the problem! Suddenly neither the argument nor the conversation is about the attack on the First Amendment to the Constitution and religious freedom for Catholic Hospitals and Schools in the United States — it is about “reproductive health for the world’s women and empowering them to reduce unplanned pregnancies.” A world where women and girls have more power is a healthier world.
Think Progress is really quite good at what we might call “changing the subject.” Republicans, earnestly trying to accomplish something effective for the country are always blindsided by their unexpected approach.
Who could have thought that the phony testimony of Sandra Fluke (rhymes with cluck) would lead to an attempt to rid the airwaves of the Left’s favorite demon, Rush Limbaugh; Ms. Fluke’s acquiring an agent, and PR representative to book her for TV appearances, for her future stardom, and controversial attorney Gloria Allread rushing to her defense, since she hadn’t been charged with anything except completely misrepresenting herself and her history, and obviously needed a lawyer.