American Elephants


What the Heck is “Hate Speech” Anyway? by The Elephant's Child

I do worry rather a lot about language, perhaps because I was an English major. More correctly, because the Left attempts to control the dialogue by changing the meaning of words. Immigration or immigrant is one example, by conflating the term with illegal immigrant, illegal alien, (both perfectly acceptable and accurate terms) refugees (and how that word is defined). But I have posed this question before.

The more problematic case of language is much more difficult.  The words are “hate speech.” Exactly what is hate speech? From the current dialogue, it is apparently any speech that you don’t agree with. Clearly that is an impossible definition, yet that is the basic problem in college campuses all across the country.

Students have been taught that they do not have to listen to speech that offends their delicate sensibilities by not agreeing with their preconceived ideas. Enough professors have spoken out in the media to indicate their despair that the students they are expected to teach—simply don’t know anything. They are unfamiliar with the most basic history, geography, civics and science. Not the hard stuff. They don’t know who won the Civil War. They don’t know who we fought in the Revolution. I could go on at length, but just those two missing facts summarize the situation fairly well.

Headlines from the battle” “Student activists demand college ‘take action’ against conservative journalists.” American Thinker.  “Students claim Objective ‘Truth’ is a ‘White Supremacist Myth,”Breitbart. “Why Colleges Have a Right to Reject Hateful Speakers Like Ann Coulter” New Republic.  “It’s Time to Crush Campus Censorship” National Review, “Those ‘Snowflakes’ Have Chilling Effects Even Beyond the Campus” WSJ, “On Political Correctness” The American Scholar  “Report: Women’s and gender studies courses have increased 300% since 1990” The College Fix  “College makes it easier to graduate by requiring students to learn less: The College Fix.  Those are just a few of dozens.

Middlebury has become famous for rioting to refuse to listen to Dr. Charles Murray, a noted social scientist.  Claremont students refused to hear Heather MacDonald. It was very clear that the students had no idea whatsoever what the speakers represented, or what they might say. In the case of Dr. Murray, the Southern Poverty Law Center (a far-left fringe group made false claims about Dr. Murray). In the case of Heather MacDonald, it was “Black Lives Matter” giving a completely false impression of what she might say. Sad. The kids in both cases would have profited from and learned something valuable from the speeches.

The students are wrapped up in the idea that they should not have to listen to anyone with whom they might disagree, and completely ignorant of the facts. The fault lies with faculty and administration who should have packed up the offenders the following morning and sent them home to perhaps be admitted the following semester — if they had learned anything. That’s what happened to friends of mine for significantly lesser offenses, but that was a long time ago.

You see how the words “hate speech” have corrupted the situation. There is no such thing as hate speech. There are inflammatory words, there is incitement to riot,  there’s shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater, but I submit there is no such thing as hate speech. We are watching daily, people thrown in prison, sentenced to hard labor for 15 or 20 years, as the fat junior Kim just did to two Americans, as happens throughout the Middle East — and some people can’t get it through their heads that the Freedom of Speech guaranteed to us by the Constitution matters. There aren’t all that many places in the world where you can’t be jailed for speaking your mind. In a moment in time when the language out there (do you read the comments?) has been vile, insulting, vulgar, and just plain offensive. Well, we do live in interesting times.



Charles Hurt: Obama Would Routinely Keep Some Reporters out of Gaggles by The Elephant's Child

It wasn’t a big deal until it was the New York Times who was not included. A little confusion about the First Amendment. It isn’t just Freedom of the Press. The reason that it is called Freedom of the Press is because in the days when the Constitution was written, it was printers who disseminated the news on papers they printed. There was no idea of the modern newspaper or networks.But there were Town Criers.

The Amendment also includes some mention of Freedom of Religion and its free exercise, the right to peaceably assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. It’s not all about the press.



Standing in Defense of Free Speech—Even When It’s Hard. by The Elephant's Child

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.



Catherine Engelbrecht’s Testimony: A Heroine For America. by The Elephant's Child

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.



Anti-Bullying Bill Infringes on Free Speech by The Elephant's Child

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.

 



The Bill of Rights Was Ratified 222 Years Ago. How Come They Still Don’t Get It? by The Elephant's Child

“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.



If Congress Won’t Do What You Want, Just Bypass Them! by The Elephant's Child

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.




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