Saturday, October 4, 2008

Free Speech Under Attack...From the Left???

Free speech, long a sacred touchstone for the Left, the ACLU has gone to court numerous times over perceived "chilling effects" on people who’d otherwise probably exercise their First Amendment rights if they weren't intimidated by the prospect of violating various laws. In fact, claims of a "chilling effect" have been the most reliable weapon in the American Civil Liberties Union's arsenal against even the mildest restrictions on obscenity.

Today, as Rich Lowry of the national Review notes, “Opponents of the ACLU on the Right are increasingly worried about overreaching rules against "hate speech" defining legitimate opinions as out of bounds. Meanwhile, the same people who forever decry the country's imminent descent into the dark night of fascism are now comfortable regulating political speech in federal law and banning speech on college campuses.”

To many, the Left’s willingness to abandon all pretense of support for free speech, in the hope of being able to shut down Conservatism as “hate speech,” is chilling, in and of itself.

This past Saturday, Missouri Governor Matt Blunt (above left) blasted "plans by U.S. Senator Barack Obama to use Missouri law enforcement to threaten and intimidate his critics."

According to a report on KMOV St Louis Obama's campaign is forming self-described "truth squads" to shut down criticism of the Democratic Presidential candidate.

Worse, the "truth squads" are allegedly being helmed by two Obama supporters who happen to be on the City payroll: St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch and St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce.Governor Matt Blunt's statement condemning these "truth squads" deserves to be reprinted here, in full:

“St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch, St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer, and Obama and the leader of his Missouri campaign Senator Claire McCaskill have attached the stench of police state tactics to the Obama-Biden campaign.“What Senator Obama and his helpers are doing is scandalous beyond words, the party that claims to be the party of Thomas Jefferson is abusing the justice system and offices of public trust to silence political criticism with threats of prosecution and criminal punishment.
“This abuse of the law for intimidation insults the most sacred principles and ideals of Jefferson. I can think of nothing more offensive to Jefferson’s thinking than using the power of the state to deprive Americans of their civil rights. The only conceivable purpose of Messrs. McCulloch, Obama and the others is to frighten people away from expressing themselves, to chill free and open debate, to suppress support and donations to conservative organizations targeted by this anti-civil rights, to strangle criticism of Mr. Obama, to suppress ads about his support of higher taxes, and to choke out criticism on television, radio, the Internet, blogs, e-mail and daily conversation about the election.
“Barack Obama needs to grow up. Leftist blogs and others in the press constantly say false things about me and my family. Usually, we ignore false and scurrilous accusations because the purveyors have no credibility. When necessary, we refute them. Enlisting Missouri law enforcement to intimidate people and kill free debate is reminiscent of the Sedition Acts - not a free society.”

And these “Truth Squads” are not the only example of Leftist assaults on free speech.

Recently, the Obama campaign has twice issued "Obama Action Wire" alerts for activists to call a Chicago radio station and try to shut down appearances by two noted Obama critics - Stanley Kurtz and David Freddoso. As Rich Lowry noted, “CNN and the Chicago Tribune reported on the effort to silence Obama's detractors, but mostly by way of noting the Obama camp's tech-savvy mustering of its supporters.”

When a 527 group ran TV ads highlighting Barack Obama’s connections to former Weatherman terrorist Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko, the Obama campaign petitioned the U.S. Justice Department to open a criminal investigation.

In fact, the Obama campaign's speech suppression efforts merge comfortably with the work of a group called Accountable America, run by a former member. Accountable America is devoted to threatening conservative donors with legal action and exposure of any embarrassing details of their private lives if they give money to groups running ads against Obama. As Lowry notes, “The New York Times account says the group hopes to create "a chilling effect," but the phrase is used non-pejoratively.”

Not surprisingly, liberal editorial boards have abandoned their zeal for the First Amendment. Again, Lowry points out, “Consider this approving sentence from a New York Times editorial: "The wholesale descent into Swift Boat campaigning has been blocked - for now - by a federal judge in Virginia." It was written about a judge denying an injunction against the Federal Election Commission sought by a pro-life group running radio ads attacking Obama. The group thinks the First Amendment protects political speech; unfortunately, the courts disagree.”

Are we witnessing the Left’s move away from the fundamentals of freedom/individualism and toward the totalitarian agenda of stifling dissenting speech?
I guess we'll have to wait and see.


WomanHonorThyself said...

we will have to wait and see my friend.....To many, the Left’s willingness to abandon all pretense of support for free speech, in the hope of being able to shut down Conservatism as “hate speech,” is chilling, in and of itself. so demoralizing!

JMK said...

Well, it's certainly something that bares watching Angel.

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