Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sequels Continued: The Loss Of Freedom Of Speech

The redoubtable Glenn Reynolds brings us the most devastating news since the 1917 Draft Riots:

Here’s the key bit: “Just after midnight Saturday morning, authorities descended on the Cerritos home of the man believed to be the filmmaker behind the anti-Muslim movie that has sparked protests and rioting in the Muslim world.”

When taking office, the President does not swear to create jobs. He does not swear to “grow the economy.” He does not swear to institute “fairness.” The only oath the President takes is this one:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

By sending — literally — brownshirted enforcers to engage in — literally — a midnight knock at the door of a man for the non-crime of embarrassing the President of the United States and his administration, President Obama violated that oath. You can try to pretty this up (It’s just about possible probation violations! Sure.), or make excuses or draw distinctions, but that’s what’s happened. It is a betrayal of his duties as President, and a disgrace.

He won’t resign, of course. First, the President has the appreciation of free speech that one would expect from a Chicago Machine politician, which is to say, none. Second, he’s not getting any pressure. Indeed, the very press that went crazy over Ari Fleischer’s misrepresented remarks seems far less interested in the actions of an administration that I repeat, literally sent brown-shirted enforcers to launch a midnight knock on a filmmaker’s door.

Some time ago, back at Eternity Road, I wrote:

The list of well known writers on liberty includes some names that don't belong there, such as John Stuart Mill, and omits some names that should appear at its head, such as the late Dr. Clarence Carson. Dr. Carson's several books are gems, each and every one, glittering with knowledge, insight, and eloquence, but even among libertarians and conservatives, they're little known and less employed. Yet no one, not even the great Ayn Rand, has contributed more to the elucidation and articulation of Americanism.

In your Curmudgeon's opinion, Dr. Carson's strongest statements on freedom and American principles are to be found in his book The American Tradition. Concerning liberals' thesis that freedom is adequately defined by freedom of speech plus the electoral mechanism, Dr. Carson declaimed as follows:

[W]e are told that there is no need to fear the concentration of power in government so long as that power is checked by the electoral process. We are urged to believe that so long as we can express our disagreement in words, we have our full rights to disagree. Now both freedom of speech and the electoral process are important to liberty, but alone they are only the desiccated remains of liberty. However vigorously we may argue against foreign aid, our substance is still drained away in never-to-be-repaid loans. Quite often, there is not even a candidate to vote for who holds views remotely like my own. To vent one's spleen against the graduated income tax may be healthy for the psyche, but one must still yield up his freedom of choice as to how his money will be spent when he pays it to the government. The voice of electors in government is not even proportioned to the tax contribution of individuals; thus, those who contribute more lose rather than gain by the "democratic process." A majority of voters may decide that property cannot be used in such and such ways, but the liberty of the individual is diminished just as much as in that regard as if a dictator had decreed it. Those who believe in the redistribution of wealth should be free to redistribute their own, but they are undoubtedly limiting the freedom of others when they vote to redistribute theirs.

Effective disagreement means not doing what one does not want to do as well as saying what he wants to say. What is from one angle the welfare state is from another the compulsory state. Let me submit a bill of particulars. Children are forced to go to school. Americans are forced to pay taxes to support foreign aid, forced to support the Peace Corps, forced to make loans to the United Nations, forced to contribute to the building of hospitals, forced to serve in the armed forces. Employers are forced to submit to arbitration with labor leaders. Laborers are forced to accept the majority decision. Employers are forced to pay minimum wages, or go out of business. But it is not even certain that they will be permitted by the courts to go out of business. Railroads are forced to charge established rates and to continue services which may have become uneconomical. Many Americans are forced to pay Social Security. Farmers are forced to operate according to the restrictions voted by a majority of those involved. The list could be extended, but surely the point has been made.

(The above comes from an essay titled "To Agree To Disagree," which your Curmudgeon regards as the capstone of Dr. Carson's book.)

Now, a regular reader of Eternity Road will already be familiar with the long train of abuses and usurpations Dr. Carson enumerates above. And of course, liberals still stoutly maintain that the object is a more perfect Union, and not a design to reduce us under absolute Despotism. But the most trustworthy indicators of evil intent are the suppression of dissent and the invalidation of mechanisms for redress: the "desiccated remains" of which Dr. Carson wrote. And so your Curmudgeon must ask: Just how are freedom of expression and the electoral process faring in the Land of the Formerly Free?

First, freedom of expression:

  • The McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act has partly abrogated the right to free expression around election time.
  • Given the new Administration and the enlarged Democrat majorities on Capitol Hill, we stand in immediate danger of the revival of the Fairness Doctrine, which is aimed at quenching conservative talk radio.
  • The use of tax law to silence conservative and libertarian opinion is growing, especially as regards voluntary associations such as churches and charitable groups.
  • Several liberal luminaries, among them both Cass Sunstein and Hillary Clinton, have argued for the censorship of the World Wide Web.
  • Lawsuits attempting to silence a commentator who has merely stated established facts or accurately quoted an adversarial opponent are rife, and are usually allowed to go forward by the courts.
  • Conservative public officials are continuously derided, assailed, and slandered, both by the Mainstream Media and by activist groups.
  • Lectures and presentations by libertarian and conservative figures are heckled, massively protested, and often terminally disrupted by liberal activists. The speakers who dare to appear at such events are at continuous risk of physical assault.

The legal impediments to free expression are bad enough. When one adds the "chilling effect" of the extra-legal mechanisms used to silence pro-freedom views, the pile reaches an alarming height.

Now for the electoral process:

  • Laws which explicitly regulate ballot access are ignored by the courts when they conduce to the disadvantage of the Democrats, but are wielded rigorously, and often on specious grounds, against Republicans and pro-freedom minor parties.
  • Democrat candidates and their media allies have been allowed extraordinary latitude at opening the sealed records of their opponents' divorces, child-custody disputes, and commercial actions.
  • The media treat all allegations of impropriety against Republicans and conservatives as front page news, but hesitate to report on much worse, and much better substantiated, allegations against Democrats and liberals.
  • Boards of Election routinely operate to the advantage of the Democrat in a contested race. Election fraud is rampant, but only allegations of fraud by Republicans are treated seriously. The investigation of even flagrant abuses by Democrats is perfunctory at best.
  • Democrat Administrations have facilitated the acquisition of voting power by un-naturalized immigrants, including illegal immigrants.
  • Lawsuits challenging the validity of a vote tally are used as an entering wedge by which to enable further vote fraud.
  • When a closely disputed election turns out, after a recount, to have been won by the Republican, if the Democrat has already been seated, no action is taken in redress.

To borrow Dr. Carson's phrasing, these lists could be extended, but surely the point has been made.

Now we must add the use of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to intimidate amateur filmmakers from emitting videos that might cause The Won some embarrassment.

What's that you say? "It wasn't the embarrassment to the president; it was the riots in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia that the video caused?" Solly, Cholly; that doesn't float even for a microsecond. Those riots were planned well beforehand, specifically to take place on September 11. Besides which, I could point you to several YouTube videos that are far more critically incisive toward Islam and Muslims, that have been out there for quite some time. Indeed, I believe I'll embed my favorite right here:

Obama's foreign policy of kowtowing to foreign despots and apologizing to Muslims for Americans' freedom is a total disaster. The riots merely laid that fact bare. But as we all know too well by now, Obama never accepts the blame for anything negative that might issue from his decisions. To criticize him is to impugn his omniscience -- and I'm not kidding about that:

Here is what Obama told aide Patrick Gaspard in 2008: "I think that I'm a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I'll tell you right now that I'm gonna think I'm a better political director than my political director."

There is simply no argument by which any decent American could rationalize voting for this monster of inhuman vanity, this legend in his own mind who believes himself entitled to rule by decree despite the Constitution. Those who voted for him in 2008 should be near to terminally ashamed of themselves. As for anyone who plans to vote for him come November 6, keep your distance; I tend to shoot first and worry about the paperwork later.

And we still ought to be making preparations to nuke Benghazi.

1 comment:

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