Free Speech – A Waning Right In America?

Posted on November 5, 2009. Filed under: General Info | Tags: , , , , , |

Recently the Heritage Foundation did an article on a briefing held for members of Congress and their staffs on how to conduct townhalls via the internet, thereby avoiding face to face contact with their constituents. The briefing was put on by the Congressional Management Foundation who completed a grant funded report, paid for with your tax dollars. The Heritage Foundation article said:
The CMF study consisted of 21 townhall meetings where Members of Congress and CMF provided a moderator: “spoke via voice over IP, and constituents asked questions and made comments by typing them. Only off-topic, redundant, unintelligible, or offensive questions were screened, and only questions asked by people who had not yet asked a question were prioritized.”

CMF does not say what qualifies as offensive, but if this summer is any indication that definition would include anything that the Congressman did not want to talk about. In other words, this report urges Congressmen not to actually interact with their constituents, but to avoid them altogether by holding safe townhalls they can completely control. And what did CMF find where the results of these Potemkin townhalls?

The online town halls increased constituents’ approval of the Member. Every Member involved experienced an increase in approval by the constituents who participated. The average net approval rating (approve minus disapprove) jumped from +29 before the session to +47 after. There were also similar increases in trust and perceptions of personal qualities – such as whether they were compassionate, hardworking, accessible, etc. – of the Member.

The lesson: avoid your constituents’ inconvenient questions and your approval ratings will rise. And this is a taxpayer funded study.

Congress is actually using your tax dollars to pay social scientists to find ways they can avoid actually talking to their constituents while improving their chances of reelection.

Anyone in Congress who uses this method in lieu of face to face contact should be automatically voted out. They don’t seem to mind meeting us in person when asking to represent us during the campaign, but apparently once they are in the least actual contact and real communication the better.

This doesn’t seem to apply, however, to when they are groveling for our forgiveness. Such was the case yesterday when various members of the Republican party horned in on the People’s Housecall in Washington, D.C. Rep Michele Bachmann, (R)-MN, who is one of the few heroes in Washington D.C., and who does her job effectively, had put out a call for citizens who could to meet her at the Capital steps Thursday at noon. From trustworthy accounts of the rally, 25,000-30,000 taxpayers came out. Hooray for those who sacrificed their time, hard earned money, and effort to do so.

The rally was supposed to last an hour, it lasted two. This thanks to many opportunistic Congressmen and Congresswomen who wanted to feign kinship with the protesters. Pardon my attitude, it’s just that if they were really doing their jobs, we wouldn’t be in the predicament we are in. Many of them have been there for years, and, without apology, have taken part in the fleecing of America. Perhaps not all, I understand that, but why wait until a campaign to oust all office holders to “stand up” for our principles? Too little, too late? That’s a personal decision every voter will have to decide for themselves. They urged everyone to bombard the three Congressional office buildings, and even provided a map and guidance. I had to wonder if they would have been so bold if it were Republicans were the target of the frustration? My feeling is they would have been hiding under their desks or running for their nose plugs like Harry Reid.

It was encouraging to see all of them standing on the Capital steps, heralding the praises of our forefathers and Constitution. I can only pray they mean it. I am fairly sure, Michele Bachmann excluded, it was the fear that still grips them after learning of the size of the crowd, an estimated 1.7 million marchers, on 09/12/2009. That, I feel, was their “come to Jesus” moment.

Time will tell and I am grateful, newcomer or not, for every Constitutionalist in the halls of the Capital. There are many battles before us and we can use all the help we can get.

They can start by doing all in their power to thwart any plans to clamp down on free speech.

Petition seeks FCC probe into ‘hate speech’ in media

A World Net Daily article recently pointed out that a group of major religious denominations and organizations, launched a petition to the FCC requesting it investigate “hate speech in the media” citing their feeling that hate speech may play a role in “hate crimes”. This came immediately on the heels of “hate crimes” legislation, offering special protections to crimes committed against those enjoying “alternative” lifestyles,  being inappropriately inserted into a military appropriations bill. WND states:

The petition is promoted by members of the “So We Might See” coalition that includes the United Church of Christ, the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, the Islamic Society of North America, United Methodist Communications, Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
“The possible correlation between hate speech and violent crime gives us great pause. Immigrant, minority, and religious populations are often targets of hate speech before they are subsequently the target of physical hate crimes,” the petition says.

“Hate speech in the media is a growing problem that must be examined before it can be solved. So We Might See supports efforts to increase the resources available to the public to understand hate speech. As members of the faith community, we will do our part to ask our members to raise their own voices condemning hate speech when they see it and to ask for all citizens to conduct themselves with civility,” it says.

The move, however, was so controversial that the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, while a part of the coalition, refused to sign on to the petition.

“USCCB supports the establishment of a broad public forum to debate the difficult constitutional and regulatory issues, including the potential danger to religious speech, raised by the petitioners,” it said in a separate statement. “We are asking the FCC to make available a proceeding where the public can attempt to describe speech anyone deems harmful, and where the public (including Catholics and the bishops) can raise important constitutional constraints on government action regarding speech, including religious speech.

“We are not participating in any campaign to censor any organization, program or commentator,” the organization said.

Troubling Signals On Free Speech

 The above article is particularly scary due to something presented by Stuart Taylor, Jr in The National Journal, also last week:

It was nice to hear Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton say on October 26, “I strongly disagree” with Islamic countries seeking to censor free speech worldwide by making defamation of religion a crime under international law.
But watch what the Obama administration does, not just what it says. I’m not talking about its attacks on Fox News. I’m talking about a little-publicized October 2 resolution in which Clinton’s own State Department joined Islamic nations in adopting language all-too-friendly to censoring speech that some religions and races find offensive.
The ambiguously worded United Nations Human Rights Council resolution could plausibly be read as encouraging or even obliging the U.S. to make it a crime to engage in hate speech, or, perhaps, in mere “negative racial and religious stereotyping.” This despite decades of First Amendment case law protecting such speech.
To be sure, the provisions to which I refer were a compromise, stopping short of the flat ban on defamation of religion sought by Islamic nations, and they could also be construed more narrowly and innocuously. It all depends on who does the construing.
…I sketch below how the resolution could be construed to require prosecuting some offensive speech and how it could be used in the long run to change the meaning of our Constitution and laws, based on doctrines developed by legal academics including Obama appointee Harold Koh, the State Department’s top lawyer.Also troublesome on the free-speech front are various remarks by Mark Lloyd, the Federal Communications Commission’s associate general counsel and chief diversity officer. Lloyd asserted in a 2006 book, “The purpose of free speech is warped to protect global corporations and block rules that would promote democratic governance.” He co-authored a 2007 report calling for regulatory changes to close “the gap between conservative and progressive talk radio.” In 2008, he praised the “incredible … democratic revolution” of Hugo Chavez and implied approval of the thuggish Venezuelan strongman’s pattern of shutting down news media opposed to him.

That’s how I read Lloyd’s videotaped statement, first aired by Glenn Beck of Fox News, in which he said: “The property owners and the folks who then were controlling the media rebelled [against Chavez], worked, frankly, with folks here in the U.S. government, worked to oust him. But he came back with another revolution, and then Chavez began to take very seriously the media in his country.”

Then there was the June 5 high school commencement speech in which White House Communications Director Anita Dunn called Mao Zedong — one of history’s greatest mass murderers and an implacable enemy of free speech — one of “my favorite political philosophers.” Dunn has, coincidentally, been the point person in President Obama’s attacks on Fox News.

…The council’s October 2 resolution is ostensibly an endorsement of “freedom of opinion and expression,” which seems ironic, given the track records of such members as China, Cuba, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

But the real problem is a provision, which the U.S. championed jointly with Egypt, exuding hostility to free expression.

That provision “expresses its concern that incidents of racial and religious intolerance, discrimination and related violence, as well as of negative racial and religious stereotyping continue to rise around the world, and condemns, in this context, any advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence, and urges States to take effective measures, consistent with their obligations under international human-rights law, to address and combat such incidents” (emphasis added).

If they feel ‘offended,’ you’re fired

Then there’s this by Drew Zahn at WND:

The troubles for Professor Thomas Thibeault of East Georgia College seem to have begun during an Aug. 5 faculty sexual harassment training seminar, when he questioned the assertion – as he understood it – being presented by Mary Smith, the school’s vice president for legal affairs, that the feelings of the offended constituted proof of offensive behavior.
“What provision is there in the sexual harassment policy to protect the accused against complaints which are malicious or … ridiculous?” Thibeault asked.
According to Thibeault’s description of the events, Smith replied, “There is no provision in the policy. I must emphasize that if the person feels offended then the incident must be reported to the college authorities.”
“So there is no protection against a false accusation?” Thibeault pressed.
“No,” Smith is said to have responded.
“Then the policy itself is flawed,” commented Thibeault.
Two days later, a police chief was waiting to escort Thibeault off campus. The professor, under the circumstances, believed he was fired.
Then in subsequent weeks, Thibeault was informed his contract would not be renewed for the following year and that a faculty committee had concluded he violated the college’s sexual harassment policy. For doing what, for saying what, Thibeault still doesn’t know.
… Said FIRE spokesman Adam Kissel, “The professor still has not received anything in writing detailing what he is accused of doing. … If professors can’t engage in vigorous debate on college campuses, who can?”
But the letter from FIRE to the school got down to business:
“The Supreme Court has explicitly held on numerous occasions that speech cannot be restricted simply because it offends people. In ‘Street v. New York,’ 394 U.S. 576, 592 (1969), the court held that ‘[i]t is firmly settled that under our Constitution the public expression of ideas may not be prohibited merely because the ideas are themselves offensive to some of their hearers.’ In ‘Papish v. Board of Curators of the University of Missouri,’ 410 U.S. 667, 670 (1973), the court held that ‘the mere dissemination of ideas – no matter how offensive to good taste – on a state university campus may not be shut off in the name alone of  “conventions of decency,”‘ it warned the school.
School officials declined to enter the conversation.
          “Since this matter is an ongoing personnel mater, I cannot discuss it,” said school president John Black via e-mail.
FIRE officials said Thibeault was notified Oct. 20 “that he had been reinstated due to lack of evidence.”
But then Black issued the professor a “‘reprimand’ for unspecified ‘offensive’ speech – again without presenting any notice, hearing, evidence or witnesses.”
Are we noticing a pattern here? Our free speech is being seriously threatened. First they started out by intimidation, citing political correctness. I suggest to you “political correctness” is what’s helping to ruin our country. The left attempted to intimidate us by making us feel as if we didn’t fit in, as if we were the minority. I will tell you, WE ARE THE MAJORITY! It is up to “WE THE PEOPLE” to do what’s right for this country. Stand up! Do not take it any more! Speak out! Don’t let them intimidate you. Be strong! That’s what this women is doing:
From Janet Allquist, in her own words, for The Missouri Record
When given the opportunity to do this article, I started thinking back to the events leading up to my typing four words on the computer, “ONE VOICE AGAINST SOCIALISM” and taking the printout to a local office supply store to have it enlarged and laminated on a large poster. 
That step was easy enough.  It wasn’t as easy for me to gather the courage to take a lawn chair to the heavily traveled intersections of Hwy K and Hwy N in O’Fallon, MO and sit there beside the road with my sign, wondering if someone might confront me verbally or worse.  But as passersby began to honk horns and wave and give me thumbs up, my apprehension turned to excitement and motivation because I sensed that many other people agreed with me.
Never in my lifetime have I seen anything in this country like what has unfolded before us in the last year.  I have watched in shock and disbelief as the following events, and others not listed, have occurred under this administration.   This president has never been subjected to any tough questions by the adoring mainstream media and press corps (his cheerleaders).  My perception is that every event is carefully scripted with friendly individuals planted in the audience to ask softball questions. 
I also believe this administration is so arrogant and convinced they have a mandate to “fundamentally change America” that they are brazenly forging ahead to destroy our economy and make this a socialist/Marxist country.  This president has a silver tongue (as long as the TelePrompTer works).  People voted for his charm and good looks, and against George Bush and the war, completely ignoring Obama’s thin resume, empty suit, shadowy friends and far left voting record.  Just now common sense Americans are waking up to the fact that America has been hijacked by the far left wing of the Democratic Party and that with control of both houses of Congress and the presidency, they can and are doing whatever they please with no checks and balances.  It isn’t helping that our so-called Republican leadership is spineless.  The least they could be doing is jumping up and down screaming “Treason!”
Some of the many reasons I’m out protesting include: 

  • Michelle Obama (on video) stated “For the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country.”  Who would have believed that such a brazenly anti-American, chip-on-her-shoulder woman would end up as first “lady?”
  • Jeremiah Wright, pastor of the Chicago church the Obamas attended for twenty years, (on video) spewed out hatred of America with comments such as “G*d damn America.”  How many of us would sit back and listen to that kind of preaching for 20 years and not change churches (unless we agreed with it)?  Has anyone heard Obama speak out against Wright’s sermons? His silence speaks volumes.
  • The Obamas’ close friendship with terrorist William Ayres is very disturbing to me.  My parents taught us as children that we are known by the company we keep and that birds of a feather flock together.  Obama has appointed 44+ czars, some of whom are admitted Marxists/communists and have published books promoting these radical beliefs.    I heard Van Jones, a self-described communist, now the eco czar, speaking (on radio) about suicidal gray capitalism.  In a speech at Berkeley, he referred to all Republicans with a vulgar expletive.   It appears to me that Obama has surrounded himself with revolutionaries who have evil intentions.  I fear for my country and for my children and grandchildren.  Too many detrimental things are happening too quickly and against the best interests of America.   
  • How dare this president apologize for my country either here or when visiting foreign countries!    America is the greatest nation in the world.  Our troops have fought and died all around the world for freedom, NOT for socialism.  We are the most generous people in the world, always there first to help in any disaster and constantly giving food and money to less prosperous nations.  If he doesn’t believe we are the greatest country in the world, he has no business being president.  Other than having the power to implement radical changes, why would he even want to be the president of a country for which he holds such contempt?  
  • I watched the video of Obama bowing to a Saudi king.  The administration tried to explain it away.  Have you heard the expression, “Are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?”  America’s president should bow to no worldly king!
  • This president stated (on video) that we are not a Christian nation.  I disagree, as do millions of other Christians across this country.  Our nation was founded upon Christian principles. George Washington was administered the Oath of Affirmation of office as prescribed by Article II Section 1, on April 29th, 1789, to which he added:  “So help me God.”   “In God We Trust” is on our money and inscribed on our national monuments.   Clearly Christians exclusively are under siege by this administration and not a word of reprisal from the mainstream media, all of whom are in bed with Obama.  Never for a moment would the media tolerate vile remarks against Muslims, but it’s fine against Christianity.    Thank God for FOX News and conservative talk radio, the only places where the truth is exposed.  And now, the Obama administration, under the guise of the Fairness Doctrine, is attempting to shut down our First Amendment rights of freedom of speech.
  • Another video clip showed Hugo Chavez receiving a big hug and glowing praise from Obama.  This thug dictator got just what he wanted from an American president, legitimacy and photo ops.   Obama played right into his hands.
  • The recent happenings of attempted curtailment of free speech, control of the Internet, and now indoctrination of our children in their classrooms are all reminiscent of similar happenings in Germany in the mid and late 1930’s.  We all know what happened to personal freedoms after that.
  • The list goes on: all the bailouts, out of control government spending, takeovers of private corporations, nightmare healthcare reform legislation that will ration healthcare for seniors and people with special needs.  (This infuriates me because I have an autistic grandchild).   It will lead to long wait times for diagnostic testing and surgeries, resulting in many preventable deaths, substandard healthcare, bankrupting our nation, and placing so much debt on our children and grandchildren that they will never realize the American Dream. 
  • The administration is going after the CIA agents who have kept our country safe from another attack by terrorists for the past eight years.    This is exactly the kind of policy that gutted the CIA in Clinton’s administration and led up to the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  Could it be that a weakened CIA where agents are intimidated by fear of prosecution and therefore don’t pursue investigations, would be beneficial to this administration? 
  • What about the insanely restricted interrogation methods our troops in Afghanistan now have to follow?  They require that captured terrorists be flown out of the area within 48 hours, making it virtually impossible to get useful information from these prisoners due to the time constraint.  Does anyone else wonder why this is happening?

In summary, I’m out there protesting on the street corner because I am scared to death for the future of our country.  I am angry and totally fed up with this administration and all of the politicians as a whole, and I am not going to take it any more!  Too much is at stake to sit on the sidelines.  I sense deep inside that something is terribly wrong inside our government and that these anti-American, anti-capitalism czars are intentionally pushing our country quickly down the road to bankruptcy and socialism/Marxism.  I believe that this administration is looking for any excuse, including accusations of civil disorder by those of us daring to peacefully protest, to declare martial law so they can take control and shut down media opposition.   I hope and pray that I am wrong.  And I hope and pray that God allows us more time to unite against and stop what I perceive to be treason against America.

We are stewards of the America that we pass on our children and grandchildren.  Are you willing to stand with me and fight for freedom as our patriot forefathers did for us?

Now, Mrs. Allquist is joined by hundreds every weekend. I would like you to use Mrs. Allquist’s tale to find inspiration to speak up, before we are no longer allowed to.











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News for 09/10/2009- Free Speech in America

Posted on September 10, 2009. Filed under: Enemies of The State, General Info, Soapbox | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Without Freedom of Thought there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as Public Liberty, without Freedom of Speech. Benjamin Franklin, writing as Silence Dogood, No. 8, July 9, 1722  


 FCC Head:Chairman Julius Genachowski 

 In his government biography, appear the following highlights: Genachowski’s public service spanned broadly across government. His confirmation as FCC Chairman returns him to the agency where, from 1994 until 1997, he served as Chief Counsel to FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, and, before that, as Special Counsel to then-FCC General Counsel (later Chairman) William Kennard. Previously, he was a law clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court for Justice David Souter and Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. (ret.), and at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for Chief Judge Abner Mikva. Genachowski also worked in Congress for then-U.S. Representative (now Senator) Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), and on the staff of the House select committee investigating the Iran-Contra Affair. Genachowski has been active at the intersection of social responsibility and the marketplace. His acceptance speech follows:

…Put simply, our communications infrastructure is the foundation upon which our economy and our society rest. And it has never been more important that we unleash its potential. Our nation is at a crossroads. We face a number of tremendous challenges: our economy, education, health care, and energy, to name a few. If we do our jobs right and harness the power of communications to confront these challenges, we will have chosen the right course, and we will make a real positive difference in the lives of our children and future generations…. 

As the country’s expert agency on communications, it is our job to pursue this vision of a more connected America, focusing on the following goals:

  • Promoting universal broadband that’s robust, affordable and open.
  • Pursuing policies that promote job creation, competition, innovation and investment.
  • Protecting and empowering consumers and families.
  • Helping deliver public safety communications networks with the best technology to serve our firefighters, police officers, and other first responders.
  • Advancing a vibrant media landscape, in these challenging times, that serves the public interest in the 21st century.
  • Seizing the opportunity for the United States to lead the world in mobile communications.

These are just some of the goals we will pursue in the days ahead. How we will work will be central to what we can achieve. We will be fair.

We will be open and transparent. Our policy decisions will be fact-based and data-driven. We will strive to be smart about technology; smart about economics and businesses; smart about law and history; and smart every day about how our actions affect the lives of consumers. We will use technology and new media to enhance the everyday worklives of FCC staff, green the agency, and improve overall operations of the FCC – running efficiently, communicating effectively, and opening the agency to participation from everyone affected by the FCC’s actions.  And, stay tuned, we will have a new FCC website. 

Why do we serve in government and why do we serve at the FCC? We serve because we believe our nation can always do better and that it must do better. We serve because, in our America, we are defined not by what we earn, but by what we give…. That’s never been more true than today.  Communications must play a role in solving many of our nation’s most pressing challenges.  It’s the FCC’s job – our job – to turn this aspiration into reality.  We will be judged by whether we find concrete, practical ways to improve the lives of all of our nation’s people.  

Past articles about FCC Chair:

FCC Diversity Czar Mark Lloyd

Here is the document he co-authored for Soros’ Center For American Progress, called “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio”.

Conservative Talk Radio- How Those at the FCC Want To Shut It Down- The Official Report – Does this sound Constitutional to You? 

From the Center for American Progress, the Soros Progressive Movement now in charge of our government, here is the report the new FCC head and FCC “Diversity” Czar are using to co-opt free speech in America. This is a 40 page pdf document co-authored by Mark Lloyd, the Diversity Czar, himself. Here is a peek:

“As this report will document in detail, conservative talk radio undeniably dominates the format:

Our analysis in the spring of 2007 of the 257 news/talk stations owned by the top five commercial station owners reveals that 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming is conservative, and 9 percent is progressive.

Each weekday, 2,570 hours and 15 minutes of conservative talk are broadcast on these stations compared to 254 hours of progressive talk—10 times as much conservative talk as progressive talk.

A separate analysis of all of the news/talk stations in the top 10 radio markets reveals that 76 percent of the programming in these markets is conservative and 24 percent is progressive, although programming is more balanced in markets such as New York and Chicago.

This dynamic is repeated over and over again no matter how the data is analyzed, whether one looks at the number of stations, number of hours, power of stations, or the number of programs. While progressive talk is making inroads on commercial stations, conservative talk continues to be pushed out over the airwaves in greater multiples of hours than progressive talk is broadcast.

These empirical findings may not be surprising given general impressions about the format, but they are stark and raise serious questions about whether the companies licensed to broadcast over the public airwaves are serving the listening needs of all Americans.

There are many potential explanations for why this gap exists. The two most frequently cited reasons are the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 and simple consumer demand. As this report will detail, neither of these reasons adequately explains why conservative talk radio dominates the airwaves.

Our conclusion is that the gap between conservative and progressive talk radio is the result of multiple structural problems in the U.S. regulatory system, particularly the complete breakdown of the public trustee concept of broadcast, the elimination of clear public interest requirements for broadcasting, and the relaxation of ownership rules including the requirement of local participation in management.”

Past Articles about Mark Lloyd:     

In the Fight For Social Change One of the leading organizations working for social change using media. Devoted to Inclusion, Localism, Social Movement.

Understanding the public sphere–and developing good public policy to support it–requires access to data about media and the public sphere: data on industry structure, audiences, programming, internet traffic, and other basic measures of our increasingly convergent media environment.  In the U.S., much of this data is privately collected, and priced for large corporations.  Independent researchers, public interest groups, and policymakers operate at a major disadvantage in this environment. For many reasons, unequal access to data is a recipe for poor public policy.  Notably, it makes the examination of policy proposals and evaluation of policy outcomes difficult at best.  As this situation becomes the norm, media policymaking moves away from basic principles of public accountability. The consortium is a vehicle for expressing the data-related concerns and collective bargaining power of scholarly and public-interest communities in this area.

Six Steps Toward a Stronger, More Transparent, More Accountable FCC in the Obama Era  (yeah, right)  

American Thinker on Obama Threat to Free Speech in America (pre-election warning) …What makes Obama’s affinity for suppressing dissent even worse is that mainstream newspapers and television networks, the very institutions expected to act as watchdogs and to be a forum for the expression of free speech of all persuasions, have failed the American people during this election not only through biased reporting but also by their shocking failure (refusal?) to dig beyond the surface into Obama’s questionable background. As a result, in this election, the American people have been stripped of the protections normally provided by a vibrant and critical press, one of the most important weapons a free nation has against its leaders (or leaders-to-be) and against the tyranny of power.
Should Obama be elected to the presidency, Americans should expect such ugly aggressive tactics to continue, and Americans who disagree with President Obama should expect to be silenced. Whether it is through Obama’s use of the mainstream press as a government mouthpiece, the imposition of the Fairness Doctrine to suppress (and in many cases eliminate) radio and television programs or print media outlets critical of an Obama administration, or, the sicking of the press and surrogates on citizens who dare question those in power, Americans are about to experience on a national scale what dissenting students and faculty on American campuses have experienced for years….  

 The New Social Change Agenda is Not The Only Threat to Free Speech

Book: Censorship, Inc.: The Corporate Threat to Free Speech in the United States by Lawrence Soley notes:
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is a landmark in the defense of free speech against government interference and suppression. In this book we come to see how it also acts as a smokescreen behind which a more dangerous and insidious threat to free speech can operate.  Soley shows how as corporate power has grown and come to influence the issues on which ordinary Americans should be able to speak out, so new strategies have developed to restrict free speech on issues in which corporations and property-owners have an interest. Censorship, Inc. is a comprehensive examination of the vast array of corporate practices which restrict free speech in the United States today in fields as diverse as advertsing and the media, the workplace, community life, and the environment. Soley also shows how these threats to free speech have been resisted by activism, legal argument, and through legislation. Grounded in extensive research into actual cases, this book is at the same time a challenge to conventional thinking about the nature of censorship and free speech. 

 Another Threat To Free Speech: Pressure from Foreign Concerns 

 When Internet journalist Joe Kaufman wrote an article exposing terrorist connections in two American Muslim groups, he was sued by a swarm of Islamic organizations, none of which he had mentioned in his online article. The technique is called by some “legal jihad” or “Islamist lawfare,” and the Thomas More Law Center, which is representing Kaufman in the lawsuit, claims Muslim advocates are using the strategy to bully online journalists into silence. “The lawsuit against Kaufman was funded by the Muslim Legal Fund for America. The head of that organization, Khalil Meek, admitted on a Muslim radio show that lawsuits were being filed against Kaufman and others to set an example,” claims a Thomas More statement on the case. “Indeed, for the last several years, Muslim groups in the U.S. have engaged in the tactic of filing meritless lawsuits to silence any public discussion of Islamic terrorist threats.”  After feeling pressure from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Sen. Arlen Specter cancelled his appearance at a conference Tuesday on free speech protections, bringing attention to some of the of the very issues the conference was designed to highlight. “Libel Lawfare: Silencing Criticism of Radical Islam” focused on the prosecution of American citizens under foreign libel laws, which are typically much looser than First Amendment speech protections in the U.S. Foreign laws are commonly targeted at Americans who publish or speak about controversial issues such as Islamic terrorism; if an American criticizes a foreign national and the foreign national doesn’t like it, lawsuits can loom.


The Courts Have Not Always Backed Free Speech– here is an excerpt from Wikipedia on the subject

Freedom of speech


The Supreme Court never ruled on the constitutionality of any federal law regarding the Free Speech Clause until the 20th century. The Supreme Court never ruled on the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, whose speech provisions expired in 1801. The leading critics of the law, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, argued for the Acts’ unconstitutionality on the basis of the First Amendment, among other Constitutional provisions (e.g. Tenth Amendment). In New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), the Supreme Court said, “[a]lthough the Sedition Act was never tested in this Court, the attack upon its validity has carried the day in the court of history.”

After World War I, several cases involving laws limiting speech came before the Supreme Court. The Espionage Act of 1917 imposed a maximum sentence of twenty years for anyone who caused or attempted to cause “insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty in the military or naval forces of the United States.” Under the Act, there were over two thousand prosecutions. For instance, one filmmaker was sentenced to ten years imprisonment because his portrayal of British soldiers in a movie about the American Revolution impugned the good faith of an American ally, the United Kingdom. The Sedition Act of 1918 went even further, criminalizing “disloyal,” “scurrilous” or “abusive” language against the government.

In Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919), the Supreme Court was first requested to strike down a law violating the Free Speech Clause. The case involved Charles Schenck, who had, during the war, published leaflets challenging the conscription system then in effect. The Supreme Court unanimously upheld Schenck’s conviction for violating the Espionage Act. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., writing for the Court, suggested that “the question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.”

The “clear and present danger” test of Schenck was extended in Debs v. United States, 249 U.S. 211 (1919), again by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. The case involved a speech made by Eugene V. Debs, a political activist. Debs had not spoken any words that posed a “clear and present danger” to the conscription system, but a speech in which he denounced militarism was nonetheless found to be sufficient grounds for his conviction. Justice Holmes suggested that the speech had a “natural tendency” to occlude the draft.

Thus, the Supreme Court effectively shaped the First Amendment in such a manner as to permit a multitude of restrictions on speech. Further restrictions on speech were accepted by the Supreme Court when it decided Gitlow v. New York, 268 U.S. 652 (1925). Writing for the majority, Justice Edward Sanford  suggested that states could punish words that “by their very nature, involve danger to the public peace and to the security of the state.” Lawmakers were given the freedom to decide which speech would constitute a danger.

Freedom of speech was influenced by anti-communism during the Cold War. In 1940, the Congress enacted the Smith Act. The Smith Act made punishable the advocacy of “the propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force and violence.” The law was mainly used as a weapon against Communist leaders. The constitutionality of the Act was questioned in Dennis v. United States 341 U.S. 494 (1951). The Court upheld the law in 1951 by a 6-2 vote (Justice Tom C. Clark did not participate because he had previously ordered the prosecutions when he was Attorney General). Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson relied on Oliver Wendell Holmes’ “clear and present danger” test when he wrote for the majority. Vinson suggested that the doctrine did not require the government to “wait until the putsch is about to be executed, the plans have been laid and the signal is awaited”, thereby broadly defining the words “clear and present danger.” Thus, even though there was no immediate danger posed by the Communist Party’s ideas, the Court allowed the Congress to restrict the Communist Party’s speech.

Dennis has never been explicitly overruled by the Court, but subsequent decisions have greatly narrowed its place within First Amendment jurisprudence. In 1957, the Court changed its interpretation of the Smith Act in deciding Yates v. United States, 354 U.S. 298 (1957). The Supreme Court ruled that the Act was aimed at “the advocacy of action, not ideas”. Thus, the advocacy of abstract doctrine remains protected under the First Amendment. Only speech explicitly inciting the forcible overthrow of the government remains punishable under the Smith Act.

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