Free Speech Under Attack and the Political Consequences

Yesterday, I published a diary here about free speech being under attack, especially in academia.  College campuses are captive audiences where the Big Brother diversity czars dictate political correctness through their seminars, denial of due process, speech codes, safe spaces and trigger warnings.  The cause may be noble, but there is nothing noble about the denial of free speech in academia.

More importantly, there is absolutely nothing noble about the denial of free speech in the political realm.  As in academia, one should be wary of statements regarding free speech when someone utters the word “but.”  There is not a college administration that openly endorses restrictions on free speech; in fact, they all sing their own praises in this area.  Yet, these very same administrations then develop speech codes that serve to do exactly that- restrict free speech.  Usually, the justification for that code is preceded by the word “but.”

Likewise, one is hard-pressed to find any politician on a soap box arguing that free speech rights should be restricted.  However, you will find many on the Left who will qualify their support of free speech with the word “but.”  For example, you often hear, “I am a supporter of free speech, but  you still can’t yell ‘FIRE!’ in a crowded theater.”  Indeed, you can’t; it would be dangerous.  But is it “dangerous” if someone produces a film critical of Hillary Clinton?  Is it necessary to cloak that film in the arcane language of campaign finance and then ban it?

The “not yelling ‘FIRE’ in the theater” example has now been expanded by the Left.  To them, if you can’t yell “FIRE!” in a theater, it is akin to saying “balderdash” to articles claiming the reality of man-made climate change because it fails to comport to their worldview.  And lest anyone believes that the Left will stop at nothing to restrict political speech, consider the actions of liberals in Texas who sought an indictment against former Governor Rick Perry for threatening to veto and eventually vetoing  a bill.  Imagine that- a normal gubernatorial function became a “crime.”

In fact, Leftist and Democratic activists have for years been calling it a crime for holding non-conforming views when it comes to climate change.  Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is one of the biggest names in this movement.  In response, there is a multi-jurisdictional legal action to hold oil companies and conservative organizations criminally and civilly responsible for holding views that run counter to the climate change narrative from the Left.  The darling of the Left- Elizabeth Warren- has extended it beyond climate change suggesting that corporations should be prosecuted for expressing a view on any policy debate.

In the wake of the Citizens United decision which basically was about a film critical of Hillary Clinton cloaked in the language of “campaign finance reform,” every Democrat lined up to censor the film using the McCain-Feingold debacle as their vehicle.   Harry Reid introduced legislation that would have furthered those efforts.

In arguments before the Supreme Court, the government conceded that the law as written could be conceivably be used to ban books, articles, or movies if the government believed they constituted illegal political advocacy.  Deputy Attorney General Malcolm L. Stewart actually said that in response to a question from Justice David Souter.  Oddly, Citizens United was a 5-4 decision meaning we are one Justice away from the Supreme Court agreeing with Malcolm L. Stewart.

Democrats will push for these restrictions on political free speech and cloak it in the Orwellian language of “campaign finance reform.”  It takes money to publish a book, produce a documentary, write an article, or print a flyer.  Hence, all these activities could logically fall under the umbrella of “campaign finance” since money exchanges hands.

Our very own Constitutional-lawyer/professor-in-Chief stood before Congress and the Supreme Court and thoroughly mischaracterized the decision.  He railed against the possible influx of foreign dollars which was not even an issue in the case.  The Democrats in Congress proposed a bill called the DISCLOSE Act which is short for Democracy Is Served by Casting Light On Spending in Elections to create the more Orwellian DISCLOSE.  Technically, it should have been the DISBCLOSIE Act , but it doesn’t sound as fuzzy as “DISCLOSE.”  Sadly, 48 Democratic members of the Senate voted in favor of it.

Actions like these are nothing short of an attack on First Amendment free speech rights.  It is one thing to do it in the bubble of academia and quite another to do the same when it comes to political speech in the real world.  To the Left, extremism in defense of the political class’s convenience is no vice.