The Harris-Biden Era isn’t going to be good for Free Speech

I’ve been concerned about the decline in interest by the left in free speech issues for quite a while.  One of my early posts on this blog a decade ago was about the First Amendment and the left’s abandonment of it. It’s only gotten worse since then.  We’ve come a long way from the 1970’s, when the ACLU defended Nazi’s (actual Nazi’s, not simply Republicans walking too close to an antifa riot) and their right to march.

Nothing like that would happen today.  The heart and soul of the left now belongs to the book burners and the censors.  Antifa protested a bookstore selling a book that..exposed Antifa.  Squad member Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bugeyes) suggested some version of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to “figure out how we rein in our media environment so that you can’t just spew disinformation and misinformation…”  Well that’s just what we need, the government determining what disinformation and misinformation is.

But now that the Harris but also Biden administration is in place, the fight against the First Amendment can really get started.  From The Washington Post National Security section (yes really!):

Trump supporter charged in 2016 Twitter scheme to undermine Hillary Clinton

NEW YORK — A far-right social media influencer was arrested Wednesday and accused of interfering in the 2016 election through an organized campaign to boost Donald Trump’s candidacy by conning supporters of his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, into voting through illegitimate means such as text message or online.

Prosecutors allege that Douglass Mackey, 31, used an alias, reportedly derived from actor Charlie Sheen’s character Ricky Vaughn in the 1989 film “Major League,” to circulate messages on Twitter that encouraged Clinton’s supporters to “Avoid the line. Vote from home,” according to charging documents. Nearly 5,000 people fell for the ploy, according to the Brooklyn U.S. attorney’s office, which announced the arrest.

William Sweeney, assistant director in charge the FBI’s New York field office, called Mackey’s alleged efforts “nothing short of vote theft.”

This is, of course, insanity.  “Ricky Vaughn” was a meme maker during the 2016 Great Meme War, not a conspirator in vote stealing or election fraud.  I don’t want to minimize how important memes were to winning the 2016 election.  In fact I think memes were vitally important in turning a tiny bit of online culture into the Trump camp.  I couldn’t guess how many votes that actually translated into, but the 2016 campaign was a brilliant, creative time for clever funny memes. Several passed my view via Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis during the election, and they did a good job mocking the left in general and Hillary and the Democrats in particular.

Now comes payback time.

From the criminal complaint:

“In or about and between September 2016 and November 2016, both dates being approximate and inclusive, in the Eastern District of New York and elsewhere, the defendant DOUGLASS MACKEY (“MACKEY”), also known as “Ricky Vaughn,” together with others, conspired to injure, oppress, threaten and intimidate persons in the free exercise and enjoyment of a right and privilege secured to them by the Constitution and laws of the United States, to wit, the right to vote, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 241.”

And how exactly did Ricky Vaughn “injure, oppress, threaten and intimidate” Hillary voters?  With this:

 

 

Besides the obvious absurdity that these memes could have moved Hillary voters one way or another, it’s highly unlikely that any Hillary voter ever saw these memes.  These were shared on right leaning sites, chats, and forums, not posted to liberal sites.

The Washington Post reported that “nearly 5,000 people fell for the ploy.”  I’ve no doubt 5,000 people actually texted the number on the meme, but was even one of them a Hillary voter thinking that they were “voting?”  The answer will obviously be no and if this goes to trial, the failure to present a tricked Hillary voter as victim will become obvious.

But this doesn’t even need to go to trial.  Mackey was arrested by the FBI, bonded out for $50,000, and now faces months or years of legal wrangling and costs.  Even if this whole thing is dismissed two or three years from now, Mackey will have been ruined.  It makes you wonder exactly who is being injured, oppressed, threatened and intimidated here.

Another thing to consider is that this entire case had been sitting in the bowels of the Justice Department for 4 years, and mere days after the inauguration, the FBI arrests Mackey.  I guess it just goes to show that the Justice Department was never Trump’s. It was biding its time, waiting to get its revenge on its perceived enemies.

This is a useful reminder that in our new era, we don’t really have any rights.  Exercising enlightenment concepts like “rights” is simply staying below the notice of the Permanent government’s eye of Sauron. Being too clever, funny, or effective might get yourself a visit from the FBI.

 

 

Assange Indictment Sounds like BS to Me

Julian Assange, looking like a demented Santa Claus, was booted from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on Thursday in preparation to be extradited to the United States. Ecuador; tired of his antics, finally let the other shoe drop and kicked him out. Of course this was bound to happen eventually, which makes me wonder how Assange thought that remaining a prisoner in the Ecuadorian Embassy for years was actually better than serving a prison sentence (for whatever real or imaginary crimes) and then getting out.

The internet comments on Assange’s arrest don’t line up in the usual left/right way you would expect.  Assange is an anti-American leftist and normally should expect support from…anti-American leftists.  Although that still seems true for the international set, the domestic anti-American leftists are split.  Most applaud his work in helping to severely damage US national security by releasing a treasure trove of classified information from the Manning leaks, but hurting Hillary and helping the Orange Man to win the Presidency?  Unforgivable!   On the right, the split is reversed.  Some applaud Wikileaks in preventing a Hillary-Apocalypse, but others hate the national security damage he helped cause.

And where do I come down?  I think he’s an anti-American leftist who hates the US and would do anything he can to bring it down.  However, that’s no different than the Publishers and editorial staff of The New York Times, Washington Post, and many if not most US newspapers and media outlets.  They also are anti-American leftists who hate the US and would do anything to bring it down.  And all of those newspapers and TV news outlets have published or reported on all matter of stolen classified information from Manning, Snowden, and innumerable leaks over the years; all damaging to the US.  And they are all, Assange included, protected by the First Amendment.

As a work around, the Department of Justice has made up a charge of conspiring to hack government computers, something I don’t recall ever being mentioned during Manning’s trial.  You can read the indictment here.

A few years ago, I would have just swallowed that story and accepted it, however the past few years have worn away any trust I might have had in the DoJ. Simply put, I just don’t believe it. Manning already had access to the SIPRNET, the Secret level government classified network, and apparently had so few, or no duties while deployed in Iraq that he could sit in front of his workstation for his entire shift, for weeks and months on end, copying files to a CD.  Manning didn’t need any extra passwords to unload a treasure trove of classified information.

If this case gets as far as discovery, I imagine his lawyers should demand some sort of evidence that the information was not already available on SIPRNET with the passwords and accesses that Manning already had.  I have a sneaking suspicion though that it will never get that far.

No One Expects the Gay Bakery Inquisition

Of all the myriad ways that the social and political battle over gay marriage could have evolved, I don’t think anyone could have seen coming the gay war on bakeries; cake on cake, icing against icing.  But that’s the current battlefield; make of that what you will.Gay Inquisition

As to the latest battle in the ongoing cake war:

Marjorie Silva, owner of Denver’s Azucar Bakery, is facing a complaint from a customer alleging she discriminated against his religious beliefs.

According to Silva, the man who visited last year wanted a Bible-shaped cake, which she agreed to make. Just as they were getting ready to complete the order, Silva said the man showed her a piece of paper with hateful words about gays that he wanted written on the cake. He also wanted the cake to have two men holding hands and an X on top of them, Silva said.

She said she would make the cake, but declined to write his suggested messages on the cake, telling him she would give him icing and a pastry bag so he could write the words himself. Silva said the customer didn’t want that.

Clearly the guy ordering the cake was a troll trying to make a point, and no doubt the point will soon be made since the case was referred to the Colorado Civil Rights Division, but if you are anxiously wondering what, oh what they will decide, if their response is anything other than the allowing the baker to decline anti-Gay bigotry on her cakes, I’ll have a double helping of gay wedding cake with rainbow icing.  In fact, I’ll have a slice regardless of what the Colorado Civil Rights Division decides, because that sounds delicious.

However it will have to be on a “cheat day.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time this sort of trolling has occurred.  A Christian website called bakeries to see if they would make a cake with “Gay Marriage is wrong” written on it.  You can guess the results, but hey, there are some opinions a business owner can apply to his customers and others that he can’t.

Of course the original troll (of which there have been many copies) was the legal action taken against the Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery for refusing to bake a gay wedding cake for a lesbian couple. The shop was run out of business and started a veritable war on bakeries by gays that quickly expanded into other wedding services.

In New Mexico, a photographer who declined a job offer of photographing a same sex commitment ceremony was sued by New Mexico’s Human Rights Commission even though New Mexico didn’t even have gay marriage or civil unions at the time.  The photographer’s defense was on First Amendment grounds, but the First is gradually joining the Second in Amendments the left no longer recognizes. So a totally made up thing; like a “commitment ceremony” becomes not just a civil right, but a demand on everyone else to support it. Now on the list of services that this photographer provides, I rather much doubt “commitment ceremonies” were listed on the price sheet. But someone decided to troll and harass this businessperson anyway.  There is also the more famous Washington State florist case.

These aren’t religious institutions, these are individuals, and it looks like individuals are having their rights peeled away.  I can’t be indifferent to gay marriage, or even merely tolerant of it, the law is gradually going to force me to love, love, love gay marriage.

Religious institutions will eventually get theirs.  The people on the left who say they support religious freedom sure were supportive of the Obama administration’s initiative to force Catholic institutions to provide contraception.  If they can do that, they will eventually force churches to perform gay marriages.  That already happens in Europe and will happen in the US eventually, First Amendment or no First Amendment.

The US has become a strange and confusing place, where “rights” have become a zero sum game. For someone to get “rights” someone else must surrender theirs.

When “rights” start to conflict, then you are no longer talking about rights, you are talking about groups that have political power dumping on groups that don’t; even at the cost of real, constitutional rights. It’s pretty clear in this example whose constitutional rights are being violated.

The battle against gay marriage has long been lost, and it’s inevitable that in time, it will spread out to all 50 states.  If West Point is hosting gay marriages, then the Vatican will eventually.  Marriage went from being a social institution to civil right with benefits and prizes.   But during that battle, I’ve been told over and over that it doesn’t affect me and it doesn’t affect my marriage.

Yet no sooner did the Court ruling tide turned, the story changed, and I was told gay marriage meant there is a new (gay) sheriff in town, and his name is Intolerance.

I knew the promise that someone else’s gay marriage wouldn’t bother anyone would turn out to be a lie, but I admit I’m surprised with how rapidly we’ve gone to, “I just want my partner and I to have what you have,” to “You’re not allowed to ignore me, you must provide services for my over the top marriage extravaganza!  And if you don’t, I’ll see you in court!”

For the record, if I were a baker I would have no problem with taking money to make gay wedding cakes. In fact, that’s probably true for 99.9 percent of bakeries across the US, but then, there would be no reason to troll me or the vast majority of bakeries happy to make fabulous gay wedding cakes would there?  Instead, the hunt would be on to track down and run out of business the few who did have a problem with it.

To me, the common sense solution is that no baker should have to provide services he fundamentally opposes, but that’s too simple an answer now.  One view has to dominate and drive out everyone else who opposes it.

 

 

Free Speech Thoughts by Bill Maher

The post I wrote last week felt naggingly incomplete to me for some reason.  My purpose was to note that President Obama shouldn’t have gone to the Paris march since he of course wasn’t “Charlie” and had a record of being critical of satire aimed at Islam.  And also to note the irony that the world leaders who did show up at the march were not “Charlie” either.  They came from governments that restricted free speech in one way or the other.

It was another grim reminder on how rights can be taken for granted at the same time they are being quietly taken apart.  And this brings me to Bill Maher.

Maher isn’t in any way a favorite of mine, and the last time I watched him with any regularity he had a show on ABC.  Hey I wonder whatever happened to that…  But for someone who is part of the American left in the 21st Century, he still retains a little of the old 20th Century liberal in him.  Gather round children, because you may not believe it, but there was a time when liberals actually favored free speech, even when it wasn’t politically correct!  Even when they opposed the message!  I know, it’s hard to believe huh?

Of course Maher has had more reason than most liberals to care about freedom of expression as a concept, rather than merely as an obstacle that still allows enemies of the left to voice their opinions.  Just a few months ago he was heavily protested by his fellow leftists at a speaking engagement at UC Berkeley.

So it was not quite surprising when I ran across a Daily Caller story about Maher.  The story, written by Daily Caller writer Chuck Ross (who must be single handedly producing ¾ of the Caller’s content), was taken from Maher’s show Real Time in which he criticized  a group trying to organize a boycott of sponsors of the Rush Limbaugh show.  That’s what old time 20th Century liberals would do; defend, in Voltaire-like fashion, speech they hate.  I think Maher would much rather be on the attack Rush side than on the defense, but he’s mad at official liberalism right now so he’s firing back. Wait until he starts defending Palin….

The problem with Maher is that his liberalism hasn’t really evolved since the 1970’s. Liberals used to really care about free speech, and took seriously the Voltarian maxim that I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it. But that’s when they perceived themselves as the underdogs against “the establishment.” Now of course, they are the establishment. And guess what? They don’t like free speech. That’s why they want to regulate the internet, regulate political speech, and that’s why they’ve been pushing the doctrine of political correctness. Whatever speech they can’t make illegal, they want to make it unacceptable.

I’ve been surprised just how quickly the left has abandoned free speech.  Social Justice and Identity politics will not compromise with the Bill of Rights.  They demand total allegiance.

Maher is a dinosaur, and when his kind passes over to…well nothingness since he’s an atheist, the only defenders of free speech will be on the right.

 

President Obama isn’t Charlie

“The Future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

President Obama 2012

Hey, is someone missing in that picture?

The President took a lot of heat this week for not showing up for the Paris March last Sunday.  And by heat I don’t mean talk radio, I’m talking about the President’s own Praetorian Guard, the main stream media.  When you lose both Jake Tapper (CNN) and Andrea Mitchell (MSNBC) you’ve goofed big time. But in retrospect, I think it was probably the right move not to show up.  After a few days introspection, I think that March was dishonest and there wasn’t a clear message that the President wanted to get behind.  Sure, I think it could be safely said that Obama opposes massacres of journalists, but he really doesn’t like satire against Muslims in general and Charlie Hebdo in particular.

In response to the publication of anti Islamic cartoons in 2012 by Charlie Hebdo, this was the White House response:

“We have questions about the judgment of publishing something like this,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said, while adding “it is not in any way justification for violence.”

“We don’t question the right of something like this to be published, we just question the judgment behind the decision to publish it,” Carney said.

This is pretty much in line with the standard American left view of this, although as I’ve documented previously, the left and the First Amendment parted ways many years ago, and in Europe, it was never much more than a talking point anyway.  It would be hard to explain marching in support of Charlie Hebdo after the President’s histrionics about the YouTube video that the administration claimed caused the Benghazi attack. In that case, the administration tried to pressure YouTube to take down the video.

So much for standing up for free speech.  But let’s face it.  Obama is no more on board with the free expression than the rest of the left.

If President Obama marched in Paris, how would he answer a French Muslim that he’s marching to support free speech to insult his religion while at the same time, it’s a crime to question the Holocaust in France, as well as many other countries in Europe?  That’s why free expression is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition.  Once you start creating carve outs to protect some group’s feelings, when do you stop?

Answer:  You don’t.  You only have free speech as long as it’s convenient to the government.  Of course that means that with the changing demographics of France, eventually Blasphemy against Islam will probably be criminalized.

And the French will still think they have freedom of expression.