Independent Institute: Big Tech’s Gravest Sin? Working with the Security State

From the Independent Institute, Big Tech’s Gravest Sin? Working with the Security State . There is an argument that Big Tech censorship is not a violation of free speech because they are private entities. But when those Big Tech companies get financially entangled with the government, who can say when quid pro quo censorship is occurring?

The “de-platforming” of Donald Trump by Twitter, Facebook, and Google-owned YouTube—that is, Big Tech—recently garnered big headlines. Trump’s change in status has raised cries among some conservatives of “censorship.” Yet a more libertarian view holds that these are private companies that have a right to control their own content, just as private broadcast and print media do. The word “censorship” has been traditionally and more appropriately applied to government violations of the Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of free speech.

More disturbing might be Big Tech’s aiding of law enforcement’s violations of the rights of individuals at home and contributions to the military’s violation of human rights abroad. Despite its reputation for independence, it has recently been revealed that Big Tech’s relationship with the American national security establishment may be stronger than was previously thought. At some tech firms, workforce opposition has arisen over company contracts with the military and law enforcement. Yet these employee objections have usually led the companies to hide such government business through the use of mundane and nondescript subcontractors.

Big Tech has had a long-standing relationship with the U.S. government and military. During World War II, the government used IBM’s punch card technology to keep track of prisoners at unconstitutional domestic internment camps housing Japanese Americans, who even government reports admitted posed no threat to the American war effort. (At the same time, Nazi Germany was using similar IBM technology.) The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) of the Department of Defense (DoD) funded research on computing in the 1960s that led to the Internet and later to Siri. Such spinoffs are beneficial, but it is more efficient for the private sector to invest in them directly. Less positively, Honeywell Aerospace manufactured fragmentation bombs, which killed many civilians during the Vietnam War. Silicon Valley was no stranger to military contracts, with Lockheed (now Lockheed Martin), builder of military aircraft, missiles, satellites, and other defense systems, being the biggest player there during the 1980s.

Nowadays, Big Tech companies have loads of contracts with the military and law enforcement. Tech Inquiry, a non-profit organization promoting tech accountability, has reported that DoD, ICE, FBI, DEA, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons have thousands of contracts with Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Dell, IBM, and Hewlett Packard. Microsoft is by far the contract champion, with 5,000. Amazon and Google trail with 350 and 250, respectively.

For example, Amazon’s facial Rekognition software could easily be misused by the government, yet the company is still marketing it to government agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Furthermore, Amazon’s cloud services are employed by Palantir, a company that creates databases for ICE. Microsoft even admits that its software allows ICE to “utilize deep learning capabilities to accelerate facial recognition and identification” of immigrants. Dell also licenses software to ICE.

Google was involved in Project Maven to provide artificial intelligence for U.S. drone warfare in foreign nations. American presidents have used drones to illegally kill people, including Barack Obama’s assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. Awlaki was an American citizen, killed by his own government without charges, a trial, or sentencing. Almost 4,000 Google employees demanded the company end the contract and some resigned over it. Yet Google is now providing off-the-shelf technology for drones.

Big Tech is even helping foreign governments conduct what can be legitimately called “censorship.” For example, Google, in a project called Dragonfly, sold the oppressive Chinese government a censored version of its search engine. Microsoft beat out Amazon for a whopping $10 billion JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) contract to provide cloud computing for DoD.

Big Tech should be leery of working with both the U.S. and foreign governments—and not only because many of their employees object to contracts that can result in deaths or the violation of human rights. Government money never comes without strings attached. Contracting with the government will bring a slew of regulations that can change the commercial nature of any business, rendering it less creative and innovative.

Nonetheless this admonition may fall on deaf ears—because the government is so big and spends so much money in the private sector that it is hard for tech companies to avoid being tempted by its pot of gold. Although it pretends differently, Big Tech has a long and lucrative relationship with government contracting and, unfortunately, that business will probably continue to grow in the future.

Real Clear Politics: Big Tech, Big Brother and the End of Free Speech

Real Clear Politics has an article on Big Tech, Big Brother and the End of Free Speech.

In George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” members of the Outer Party of Oceania engage in the Two Minutes Hate ritual against Emmanuel Goldstein, who is supposed to be the enemy of the people but may actually just be a fabricated symbol to distract the people from their real enemy — Big Brother.

In Nancy Pelosi’s “Twenty Twenty-One,” members of the Democratic Party engage in the Two Hours Hate against Donald Trump, who is supposed to be the enemy of the people, but may actually just be a fabricated symbol to distract the people from their real enemy — Big Tech.

 Two hours of hate — er, debate — was held in the House of Representatives last Wednesday for the avowed purpose of removing a president of the United States. That’s all it took. Two hours. That should tell you everything you need to know about the state of democracy in our country.

More time is routinely spent on picking wallpaper. But let’s face it, most families wouldn’t trust Congress to pick out wallpaper for their living room, so why should we trust these self-appointed moral arbiters to pick our president?

Well, we don’t. Not all of us.

Rep. Doug LaMalfa, a Republican representative from California, put it plainly in his 90-second speech when he said the “second annual impeachment” of Donald Trump “isn’t really about actual words spoken at a rally. No, this is all about the unbridled hatred of this president [by Democrats]. You use any extreme language and any process to oppose the core of what he has really fought for. You hate him because he is pro-life, the strongest ever. You hate him for fighting for the freedom of religion. … You hate him for Israel. You hate him for defending our borders. … You hate him for putting America first.”

They certainly shouldn’t hate him — or impeach him — just for telling a rally crowd that “everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” But that’s what they did. In two hours.

And before they ever got around to impeaching Trump, they de-platformed him. With stunning suddenness, Trump went from the most powerful man in the world to a cornered, desperate fugitive. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google — they all came for him. Most importantly, they came for us. Everyone who sided with the president, everyone who agreed with the president about the questions of election fraud, we are all now guilty by association, and Big Tech has turned its sights on all of us.

“Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?”

Those were the words that terrified millions of Americans in the 1950s when Joe McCarthy and other senators tried to purge the United States of what they considered a subversive movement designed to overthrow the government.

In that case, of course, it was conservative senators — both Democrat and Republican — who were trying to expose what they called a communist conspiracy. In their zeal to protect the nation, they trampled on the civil liberties of individual Americans and tried to strip them of their jobs, their reputations and in some cases their very freedom.

What was the crime most of those Americans had committed? They had either attended a meeting of the Communist Party, donated money to the Communist Party or signed a petition on behalf of the Communist Party. In other words, they had exercised their First Amendment rights of speech and assembly. They had used their own minds and reached unpopular opinions. That was all it took for McCarthy to try to ruin their lives.

Apparently the American left never forgot what was done to them, and now that they have achieved absolute power, it looks like they want revenge.

In the lead-up to the impeachment vote, Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts put Trump defender Jim Jordan “on trial” for the new crime of having a dissenting view on the 2020 presidential election. The question McGovern barked at Jordan in a congressional hearing last week could be repeated in job interviews for years to come:

“Will you admit that Joe Biden won fair and square and that the election was not rigged or stolen?”

Jordan avoided a direct answer, but of course he and millions of other people don’t believe that Biden won fair and square. In a free country, they could say so, but in Pelosi’s “Twenty Twenty-One,” you say so at your own risk. To begin with, you can lose your Twitter account or your Facebook account, but who’s to say that you won’t lose your bank account next? China has a “social credit” system that deprives citizens of certain rights if their score falls below a certain level of acceptability — meaning if they don’t follow the party line in their thinking and their public persona. You might lose your job. You might be denied a ticket on a train or a plane. The only recourse is to do what the party tells you to do — even if it means accepting that 2+2=5.

Now, in modern America, we are precipitously close to duplicating the monolithic control of information that Orwell predicted in “Nineteen Eighty-Four” and that the Chinese Communist Party has perfected.

In the last two weeks, we have seen the power of Big Tech unleashed mercilessly. With the complicit assistance of Big Media, the Silicon Valley oligarchs not only neutered President Trump as a political leader by taking away his bully pulpit but also effectively crushed dissent by demanding that only social media companies that censor unpopular opinions can have a platform on the Internet. Bye-bye, Parler. You can also make a reasonable case that Democrats in Congress would never have impeached President Trump from public office so hastily were they not goaded into action by Twitter and Facebook taking the first step of banning him from public life.

In a sense, Big Tech has taken cyberbullying to its logical conclusion. When 13-year-olds are entrusted with cellphones and Snapchat accounts, they can use them to bring shame on innocent children and even destroy their lives. Often, this involves spreading false rumors about the person or discrediting them for something they espouse, like their religion, their political beliefs or their sexual identity.

Tell me how this is different from what Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have done to Donald Trump and, by extension, the more than 74 million people who voted for him. This group of post-pubescent cyberbullies in Silicon Valley doesn’t like Donald Trump. They feel justified in calling him names like white supremacist and Nazi and racist. They don’t care whether it hurts him or not. They don’t care whether it is true or not. They are strangely enlivened by what they perceive as their ability to hurt him, to weaken him. Like the mob that they have attempted to link the president to, these bullies act in mindless concert, emboldened by each other to see who can strike the deeper blow, who can make the victim hurt more.

And over what? Differences of opinion, for the most part. Strong border or no border? Mask or no mask? Globalism or Americanism? Carbon credits or fracking? Abortion or no abortion? And then the last straw — fair election or fraudulent election?

These should be legitimate subjects for debate in a free society. But not anymore. Big Tech has banned debate about government policy on the coronavirus, and any discussion of election fraud is treated as if it were a crime. But wait? It’s only a crime to question the government in a totalitarian system, like that in communist China or Orwell’s fictional Oceania, right? In America, we have the right and obligation to question our government, don’t we? Because, if we don’t have that right any longer, then what are they afraid of? What are they hiding?

Bottom line: At some point in some election, the allegations of election fraud have to be real. It can’t always just be the figment of some right-wing president’s imagination. And if we aren’t allowed to have free speech, then how do we fight back? If Big Tech and Big Government have their way, we don’t. Just keep your head down and your nose clean — and never ever question what you are told.

Remember, 2+2=5.

Pluralistic: Censorship, Parler and Antitrust

Today’s post – Censorship, Parler, and Antitrust – by Cory Doctorow of Pluralistic found its way to us through Kyle Rankin of Purism article/sales pitch Parler Tricks. Both talk about some recent deplatforming, especially of social media application Parler.

As Parler disappears from the Android and Ios app stores and faces being kicked off of Amazon’s (and other) clouds, people who worry about monopolized corporate control over speech are divided over What It Means.

There’s an obvious, trivial point to be made here: Twitter, Apple and Google are private companies. When they remove speech on the basis of its content, it’s censorship, but it’s not government censorship. It doesn’t violate the First Amendment.

And yes, of course it’s censorship. They have made a decision about the type and quality of speech they’ll permit, and they enforce that decision using the economic, legal and technical tools at their disposal.

If I invited you to my house for dinner and said, “Just so you know, no one is allowed to talk about racism at the table,” it would be censorship. If I said “no one is allowed to say racist things at the table,” it would also be censorship.

I censor my daughter when I tell her not to swear. I censor other Twitter users when I hide their replies to my posts. I censor commenters on my blog when I delete their replies.

Dress is up as “content removal” or “moderation” if you’d like, but it’s obviously censorship.

That’s fine. Different social spaces have different rules and norms. I disagree with some censorship and support other censorship. Some speech is illegal (nonconsensual pornography, specific incitements to violence, child sex abuse material) and the government censors it.

Other speech is distasteful or hateful (slurs, insults) and the proprietors of different speech forums censor it. This legal-but-distasteful speech is a mushy, amorphous category.

I’m totally OK with hilarious dunks on the insurrectionists who stormed the capitol. Tell jokes about Holocaust victims and I’ll throw you out of my house or block you.

And when I do, you can go to your house and tell Holocaust jokes.

I’m not gonna lie. I don’t like the idea of anyone telling Holocaust jokes anywhere. Or rape jokes. Or racist jokes. But I have made my peace with the fact that there are private spaces where that will happen.

I condemn those spaces and their proprietors, but I don’t want them to be outlawed.

Which brings me back to Parler. It’s true that no one violates the First Amendment (let alone CDA 230) (get serious) when Parler is removed from app stores or kicked off a cloud.

But we have a duopoly of mobile platforms, an oligopoly of cloud providers, a small conspiracy of payment processors. Their choices about who make speak are hugely consequential, and concerted effort by all of them could make some points of view effectively vanish.

This market concentration didn’t occur in a vacuum. These vital sectors of the digital economy became as concentrated as they are due to four decades of shameful, bipartisan neglect of antitrust law.

And while failing to enforce antitrust law doesn’t violate the First Amendment, it can still lead to government sanctioned incursions on speech.

The remedy for this isn’t forcing the platforms to carry objectionable speech.

The remedy is enforcing antitrust so that the censorship policies of two app stores don’t carry the force of law; and it’s ending the laws (copyright, cybersecurity, etc) that allow these companies to control who can install what on their devices.

https://locusmag.com/2020/01/cory-doctorow-inaction-is-a-form-of-action/

I got into a good discussion of this on a private mailing list this morning and then I adapted them and published them in the public “State of the World 2021” discussion on The WELL.

https://people.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/topics/510/State-of-the-World-2021-page04.html#post82

There are three posts: the first deals with Apple and Google’s insistence that they removed Parler because it lacked an effective hate-speech filter. Given that there is no such thing as an effective hate-speech filter, this is obvious bullshit.

The second addresses the fundamental problems of moderation at scale, where you are entrusting a large number of employees to enforce policies against “hate speech.”

https://people.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/topics/510/State-of-the-World-2021-page04.html#post83

The biggest problem here is that “almost-hate-speech” is emotionally equivalent to “hate speech” for the people it’s directed at. If tech companies specify hate speech, trolls will deploy almost-hate-speech (and goad their targets into crossing the line, then narc them out).

And if tech companies tell moderators to nuke bad speech without defining it, the mods will make stupid, terrible mistakes and users will be thrown into the meat-grinder of the stupid, terrible banhammer appeals process.

The final post asks what Apple and Google should do about Parler?

https://people.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/topics/510/State-of-the-World-2021-page04.html#post84

They should remove it, and tell users, “We removed Parler because we think it is a politically odious attempt to foment violence. Our judgment is subjective and may be wielded against others in future. If you don’t like our judgment, you shouldn’t use our app store.”

I’m 100% OK with that: first, because it is honest; and second, because it invites the question, “How do we switch app stores?”


Rutherford Institute: Case of Student Arrested for Disorderly Conduct for Distributing Religious Literature in a Free Speech Zone Goes Before Supreme Court

In 2016 a Georgia Gwinett College student was arrested for distributing religious literature from a designated free speech zone because someone had complained about his speech. He sued the university and the case was eventually dismissed because the College said that it had changed its free speech zone rules. The student appealed to the Supreme Court. Here is an update from the Rutherford Institute which recently filed an amicus brief in the case.

The Rutherford Institute has weighed in before the U.S. Supreme Court on a case in which campus police, citing “disorderly conduct,” prevented a college student from speaking about his Christian faith and distributing religious literature from a small free speech zone on a 260-acre campus. In an amicus brief filed in Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski, Rutherford Institute attorneys are asking the Supreme Court to hold officials at Georgia Gwinnett College liable for violating college student Chike Uzuegbunam’s free speech rights and ensure that campus policies adhere to the First Amendment…

“This case reminds us that there is no room for trust in the relationship between the citizenry and the government,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “Trust the government to police itself, and it will sidestep the law at every turn. The only way to ensure that government officials obey the law and respect the rights of the citizenry, as Thomas Jefferson recognized, is to bind them with ‘the chains of the Constitution.’”

Chike Uzuegbunam is a Christian and was a student at Georgia Gwinnett College, which has a 260-acre campus in Lawrenceville, Ga. Chike’s faith requires that he share his religious beliefs with others. He sought to do so in 2016 by passing out literature and speaking to students from a spacious concrete plaza near the college’s library. A campus security officer stopped him and warned that Chike could not distribute written materials there because he was not in one of two “speech zones” the college had established. Under the college’s policies, students were required to reserve times for one of the two “speech zones,” which consisted of one patio and one sidewalk that amounted to 0.0015% of total area of the campus. The policies also required students apply for a reservation at least three days in advance and gave college officials unbridled discretion to decide who could speak, when they could speak, and what materials they could give out. Although Chike properly reserved a time for sharing his faith from one of the zones, he was again stopped from speaking by a campus security officer. The officer told him that because someone had complained about his speech, he was engaged in “disorderly conduct” under college policies. Chike then brought a lawsuit against the college alleging that its policies and their application to prevent him from engaging in religious speech violated the First Amendment. After months of litigation, the college moved to dismiss the case as moot because it had changed its “speech zone” policies and the trial court granted the motion. Chike appealed, arguing his case was not moot because he was entitled to nominal damages for the interference with his First Amendment rights, but the appeals court upheld the dismissal. Chike sought and was granted review by the U.S. Supreme Court. In its amicus brief supporting Chike, The Rutherford Institute argues that dismissal of the lawsuit violates long-established court precedent affirming the right of citizens to obtain an award of nominal damages against the government officials when they violate a person’s constitutional rights. 

The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties organization, defends individuals whose constitutional rights have been violated and educates the public about threats to their freedoms.

Zero Hedge: Trump to Nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett To Supreme Court

Zero Hedge, citing the NY Times, opines on the likely nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court and likely opposition to her because of her religious beliefs.

Trump’s likely nominees to replace RBG on The US Supreme Court – 7th Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett, 11th Circuit Judge Barbara Lagoa, and 4th Circuit Judge Allison Jones Rushing – have, according to sources who have leaked their information to The New York Times, been narrowed down to Judge Amy Coney Barrett:

President Trump has selected Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the favorite candidate of conservatives, to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and will try to force Senate confirmation before Election Day in a move that would significantly alter the ideological makeup of the Supreme Court for years.

Mr. Trump plans to announce on Saturday that she is his choice, according to people close to the process who asked not to be identified disclosing the decision in advance. The president met with Judge Barrett at the White House this week and came away impressed with a jurist that leading conservatives told him would be a female Antonin Scalia, referring to the justice who died in 2016 and for whom Judge Barrett clerked.

Barrett is the most feared by liberals, some of whom concede that she hasa topnotch legal mind.”

Many have focused on Judge Barrett’s devout catholicism – and therefore the abortion debate…

“She is the perfect combination of brilliant jurist and a woman who brings the argument to the court that is potentially the contrary to the views of the sitting women justices,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion political group, who has praised Mr. Trump’s entire shortlist.

Additionally, as NYT noted earlier in the week, liberal groups have been sounding the alarm over Judge Barrett for two years because of concerns over how she might rule on abortion and the Affordable Care Act.

“Amy Coney Barrett meets Donald Trump’s two main litmus tests: She has made clear she would invalidate the A.C.A. and take health care away from millions of people and undermine a woman’s reproductive freedom,” said Nan Aron, the president of Alliance for Justice, a liberal group.

In a 2017 law review article written before she joined the appeals court, Judge Barrett was critical of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s 2012 opinion sustaining a central provision of the Affordable Care Act, saying he had betrayed the commands of textualism. “Chief Justice Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute,” she wrote.

The court will again hear arguments on the fate of the law in November, and Judge Barrett’s article suggested that she would give its challengers a sympathetic hearing.

However, in one of her most revealing opinions, Barrett took an expansive view of the Second Amendment – dissenting to the right of two colleagues who were appointed by President Ronald Reagan.

In the world of conservative judges, she has particularly strong credentials. Judge Barrett began clerking for Justice Antonin Scalia 22 years ago, and her fellow clerks are quick to say she was his favorite. She graduated summa cum laude from Notre Dame Law School and joined the faculty in 2002, earning praise from colleagues as an astute scholar and jurist even if they did not always agree on her jurisprudential premises.

But, as a reminder, Alan Dershowitz notes that when Judge Barrett came before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary for her nomination to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Senator Diane Feinstein generated considerable controversy when she said to Barrett:

“The dogma lives loudly in you.”

This was a reference to Barrett’s deep Catholic faith. Under our Constitution, Senator Feinstein’s statement crossed the line. Ours was the first Constitution in history to provide that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Although Feinstein did not explicitly impose a religious test, she suggested that personal religious views — which she called dogma — might disqualify a nominee from being confirmed.

That would clearly be unconstitutional.

But then again… when did pursuing anything ethically or legally challenged ever stop the current suite of Dem leaders from pursuing their task of ‘Never-Trump’ and ‘Never-anyone-Trump-wants’.

However, in this case, barring some unforeseen disaster, there appears little Democrats can do – despite the threats – to delay a vote on Barrett, solidifying a right-leaning shift to the court for a generation.

Sultan Knish: The Media’s Political Suicide

Daniel Greenfield of the Sultan Knish blog writes about the end of news media and its replacement with political hit pieces in The Media’s Political Suicide.

…The media still insists that it’s objective, trustworthy and seeking the truth. But those slogans are the leftovers of an older generation that at least believed in hypocritically mouthing such pieties. The new generation, the one leading the purge at the New York Times, doesn’t even believe in the pieties.

The campaigns, like those that hijacked the Times, are coordinated by political allies from different media outlets across social media. The participants in this new collegiality view journalism as a form of advocacy for their political agenda. They have no commitment to the organization they work for, only to the larger movement of which they are operatives, coordinating to undermine their own organizations.

In the leftist non-profit realm, organizations are just shells for an agenda and they can be jettisoned, renamed, or swapped out at the right time. As the media falls into that category, publications become mere brands to be tied to a fake news narrative, and tossed aside when they’re no longer getting clicks.

The weight of the name on the masthead matters much less than the ability of the activists it employs to appear influential by picking fights on social media. Media publications no longer serve a community, but a narrative, and constantly swapping out publication names helps make the narrative seem fresh.

The end result is State News, a product that closely resembles the government news networks in China or Russia, but which is still distributed across a variety of organizations and which is controlled by social media narratives coordinated across social networks rather than by a central government agency.

At least for now.

“Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor,” Bari Weiss wrote in her resignation letter to the New York Times.

Twitter is the media’s editor. Its platform provides the content that fills the media, but it also makes the infrastructure of the media surplus to requirements. The medium is the message and the medium of Twitter is 280 characters. As Weiss notes, “the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space.”

But the real performance space is on Twitter where content is consumed and debated much more rapidly in short form than in the long form pages of the New York Times. As the media transforms into a pure instrument of political advocacy whose antics play out on social media, there’s less and less use for the expensive billion-dollar operations, the newspapers, channels, and even the sites of the media.

Media bosses keep saying that their future is digital. But that digital future is a Twitter debate.

The only reason to read long form articles is to find out the details of a story or experience new ideas, but when writing exists to reinforce what readers already believe, then it doesn’t need to be read.

Hardly anyone bothered reading Soviet papers because everyone already knew what was in them.

A media that exists to tweet articles about Trump’s terribleness and a story about an oppressed person whose plight proves the need to have open borders, no police, and free everything is unreadable. Not just to conservatives, but to everyone who isn’t looking for a righteousness or rage fix in the morning.

The media envisions its own transformation into public service non-profits subsidized by dot com tycoons and then eventually the benevolent socialist state that will pay its members to put out propaganda that nobody reads. This act of literary suicide for power and profit is its real legacy.

The media has been killing cities and the country to buy a little more time for its existence. But it is becoming a zombie that is killing the basis for its own existence and then the very thing that it does.

The members of the media began by killing their ethics and morals. They tossed away the truth as a value and a goal. They turned on their colleagues, incited mobs, celebrated violence and terror. And then they set out to destroy the organizations they worked for and the country that they live in.

Their final act of political suicide will be to kill their own writing.

Click here to read the entire article at Sultan Knish.

Rutherford Institute: The Building Blocks of Tyranny from A to Z

Consitutional law attorney and author John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute writes about much that is wrong in the USA in P Is for Predator State: The Building Blocks of Tyranny from A to Z

“When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; a culture-death is a clear possibility.” — Professor Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Discourse in the Age of Show Business

While America continues to fixate on the drama-filled reality show scripted by the powers-that-be, directed from the nation’s capital, and played out in high definition across the country, the American Police State has moved steadily forward.

Nothing has changed.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a convenient, traumatic, devastating distraction.

The American people, the permanent underclass in America, have allowed themselves to be so distracted and divided that they have failed to notice the building blocks of tyranny being laid down right under their noses by the architects of the Deep State.

Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton: they have all been complicit in carrying out the Deep State’s agenda. Unless something changes to restore the balance of power, the next president—the new boss—will be the same as the old boss.

Frankly, it really doesn’t matter what you call the old/new boss—the Deep State, the Controllers, the masterminds, the shadow government, the corporate elite, the police state, the surveillance state, the military industrial complex—so long as you understand that no matter who occupies the White House, it is a profit-driven, an unelected bureaucracy that is actually calling the shots.

If our losses are mounting with every passing day—and they are—it is a calculated siege intended to ensure our defeat at the hands of a totalitarian regime.

Free speech, the right to protest, the right to challenge government wrongdoing, due process, a presumption of innocence, the right to self-defense, accountability and transparency in government, privacy, media, sovereignty, assembly, bodily integrity, representative government: all of these and more are casualties in the government’s war on the American people.

Set against a backdrop of government surveillance, militarized federal police, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, overcriminalization, armed surveillance drones, whole body scanners, stop and frisk searches, and the like—all of which have been sanctioned by Congress, the White House and the courts—our constitutional freedoms are being steadily chipped away at, undermined, eroded, whittled down, and generally discarded.

As a result, the American people have been treated like enemy combatants, to be spied on, tracked, scanned, frisked, searched, subjected to all manner of intrusions, intimidated, invaded, raided, manhandled, censored, silenced, shot at, locked up, and denied due process.

None of these dangers have dissipated in any way.

They have merely disappeared from our televised news streams.

It’s time to get educated on what’s really going on. Thus, in the interest of liberty and truth, here’s an A-to-Z primer that spells out the grim realities of life in the American Police State that no one seems to be talking about anymore.

A is for the AMERICAN POLICE STATE. A police state “is characterized by bureaucracy, secrecy, perpetual wars, a nation of suspects, militarization, surveillance, widespread police presence, and a citizenry with little recourse against police actions.”

B is for our battered BILL OF RIGHTS. In the militarized police culture that is America today, where you can be kicked, punched, tasered, shot, intimidated, harassed, stripped, searched, brutalized, terrorized, wrongfully arrested, and even killed by a police officer, and that officer is rarely held accountable for violating your rights, the Bill of Rights doesn’t amount to much.

C is for CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE. This governmental scheme to deprive Americans of their liberties—namely, the right to property—is being carried out under the guise of civil asset forfeiture, a government practice wherein government agents (usually the police and now TSA agents) seize private property they “suspect” may be connected to criminal activity. Then, whether or not any crime is actually proven to have taken place, the government keeps the citizen’s property and it’s virtually impossible to get it back.

D is for DRONES. It was estimated that at least 30,000 drones would be airborne in American airspace by 2020, part of an $80 billion industry. Although some drones will be used for benevolent purposes, many will also be equipped with lasers, tasers and scanning devices, among other weapons—all aimed at “we the people.”

E is for EMERGENCY STATE. From 9/11 to COVID-19, we have been the subjected to an “emergency state” that justifies all manner of government tyranny and power grabs in the so-called name of national security. The government’s ongoing attempts to declare so-called national emergencies in order to circumvent the Constitution’s system of checks and balances constitutes yet another expansion of presidential power that exposes the nation to further constitutional peril.

F is for FASCISM. A study conducted by Princeton and Northwestern University concluded that the U.S. government does not represent the majority of American citizens. Instead, the study found that the government is ruled by the rich and powerful, or the so-called “economic elite.” Moreover, the researchers concluded that policies enacted by this governmental elite nearly always favor special interests and lobbying groups. In other words, we are being ruled by an oligarchy disguised as a democracy, and arguably on our way towards fascism—a form of government where private corporate interests rule, money calls the shots, and the people are seen as mere economic units or databits.

G is for GRENADE LAUNCHERS and GLOBAL POLICE. The federal government has distributed more than $18 billion worth of battlefield-appropriate military weapons, vehicles and equipment such as drones, tanks, and grenade launchers to domestic police departments across the country. As a result, most small-town police forces now have enough firepower to render any citizen resistance futile. Now take those small-town police forces, train them to look and act like the military, and then enlist them to be part of the United Nations’ Strong Cities Network program, and you not only have a standing army that operates beyond the reach of the Constitution but one that is part of a global police force.

H is for HOLLOW-POINT BULLETS. The government’s efforts to militarize and weaponize its agencies and employees is reaching epic proportions, with federal agencies as varied as the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration stockpiling millions of lethal hollow-point bullets, which violate international law. Ironically, while the government continues to push for stricter gun laws for the general populace, the U.S. military’s arsenal of weapons makes the average American’s handgun look like a Tinker Toy.

I is for the INTERNET OF THINGS, in which internet-connected “things” monitor your home, your health and your habits in order to keep your pantry stocked, your utilities regulated and your life under control and relatively worry-free. The key word here, however, is control. This “connected” industry propels us closer to a future where police agencies apprehend virtually anyone if the government “thinks” they may commit a crime, driverless cars populate the highways, and a person’s biometrics are constantly scanned and used to track their movements, target them for advertising, and keep them under perpetual surveillance…(continues)

Click here to continue reading at the Rutherford Institute.

Tenth Amendment Center: A Brief History of the Freedom of Speech in America

Judge Andrew Napolitano writes at the Tenth Amendment Center A Brief History of the Freedom of Speech in America

When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, he included in it a list of the colonists’ grievances with the British government. Notably absent were any complaints that the British government infringed upon the freedom of speech.

In those days, speech was as acerbic as it is today. If words were aimed at Parliament, all words were lawful. If they were aimed directly and personally at the king — as Jefferson’s were in the Declaration — they constituted treason.

Needless to say, Jefferson and the 55 others who signed the Declaration would all have been hanged for treasonous speech had the British prevailed.

Of course, the colonists won the war, and, six years afterward, the 13 states ratified the Constitution. Two years after ratification, the Constitution was amended by adding the Bill of Rights. The first ratified amendment prohibited Congress from doing what the colonists never seriously complained about the British government doing — infringing upon the freedom of speech.

James Madison, who drafted the Bill of Rights, insisted upon referring to speech as “the” freedom of speech, so as to emphasize that it preexisted the government. If you could have asked Madison where he believed the freedom of speech came from, he’d have said it was one of the inalienable rights Jefferson wrote about in the Declaration.

Stated differently, each of the signatories of the Declaration and ratifiers of the Bill of Rights manifested in writing their unambiguous belief that the freedom of speech is a natural right — personal to every human. It does not come from the government. It comes from within us. It cannot be taken away by legislation or executive command.

Yet, a mere seven years later, during the presidency of John Adams, Congress enacted the Alien and Sedition Acts, which punished speech critical of the government.

So, how could the same generation — in some cases the same human beings — that prohibited congressional infringement upon speech have enacted a statute that punished speech?

To the some of the framers — the Federalists who wanted a big government as we have today — infringing upon the freedom of speech meant silencing it before it was uttered. Today, this is called prior restraint, and the Supreme Court has essentially outlawed it.

To the antifederalists — or Democratic-Republicans, as they called themselves — the First Amendment prohibited Congress from interfering with or punishing any speech.

Adams’ Department of Justice indicted and prosecuted and convicted antifederalists — among them a congressman — for their critical speech.

When Jefferson won the presidency and the antifederalists won control of Congress, the Federalists repealed the speech suppression parts of the Alien and Sedition Acts on the eve of their departure from congressional control, lest it be used against them.

During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln locked up hundreds of journalists in the North who were critical of his war efforts. During World War I, President Woodrow Wilson — whom my alma mater Princeton University is trying to erase from its memory — arrested folks for reading the Declaration of Independence aloud or singing German beer hall songs.

Lincoln argued that preserving the Union was more important than preserving the First Amendment, and Wilson argued that the First Amendment only restrained Congress, not the president. Both arguments have since been rejected by the courts.

In the 1950s, the feds successfully prosecuted Cold War dissenters on the theory that their speech was dangerous and might have a tendency to violence. Some of the victims of this torturous rationale died in prison.

The government’s respect for speech has waxed and waned. It is at its lowest ebb during wartime. Of course, dissent during wartime — which challenges the government’s use of force to kill — is often the most important and timely speech.

It was not until 1969, in a case called Brandenburg v. Ohio, that the Supreme Court gave us a modern definition of the freedom of speech. Brandenburg harangued a crowd in Hamilton County, Ohio and urged them to march to Washington and take back the federal government from Blacks and Jews, whom he argued were in control. He was convicted in an Ohio state court of criminal syndicalism — basically, the use of speech to arouse others to violence.

The Supreme Court unanimously reversed his conviction and held that all innocuous speech is absolutely protected, and all speech is innocuous when there is time for more speech to rebut it. The same Supreme Court had just ruled in Times v. Sullivan that the whole purpose of the First Amendment is to encourage and protect open, wide, robust, even caustic and unbridled speech.

The speech we love needs no protection. The speech we hate does. The government has no authority to evaluate speech. As the framers understood, all persons have a natural right to think as we wish and to say and publish whatever we think. Even hateful, hurtful and harmful speech is protected speech.

Yet, in perilous times like the present, we have seen efforts to use the courts to block the publication of unflattering books. We have seen state governors use the police to protect gatherings of protestors with whose message they agreed and to disburse critical protestors. We have seen mobs silence speakers while the police did nothing.

Punishing speech is the most dangerous business because there will be no end to it. The remedy for hateful or threatening speech is not silence or punishments; it is more speech — speech that challenges the speaker.

Why do folks in government want to silence their opponents? They fear an undermining of their power. The dissenters might make more appealing arguments than they do. St. Augustine taught that nearly all in government want to tell others how to live.

How about we all say whatever we want and the government leaves us alone?

Alt-Market: The Purge – The Natural Progression Of “Woke” Censorship Is Tyranny

Brandon Smith at Alt-Market writes about recent and ongoing online censorship in The Purge: The Natural Progression Of “Woke” Censorship Is Tyranny.

As I have noted in the past, in order to be a conservative one has to stick to certain principles. For example, you have to stand against big government and state intrusions into individual lives, you have to support our constitutional framework and defend civil liberties, and you also have to uphold the rights of private property. Websites are indeed private property, as much as a person’s home is private property. There is no such thing as free speech rights in another person’s home, and there is no such thing as free speech rights on a website.

That said, there are some exceptions. When a corporation or a collective of corporations holds a monopoly over a certain form of communication, then legal questions come into play when they try to censor the viewpoints of an entire group of people. Corporations exist due to government sponsored charters; they are creations of government and enjoy certain legal protections through government, such as limited liability and corporate personhood. Corporations are a product of socialism, not free market capitalism; and when they become monopolies, they are subject to regulation and possible demarcation.

Many corporations have also received extensive government bailouts (taxpayer money) and corporate welfare. Google and Facebook, for example rake in billions in state and federal subsidies over the course of a few years.   Google doesn’t even pay for the massive bandwidth it uses.  So, it is not outlandish to suggest that if a company receives the full protection of government from the legal realm to the financial realm then they fall under the category of a public service. If they are allowed to continue to monopolize communication while also being coddled by the government as “too big to fail”, then they become a public menace instead.

This is not to say that I support the idea of nationalization. On the contrary, the disasters of socialism cannot be cured with even more socialism. However, monopolies are a poison to free markets and to free speech and must be deconstructed or abolished.

Beyond corporate monopolies, there is also the danger of ideological monopolies. Consider this – The vast majority of silicon valley companies that control the lion’s share of social media platforms are run by extreme political leftists and globalists that are openly hostile to conservative and moderate values.

Case in point: Three of the largest platforms on the internet – Reddit, Twitch, and YouTube just acted simultaneously in a single day to shut down tens of thousands of forums, streamers and video channels, the majority of which espouse conservative arguments which the media refers to as “hate speech”.

To be sure, at least a few of the outlets shut down probably argue from a position of race superiority.  However, I keep seeing the mainstream media making accusations that all the people being silenced right now deserve it due to “racism” and “calls for violence”, and I have yet to see them offer a single piece of evidence supporting any of these claims.

A recent article from the hyper-leftist Salon is a perfect example of the hypocrisy and madness of the social justice left in action. It’s titled ‘Twitch, YouTube And Reddit Punished Trump And Other Racists – And That’s A Great Thing For Freedom’. Here are a few excerpts with my commentary:

Salon: “Freedom is impossible for everyone when viewpoints prevail that dehumanize anyone. And it appears that several big social media platforms agree, judging from recent bans or suspensions of racist accounts across YouTube, Twitch, and Reddit.”

My Response

Freedom cannot be taken away by another person’s viewpoint. Every individual has complete control over whether or not they “feel” marginalized and no amount of disapproval can silence a person unless they allow it to. If you are weak minded or weak willed, then grow a backbone instead of expecting the rest of the world to stay quiet and keep you comfortable.

Remember when the political left was the bastion of the free speech debate against the censorship of the religious right? Well, now the leftists have a religion (or cult) of their own and they have changed their minds on the importance of open dialogue.

Salon: “For those who are dehumanized — whether by racism, sexism, classism, ableism, anti-LGBTQ sentiment or any other prejudices — their voices are diminished or outright silenced, and in the process they lose their ability to fully participate in our democracy. We all need to live in a society where hate is discouraged, discredited and whenever possible scrubbed out completely from our discourse. This doesn’t mean we should label all ideas as hateful simply because we disagree with them; to do that runs afoul of President Dwight Eisenhower’s famous statement, “In a democracy debate is the breath of life”. When actual hate enters the dialogue, however, it acts as a toxic smoke in the air of debate, suffocating some voices and weakening the rest.”

My Response

Where do I begin with this steaming pile of woke nonsense? First, it’s impossible to be “dehumanized” by another person’s opinion of you. If they are wrong, or an idiot, then their opinion carries no weight and should be ignored. Your value is not determined by their opinion. No one can be “silenced” by another person’s viewpoint unless they allow themselves to be silenced. If they are right about you and are telling you something you don’t want to hear, then that is your problem, not theirs. No one in this world is entitled to protection from other people’s opinions. Period.

It should not surprise anyone though that leftists are actively attempting to silence all dissent while accusing conservatives of stifling free speech. This is what they do; they play the victim while they seek to victimize. They have no principles. They do not care about being right, they only care about “winning”.

Under the 1st Amendment, ALL speech is protected, including what leftists arbitrarily label “hate speech”. Unless you are knowingly defaming a specific person or threatening specific violence against a specific person, your rights are protected. Interpreting broad speech as a “threat” because of how it might make certain people feel simply will not hold up in a court of law. Or at least, it should not hold up…

Political leftists have declared themselves the arbiters of what constitutes “hate speech”, the problem is they see EVERYTHING that is conservative as racist, sexist, misogynistic, etc. No human being or group of human beings is pure enough or objective enough to sit in judgment of what encompasses fair or acceptable speech. Therefore, all speech must be allowed in order to avoid tyranny.

If an idea is unjust, then by all means, the political left has every right to counter it with their own ideas and arguments. “Scrubbing” all opposing ideas from the public discourse is unacceptable, and this is exactly what the social justice movement is attempting to do. If you want to erase these ideas from your own home, or your personal website, then you are perfectly within your rights to do so, but you DO NOT have the right to assert a monopoly on speech and the political narrative.

Generally, when a group of zealots is trying to erase opposing ideals from the discussion, it usually means their own ideals don’t hold up to scrutiny. If your ideology is so pure and correct in its form, there should be no need to trick the masses into accepting it by scrubbing the internet.

Finally, America was not founded as a democracy, we are a republic, and with good reason. A democracy is tyranny by the majority; a collectivist hell where power is centralized into the hands of whoever can con 51% of the population to their side. Marxists and communists love the idea of “democracy” and speak about it often because they think they are keenly equipped to manipulate the masses and form a majority. But, in a republic, individual rights are protected REGARDLESS of what the majority happens to believe at any given time, and this includes the right to free speech.

In the same breath, Solon pretends to value free discussion, then calls for the destruction of free speech and opposing ideas in the name of protecting people’s thin-skinned sensitivities. In other words, free speech is good, unless it’s a viewpoint they don’t like, then it becomes hate speech and must be suppressed…

Keep reading at Alt-Market by clicking here.

Crosswalk: Does it Violate Religious Liberty to Close Churches over Coronavirus?

Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, answers the question Does it Violate Religious Liberty to Close Churches over Coronavirus?

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/rarrarorro

As the entire world faces the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, states and municipalities are working to contain the virus, as best as possible, by discouraging (and otherwise doing everything to stop) gatherings of people.

President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force guidance recommended no more than ten people getting together for at least the next eight weeks.

In the days to come, it is possible that the government will act even more drastically. As most churches are now not gathering on Sundays for the time being, some are asking if these sorts of health mandates are a violation of religious liberty.

The Short Answer is No

Before I explain why, let me note that the question is a reasonable one. After all, we maintain that no government is lord of the church–our only Head is Jesus Christ. And there would be many circumstances in which a government illegitimately could use powers to keep churches from gathering. That said, nothing that is happening right now related to this crisis is, in my view, a violation of religious liberty or the separation of the church from the state.

Our commitment to religious liberty is grounded in what Jesus taught us—that the spheres of the church and the state are different, and the one should not have authority over the other. The state has the “power of the sword,” for instance, to punish criminals and to maintain civic order (Rom. 13:1-7), while the church does not (1 Cor. 5:9-12). The church has the authority to proclaim the gospel and to define the boundaries of the fellowship within that gospel, the state does not.

Legitimate God-Given Authority to Protect in Crisis

The current situation facing us is not a case of the state overstepping its bounds, but rather seeking to carry out its legitimate God-given authority. Nowhere, at this point, have we seen churches targeted because of their beliefs or mission.

At issue is a clear public objective—stopping the transmission of a dangerous virus by gatherings. This applies to the local plate jugglers association just as much to churches. Because the state must respect the consciences and souls of the people, consciences and souls over which it has no ultimate authority, any action involving religious bodies should have, in the words of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, a “compelling state interest” and must pursue the “least restrictive means” of achieving it.

In my view, both of these tests have been met, in every case I have seen.

This is an area—the protection of public health—where the state has not just a legal authority but an authority granted by God himself. The state could not, for instance, decline to prosecute a murder because the shooting happened during a church service. And the church could not claim that religious liberty is violated because the state would not allow them to shelter from accountability the shooter.

Legitimate Public Interest So Far

Someone could not claim a religious liberty to embezzle just because the embezzling is happening during the church offertory. The same principle is at work here. Governments are seeking to limit gatherings of people. That is a legitimate public interest, and the government is seeking to do so in the least intrusive way possible.

So far. Everything here refers to actions taken so far.

The situation will almost inevitably lead to even stronger and less voluntary government actions. Could these encroach on religious liberty? That is certainly possible, but not necessarily. To prevent that, we will need more secular leaders to think carefully about why religion is important and more religious leaders to be thinking through the complexities of public health…(continues)

Click here to continue reading at Crosswalk.

FFF: Do We Need the First Amendment?

Do We Need the First Amendment? is a simple article by former trial attorney and professor Jacob Hornberger over at the Future of Freedom Foundation. The topic of where our rights come from, though, is vital and people constantly need to be reminded. There are both conservatives and liberals who think that our rights are from and/or are limited to the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Some incorrectly believe that if we amend the Constitution to remove one of the listed rights, then we have done away with that right. Others wail and complain if the Supreme Court decides there is a right in existence not listed in the same Bill of Rights.

One must remember that the US Constitution gave form to the government, but perhaps more importantly it listed every power that the federal government was delegated by the people. When some people complained that the proposed Constitution didn’t originally list any protected rights, the framers said “Look, we didn’t give the government to abridge any rights. See? That power isn’t listed anywhere.” But people demanded a Bill of Rights just to be extra sure that it was clear that the government had no power to legislate in those areas. Again, some people said, “But if we write down a list, then some day people might think that only the listed the rights are protected” and people replied “We didn’t give the government that power! But here’s a ninth amendment that says you keep all of those, too.” Unfortunately, people didn’t pay attention, and the government has slowly, at times, and by leaps and bounds, at other times, has encroached everything.

Many years ago, I was giving a lecture on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to a class at a public high school here in Virginia. During the course of my talk, I made the following statement: “The First Amendment does not give people the right of free speech.”

I asked the students whether my statement was correct or incorrect. Everyone immediately told me that I was wrong. They said the First Amendment did in fact give people the right of free speech.

I held my ground. I said it didn’t, and I pressed the students to figure out why I was maintaining my position. They were just as steadfast in their position, until a girl raised her hand and said, “Mr. Hornberger is right. The First Amendment does not give people rights. It prohibits the government from infringing on rights that preexist the government.”

She was absolutely right.

The First Amendment reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Notice that the Amendment does not give people rights. Instead, it prohibits Congress from enacting laws that abridge people’s rights.

But what is that all about? Why did our ancestors deem it necessary to enact such a prohibition? Isn’t Congress our friend? Isn’t it composed of people who we elect to represent us? We often hear that we should trust the government. It doesn’t sound to me that the people who enacted the First Amendment had much trust in elected representatives.

After all, the only reason for enacting such a prohibition is the concern that in the absence of such a prohibition, Congress would enact laws that abridge freedom of speech and other fundamental rights. That sounds like Americans believed that the members of Congress needed to be told that they were prohibited from doing so.

The First Amendment and the other amendments in the Bill of Rights reflect how leery people were of Congress and the rest of the federal government. They were convinced that if they approved the Constitution, the federal government they were calling into existence with the Constitution would destroy their rights and their freedom.

That was also why Americans opposed enormous, permanently standing military establishments. Given their conviction that the federal government would destroy their rights, they understood that the way governments historically had done that was through their military forces.

After all, how else to enforce a law, say, that prohibits people from criticizing the president or Congress? Sure, it would be possible to arrest, indict, convict, and incarcerate them but what if dissent became widespread among the citizenry? That’s where a massive military establishment would come into play — to use massive military force to put down dissent with round-ups, assassinations, killings, torture, executions, and other things that militaries historically have done to oppress people. That’s why all totalitarian regimes have large, permanent, powerful military establishments.

Thus, there is no possibility that our American ancestors would have approved the national-security state form of governmental structure under which we live today, a structure consisting of the Pentagon, the CIA, the NSA, and a vast empire of domestic and military bases. If the Constitution had proposed that form of governmental structure, Americans would have summarily rejected the deal and simply continued operating under the Articles of Confederation, another type of governmental system, one in which the federal government’s powers were so weak that the federal government wasn’t even given the power to tax.

The Constitution called into existence a limited-government republic, a type of governmental system that gave the federal government very few powers. There was an army, but it was relatively small — large enough to defeat Native American tribes but not large enough to threaten the American people with massive tyranny.

In fact, that’s why our American ancestors enacted the Second Amendment. It was designed to ensure that people would retain their right to keep and bear arms as a way to fight against any federal army or national police force that the Congress or the president might employ to enforce their destruction of free speech and other rights and liberties.

Thus, whenever you hear someone lamenting the lack of trust that many Americans today have in the federal government, it might be worth reminding them that the federal government was called into existence under a cloud of mistrust among our American ancestors. And they were right to have that mistrust!

Craig Murray: Government’s Slow Murder of Julian Assange

In case you haven’t been paying attention for a while, Julian Assange is the founder of WikiLeaks – a journalist website dedicated to publishing primary source materials showing government and corporate corruption and other bad doings. In 2010 WikiLeaks published material obtained from intelligence analyst Bradley Manning and the US government decided that it had had enough. Some American politicians called for him to be pursued as a terrorist. Hillary Clinton, for example, reported asked “Can’t we just drone this guy?” A warrant was issued for his arrest. In 2011, he was awarded the Sydney Peace Foundation’s gold medal for exceptional courage in pursuit of human rights. He sought refuge from US arrest in the Ecuadoran embassy in 2012 and stayed there until April of 2019 when Ecuador withdrew its protection under US pressure and was arrested by British police.

In Assange in Court, Craig Murray talks about Julian Assange’s most recent appearance in court.

…Before I get on to the blatant lack of fair process, the first thing I must note was Julian’s condition. I was badly shocked by just how much weight my friend has lost, by the speed his hair has receded and by the appearance of premature and vastly accelerated ageing. He has a pronounced limp I have never seen before. Since his arrest he has lost over 15 kg in weight.

But his physical appearance was not as shocking as his mental deterioration. When asked to give his name and date of birth, he struggled visibly over several seconds to recall both. I will come to the important content of his statement at the end of proceedings in due course, but his difficulty in making it was very evident; it was a real struggle for him to articulate the words and focus his train of thought.

Until yesterday I had always been quietly sceptical of those who claimed that Julian’s treatment amounted to torture – even of Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture – and sceptical of those who suggested he may be subject to debilitating drug treatments. But having attended the trials in Uzbekistan of several victims of extreme torture, and having worked with survivors from Sierra Leone and elsewhere, I can tell you that yesterday changed my mind entirely and Julian exhibited exactly the symptoms of a torture victim brought blinking into the light, particularly in terms of disorientation, confusion, and the real struggle to assert free will through the fog of learned helplessness…

…it was unclear why we were sitting through this farce. The US government was dictating its instructions to Lewis, who was relaying those instructions to Baraitser, who was ruling them as her legal decision. The charade might as well have been cut and the US government simply sat on the bench to control the whole process. Nobody could sit there and believe they were in any part of a genuine legal process or that Baraitser was giving a moment’s consideration to the arguments of the defence. Her facial expressions on the few occasions she looked at the defence ranged from contempt through boredom to sarcasm. When she looked at Lewis she was attentive, open and warm…

…I have been both cataloguing and protesting for years the increasingly authoritarian powers of the UK state, but that the most gross abuse could be so open and undisguised is still a shock. The campaign of demonisation and dehumanisation against Julian, based on government and media lie after government and media lie, has led to a situation where he can be slowly killed in public sight, and arraigned on a charge of publishing the truth about government wrongdoing, while receiving no assistance from “liberal” society.

Unless Julian is released shortly he will be destroyed. If the state can do this, then who is next?

Related:

Global Research: The Torture and Murder of Julian Assange

Daily Mail: Julian Assange’s father fears the US government will ‘murder’ his son if he is extradited to America

Common Dreams: Why Everyone in the US Who Counts Wants Julian Assange Dead

WikiLeaks: It’s time to act: They are killing Julian Assange slowly

Paul Craig Roberts: Julian Assange Is Being Murdered By The British Because Washington Wants Him Dead But Doesn’t Have A Case Against Him

Campaign for Free Speech: Poll Finds Majority Want to Scrap 1st Amendment

From the Campaign for Free Speech which recently conducted a poll on the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

New Campaign For Free Speech polling results demonstrate just how vulnerable free speech protections are in the United States.

CFS polling results show:

51% of Americans think the First Amendment is outdated and should be rewritten. The First Amendment protects your right to free speech, free assembly, and freedom of religion, among other things.

48% believe “hate speech” should be illegal. (“Hate speech” is not defined—we left it up to the individual participant.) Of those, about half think the punishment for “hate speech” should include possible jail time, while the rest think it should just be a ticket and a fine.

80% don’t actually know what the First Amendment really protects. Those polled believed this statement is true: “The First Amendment allows anyone to say their opinion no matter what, and they are protected by law from any consequences of saying those thoughts or opinions.”

It’s actually not true. The First Amendment prevents the government from punishing you for your speech (with exceptions such as yelling “fire” in a crowded area to induce panic).

But more broadly, freedom of speech does not mean you are protected from social consequences for your speech. You may have the right to say something extreme or hateful and not get thrown in jail, but others in society have the right to shun you.

What explains these results?

We believe there are at least two factors at play. One is the obvious polarization of politics and the media. While many who identify as conservative may dislike the reporting of CNN and would likely favor sanctions for “fake news,” many progressives or liberals may feel the same way towards Fox News.

Second, we hear much about “hate speech.” Although the term is never defined, most agree that it should be opposed, rebuked, and criticized.  But should it be punished by the government?  If the government is in charge of determining what is hate speech, then it inevitably becomes political—a weapon that can be used to punish people on the other side of an issue.

We believe it is time to reconnect with the central tenets of the First Amendment.  Free speech is a non-partisan issue that has always been a cornerstone of our democracy and critical for a free society.

Click here for the full survey results.

 

Liberty Blitzkrieg: AG Barr Wants to Kill Privacy and Security

Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg has written a post about US Attorney General William Barr who has come out very much against the use of encryption by anyone but the government in recent weeks. The government wants full access to everything that you do and say wherever you are doing it, no matter how personal or private. As usual, it must be done “to save the children.”

William Barr Wants to Kill Privacy and Security…’For the Children’

U.S. Attorney General William Barr, along with co-conspirators in the UK and Australia, recently wrote a letter to Mark Zuckerberg requesting he not move forward with a plan to implement end-to-end encryption across Facebook’s messaging services. A draft of the letter was published earlier this month by Buzzfeed, and it’s worth examining in some detail.

What immediately strikes you is the letter’s emphasis on “protecting the children,” a talking point universally used by authoritarians throughout history to justify both a reduction of public liberty and a transfer of increased power to the state. Though this tactic is transparent and well understood by those paying attention, it’s nevertheless disturbing to observe Barr’s disingenuous and shameless use of it (the words ‘child’ and ‘children’ appear 17 times in the course of this brief letter).

Here’s just one example from the letter:

Companies should not deliberately design their systems to preclude any form of access to content, even for preventing or investigating the most serious crimes. This puts our citizens and societies at risk by severely eroding a company’s ability to detect and respond to illegal content and activity, such as child sexual exploitation and abuse, terrorism, and foreign adversaries’ attempts to undermine democratic values and institutions, preventing the prosecution of offenders and safeguarding of victims. It also impedes law enforcement’s ability to investigate these and other serious crimes. Risks to public safety from Facebook’s proposals are exacerbated in the context of a single platform that would combine inaccessible messaging services with open profiles, providing unique routes for prospective offenders to identify and groom our children.

Barr and the U.S. government feign deep concern regarding the ability of bad people to “identify and groom our children,” yet this is the same guy and government who allowed Jeffrey Epstein to be suicided in a Department of Justice prison just a few months ago. It’s the same guy and government who can’t find or doesn’t want to find Ghislaine Maxwell. And it’s same guy and government that can’t be bothered to raid Epstein’s New Mexico ranch despite known instances of child abuse there…

Click here to read the entire article at Liberty Blitzkrieg.

Rutherford Institute: Martial Law Masquerading as Law and Order

Constitutional attorney and author John Whitehead has written another article, this time for the Rutherford Institute, detailing our current police state in the US.

Martial Law Masquerading as Law and Order: The Police State’s Language of Force

“Since when have we Americans been expected to bow submissively to authority and speak with awe and reverence to those who represent us? The constitutional theory is that we the people are the sovereigns, the state and federal officials only our agents. We who have the final word can speak softly or angrily. We can seek to challenge and annoy, as we need not stay docile and quiet.”—Justice William O. Douglas, dissenting, Colten v. Kentucky, 407 U.S. 104 (1972)

Forget everything you’ve ever been taught about free speech in America.

It’s all a lie.

There can be no free speech for the citizenry when the government speaks in a language of force.

What is this language of force?

Militarized police. Riot squads. Camouflage gear. Black uniforms. Armored vehicles. Mass arrests. Pepper spray. Tear gas. Batons. Strip searches. Surveillance cameras. Kevlar vests. Drones. Lethal weapons. Less-than-lethal weapons unleashed with deadly force. Rubber bullets. Water cannons. Stun grenades. Arrests of journalists. Crowd control tactics. Intimidation tactics. Brutality.

This is not the language of freedom.

This is not even the language of law and order.

This is the language of force.

Unfortunately, this is how the government at all levels—federal, state and local—now responds to those who choose to exercise their First Amendment right to peacefully assemble in public and challenge the status quo.

This police overkill isn’t just happening in troubled hot spots such as Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, Md., where police brutality gave rise to civil unrest, which was met with a militarized show of force that caused the whole stew of discontent to bubble over into violence.

A decade earlier, the NYPD engaged in mass arrests of peaceful protesters, bystanders, legal observers and journalists who had gathered for the 2004 Republican National Convention. The protesters were subjected to blanket fingerprinting and detained for more than 24 hours at a “filthy, toxic pier that had been a bus depot.” That particular exercise in police intimidation tactics cost New York City taxpayers nearly $18 million for what would become the largest protest settlement in history.

Demonstrators, journalists and legal observers who had gathered in North Dakota to peacefully protest the Dakota Access Pipeline reported being pepper sprayed, beaten with batons, and strip searched by police.

In the college town of Charlottesville, Va., protesters who took to the streets to peacefully express their disapproval of a planned KKK rally were held at bay by implacable lines of gun-wielding riot police. Only after a motley crew of Klansmen had been safely escorted to and from the rally by black-garbed police did the assembled army of city, county and state police declare the public gathering unlawful and proceed to unleash canisters of tear gas on the few remaining protesters to force them to disperse.

More recently, this militarized exercise in intimidation—complete with an armored vehicle and an army of police drones—reared its ugly head in the small town of Dahlonega, Ga., where 600 state and local militarized police clad in full riot gear vastly outnumbered the 50 protesters and 150 counterprotesters who had gathered to voice their approval/disapproval of the Trump administration’s policies.

To be clear, this is the treatment being meted out to protesters across the political spectrum.

The police state does not discriminate…

Click here to continue reading at the Rutherford Institute.