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.

Liberty Blitzkrieg: Humans Are Creating Their Own Narratives

Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg has an article on how the US government, including the FBI and the military, are becoming involved in policing what you think and talk about because the government believes that conspiracy theories pose a domestic terrorism threat… Or maybe the government just wants more control over what you do and say to make sure that people can only hear the government’s own narrative. Here’s an excerpt from Humans Are Creating Their Own Narratives.

Somewhere between the arrest of Jeffrey Epstein and his extremely suspicious death in a Department of Justice operated prison, the public learned that an FBI intelligence bulletin published by the bureau’s Phoenix field office mentioned for the first time that conspiracy theories pose a domestic terrorism threat. This was followed up last week by a Bloomberg article discussing a new project by the U.S. military (DARPA) to identify fake news and disinformation.

We learned:

Fake news and social media posts are such a threat to U.S. security that the Defense Department is launching a project to repel “large-scale, automated disinformation attacks,” as the top Republican in Congress blocks efforts to protect the integrity of elections.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants custom software that can unearth fakes hidden among more than 500,000 stories, photos, videos and audio clips. If successful, the system after four years of trials may expand to detect malicious intent and prevent viral fake news from polarizing society.

Recall that after the 2016 election, focus was on social media companies and we saw tremendous pressure placed on these platforms by national security state politicians and distressed Democrats to “do something” about the supposed fake news epidemic. Fast forward three years and it’s now apparently the U.S. military’s job to police human content on the internet. This is the sort of natural regression a society will witness so long as it puts up with incremental censorship and the demonization of any thought which goes against the official narrative.

Before we dissect what’s really going on, allow me to point out the glaringly obvious, which is that politicians, pundits, mass media and the U.S. military don’t actually care about the societal harm of fake news or conspiracy theories. We know this based on how the media sold government lies in order to advocate for the Iraq war, and how many of the biggest proponents of that blatant war crime have gone on to spectacularly lucrative careers in subsequent years. There were zero consequences, proving the point that this has nothing to do with the dangers of fake news or conspiracy theories, and everything to do with protecting the establishment grip on narrative creation and propagation.

The above tweet summarizes what’s really going on. It’s a provable fact that the harm caused by some crazy person reacting to viral “fake news” on social media doesn’t compare with the destruction and criminality perpetrated by oligarchs like Jeffrey Epstein, or governments which destroy entire countries and murder millions without flinching. It’s the extremely wealthy and powerful, as a consequence of their societal status and influence, who are in a position to do the most harm. This isn’t debatable, yet the U.S. military and media don’t seem particularly bothered by this sort of thing. What really keeps them up at night is a realization that the powerless masses of humanity are suddenly talking to one another across borders and coming to their own conclusions about how the world works. You’re supposed to be told what to think, not to think for yourself...

Click here to read the entire article.

Technology and Avoiding Censorship

The world of news reporting has been metamorphosing since the Internet became easily available. Print journalism is dying. The newspaper and magazine news sources that have survived have moved onto the internet to some extent, though they may still have a print presence. But the Internet is a funny place, and it, and dwindling financials, have changed those venerable news dinosaurs. Making profits became dependent upon Internet advertising which was measured by ad views or ad clicks. It became more important to these institutions to have stories that received more views rather than stories of deep substance, not that the two are mutually exclusive. Inevitably, the businesses started catering to specific audiences or demographics, posting stories and headlines that would invite those users to click into the article to view the ads. Once proud institutions like the New York Times have become more of a television sitcom, where the stories are played to a captive audience with implied “applause” and “laughter” cue cards. CNN is more like People magazine than a news network.

Speaking of television, much the same has happened to news sources there. As viewers switched from advertising-supported television channels (or paid cable channels) to watching shows and reading news on the Internet, the financial support of the captive television audience dwindled. As that revenue dwindled, television companies had less money with which to subsidize their news. When once news was a point of pride of the stations that they gladly subsidized, the broadcasters now had to compete for advertising revenue for their news shows. These causes likewise led to a similar chasing after of sensational headlines as was occurring in the Internet space.

In short, the mainstream media news sources have turned into a wasteland as far as actual news goes. Instead they relay stories that will play well with their respective cash-cow herds. Or they run stories that are profitable for them to air, either because they are paid to do so or to ingratiate themselves with government agencies or corporations in order to have access or the personal prestige of being seen with later (for those persons high up enough in the pseudo-news organization). It is well documented, for instance, that the CIA has for decades worked with news organizations of all kinds in order to either relay or suppress the stories or propaganda that they want to shape public opinion. This is no less true for many large corporations and political parties who actively work with these organizations for their own propagandistic ends.

It should be no surprise to anyone, then, that people have turned to alternative news sources. This is a great danger to the power of all those organizations currently involved in mainstream news organizations – i.e. government agencies, political parties, corporations, foreign entities, etc. Controlling the media is a way to control the people. People cannot get angry over something that they never hear about, or better yet, they can’t believe anything that the media is portraying as laughable. Because people are, indeed, looking for real news, these interests are doing their best to prevent alternative news sources or at least people’s access to these sources.

In the past several months, we’ve seen many alternative news voices as well as individual users banned from various Internet social media platforms which they used to communicate with the people who followed them – a process called de-platforming. Because these social media platforms are owned by private corporations there is no first amendment violation, even when some of the corporations are counseled by advisory entities with close government ties. Little justification is given for these deplatformings other than vague mumblings from the corporations about hate speech, extremism, insults, Russian spies, and so forth. The corporations are under no obligation, currently, to provide any truth. They say something the content creator did violated their terms of use and that is the end.  So far these deplatforming actions have been overwhelming against conservative voices, though not entirely so.

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More Anti-Gun Crazy from New York

From RochesterFirst.com, more proof that the inmates are running the asylum – Proposed law would let State search gun owner’s social media and internet history. The privacy invasions involved in this bill are a new level of crazy. Look for more of this mental diarrhea coming to a state near you.

A new act introduced in the New York State Assembly this month would require pistol owners to submit to a “social media review.”

Anyone applying for, or renewing a pistol permit would have to give up all login information, including passwords, for any social media sites they’re a part of.

Posts from the past three years on site like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat would be reviewed for language containing slurs, racial/gender bias, threats and terrorism.

One year of search history on Google/Yahoo/Bing would also be reviewed.

Related:

Conservative Firing Line: New York Senate Bill 9191 – Destroying the Bill of Rights

Judge’s Unconstitutional Effort to Block Blueprints for 3D-Printed Guns

In news directly related to the recent announcement of a federal settlement with Defense Distributed, a Seattle federal judge has issued a restraining order to prevent Defense Distributed from posting the blueprint files.  From National Review:

If there’s a hall of fame for futile, symbolic, and ultimately unconstitutional federal court orders, the temporary restraining order just issued in Seattle blocking Defense Distributed and the Second Amendment Foundation from posting blueprints for 3D-printed guns deserves at least a plaque, if not a full display. The court’s order temporarily overturns a Trump administration legal settlement that reversed an Obama-era policy designed mainly to limit the spread of the relevant files abroad, not here at home. I love NPR’s sardonic Twitter response:

NPR gets it. Let’s be clear about what has just happened. A federal court has issued a prior restraint on speech (it’s attempting to block the spread of information; it is not blocking the lawful home manufacture of firearms) that is already thoroughly and completely moot. The files are out. They’re all over the internet. They’ve been copied and reproduced. The judge’s order can’t change that fact.

Moreover, Defense Distributed and the Second Amendment Foundation are hardly the only sources for online files or blueprints that enable a home manufacturer with a 3D printer to make a gun. I’m honestly unclear what the court is trying to accomplish here, aside from targeting the Trump administration and/or targeting a disfavored private company.

Earlier today I published a lengthy explainer of the factual and legal issues surrounding the 3D-printed gun controversy. I’d urge you to read the whole thing, but the bottom line is easy to understand. First, home manufacture of weapons is clearly lawful, and it has been common practice in the United States since before the founding of the nation. Second, it is thus just as lawful to “print” a gun as it is to assemble one with parts in your garage. Third, the plans to print guns are widely-available on the internet — and have been for some time.

Put another way, a gun that’s lawful to assemble is lawful to print. A gun that’s unlawful to assemble is unlawful to print, and that includes undetectable plastic guns that are either printed or assembled. It’s that simple.There is no new “threat” here. There is no crisis…

The files at issue can still be downloaded from http://codeisfreespeech.com/

Tonight, the organizations and individuals behind CodeIsFreeSpeech.com, a new Web site for the publication and sharing of firearm-related speech, including machine code, have issued the following statement:

Our Constitution’s First Amendment secures the right of all people to engage in truthful speech, including by sharing information contained in books, paintings, and files. Indeed, freedom of speech is a bedrock principle of our United States and a cornerstone of our democratic Republic. Through CodeIsFreeSpeech.com, we intend to encourage people to consider new and different aspects of our nation’s marketplace of ideas – even if some government officials disagree with our views or dislike our content – because information is code, code is free speech, and free speech is freedom.

Should any tyrants wish to chill or infringe the rights of the People, we would welcome the opportunity to defend freedom whenever, wherever, and however necessary. Hand-waving and hyperbole are not compelling government interests and censorship is not proper tailoring under the law.

There is no doubt that Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed have inspired countless Americans to exercise their fundamental, individual rights, including through home gunsmithing. Through CodeIsFreeSpeech.com, we hope to promote the collection and dissemination of truthful, non-misleading speech, new and evolving ideas, and the advancement of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms…

Digital Firearm Files Allowed Online in Gov’t Settlement

The good legal news keeps coming in. Cody Wilson, founder of Defense Distributed, reached a settlement with the US Government recently with the government agreeing that Wilson’s online publishing of design files which enable home 3-D printers to print firearms is protected by the First and Second Amendments. The linked article from Wired is a bit biased against firearms, but informative.

Five years ago, 25-year-old radical libertarian Cody Wilson stood on a remote central Texas gun range and pulled the trigger on the world’s first fully 3-D-printed gun. When, to his relief, his plastic invention fired a .380-caliber bullet into a berm of dirt without jamming or exploding in his hands, he drove back to Austin and uploaded the blueprints for the pistol to his website, Defcad.com.

He’d launched the site months earlier along with an anarchist video manifesto, declaring that gun control would never be the same in an era when anyone can download and print their own firearm with a few clicks. In the days after that first test-firing, his gun was downloaded more than 100,000 times. Wilson made the decision to go all in on the project, dropping out of law school at the University of Texas, as if to confirm his belief that technology supersedes law.

The law caught up. Less than a week later, Wilson received a letter from the US State Department demanding that he take down his printable-gun blueprints or face prosecution for violating federal export controls. Under an obscure set of US regulations known as the International Trade in Arms Regulations (ITAR), Wilson was accused of exporting weapons without a license, just as if he’d shipped his plastic gun to Mexico rather than put a digital version of it on the internet. He took Defcad.com offline, but his lawyer warned him that he still potentially faced millions of dollars in fines and years in prison simply for having made the file available to overseas downloaders for a few days. “I thought my life was over,” Wilson says.

Instead, Wilson has spent the last years on an unlikely project for an anarchist: Not simply defying or skirting the law but taking it to court and changing it. In doing so, he has now not only defeated a legal threat to his own highly controversial gunsmithing project. He may have also unlocked a new era of digital DIY gunmaking that further undermines gun control across the United States and the world—another step toward Wilson’s imagined future where anyone can make a deadly weapon at home with no government oversight.

Two months ago, the Department of Justice quietly offered Wilson a settlement to end a lawsuit he and a group of co-plaintiffs have pursued since 2015 against the United States government. Wilson and his team of lawyers focused their legal argument on a free speech claim: They pointed out that by forbidding Wilson from posting his 3-D-printable data, the State Department was not only violating his right to bear arms but his right to freely share information. By blurring the line between a gun and a digital file, Wilson had also successfully blurred the lines between the Second Amendment and the First.

“If code is speech, the constitutional contradictions are evident,” Wilson explained to WIRED when he first launched the lawsuit in 2015. “So what if this code is a gun?”

The Department of Justice’s surprising settlement, confirmed in court documents earlier this month, essentially surrenders to that argument. It promises to change the export control rules surrounding any firearm below .50 caliber—with a few exceptions like fully automatic weapons and rare gun designs that use caseless ammunition—and move their regulation to the Commerce Department, which won’t try to police technical data about the guns posted on the public internet. In the meantime, it gives Wilson a unique license to publish data about those weapons anywhere he chooses.

“I consider it a truly grand thing,” Wilson says. “It will be an irrevocable part of political life that guns are downloadable, and we helped to do that.”

The Market Ticker: Editorial on Free Speech

Source: Kart Denninger at Market-ticker.com

To The Press, The Pols And The Rest

Let me say this just one more time:

That someone is a Neo-Nazi, a White Supremacist, KKK member or racist does not render them bereft of the First Amendment.  Just as being a member of BLM or the Antifa does not render them bereft of the First Amendment.

It is not acceptable, legal or excusable to meet speech by any such person with violence.

Period.

To suggest, state, or advocate that such is the case, or to promote the premise that violence is an appropriate remedy for speech you find vile and outrageous is to declare civil war, because there are others who will likely find your speech vile and outrageous and by your statement you have made the claim that just punishment for speech you deem vile is to be found at the hands of a mob.

The press and now lawmakers are openly advocating for the complete breakdown of civil society — they are stating by the droves that violence in response to mere speech that one finds offensive yet has the protection of the First Amendment is not only worthy of said violence the person uttering same is not worthy of having their assailants prosecuted or the protection and investigation of the police forces to interdict violence intended for or served upon them

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