The chilling of free speech

The right to free speech is something that I believe can be abused. Yes, I really do believe that there are times when the press go too far. The News of the World hacking scandal is of the manner in which journalism oversteps the boundaries of decency and a right to privacy. The hounding of Lady Diana, the Princess of Wales, which was something that led to her untimely death, was another example of media going too far. However, going too far can be in the opposite direction as well.

When the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Citizens United vs. FEC case, there was an outcry by some over the campaign donations aspect of the case. The issue was actually quite murky because the corporation, Citizens United had been formed for a political purpose. The Supreme Court struck down one part of the McCain-Feingold act relating to the donations of corporations inside of the USA. However, it did not strike down that part of the act that referred to overseas donations. However, you would not have known that was the case in light of the brouha and carry on that came from the White House and DNC operatives. They were furious over this particular decision. The Justices also reversed a couple of decisions that gave corporations that included something like the Wisconsin Right to Life, the right to free speech during a political campaign (at least that is how I understand a portion of the judgment because the Wisconsin Right to Life case was specifically mentioned in the judgment).

What you might not have known or understood, that at the heart of the majority opinion, and especially the opinion of Clarence Thomas was their views about the chilling of free speech. They in fact saw the McCain-Feingold Act (or at least that one section) as an attempt to chill free speech. So, it would seem that the carry on was in fact obsfuscation once again, so that the real heart of the decision was hidden from the public. The outcome of the case was to determine when a video that was very harsh on Hillary Clinton could be released and seen by the public so close to voting. It is not like it actually affected the current pResident in the White House, yet he was the one who screamed at the Supreme Court Justices. In other words, he was trying bully boy tactics in an attempt to chill free speech.

The latest example of this attempt to chill free speech happened last week when Mark Halperin, a left-wing political analyst stated on the Morning Joe show on NBC, that he thought a speech given by Østupid, showed that Østupid was being a dickhead (Richard Cranium is the polite form of the same expression). The comment was supposed to be bleeped, but there was a stuff up, and Halperin immediately apologized on air. Later that day NBC suspended Halperin indefinitely. It turns out that the dickhead in the White House, whatisname, that Jay person, got on the blower and demanded action. What for? The scandal here is not the use of the term “dick” which is actually very mild, but the fact that NBC caved to pressure from the White House, thus chilling free speech.

Some media outlets are actually incensed over the matter. Should Halperin have been suspended over the issue? Personally, I do not believe that he should have been suspended for making a comment about what he thought about a lousy speech from Østupid. The action, based upon something so minor is indeed cause for concern. It is an action that implies that no one can offer an opinion that does anything other than draw adulation for Duh Won. This is how dictators behave.

This brings me to a comparison in Middle Eastern countries such as Syria and Libya, as well as a couple of other countries from the former Soviet bloc. Much of what we are hearing about the deaths and suppression in Syria cannot be verified because Asshat has banned the press. Even press people from Lebanon have ended up in trouble after they crossed the border. In other words Asshat has engaged in tactics that are meant to suppress the truth about the whole issue, and in that way he hopes to control the narrative about those who are protesting his regime. The Libyan regime under Daffy Duck has indulged in a similar tactic, only they have allowed the press to enter Tripoli, but they are not allowed to roam freely, and they are only allowed out of the Rixos Hotel with a minder (though a couple of times they managed to ditch the minder in order to deliver an interview with 4 of the revolutionaries inside of Tripoli). The stage management has meant that the press are taken to various sites where things have been quite clearly set up. This has included the placement of bodies removed from the hospitals under the pretence that the people died as a result of the bombings from NATO. It was all a set-up. The journalists, on the other hand have tried to do the right thing, and they report what they are supposed to report, but buried inside their reports you will find disclaimers, as well as other information that casts a fresh light on what they have seen. An example would be the bombing that took place near a children’s playground. The press did see the bunker that was built underneath the children’s playground and they reported exactly what they saw.

On the same subject, the correspondents who have been travelling with the revolutionaries have been treated a whole lot better than in Tripoli, and they have been able to accompany the rebels on their excursions, thus reporting what is happening, and without fear of being killed, unless of course they end up being caught by Daffy goons. Several sets of correspondents have either been killed by Daffy goons, or they have been captured. A few of those who were captured, and have now been released came from the New York Slimes. Several correspondents lost their lives in Misrata when the Daffy goons turned their missiles upon them. This is the kind of thing that happens when free speech is being chilled.

This is also why the interference of the White House in NBC is an absolute scandal. It is not the remark that is offensive. It is the chilling of free speech that led to Halperin being suspended that is really offensive.

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