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Tag Archives: free speech

Obama Attacks Free Speech at Prayer Breakfast

President Obama used the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday morning to undermine one of the Constitution’s most fundamental rights, suggesting those who demean Islam are abusing the use of free speech.

While acknowledging that Americans have “a legal right” to attack another’s religion, Obama said everyone should question those “who would insult others in the name of free speech,” indicating such insults were a misuse of the right. Similarly, Obama’s called for “civility” – a demand he has issued before but not always abided by himself – suggesting a desire that people censor their own speech.

As has been often said, the Founders’ free speech protections were not designed to safeguard polite conversation. They were exactly meant for speech that might offend.

Obama said:

There’s wisdom in our founders writing in those documents that help found this nation the notion of freedom of religion, because they understood the need for humility. They also understood the need to uphold freedom of speech, that there was a connection between freedom of speech and freedom of religion. For to infringe on one right under the pretext of protecting another is a betrayal of both.

But part of humility is also recognizing in modern, complicated, diverse societies, the functioning of these rights, the concern for the protection of these rights calls for each of us to exercise civility and restraint and judgment. And if, in fact, we defend the legal right of a person to insult another’s religion, we’re equally obligated to use our free speech to condemn such insults — (applause) — and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with religious communities, particularly religious minorities who are the targets of such attacks.

Just because you have the right to say something doesn’t mean the rest of us shouldn’t question those who would insult others in the name of free speech. Because we know that our nations are stronger when people of all faiths feel that they are welcome, that they, too, are full and equal members of our countries.

For Obama to lump himself in with other citizens who might criticize anti-islamist speech is also a dangerous precedent. Obama isn’t just any other citizen. He is the president of the United States, with vast law enforcement resources at his disposal, and his attacks on the speech of others, however offensive the speech is, can have a chilling effect on the right of free expression.

The remarks castigating those who attack Islam also are an indirect criticism of cartoonists at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, who drew caricatures of Mohammed and were killed for it.

Government Trying to Silence Private Citizen’s Speech

The Democratic Party, in its quest for money and politically correct purity, has reached a new low.

A private citizen made a statement that some would find offensive. Democrats in Congress are trying to put that citizen out of business.

The citizen in question often makes controversial statements. He draws calumny from his opponents. And that is exactly whom the Framers intended to protect by writing the First Amendment.

According to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rush Limbaugh said this:

How many of you guys, in your own experience with women, have learned that ‘no’ means ‘yes’ if you know how to spot it?

That resulted in a letter Sunday from Sandra Fluke, written on behalf of the DCCC:

As a previous target of Limbaugh’s sexist attacks, take it from me: we need to stand together and call Rush out. The DCCC has a petition to tell advertisers to stop funding this repulsive commentary.

Here’s the petition.

Limbaugh petition

As you can see, as of this morning, the campaign had exceeded its goal of 300,000 signatures.

The DCCC is no ordinary political group. It is, by its own telling “the official campaign arm of the Democrats in the House of Representatives.” It’s chaired by a Congressman, Rep. Steve Israel of New York, and other members of Congress head up its key branches.

I don’t care what you think about what Rush said. I don’t care what Sandra Fluke says about it – she has a right to her opinion.

What I care about is that the DCCC, your government, is trying to put Rush out of business because of something he said.

The subversion of our country and its principles to the agenda of the Democratic Party and its demands for political correctness is far more of a danger than anything Rush Limbaugh can come up with.

Led by President Obama, who writes his own laws out of the Oval Office, the government is getting increasingly habituated to capricious actions that ignore the law and the Constitution because of the idea, which is everything our Founders fought against, that the views of individual rulers can be so important and so “obviously correct” that they can be unilaterally imposed on the nation.

This is the birthplace of tyranny. It is the rationale of the Bolsheviks. Here, in our country.

Whatever we once understood about civics is being forgotten. Be afraid for your children’s future.

President Obama and Duck Dynasty

Political correctness is a threat to the republic.

It says, at bottom, that hurt feelings are more important than free speech. That some members of society have a right to mold the thoughts of others.

It’s exactly the reverse of what was intended by the first amendment, which sought to protect speech from the anger and totalitarianism of the insulted and aggrieved.

But today, the aggrieved are in control. They feel empowered to shut you up and shut you down if you say something they don’t like. And they are empowered in part by President Obama, and he is empowered by them.

Phil RobertsonJust before the controversy exploded over Duck Dynasty Phil Robertson’s remarks about gays, Obama mused that the Robertson clan “seems like a pretty fun bunch.” But everyone knows Obama would like to hang out with this group of straight-talking Bible clingers as much as he would a colony of tarantulas.

Robertson made comments that were hurtful to some. His ideas on homosexuality were drawn from the Bible, which itself contains passages hurtful to some, though which presumably is not yet on the Left’s hit list.

A third of Americans say homosexuality should not be “accepted.” That is clearly what the Bible says. Should people holding this view wear ankle bracelets administering a shock each time they express their opinion?

Obama and Vice President Biden have variously described conservatives as extremists, racists, “enemies,” obstructionists, and unprincipled connivers opposing Obama for rank political gain. This presumption by Obama of malice on the part of his opponents – and his malice toward them – is not just inappropriate, it’s destructive. It fosters the climate of intolerance in which we find ourselves, and of which political correctness is the guiding principle.

Robertson’s comments about gays were actually less harsh and insulting than those Obama and Biden make about conservatives. But nobody’s complaining.

The notion that thought and speech can be controlled abets statist governance, which is all about molding your behavior. A society that tells some guy on a TV show whether he can or can’t express opinions that are rooted in Holy Scripture is one that can, for example, tell people they have to think they need health insurance and that they must use their money to purchase it.

Not to mention requiring nuns to buy the morning after pill for the less-faithful.

With A&E having reinstated Robertson, gay groups are now demanding that he engage with them in “dialog,” which of course has become in our society an Orwellian term meaning “further contrition.” Having failed to procure his head on a platter, they’ll at least need the duck hunter to eat crow, because otherwise it might signal that free speech is still alive in America.

A Leader Singles Out his Enemies in the Press

Did you hear? Hugo Chavez leapt up out of his cancer bed and attacked two Venezuelan media outlets by name, hoping to get them to take a more pro-Chavez line.

Terrible that Venezuela has become such a place – its leader working to chill free expression in order to advance his agenda.

OH WAIT A SECOND THAT WASN’T CHAVEZ IT WAS OBAMA.

I’d say we’ve finally come to this, but of course Obama and his White House have pulled this stuff before.

But here’s the latest, from Obama’s interview with two lackeys – one of whom actually worked on his campaign in 2008 and donated money to him since – from the New Republic.

Obama said:

One of the biggest factors is going to be how the media shapes debates. If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you’ll see more of them doing it.

Does Obama stop and think even for a second about the ramifications of what he’s doing? Whether it’s appropriate for someone as powerful has he to be bullying specific members of the press?

Free speech guarantees freedom and all those values of the Founders Obama promoted in his Inaugural address. But Obama thinks his myopic little agenda is more important than such timeless principles. That he is grander than freedom of the press. And that whatever he needs to do to achieve his goals is worth it.

Not only did Obama attack Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, he offered up some advice to mainstream journalists. In a word – shed your objectivity and come join me:

There’s no equivalence there. In fact, that’s one of the biggest problems we’ve got in how folks report about Washington right now, because I think journalists rightly value the appearance of impartiality and objectivity. And so the default position for reporting is to say, “A plague on both their houses.” On almost every issue, it’s, “Well, Democrats and Republicans can’t agree”—as opposed to looking at why is it that they can’t agree. Who exactly is preventing us from agreeing?

Obama thinks that because ideas are his, they are objectively true, and therefore objective journalists will come to the same conclusion.

WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT IS KNOWN AS SUBJECTIVITY. Because he’s so convinced of his incontestable rightness, Obama doesn’t even understand that he’s asking reporters to be liberals. He thinks he’s asking them to be objective.

I know it’s difficult for people who are sure they are right about things to live in a democracy and have to tolerate FREE SPEECH that injures their cause. Obama is accusing Limbaugh and Fox News of wrecking the democratic process by actually influencing Republicans with their speech.

But, Mr. President, this is exactly how the democratic process is supposed to work. The democratic process is not about getting results. It’s about having an argument, and then getting results if you can.

Sorry, I know that’s hard work. But that’s the way we do it here. It’s a little different than Venezuela.

Obama Offers a Strong Defense of Free Speech

President Obama Tuesday minced no words in defending the First Amendment before the world, declaring in a speech to the United Nations that the right to free speech is “enshrined” in our Constitution and that failure to safeguard it leads to oppression.

In response to the video denigrating Mohammed that sparked outrage in the Muslim world, Obama had been slow off the mark defending the right of free expression. But he used the platform at the UN not only to defend American free speech but to try to promote it to the rest of the world.

I know there are some who ask why we don’t just ban such a video.  And the answer is enshrined in our laws:  Our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech.

Here in the United States, countless publications provoke offense.  Like me, the majority of Americans are Christian, and yet we do not ban blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs.  As President of our country and Commander-in-Chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day — (laughter) — and I will always defend their right to do so.  (Applause.)

Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views, even views that we profoundly disagree with.  We do not do so because we support hateful speech, but because our founders understood that without such protections, the capacity of each individual to express their own views and practice their own faith may be threatened.  We do so because in a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can quickly become a tool to silence critics and oppress minorities.

We do so because given the power of faith in our lives, and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression; it is more speech — the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.

Of course, Obama did try to get the video removed from YouTube. But at least we’re hearing the right words now.

Obama noted, correctly, that not everyone around the world accepts free speech. And though he didn’t say it, the fact is, they never will – or not anytime soon.

But he leavened this bow to reality with a demand that others not translate their opposition to free speech into violence.

Now, I know that not all countries in this body share this particular understanding of the protection of free speech.  We recognize that.  But in 2012, at a time when anyone with a cell phone can spread offensive views around the world with the click of a button, the notion that we can control the flow of information is obsolete.  The question, then, is how do we respond?

And on this we must agree:  There is no speech that justifies mindless violence.  (Applause.)  There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents.  There’s no video that justifies an attack on an embassy.  There’s no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan.

In this modern world with modern technologies, for us to respond in that way to hateful speech empowers any individual who engages in such speech to create chaos around the world.  We empower the worst of us if that’s how we respond.

Here is some video that includes the free speech comments:

The free speech section of the remarks complemented what was generally a far less accommodationist tone than Obama speeches past. Today, Obama condemned the violence and disorder that has grown up out of the Arab Spring.

It is time to marginalize those who — even when not directly resorting to violence — use hatred of America, or the West, or Israel, as the central organizing principle of politics . . .

Understand America will never retreat from the world.  We will bring justice to those who harm our citizens and our friends, and we will stand with our allies.  We are willing to partner with countries around the world to deepen ties of trade and investment, and science and technology, energy and development . . . for partnerships to be effective our citizens must be secure and our efforts must be welcomed.

Whether Obama is posturing in order to avoid being outflanked by a tougher foreign approach by Gov. Mitt Romney, or whether Obama may have gotten a dose of reality about the world in three and half years as president – or both – is unclear to me.

But the speech was a welcome departure from the unadulterated effort to be pleasing and reasonable that has been the hallmark of Obama’s foreign policy.

Mr. President, Don’t Tell Us to Tone it Down

I can remember that at some point during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, there was news that Henry Kissinger and other diplomats were getting nice and busy trying to bring about a cessation of hostilities. And I remember my mother saying, “Every time the Israelis start winning, everyone starts talking about peace.”

I’m reminded of this as “reasonable” people all over TV and the Congress are soberly intoning that the time has come for everyone to tone it down. And these are, as I’ve pointed out, many of the same people who either spent eight years bashing Bush and Cheney in the most ugly manner, or who were discussing such vitriol as if it were the normal and acceptable course of political conversation.

The sudden recourse to reasonableness and the attempted social ban on “angry” rhetoric is little more than an effort to shut conservatives up. If the president calls for quiet when he speaks this evening in Tucson, he is joining those on the left who want to wire the jaws of their opponents shut. No matter if he tries to seem independent and call for “all sides” to make nice. He never, as far as I know, called for tempering criticism of Republicans during the Bush presidency. If he does it now, he’s taking sides.

And he shouldn’t have done it then either. Raucous debate is our nature and our heritage, ever since John Adams called Alexander Hamilton “the bastard brat of a Scotch peddler.” Things have never been tame.

Ironically, one of the few who took some time to reflect before reacting to the Tucson shootings is the very person in the, um, cross hairs of those who shot their mouths off without thinking, Sarah Palin. Here’s what she said. Liberals who think they have 40 IQ points on her could learn something. Her words are among the most eloquent I’ve heard.

Especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn.

There are those who claim political rhetoric is to blame for the despicable act of this deranged, apparently apolitical criminal. And they claim political debate has somehow gotten more heated just recently. But when was it less heated? Back in those “calm days” when political figures literally settled their differences with dueling pistols? In an ideal world all discourse would be civil and all disagreements cordial. But our Founding Fathers knew they weren’t designing a system for perfect men and women. If men and women were angels, there would be no need for government.

Public discourse and debate isn’t a sign of crisis, but of our enduring strength. It is part of why America is exceptional.

It is in the hour when our values are challenged that we must remain resolved to protect those values. Recall how the events of 9-11 challenged our values and we had to fight the tendency to trade our freedoms for perceived security. And so it is today.

One of our readers, Granny Jan, who blogs at Granny Jan and Jihad Kitty, has put together a video compendium of some of Obama’s own incendiary remarks. Unfortunately, the comments completely contradict the image Obama originally presented us as someone who is post-partisan uniter, above the fray. But otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with them. If that’s who he truly is, he should do more of it.

Top Ten Ways White House Dossier Will Tone Down the Rhetoric

Well it happened. All this criticism of free speech, and White House Dossier has finally pissed in its pants. The rhetoric on the blog will be toned down, even as White House Dossier seeks to make good on its New Year’s resolution to tone up, in the gym.

As part of this effort – not the effort to tone up – White House Dossier will henceforth abstain from using military or gun-related metaphors of any kind. In addition, anyone who employs such metaphors in the comments section will be shot.

What am I saying? They will be slapped on the wrist and their comment deleted.

White House Dossier has drawn up a list of peaceful alternatives to certain commonly used metaphors

So, without adieu, allow me lock and load, and fire away.

I mean, here goes:

1. There will be no more reference to “political campaigns.” Candidates will now wage “friendly attempts to seize a bit of power.”

2. Nobody at White House Dossier will in the future be having a “blast.” Instead, persons having a good time will be said to be having “an innocuous popping sound.”

3. No more “political attacks.” We will instead write about “hurtful things being said.”

4. Any references to Patrick Henry will include the phrase “Give me liberty or give me heartburn.”

5. A politician who says something dumb will not be said to have “shot themselves if the foot,” but to have “badly stubbed their toe.”

6. Politicians making a startling revelation will no longer be “dropping a bomb.” They will instead “say something I, like, totally didn’t expect!”

7. Politicians who win campaigns will no longer “declare victory” or be said to have defeated, beaten, routed, or vanquished their opponents. They will instead declare that “everyone is a winner, just I’m the biggest winner.”

8. White House Dossier will never again reveal “explosive new details.” Instead, we will bring you “fun stuff you might have missed.”

9. Politicians will never again be said to be in “the political fight of their life.” White House Dossier will merely say, “Ha! Let’s see them get out of this one!”

10. Candidates will never again field an “army of volunteers. Instead, they will employ “lots of gentlefolk knockin’ on doors.”

Obama’s Bullying Bully Pulpit

The penchant of the White House to use its huge power and megaphone to slam private industries is one of its most disconcerting features. It distinguishes President Obama from the two other presidents I’ve covered, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. For sure, I remember them railing against their opponents, but not attacking specific privateContinue Reading