When it comes to free speech, Britain has embraced Big Brother

Frankly, whether Scotland goes or Scotland stays, once-Great Britain is dead. It’s death was a slow-mo, stupidity-driven suicide:

Orwell understood:

Orwell on an unfree society's hatred for the truth

“I disagree with you so shut up!” is not an argument; it’s tyranny

Kendall JonesYesterday, as we were driving along, my daughter asked me if I’d heard about the gal in Texas, a college student, who posts pictures of her African big game shots (some dead, some tranquilized) on Facebook. I’d heard about it vaguely, so my daughter elaborated.

“They’re trying to kick her off Facebook. I think she should be banned.”

“I don’t,” I replied.

She gave an outraged gasp!

“You support her going around and killing all those innocent animals? Some of them are endangered! That’s awful.”

I answered, “I don’t like big game hunting. It doesn’t make sense to me to kill for sport, but not everyone agrees with me. So let me ask you this: Is what she’s doing legal?”

“Yes,” said my daughter, “but it’s a horrible thing to do.”

I gave the only answer a good First Amendment libertarian could give: “Just because you don’t like it, that’s not a reason to ban her from speaking. Banning her from speaking is tyrannical. Saying ‘I disagree with you, so shut up’ is not a valid argument in a free society. A functional free society has to let people speak even if they disagree with each other. There are extremes where even the most free society should and will prevent speech, such as a gathering to talk about killing a president or the famous ‘shouting Fire! in a crowded theater’ type of talk. Otherwise, you have to be willing to accept that others don’t agree with you. If you don’t, you end up with a country in which everyone has to think the same thoughts and do, and say, the same things.”

“Okay, I get it,” she wearily replied. “Don’t get on the soapbox again. Anyway, this whole thing has been good for her. She says she got 600 new fans. [Pause.] Who would ever like her page?”

“That’s easy. People who believe in hunting or people who want to make a point that, in a free society, ‘free speech’ includes speech that not everyone supports.”

Helping Mark Steyn’s epic battle to defend freedom of speech

mark-steyn-photo-600x345I’ve written before about Mark Steyn’s epic battle and equally epic Answer and Counterclaim in the suit that discredited “Hockey Stick” artiste, Michael Mann filed against him and the National Review.   What I forgot to tell you is that there is a way you can help Mark Steyn, who is not sharing his defense with National Review, pay the costs of this suit.  (Steyn’s currently representing himself, although I do not know whether he parted ways with his lawyer because they had a substantive disagreement or because Steyn could no longer afford him/her.)

Click here to learn about buying a Mark Steyn gift certificate.  You can choose not to redeem the gift certificate, leaving all the money in his hands, or you can redeem it for actual merchandise, which still leaves him with the profit margin.  It’s a good deal all around.

Did Phil Robertson pave the way for a free speech rebellion amongst the most unlikely people?

Phil-Robertson-813x1024As everyone in the world now knows, Phil Robertson said in a magazine interview that he didn’t understand the attraction of gay sex.  Even worse, he added that, while he wouldn’t presume to judge sexual behavior (or, rather, misbehavior), he had no doubt that God will do some judging.  His words created a thought-police firestorm.  Leading the charge was GLAAD, formerly known as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

It’s important to understand that GLAAD is not an advocacy group for LGBTQ rights.  Advocacy groups are valued players in a free society.  GLAAD is, instead, a thuggish organization that works by destroying people’s livelihoods if they fall afoul of its party line.  Robert Oscar Lopez describes how GLAAD uses its tactics of blackmail and intimidation against anyone who suggests that there are downsides to the gay lifestyle or to the social and political agenda the gay lobby pushes.  One doesn’t have to agree with Lopez to be shocked at GLAAD’s truly McCarthy-esque tactics.  So again, the problem isn’t what GLAAD stands for; the problem is its bullying.

As part of its mission to purge people guilty of anything it deems a thought-crime, GLAAD monitors American speech for any statements about gay and lesbians. If this speech isn’t unabashed cheer-leading about the LGBTQ lifestyle, GLAAD instantly declares it “hate speech.”  Then, instead of countering this so-called “hate speech” with more speech, GLAAD leads the charge to destroy the speaker.  Up until last year, when GLAAD attacked a high-profile person or institution, its efforts resulted in one response and one response alone:  craven retreat and abject apologies from the speaker.

Phil Robertson, however, refused to play GLAAD’s game, even when his employer, A&E, immediately caved and fired Phil.  Ranking his God higher than GLAAD’s outrage, he didn’t even bother to mumble an apology for the fact that someone had hurt feelings.  Instead, he stood firm and his family backed him up.  It was A&E, rather than Robertson, who was forced to back down.

The Phil Robertson episode marked the first time that anyone in the public eye refused to let a Leftist thought-control organization bully him.  At the time, I wondered whether, by doing so, Robertson would inspire others to take a stand — and perhaps he did.  In first month of 2013, two stars have stood up to Leftist censors.

Liam Payne One DirectionThe first one to do so was Liam Payne, who belongs to the massively successful pop group One Direction.  He sent out a tweet saying “@williebosshog huge love to you/your family huge respect for your business prosperities and the family values you still all behold. big fan”  GLAAD and its media followers (meaning everyone in the MSM) predictably moved in for the kill, essentially telling Payne that his career was at stake for daring to support the homophobic Robertson clan.

Payne launched an aggressive counterattack against the media for trying to police his speech (slight language alert):

As you can see, Payne’s fight with the thought police happened almost two weeks ago. So far as I know, his career continues to thrive.

Sodastream1Just this past week, yet another superstar found herself in the speech police’s cross hairs. This time, the target was Scarlett Johansson, the voluptuous blonde actress who signed on to become a spokeswoman for SodaStream. SodaStream is a very successful Israeli company that has a factory in a West Bank settlement. It employs Palestinians and Israeli’s alike, paying them equal wages, providing good working conditions, and creating an environment within which Jews and Palestinians can see each other as people, not stereotypes. This is an especially good deal for the Palestinian workers, who usually live in heinous economic circumstances, even as their leaders squirrel away in private accounts the billions in foreign aid that the world’s nations send annually to the Palestinians.

Naturally, the Left can’t have that. You see, for all its talk, the Left has no interest in seeing Palestinians have a decent quality of life. Instead, the Left shares with the radical Islamists the goal of seeing Israel — a capitalist liberal democracy — wiped from the face of the earth. The best way to achieve this is to keep Palestinians living in execrable conditions so as to stoke rage against Israelis.

Put another way, keeping the Palestinian masses in the ghetto is a win for everyone except the Israelis and the Palestinians: the Arab leaders in surrounding nations get to have an excuse for the fact that their people are the impoverished residents of tyrannical rulers; the mullahs and imams get to maintain their control by directing credulous Muslims to engage in an endless Holy War against the Jews; and the Left gets to continue its efforts to destroy the sole liberal democracy in a medieval, tyrannical region.

Enter Oxfam. I learned about Oxfam when I was living in England back in the early 1980s. As a student, I had no money, so my friends told me to check out Oxfam for things I needed. I therefore went to an Oxfam shop, prepared to find that it was something like a Goodwill or Salvation Army store. I didn’t make it past the front door, which was liberally decorated with pro-PLO literature. That is, it was supporting, not just the Palestinians, but the terrorist arm of the Palestinians. I never went near an Oxfam’s again.

Scarlett Johansson, however, probably didn’t realize that Oxfam has always supported terrorists. When she agreed to be an Oxfam representative, she was probably responding to its claim that it works to empower poor people around the world:

One person in three in the world lives in poverty. Oxfam is determined to change that world by mobilizing the power of people against poverty.

Around the globe, Oxfam works to find practical, innovative ways for people to lift themselves out of poverty and thrive. We save lives and help rebuild livelihoods when crisis strikes. And we campaign so that the voices of the poor influence the local and global decisions that affect them.

We work directly with communities and we seek to influence the powerful to ensure that poor people can improve their lives and livelihoods and have a say in decisions that affect them.

In all we do, Oxfam works with partner organizations and alongside vulnerable women and men to end the injustices that cause poverty.

Scarlett-Johansson-Smile-01What Scarlett Johansson just discovered, though, is that when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians, Oxfam does not work “to find practical, innovative ways for people to lift themselves out of poverty and thrive.” Instead, its anti-Israel, antisemitic ideological bias is so overwhelming, that it works overtime to keep the Palestinians mired deep in poverty, rather than allowing them to achieve economic success through work with an ideologically liberal Israeli corporation.

In the normal course of things — i.e., in the pre-Phil Robertson days — once the speech and thought police got on her case, Johansson should have been expected to break her contract with Israel and go crawling back to Oxfam. She didn’t, though. Instead, she made a public statement disassociating herself from Oxfam:

While I never intended on being the face of any social or political movement, distinction, separation or stance as part of my affiliation with SodaStream, given the amount of noise surrounding that decision, I’d like to clear the air.

I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine. SodaStream is a company that is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbors working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights. That is what is happening in their Ma’ale Adumim factory every working day. As part of my efforts as an Ambassador for Oxfam, I have witnessed first-hand that progress is made when communities join together and work alongside one another and feel proud of the outcome of that work in the quality of their product and work environment, in the pay they bring home to their families and in the benefits they equally receive.

I believe in conscious consumerism and transparency and I trust that the consumer will make their own educated choice that is right for them. I stand behind the SodaStream product and am proud of the work that I have accomplished at Oxfam as an Ambassador for over 8 years. Even though it is a side effect of representing SodaStream, I am happy that light is being shed on this issue in hopes that a greater number of voices will contribute to the conversation of a peaceful two state solution in the near future.

Major kudos to Johansson for resisting the coercive pressure from the Left.  It turns out that there’s a beautiful personality behind that beautiful face.

Did Phil Robertson’s refusal to back down to GLAAD have anything to do with Payne’s and Johansson’s willingness to withstand pressure from GLAAD and Oxfam?  I don’t know.  I just know that sixty years ago, it took just one speech to destroy the apparently unlimited power that Sen. Joseph McCarthy had wielded for so many years in the United States Senate:

Liberal tolerance

Man with mouth taped shut1.  British Christians are slowly being banned from advocating traditional Christian views . . . such as the belief that marriage should involve one man and one woman.  The only allowable morality is that which does not align with traditional Judeo-Christian doctrines.

2.  A well-known Hispanic actress was fired from play because she supports a Tea Party candidate.  “‘Of course she has the right to say whatever she wants. But we’re in the middle of the Mission [District in San Francisco]. Doing what she is doing is against what we believe,’ Lopez [wife of far Left S.F. Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi] said.”  In other words, Hispanics are not allowed not hold any views inconsistent with the Democrat party platform.

3.  Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York:  “The Republican Party candidates are running against the SAFE Act — it was voted for by moderate Republicans who run the Senate! Their problem is not me and the Democrats; their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”  Support the Second Amendment?  New York is not the place for you.  Agree with roughly half the country that pregnant women aren’t the ones making a “sacrifice” when they abort a fetus?  Leave New York.  Now!!

That’s just from the past couple of days.  Please feel free to add any I missed.

Mark Steyn on Pajama Boy and the Robertson firing

Phil Robertson and Pajama BoyAs always, Mark Steyn’s whole essay is worth reading, but this quotation below is the part that bears remembering and repeating:

Look, I’m an effete foreigner who likes show tunes. My Broadway book was on a list of “Twelve Books Every Gay Man Should Read.” Andrew Sullivan said my beard was hot. Leonard Bernstein stuck his tongue in my mouth (long story). But I’m not interested in living in a world where we have to tiptoe around on ever thinner eggshells. If it’s a choice between having celebrity chefs who admit to having used the N-word in 1977 (or 1965, or 1948, or whenever the hell it was) and reality-show duck-hunters who quote Corinthians and Alec Baldwin bawling out some worthless paparazzo who’s doorstepping his family with a “homophobic” slur, or having all of them banished from public life and thousands upon millions more too cowed and craven to speak lest the same fate befall them, I’ll take the former any day.

Because the latter culture would be too boring for any self-respecting individual to want to live in, even more bloody boring than the current TV landscape where, aside from occasional eruptions of unerotic twerking by sexless skanks, every other show seems to involve snippy little Pajama Boys sitting around snarking at each other in the antiseptic eunuch pose that now passes for “ironic.” It’s “irony” as the last circle of Dante’s cultural drain; it’s why every show advertised as “edgy” and “transgressive” offers the same pitiful combination of attitude and impotence as a spayed cat humping.

Piers Morgan gets it wrong AGAIN

Piers MorganPiers Morgan makes money in America, but doesn’t understand America.  Following the Duck Dynasty explosion, Morgan tweeted out that the First Amendment “shouldn’t protect vile bigots” like Phil Robertson.

Au contraire, Piers.  Putting aside the fact that this is not a First Amendment kerfuffle (A&E is not the government), Robertson’s speech is precisely the type that gets First Amendment protection.  Popular speech doesn’t need any protection.  To the extent speech needs protection, it’s unpopular speech that is covered under the First Amendment.

There are limitations, insofar as the Supreme Court has given the government leave to act against speech intended to create imminent acts of violence or that are blatant falsehoods against private citizens.  Otherwise, though, in America you’re allowed to say things that other people don’t like or with which they disagree.  Free speech and guns are each citizen’s primary bulwark against despotic government.

Prancer, Dancer, and Vixen

Phil-Robertson-813x1024I linked obliquely to this video yesterday, but as the Phil Robertson matter heats up, I want to include the following Obamacare video here, with its focus on getting gay  men to sign up.  Please be warned that the video is vaguely NSFW.  There’s no bad language, nudity, or sex, but it’s full of partial nudity and gay sexual allusions that may make you and your colleagues uncomfortable.

As Dan Calabrese notes, although the government probably didn’t fund the video, it’s almost certain that taxpayer dollars funded the video indirectly.  The bigger point, however, is this one:

Now before you start disputing the comparison between this and the Phil Robertson situation, let’s get it straight. Yes, this is a video on YouTube and Phil Robertson could do one of those too. I’m talking about the broader stance of the prevailing culture. Robertson cites and embraces scriptural teaching on homosexuality, and he is suspended because A&E is “disappointed” in him for what he said. These guys prance around in a clear and unmistakable celebration of a) gay sex; and b) ObamaCare; and that’s perfectly fine because hey, what are you, some sorta bigot or something?

Please note that neither Calabrese nor I are saying this video shouldn’t have been made.  What he says, and I agree with this, is that in a truly free society, both videos get made, rather than having the one supporting traditional values get axed.

Two more things:

(1) Couldn’t they have gotten a better singer? Her voice is dreadful.

(2) Is it a coincidence in this carefully staged set piece that one of the prancers and dancers is wearing dog tags?

(I didn’t come up with my clever post title.  The friend who emailed me the link did, and it was such a delicious line that I had to borrow it.)

Now I remember why I don’t like the ACLU

Sometimes the ACLU remembers what it’s about and actually defends civil rights.  Most of the time, though, it’s just another hard-core Leftist organization.  Take its reaction to a Marin County Fair edict, for example.

The Marin County Fair in past years has been plagued with gangs from the Canal District, which is the large Hispanic area in San Rafael.  To try to crack down on violence, the Fair announced this year that it would ban gang-style clothing (which, incidentally, some of the “nice” boys in Marin wear too in an effort to look cool).

The ACLU has stepped in, and its theory basically says that cracking down on gang-wear is racist.  That is, it says that, since most gang members are Hispanic, banning their gang paraphernalia isn’t anti-gang, it’s racist:

Marin’s new ordinance cracking down on gang attire at the fair means that “hundreds, and probably thousands” of fairgoers will run the risk of violations, according to a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, adding that as a practical matter Latino youth are the real targets of a code that in effect formalizes racial profiling.

“Given this county’s identified gang population, it is Latino youth who will be taking a risk … not white youth wearing the identical items,” declared Alan L. Schlosser of Mill Valley, legal director of the ACLU of Northern California.

Undersheriff Mike Ridgway begged to differ, saying the county law does not discriminate and was “carefully crafted by attorneys to pass constitutional muster” while providing a more transparent process that includes advance notice of the gang insignia at issue.

BTW, it’s not a hardship for these young men (they’re always young men) to avoid gang wear. It’s just that the ACLU is claiming that it is inherently racist to ban clothes that lead to open warfare if the majority of those wearing them are minorities — never mind that they’re also the same young men who engage in open warfare.  The syllogism is sick:  Gang members wear gang clothes that are triggers for violence; these gang members are a subset of the Hispanic population; therefore it’s racist to ban gang clothes that are triggers for violence.

The Democrats’ attacks on free speech on their approach to the immigration bill demonstrate what good strategists they are.

Democrats are very organized.  I’m not just talking about their ability to whip up a rally at a moment’s notice or to elect a President with the help of a substantial voter fraud and government chicanery.  (I’m referring to the IRS scandal.)  Those were just the visible signs of Democrat organization.  As Mitch McConnell explained in a speech he delivered at the American Enterprise Institute, the Democrat effort to squelch conservative free speech goes back many years and does indeed start with Obama — but not quite in the way you’d expect.

I have to admit that I’m not usually very good at reading the transcripts from long speeches, but this was riveting.  McConnell reminds us that, when Democrats speak or act, there are no coincidences.  They are the well-ordered, always-got-a-plan crowd, while Republicans just muddle through, batting at balls as they come their way.

Whenever I look at the difference between Republicans and Democrats, I’m reminded of the Germans and the British in World War I.  The Germans, either because they realized early that trench warfare would last a long time, or because they were simply more meticulous, built trenches that were things of beauty:  deep, secure, and comfortable (given the limits on long ditches in the ground in the middle of battlefields).  The British, by contrast, simply dug slap dash holes in the ground, and then made do with them for the next several years.  The men had no protection from the elements, and simply wallowed in louse-ridden mud and filth for years.  That the British prevailed was due to the resources of her Empire, the quality of her fighters, and the fact that America came in and finished the war for her.

When it comes to organization versus chaos, it’s no coincidence that the Senate is set to pass another 1,200 page monstrosity that no one has read, this time on immigration.  The Democrats know precisely what’s in it and they do not want anybody to read it.  If the public finds out what Democrats know, they’d be screaming to the rooftops.  As it is, they’re supine as a bill that destroys American sovereignty and remakes her population (without any citizen input) is rushed into law.

My suspicion is that the Senate Dems actually don’t care if the House stops the bill.  In that event, all they have to do is scream that the Republicans are racist immigration enemies.  The fact that the bill is a disaster that no one should pass is irrelevant.  Since no one knows what’s in it, the Dems and their media can simply set the narrative.

In other words, it’s a win-win for Dems:  either they get a bill that turns us into a permanent low-income, welfare economy or they get to call Republicans racists.  And, with all the aplomb of the British in WWI, the Republicans will stand there shell-shocked, unable to figure out what hit them.

If you go below the fold, I’ve included McConnell’s entire speech here.  You’ll see that McConnell is trying to arouse Republicans and conservatives to intelligent efficiency.  Good luck to him!

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Both mandatory unions and mandatory professional organizations are antithetical to Constitutional Free Speech *UPDATED*

California Bar Seal

The State Bar of California, which I have to pay into in order to practice law in the State of California, long-ago abandoned its core responsibility of ensuring that people who hold themselves out as lawyers to California citizens are at least minimally qualified.  As with all these mandatory organizations, it’s turned into a political advocacy group and, again in sync with all these mandatory organizations, it advocates Left. That is, it forces me to pay money if I want to have a livelihood in my chosen profession, and spends that money on heavily politicized issues such as abortion.  (It hews so far Left that, even when I was a Democrat, I was offended by many of the political stands it took with my money.)

The State Bar isn’t the only professional organization that leans Left.  The American Bar Association is heavily political too in a Leftist kind of way. The difference between the ABA and the State Bar, though, is that the form is a voluntary organization. I was therefore able to cancel my membership when I realized that my money was being used to support political causes that were unrelated to law and with which I disagreed.  Sadly, I can’t opt out of the State Bar — not if I want to be a practicing lawyer, that is.

Looked at this way, I have the same lack of rights as union members who don’t live in in right-to-work states. Here’s the deal: if unions and bar associations limited themselves to their original function, which was to ensure that union workers have good conditions or that lawyers have reasonable qualifications, union dues and mandated bar memberships would be less of an issue. Unions and Bar associations, however, have drifted far afield from these core responsibilities.  They’ve branched out since the 1970s or so to become political action groups taking far Left stands on just about everything.

When states mandate that workers must join unions or that professionals must join professional associations, the state is effectively coercing citizens into funding speech with which they may disagree. Looked at this way, mandatory participation in activist unions and professional associations is a profound perversion of the First Amendment right to free speech. Free speech doesn’t just include the right to speak freely, it also includes the right to refrain from participating in speech with which one doesn’t agree.

All of this popped into my mind when I received an email from the president of the State Bar of California (emphasis mine):

Begging

By now, you should have already received your State Bar of California fee statement. Statements were sent out on Nov. 30, and many of you may be taking steps now to send your payments before the Feb. 1, 2013 deadline. If you have not yet received your statement, it may be helpful to know that you can sign in to My State Bar Profile to calculate and pay your 2013 fees.

As the president of the State Bar, I would like to take this moment to enlist your help with an important opportunity that you have through your annual dues.

As attorneys, other people’s problems challenge us to do our very best. We straighten out transactions gone awry. We resolve property and commercial disputes. We counsel our clients through criminal proceedings and personal difficulties and help with innumerable other problems that ordinary people have every day.

But there is a new challenge. Sadly, our economy has experienced an almost unprecedented downturn with interest rates at historic lows. It is the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Account (IOLTA)* revenue that pays for civil legal assistance for indigent people statewide; and it is barely a quarter of what it was in 2008. There is no cushion left as we struggle to close the justice gap – the gap between the legal needs of the poor and the legal help we can provide for them. This is an unprecedented crisis for those we are charged with protecting.

But there is a powerful step each of us can take in seeking a solution to the justice gap. Your tax-deductible donation to the Justice Gap Fund (a component of the statewide Campaign for Justice) will expand access to justice for the millions of Californians with nowhere else to turn. The Justice Gap Fund is the only statewide vehicle to restore critical funding to nearly 100 legal nonprofits that serve our biggest cities as well as the most isolated rural communities.

A gift made at line 10 of your annual dues statement, or online anytime at www.CAforJustice.org, will make a real difference.

Please join me in the Campaign for Justice. Make a life-changing gift to the Justice Gap Fund – it will make a real difference to those who most need our help.

I have to say that my heart strings remain un-tugged.  The Leftist policies of coercive organizations such as the California Bar Association helped lead to a long, deep economic collapse and painfully drawn-out recession.  The Bar, with its speech amplified by coerced dues, managed to out-shout someone like me, who would have had more money if the Bar hadn’t taken it away.  If I could have been left to my own political speech, I might then have been more amenable to contributing to a fund that helps poor people entangled in the political system.  Because the fund is owned and managed by the same group of people who contributed to this mess, however, I’ll hang onto my money until I find more worthy charities.

UPDATE:  You have to check out Michael Ramirez’s perfect editorial cartoon, because it distills to a single picture the whole free speech (or non-free speech) argument I made above.