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.

Quick links, pre-Christmas Eve edition

Victorian posy of pansiesI have a legal memo to write, so of course I had to check out all sorts of stuff on the internet first.  Here’s a quick run-down.

The Left loves to talk about McCarthyism.  The Left also loves to practice McCarthyism.  John O’Sullivan reminds us that GLAAD’s approach to the Robertson clan is a perfect example of the old-fashioned blacklist:  destroying the livelihood of those who hold that wrong belief system.  Whether you’re a baker, or a photographer, or a TV figure, if you don’t support gay marriage, plan to be driven to the poor house.  It was a bad idea in the 1950s, and it’s a bad idea now.

Not only did Glenn Reynolds write his usual great USA Today column (this one about Obama’s bad 2013 and the probability that 2014 will be worse), but he opened with a Soviet-era joke.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that most Soviet-era jokes need few or no changes to work in Obama’s America.

I’ve spoken before at this blog about the execrable Peter Singer, who holds an endowed chair at Princeton, who is the intellectual father of PETA, and who believes parents should have a 30 day window within which to euthanize handicapped newborns.  (Never mind that those handicaps may hide brilliant minds and powerful souls.)  I thought of Singer when I read Matt Walsh’s powerful post about the chasm between those who understand that we must support life and those who embrace death (the deaths of others, of course; never of themselves).

Rand Paul gets an A+++ for his wonderful embrace of Festivus.  If you haven’t read the stream of tweets he sent out, you must.  They’re clever, charming, and very on point.  As a political move, Paul couldn’t have done better.

Yes, Obamacare drives up the cost of health insurance for the middle class.  But if you’re a member of the middle class who’s upset about the costly lies Obama told you (less money! same doctors!), apparently you should quit your whining.  You are merely a sacrifice to the greater good.

Beware that, if the Muslim nations have their way, it will henceforth be illegal to mention Muslims’ propensity for violence or any of the other less savory aspects of their faith. Of course, such a law will simply put a legal gloss on what’s already happening.  After all, hasn’t the administration told us repeatedly that the Fort Hood massacre was “workplace violence,” while the Benghazi massacre was a film review run amok?  No Muslims here.  Just move along.

The headlines proclaim that Obama signed up for Obamacare.  Except that he didn’t — as with everything else about Obamacare, Obama and his team are lying to us again.

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.)

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!

[Read more...]

Lt. Col. Matthew Dooley — a patriot and soldier who is being destroyed by political correctness (at great cost to America)

A friend sent me an email which reminded me that I have been remiss insofar as I have not posted about Lt. Col Matthew Dooley.  I’m reprinting the email here to make up for that omission:

Lt Col Matthew Dooley

Lt. Col Matthew Dooley, a West Point graduate and highly-decorated combat veteran, was an instructor at the Joint Forces Staff College at the National Defense University. He had 19 years of service and experience, and was considered one of the most highly qualified military instructors on Radical Islam & Terrorism.

He taught military students about the situations they would encounter, how to react, about Islamic culture, traditions, and explained the mindset of Islamic extremists. Passing down first hand knowledge and experience, and teaching courses that were suggested (and approved) by the Joint Forces Staff College. The course “Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism” ,which was suggested and approved by the Joint Forces Staff College, caught the attention of several Islamic Groups, and they wanted to make an example of him.

They collectively wrote a letter expressing their outrage, and the Pro-Islamic Obama Administration was all too happy to assist. The letter was passed to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff , Martin Dempsey. Dempsey publicly degraded and reprimanded Dooley, and Dooley received a negative Officer Evaluation Report almost immediately (which he had aced for the past 5 years). He was relieved of teaching duties, and his career has been red-flagged.

“He had a brilliant career ahead of him. Now, he has been flagged.” – Richard Thompson, Thomas More Law Center

“All US military Combatant Commands, Services, the National Guard Bureau, and Joint Chiefs are under Dempsey’s Muslim Brotherhood-dictated order to ensure that henceforth, no US military course will ever again teach truth about Islam that the jihadist enemy finds offensive ,or just too informative.” – Former CIA agent Claire M. Lopez (about Lt. Col Dooley)

The Obama Administration has demonstrated lightning speed to dismiss Military brass that does not conform to its agenda, and not surprisingly, nobody is speaking up for Lt. Col. Dooley.

IT’S A SAD DAY FOR THIS COUNTRY WHEN GOOD LOYAL MEN LIKE THIS GET THROWN UNDER THE BUS BECAUSE NOBODY HAS THE COURAGE TO STAND UP!

Share this if you would. Lets bring some attention to this.

Lt. Col. Dooley is the tip of the iceberg. Soon, as PC continues to pave the way for Sharia law, we will all be Lt. Col. Dooley.

Still clearing the spindle (this may take awhile)

I winnowed down half of my emails yesterday, but still have more than 200 to go.  Some of them, I’m embarrassed to admit, date back to early-ish December.  Those that I’m linking to here are still relevant, though, so don’t be deterred by my delay in posting them.  Also, heads up to those who wrote to me a month ago:  You may finally be getting your reply!  I’ll start with a handful of posts from today, and then start digging into the past:

In his inimitable style, Jonah Goldberg reminds us that, when it comes to guns, as with all things, the perfect is the enemy of the good.  (And if you’d like to read an older book that focuses on the deleterious effects on society from the bureaucrat’s futile, expensive, and Kafka-esque search for perfection, read Philip K. Howard’s The Death of Common Sense: How Law Is Suffocating America.)

Orwell wouldn’t be surprised if he returned from the dead today and found himself on Carleton University’s campus in Canada.  Within hours of students putting up a free speech wall, an “activist” student in his 7th year (that’s not a typo) ripped it down, loudly declaiming that “not every opinion is valid, nor deserving of expression.”  Orwell, of course, phrased it better when he said that “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

We’re taking a moment here for an important public health announcement:  If you’re a woman heading towards or already going through menopause, estrogen therapy not only will not kill you, it will make your life better and, possibly, protect you from certain cancers.  I anxiously look forward (heh!) to the moment when scientists announce that their widely expressed fears about anthropogenic climate change were also wrong, and that we can all stop panicking now.

I’m always embarrassed when I think back to the way I used to admire Thomas Friedman’s faux-sophistication.  Fortunately, as I’ve grown older, I’ve distinguished myself from Friedman by growing wiser too.  That’s why I appreciated this absolutely splendid attack on his most recent idiocy, this one concerning Iran.

Ed Driscoll looks at the icky sexuality and childish adulation that describes so much of the elite Left’s attachment to Obama.  Would it be wrong of me to say that the first part of this way of thinking is a direct lineal descendent of the Democrats’ Jim Crow and slavery approach to blacks, one that saw them view black men fearfully as hyper-sexual beings?

My personal road to Hell is heavily paved with good intentions.  Among those good intentions are book reviews.  I’m fortunate enough to receive books in the mail or on my iPad, and I do really and truly intend to review them.  Somehow, though, the mere phrase “book review” sends me spinning back to 7th grade, and I start procrastinating like crazy.  While I’m procrastinating, I’ll at least give you the link to a very interesting, timely, and somewhat worrisome book that came my way:  Larry Kelley’s Lessons from Fallen Civilizations: Can a Bankrupt America Survive the Current Islamic Threat?.  I won’t give away the ending.  You have to read it yourself, keeping in mind that it was written before Obama’s reelection.

If you thought that the Left is seldom right, you are correct, as this 40 minute video explains.

One of the things the Left does very successfully is to celebrate things that didn’t used to be celebrated (gay marriage, unmarried mothers, etc.).  This GAP Christmas ad campaign is a good example.  As is so often the case when it comes to message, we need to take a page out of the Left’s book.  Instead of constantly challenging their celebrations (challenges that are often divisive when it comes to social conservatives and libertarians), why don’t we start celebrating things we like.  In other words, let’s catch society being good.  When you go on social networks, including new conservative entrants such as Helen’s Page or Ritely, don’t just fulminate about the Left or even praise only conservatives.  Highlight something cheerful and positive that also advances traditional values.

Okay.  I’m down to 175 emails.  More later.  Right now, I’m meeting some conservative gals for lunch.  Yay!

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.

Sunday morning Open Thread — plus a mish mash of news and ideas

Nothing in this morning’s news, or in my own life for that matter, is moving me sufficiently to justify a full post on a single subject or idea.  I did find some interesting things online, though, that I’d like to share with you.  Also, I always appreciate it when you share interesting things right back at me.

***

It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that I must get myself a copy of Greg Lukianoff’s Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate.  George Will wrote about it today:

In recent years, a University of Oklahoma vice president has declared that no university resources, including e-mail, could be used for “the forwarding of political humor/commentary.” The College at Brockport in New York banned using the Internet to “annoy or otherwise inconvenience” anyone. Rhode Island College prohibited, among many other things, certain “attitudes.” Texas Southern University’s comprehensive proscriptions included “verbal harm” from damaging “assumptions” or “implications.” Texas A&M promised “freedom from indignity of any type.” Davidson banned “patronizing remarks.” Drexel University forbade “inappropriately directed laughter.” Western Michigan University banned “sexism,” including “the perception” of a person “not as an individual, but as a member of a category based on sex.” Banning “perceptions” must provide full employment for the burgeoning ranks of academic administrators.

Many campuses congratulate themselves on their broad-mindedness when they establish small “free-speech zones” where political advocacy can be scheduled. At one point Texas Tech’s 28,000 students had a “free-speech gazebo” that was 20 feet wide. And you thought the First Amendment made America a free-speech zone.

Young people, rather than being taught mental toughness, are having their brains turned into jello.  They are left like two-year olds who scream “No” loudly and repeatedly whenever anything challenges beliefs or desires.  What’s really frightening is that they have now become the intellectual equivalents of feral animals.  They cannot have their minds changed through reason, since they do not know reason.  They can have them changed only through brute force and bribery.

***

The Leftist mindset encourages racism against whites, because under Leftist rules, it’s impossible for whites to be the objects of discrimination (emphasis mine):

The San Francisco Housing Authority, which runs more than 6,000 units of public housing for the city’s poor, is headed by an executive director who discriminates against white employees in favor of African Americans and regularly employs offensive, outlandish language and behavior in the workplace, according to a lawsuit filed by the agency’s own lawyer.

The suit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court by the agency’s assistant general counsel, Tim Larsen, paints executive director Henry Alvarez as a mercurial bully – a description echoed in interviews with The Chronicle by several others who have had close contact with Alvarez since his arrival at the Housing Authority in 2008.

[snip]

Larsen, who is white, has worked at the Housing Authority for eight years and says that he was repeatedly passed over for promotions and plum assignments in favor of African American employees.

Alvarez is African American, and according to Larsen’s lawsuit, screamed at Larsen daily; gave him menial jobs such as organizing recycling; and told him to “stop being so Anglo,” that he “did not have enough kink in his hair,” and that “if you had more melatonin in your skin, I could make you my deputy.”

[snip]

Amos Brown, president of the Housing Authority Commission, staunchly defended Alvarez, saying Larsen’s lawsuit “is not about Henry.”

“You have someone who’s white, someone with specious, fallacious allegations, filing a suit that he was discriminated against,” said Brown, who is African American. “It’s a joke. How can he be discriminated against?”

***

Racist!!!  (I mean, it is racist if you criticize a black person, isn’t it?)

***

Europe is allowing itself to live with and be controlled by another Big Lie.  This lie is that it’s Israel’s own fault that they hate her so:

For Israel’s European critics, “Greater Israel” is no longer all of the West Bank, which even Netanyahu has conceded may be ceded for a real peace deal, nor even retention of an undivided Jerusalem. They are now acting as if any Israeli government that acts as if it is going to hold onto all of the Jewish areas of Jerusalem is a foe of peace. In doing so, they are not only distorting Israel’s position — which is still perfectly compatible with a two-state solution based on the ’67 lines with swaps — but also covering up or ignoring the fact that the Palestinians have refused Israeli offers of a state and now no longer even wish to negotiate.

Only by ignoring history can Europe pretend that it’s position is just. The Palestinians also specialize in Orwellian historical rewrites.

And these are the people Obama so desperately wants us to emulate?

No one is better at self-delusion than a Leftist.  I watched the first few minutes of Anthony Bourdain’s Layover, this one about what one can do with 24 hours in Paris.  The videos on the Travel Channel website consist of short clips from the show, focusing on the substance of what he says, which is interesting.  What the clips don’t include is the introduction Bourdain gave for the full half hour show:  In it, he lauded Paris’s free medical care, long vacations, short work weeks, and focus on the good life of eating and recreation, all of which he attributed to France’s socialism.  How elite.  How sweet.  How sadly out of date.  Piercing this gauzy veil of cliches means acknowledging that France’s economy is a disaster.  Its free medical care, long vacations, short work weeks, and good life are unsustainable.  Only by clinging to the delusion, rather than the reality, can Leftists continue to justify pushing socialism on the United States.  (And in this vein, please check out this tongue-in-cheek letter to Forbes.)

***

On a topic that is related only because it involves Israel, the IDF website has a fascinating story about the way in which it analyzes mistakes so as to avoid them in future.  It’s so tempting, when things go wrong, to look away from them, or to find a scapegoat, in order to avoid dealing with the unpleasant possibility that you erred.  However, unless you confront that possibility, you cannot avoid precisely the same error in the future.  In the wake of the election, Republicans need to focus on identifying and correcting errors, rather than spending their time whining and scapegoating people (i.e., saying “Romney was a boring technocrat who ran a lousy campaign,” rather than saying “Romney’s campaign should have done this differently.  Now we know better.”).

***

Taking a page out of Glenn Reynold’s book, it probably behooves me to remind you that I’m an Amazon Associate.  This means that, when you access Amazon through a link on my page, even if you don’t buy the linked item, I get a penny (or fraction thereof) on every dollar of goods you purchase.  I don’t know what you purchase or even who makes those purchases.  I just know that the more people who reach Amazon through my portal, the more pennies I get.  If you’re thinking of doing a little Christmas shopping online, I would appreciate it if you’d use this Amazon home page link or if you’d link through the Amazon ad in the sidebar (listing books and other items I recommend).