Mar 5, 201409:04 AMBlaska's Bring It!
with David Blaska
When did progressives declare war on free speech?
(page 1 of 2)
Was it in the 1990s, when Donna Shalala’s University of Wisconsin-Madison enacted draconian politically correct speech codes? When professors were forced to defend against anonymous complaints deposited into drop boxes for that very purpose? When the crowd routinely shouted down minority opinions without repercussion?
Today, citizens asleep in their beds are being startled awake in pre-dawn raids. Armed police are shouting orders, rummaging through drawers, seizing computers, all the while detaining parents and children. Kitchen sink subpoenas have been issued for “all memoranda, email … correspondence, and communications.”
This is not Putin’s Russia but Wisconsin 2014, collateral damage of the secret John Doe investigation loosened by the Democratic district attorney in Milwaukee County. His quarry? Not heroin or the mafia. Not foreign or domestic terrorism. No, the strong arm of the state is using its police powers to ferret out evidence that American citizens of a conservative bent have conspired to commit free speech without government permission. Their alleged sin? One group of conservatives may have spoken with another group of conservatives in violation of campaign law. Coordination most damnable! The law is the law, but where is the proportionality?
What is frustrating is that none of the usual First Amendment suspects hereabouts can summon so much as a nervous cough. Can’t hear you, Bill Lueders of the Freedom of Information Council. Paging Jay Heck of Common Cause. Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, you’re missing in in action.
The Capital Times and The New York Times, both of them corporations, are all-in for gelding the First Amendment on the basis that some organizations have too much speech, others not enough.
With their liberal friends in Congress, including Mark Pocan and Tammy Baldwin, they want to undo the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2010’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. They want to restore the so-called McCain-Feingold campaign finance law that forbade citizens organized as corporations from speaking out on issues important to their members 60 days before an election — with a generous carve-out for newspaper corporations, of course. (If I don’t own a press, may I rent Page 2 for an advertisement?)
The lawyer who represented The New York Times against President Richard Nixon in the Pentagon Papers case is appalled.
“The same journalists who would go to the barricades to defend the right of Nazis to march in Skokie, or who would write editorials of the strongest sort defending the rights of pornographers to put their stuff on the Internet, or people engaged in the vilest sort of hate speech to have their say on the Internet,” celebrated attorney Floyd Abrams said, “were now supporting a law that would criminalize the very kind of speech that deserves the strongest possible protection in our constitutional system.” (See The Weekly Standard.)
Freedom of speech is being attacked across the board. Last summer, Mayor Paul Soglin proposed a political test for companies seeking to do business with the City of Madison. Soglin “is wondering if companies supporting Republican causes would rather lobby against the city or do business with it,” The Capital Times reported, approvingly.
That same summer, it was revealed that the IRS had been sandbagging conservative applications for 501(c)3 organizations.
It now comes to light that the FCC tried to insert the federal government into newsrooms across the country to grill news people about how they decide which stories to run. One FCC Commissioner objected. “The government has no place pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.” Byron York in the Washington Examiner exposed the role of the UW’s School of Journalism in this Orwellian enterprise.