Tag: First Amendment

Do you support the First Amendment?

Courtland Culver:

President Donald Trump has seemingly gone back and forth on his opinion of the First Amendment. Just a couple of months ago, the president issued an executive order tying federal research funding to free speech protections given by colleges and universities.

Like many college students, I applauded this as a victory for freedom of speech. I was thrilled that we students could enjoy the freedom to express our opinions and encourage intellectual diversity anywhere on campus—not just in designated “free speech zones.” Then the president made the following tweet:

This tweet is troubling for several reasons. It means the president is not the crusader for free speech he may have earlier appeared to be. This should not come as a shock, however, as Trump is a populist: His stances are often based not on ideologies or absolutes but on what he believes will resonate the best with his base. What is more troubling is how those who pay lip service to conservatism and to defending the Constitution have readily thrown themselves behind the president’s statement.

For example, Candace Owens tweeted the next day that while there should be no jail time or fines imposed on Americans who have set the American flag ablaze, they should be given a year to liquidate their assets and “get the hell out of our country.” When the constitutionality of her campaign promise was questioned, she justified her stance by claiming that the First Amendment includes certain exceptions, citing specifically the fact that it is illegal to yell “fire” in a crowded building.

Without delving into the constitutionality of laws such as yelling “fire” in a movie theater, or hate speech laws, there are plenty of reasons why making flag burning illegal is dangerous to our republic and contrary to the founding principles of the United States.

Founding father James Madison once said,

For the people to rule wisely, they must be free to think and speak without fear of reprisal.

Madison believed that the right to free speech should be absolute, as the fear of punishment for having the wrong opinion would deter people from speaking out against the state. James Madison was not alone in this view.

John Stewart Mill’s reasoning for the importance of absolute freedom of speech was four-fold. First, for a governing body to deny the right of a person to say something is to say that it knows, in absolute terms, what is right and what is wrong. To deny anybody of the right to express an opinion is to claim infallibility. And to be clear, the US government (as well as President Trump) is by no means infallible.

Second, Mill taught that in silencing a belief, even a false one, a government may still be silencing some truth. Just because someone has an opinion that is wrong on the whole does not mean that every aspect of the opinion is wrong. Third, a belief, even when true, is held more strongly when it withstands scrutiny. When an idea is accepted without being challenged, says Mills, it is not held as strongly and is at greater risk of being lost in the future.

Therefore, it is important that society is exposed to wrong ideas in order to strengthen their belief in the right ones. Finally, Mill taught that any abridgment of the right to free speech carries the risk of the entirety of the right falling. We see this in Owens’ argument. If society agrees that one form of speech should be punished, why not this one, as well?

If Mill’s warning is to be believed, the president and Miss Owens are heading down a slippery slope. There are going to be instances where free speech makes people uncomfortable, but it is the bedrock of a free society, and when it is chipped away, a people risks the very institutions that were built because of it. Flag burning sends a powerful message and is an act that should not be taken lightly. However, it is imperative that we fight for the universal right to do it on any occasion.

Anyone who doesn’t support the free expression of ideas they disagree with, such as burning a flag — be it an American flag or the rainbow LGBTQ flag — can’t really be called a supporter of free expression.

Neither can someone who espouses this, reported by the Daily Wire:

Democrat Rep. Frederica Wilson led a congressional delegation to inspect an immigrant detention facility on Tuesday and following her visit she said that people who are “making fun of members of Congress” online “should be prosecuted.” …

“Those people who are online making fun of members of Congress are a disgrace and there is no need for anyone to think that is unacceptable,” Wilson said during a press conference. “We are going to shut them down and work with whoever it is to shut them down, and they should be prosecuted.” …

Wilson garnered national spotlight in October 2017 over a spat she had with then-White House chief of staff John Kelly, who called Wilson “someone that is that empty a barrel” for allegedly using “a presidential call to Gold Star widow Myeshia Johnson for her own political gain.”

Wilson later laughed over the whole ordeal, which sparked national outrage, after she said on camera: “I’m a rock star now.”

Vote for Democrats, and this is what you get.

Sadly, most Americans do not support the First Amendment. That is, most Americans value their own right of free expression far more than the rights of others, particularly those with whom they disagree — people with opposing political views, a religion they don’t like, a news media outlet they don’t read, and so on.

 

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Because free speech always needs defending

Bosch Fawstin:

What kind of world would it be if no one drew Mohammad? A world without Free Speech, like the Islamic world. I never want to live in that world, and drawing Mohammad is how I personally keep that world at bay. Unfortunately, almost no one is drawing Mohammad cartoons today. The horrible fact is that terrorism has worked. The violent response to criticism of Islam and of Mohammad cartoons has made those of us who continue to criticize Islam and draw Mohammad a very small minority, making us easier to pick off by leftists who want to character assassinate us, in order to ban us from mainstream society, and Muslims who want to literally assassinate us. (The word assassin is of Arabic origin).

Whatever reason that those who can draw and who claim to support Free Speech don’t draw Mohammad –and I’ve heard it all, from them claiming that they have no “interest” in doing so, to it’s just not their “thing”- the simple reason is that the murders and death threats have shut them up and shut down their alleged support for freedom. Islam’s got their tongues and their pens, and they’re ashamed to admit it. People ask me why I draw Mohammad, since I get death threats, and the reason I draw Mohammad is because of the death threats. The way I see it, death threats are not a reason to NOT draw Mohammad, but TO draw Mohammad. I never set out to draw Mohammad, and even being raised Muslim, I didn’t know of the Islamic prohibition of drawing him, but when Danish cartoonists were threatened with death over drawing Mohammad, I did what’s natural for someone who loves freedom, especially when it’s threatened, and I began drawing Mohammad, and I haven’t stopped since.

My winning Mohammad cartoon explicitly spells out why I draw Mohammad in the first place, and that’s in defiance of the Islamic prohibition, which leads Muslims to threaten to murder over cartoons. Though Mohammad cartoons are blamed for inciting Islamic violence, in truth, it’s Islamic violence that incites Mohammad cartoons.

Mark Steyn wrote the following about my winning Mohammad cartoon, in his article “Stay Silent And You’ll Be Okay” :

“It’s less about Mohammed than about the prohibition against drawing Mohammed—and the willingness of a small number of Muslims to murder those who do, and a far larger number of Muslims both enthusiastic and quiescent to support those who kill. Mr.Fawstin understands the remorseless logic of one-way multiculturalism—that it leads to the de facto universal acceptance of Islamic law.”

We’ve failed to avenge 9/11, and we’re allowing a very defeatable enemy to remained undefeated, nearly 18 years later, as it continues to mass murder across the world. We’ve failed to defend Free Speech after the Danish Mohammad Cartoons and the Charlie Hebdo massacre, with almost no Western publication publishing the Mohammad cartoons. We all know, but rarely admit, that the vast majority of Western politicians who are charged to protect us can live with the deaths of Westerners at the hands of Muslims, (though they can’t live with criticism of Islam) and that bottomless corruption has spilled over into the West at large, poisoning the majority of us who can now live with the deaths of our fellow Westerners, with very little protest.

We still have freedom of speech, yet far too many of us operate as if it’s long gone. And to those who think that we shouldn’t criticize Islam until government guarantees our safety, as some have told me over the years: Freedom isn’t won and maintained by keeping our mouths shut. That’s how tyranny wins. I have never waited for government protection to speak out against Islam and draw Mohammad, and those who claim to be waiting for this government protection that doesn’t exist, were never going to speak out against Islam or draw Mohammad anyway. It’s their ultimate excuse to remain silent in the face of evil. “But it’s not my duty!”, some cry. It’s about self-respect, it’s about being honest, it’s about not allowing evil to have its way in the world. It’s about exercising your right to speak while you still have it.

We’ve been warned about government censorship, we were worried about the FCC, but in this post-9/11 world, we’re censoring ourselves, and the government wouldn’t have it any other way. We, the people, are doing their dirty work for them, and government bureaucrats are sitting back and laughing their asses off. We’re censoring ourselves daily, from powerful leftist-run social media and tech companies punishing us for challenging their anti-Western, pro-Islam agenda, to leftists across our culture crusading against speech that they hate, which they call “hate speech”, to conservatives placing “respect” for religion above necessary criticism of Islam, to the worst censorship of all, self-censorship. So long as we have Free Speech, we must exercise it, because without it, Freedom is over.

Those who are waiting for the coast to be clear in order to speak the truth about Islam and to draw Mohammad, are parasites who are relying on others to clear the coast.

Truth-tellers don’t wait for guaranteed government protection before speaking the truth- as they’re honest enough to know that there’s no such thing- and they continue telling the truth about Islam and to draw Mohammad, even in the face of threats. Those who say what must be said will hopefully lead to those in power finally doing what must be done.

If we act as if Free Speech is over, it will be.

On World “Press” “Freedom” Day

The Wisconsin Newspaper Association announces:

As World Press Freedom Day approaches on Friday, May 3, news organizations around the world are encouraged to join in the “Defend Journalism” campaign.

The campaign is intended to stand up for free, independent and quality journalism. Special editorial coverage dedicated to the campaign will be amplified by UNESCO.

This year’s theme for World Press Freedom Day is “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation.” Organizations are encouraged to promote the key messages:

  • Facts, not falsehoods should inform citizens’ decisions during elections.
  • Technology innovations should be used to help achieve peaceful elections.
  • Transparency and the right to information protect the integrity of elections.
  • Journalists should be able to work without fear of attacks.
  • Internet shutdown compromise democracy.
  • An open and accessible internet for all.
  • Fair and independent reporting can counter incitement and hate.
  • Informed citizens that think critically can contribute to peaceful elections.
  • Media contributes to peaceful, just and inclusive societies.

More from World News Publishing Focus:

News organisations across the globe are encouraged to participate in the “Defend Journalism” campaign surrounding #WorldPressFreedomDay to stand up for free, independent and quality journalism, and to dedicate special editorial coverage in the build-up to May 3. UNESCO will amplify their content, as they have done with media partners in previous years.

UNESCO is providing news organisations with materials such as banners for print, digital, and social media in the six official UN languages to build momentum around #WorldPressFreedomDay.

The global conference for the Day will take place in Addis Ababa, jointly organised by UNESCO, the Government of Ethiopia and the African Union Commission.

This year, the annual World Press Freedom Prize will be awarded to the two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, imprisoned in Myanmar.

First: UNESCO, for those unaware, is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The U.S. and Israel left UNESCO earlier this year over UNESCO’s organizational bias against Israel, which is only our longest-standing ally in the Middle East. But that’s not the only problem with UNESCO, as Time Magazine reports:

The Trump administration’s statement cited “mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO” as reasons for the decision. Those rationales echo arguments made by the administration of president Ronald Reagan in December 1983, when the U.S. previously announced a decision to pull out of UNESCO: “UNESCO has extraneously politicized virtually every subject it deals with. It has exhibited hostility toward a free society, especially a free market and a free press, and it has demonstrated unrestrained budgetary expansion.” …

When 37 nations created UNESCO as a human rights organization promoting education, science and cultural causes in November 1945, “it was essentially a western entity, dominated by western funding,” says political scientist Jerry Pubantz, co-author of To Create a New World? American Presidents and the United Nations and co-editor of The Encyclopedia of the United Nations. School systems in Europe were undergoing “denazification” and, as part of that process, the U.S. wanted to be sure that they taught World War II accurately. UNESCO was a way to influence those curricula. Likewise, during the Cold War, American officials imagined UNESCO as an advocate for free speech in an era of communist propaganda.

But, as more members joined the group — about 160 members by July 1983 — U.S. policy makers grew worried their voices would be drowned out. The newest members were “largely the decolonized new independent states of Africa and Asia” who “tended to be less supportive of American policies, and more supportive of the Soviet bloc’s position,” says Pubantz.

In addition, some U.S. officials soured on the group because, despite the new members, they felt the U.S. was left footing a disproportionate amount of the bill for UNESCO’s work. Or Jeane Kirkpatrick, who represented the U.S. at the U.N. put it, “The countries which have the votes don’t pay the bill, and those who pay the bill don’t have the votes,” as TIME reported in a Jan. 9, 1984, article.

That feature, “Waving Goodbye to UNESCO,” summed up specific events that contributed to the decision to pull out of UNESCO:

The voters who elected Reagan may have influenced the decision, too. Russell L. Riley, a presidential historian at the University of Virginia, adds that the rationale behind leaving UNESCO jibed with the Reagan administration’s overall economic agenda: “It was an easy way to save a little money and could prove to Americans that we [U.S. government officials] were being fiscally responsible.”

Increasing government control over the media and press freedom are oxymorons, and UNESCO’s involvement should make everyone suspect of …

This is the second time in nine months that the media felt the need to rally around and promote itself. The first was due to the orange-haired meanie in the White House, for whom they should be thanking God — or would if they were religious, though they are not — for Trump’s making their work as easy as humanly possible. In the same way that dissent has become patriotic again now that an R and not a D is in the White House, harsh reporting upon said Oval Office occupant and his party is back in style, as it was not between 2009 and 2016.

Some of the aforementioned “key” messages should be noncontroversial. (Point three was lost on the Obama White House, and appears to be lost on this state’s Evers administration, which bars the MacIver Institute from access because MacIver has the wrong ideology.) Point four, about journalists’ working without fear of attacks (I thought the only thing we had to fear was fear itself), seems more motivated by those mean words of Donald Trump than people like Lyra McKee, who was killed in Northern Ireland by “dissident republicans.” Every time a journalist whines about mean Trump, that journalist demonstrates a lack of backbone (which I suppose reads less harsh than “cowardice”) when journalists elsewhere in the world are reporting at risk to their own lives.

What about Annapolis? Read here.

That part about “diverse sources” is ironic given that much of the news media’s current problems have to do with a lack of “diverse” sources — that is, intellectually and ideologically diverse, sources beyond the liberal institutional/governmental status quo. Arguably diversity is less of a media problem than reporters’ inability to relate to their own readers.

People will jump, and should, all over the part about “just and inclusive societies.” Our job as journalists is to report, not foment societal change, and those in for the latter reason are in journalism for the wrong reasons. Reporting might start societal change, but (1) remember that “change” and ‘progress” are not synonyms and change can be positive or negative, and (2) it is incredibly arrogant for journalists to assume they know where society should change.

Then there’s this, from Ryan Foley:

On Sunday’s edition of her weekly syndicated show Full Measure, host Sharyl Attkisson discussed the results of a poll conducted by Scott Rasmussen that reflects very negatively on media credibility. During an on-screen interview with Attkisson, the pollster highlighted the most shocking result of the poll: “78 percent of voters say that…what reporters do with political news is promote their agenda. They think they use incidents as props for their agenda rather than seeking to accurately record what happened” while “only 14 percent think that a journalist is actually reporting what happened.” Rasmussen continued: “if a reporter found out something that would hurt their favorite candidate, only 36 percent of voters think that they would report that.” Rasmussen summed up the results of the poll by declaring that voters see journalists as a “political activist, not as a source of information.” 

One reason why Republicans and conservatives should support press freedom, including open government records, is in this state, during Act 10 and Recallarama, when, thanks to the fact that election petition signatures are public records (specifically the recall effort against Gov. Scott Walker), we got to find out the people who (1) get government paychecks, (2) are candidates for office, or (3) are in the news media who signed the petitions. That is the public’s right to know.

There will never be support for press freedom from politicians. There is no question in my mind that all the Democrats jumping on the media bandwagon are hoping they will be treated with the same light touch that the media used on Obama, before him Bill Clinton, and after him Hillary Clinton. (Which has a lot to do with mean orange-hair man now in the Oval Office, but you can tell that to neither Democrats nor journalists.) Reporters worth their salt revel in being hated by politicians of any or no party. Then again, reporters worth their salt don’t hold parties celebrating themselves.

Something else you may not see acknowledged today is that the First Amendment does not belong merely to the press. (And the news media includes more than however the media defines itself, with the intent of squelching out alternative voices. The marketplace of ideas should decide which news media outlets are legitimate and which are not based on the quality of their work.) Like this state’s Open Meetings and Open Records laws, our First Amendment rights apply to every American, not just to the news media. It would be nice if the news media acknowledged that fact, as well as our other constitutional rights.

 

The free press and Trump, and me

The Boston Globe reports:

Around 200 news publications across the United States have committed to a Boston Globe-coordinated effort to run editorials Thursday promoting the freedom of the press, in light of President Trump’s frequent attacks on the media.

Some of the most respected and widely circulated newspapers in the country have committed to taking a stand in their editorial pages, including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News, The Denver Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Chicago Sun-Times. The list ranges from large metropolitan dailies to small weekly papers with circulations as low as 4,000.

The Globe initiative comes amid the president’s repeated verbal attacks on journalists, calling mainstream press organizations “fake news” and “the enemy of the American people.” Tensions came to a boil in early August when CNN reporter Jim Acosta walked out of a press briefing after White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders refused to refute Trump’s “enemy of the people” comments.

‘‘We are not the enemy of the people,’’ Marjorie Pritchard, deputy managing editor of the Globe’s opinion page, told the AP last week.

The Globe’s request to denounce the “dirty war against the free press” has been promoted by industry groups such as the American Society of News Editors, as well as regional groups like the New England Newspaper and Press Association. The request also suggested editorial boards take a stand against Trump’s words regardless of their politics, or whether they generally editorialized in support of or in opposition to the president’s policies.

‘‘Our words will differ. But at least we can agree that such attacks are alarming,’’ the Globe appeal said. …

Pritchard previously said the decision to reach out to newspapers was reached after Trump appeared to step up his rhetoric in recent weeks. He called the media “fake, fake disgusting news” at an Aug. 2 rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

‘‘Whatever happened to the free press? Whatever happened to honest reporting?’’ he asked at the rally, pointing to journalists covering the event. ‘‘They don’t report it. They only make up stories.’’

Pritchard said she hoped the editorials would make an impression on Americans.

‘‘I hope it would educate readers to realize that an attack on the First Amendment is unacceptable,’’ she said. ‘‘We are a free and independent press; it is one of the most sacred principles enshrined in the Constitution.’’

If you are a supporter of the free press specifically and the First Amendment generally, then you should accept the existence of, if not agree with, opposing points of view — in this case, Patricia McCarthy:

[Pritchard’s] big idea is her response to President Trump’s relentless attack on those among the media who relentlessly publish fake news.  Trump has never said all of the media are disingenuous, or that all of the media publish and promote fake news.  He clearly goes after the news outlets who do: CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NPR, CBS, NBC, NYT, WaPo, L.A. Times, and too many others.

The president is targeting what has become known as the mainstream media, the MSM, or the “drive-bys,” as Rush Limbaugh rightfully calls them.  They are clones of one another.  There is not an original thought or idea among their “reporters.”  Their reporters are not journalists in any sense of the word.  They all take their marching orders from the leftists who head up each of these organizations.  Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, not one of them deviated from the Clinton campaign party line.

Ms. Pritchard, then, is working hard to prove Trump’s point.  He rages against the leftist machine that is the MSM, and she is bound and determined to prove him right for all to see.  She, and all those editors who are jumping onto her bandwagon, is playing right into his hands.  How clueless can these anti-Trumpers be?  They are mind-numbed idiots, so easily trolled by the master.  They see themselves as defenders of the free press!

The only free press today is vast, available to all of us, and thoroughly outside their realm of conformity.  They think they matter; they have yet to grasp the fact that they are largely irrelevant.  Jim Acosta thinks he is a reporter; he is a rude clown, subservient to tyrants, disrespectful to Trump and Sarah Sanders.  He actually thinks people care what he says, does, or thinks.  They do not.  He is a joke.

Since interest has dimmed in Stormy Daniels and her “creepy porn lawyer,” as Tucker Carlson has dubbed him, the new star the MSM are celebrating is the pathetic Omarosa Manigault Newman, with her book of lies and accusations that everyone knows are fabricated.  The anchors on all the MSM outlets know exactly who and what she is but are wooing her in the hope that she will be the one to take Trump down.  They never give up.  They never learn.  From the Access Hollywood tape to Omarosa, they are confident that each new lowlife with a story to tell will be the one to overturn the election.  They are like Energizer bunnies; they have motors but no brains.  They never give up, no matter how ridiculous the attacks on Trump become.  In short, they are utter fools.

Ms. Pritchard says newspapers use “differing words.”  Uh, no, they don’t.  They use the same words.  Just as that JournoList functioned under Obama, talking points went out, and they all repeated them verbatim.  These people do not think for themselves.  Throw a differing, conservative opinion at them, and they cry racism.  That is their only defense, no matter how specious.

Conservatives are looking forward to Thursday’s coordinated anti-Trump editorials.  We will have a definitive list of news outlets to never trust again because they will have revealed themselves to be unthinking soldiers in a nasty war against a man for whom over sixty million Americans voted to be their president.  So far, he has been a truly terrific president.  He has accomplished more good for the nation than either Bush or Obama did in sixteen years.

  • Economy great thanks to tax cuts and de-regulation.
  • Unemployment at lowest point ever, for blacks and Hispanics, too.
  • Food stamp use down by a few million.

The man who has accomplished all this in nineteen months is whom they want to destroy.  What does that tell us about who the left is today?  Leftists do not have the country’s best interest at heart.  Their hatred of this man motivates them in a most destructive way.  Let those hundred or so newspapers follow Pritchard’s orders and publish their anti-Trump op-eds on Thursday.  They will be demonstrating for all to see just how right Trump is when he calls out the perpetrators of fake news.

McCarthy’s piece is an opinion. So is whatever those 200 newspapers write today and this week.

One of Wisconsin’s best weekly newspapers wrote this piece this week on its opinion page, patriotically called The First Amendment, that its veteran award-winning editor doubts fits into what the Globe has in mind.

As someone who has been doing this crap — I mean, has been a journalist — for three decades, I have trouble fitting in on this subject, which I will attempt to explain here.

Is the free press vital to this democratic republic? There is absolutely no question that it is. Trump specifically and whichever party and politicians in power conveniently forget that, or don’t want that to be the case, far too often. But Trump isn’t the first president to try to prevent the press from doing its job, though he probably has been the most verbal about it. (Other than Harry S. Truman, who once threatened to punch out Washington Post music critic Paul Hume for the latter’s uncomplimentary review of Truman’s daughter’s performance. Trump hasn’t gone that far. Yet.)

Should Trump not say bad things about the news media? Well … I don’t care what Trump or any other politician says about the media generally or myself specifically. I really don’t. Once upon a time when journalists had more backbone than today, nasty comments from politicians were something a journalist should put on his or her résumé.

Our job as journalists is to hold the powerful accountable, regardless of party or lack of party. Politicians, law enforcement, the criminal justice system, the educational system and every other level and function of government everywhere do their work with our tax dollars, and for that reason alone the free press is necessary to make sure they’re doing what they should be doing, and not doing what they should not be doing.

Freedom of the press is part of the First Amendment. The First Amendment does not belong just to the press. It belongs to all Americans, and if it doesn’t, then it’s just almost-illegible words on old paper. The Wisconsin Constitution’s free-expression protections also belong to all Wisconsinites, as do the state Open Meetings Law and Open Records Law.

There seems to be a bit of a misunderstanding today about the media and its history on the subject of reporter bias. The period where the media was seen as impartial is not that old in American history.

To too many people “unbiased” actually means “biased in favor of my point of view.” Does this strike you as unbiased?

How about this?

In the middle of ABC-TV’s coverage of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination, Howard K. Smith and Frank Reynolds practically demanded Congress pass gun control. So did Cronkite on CBS even though, of all people, Dan Rather correctly pointed out that the gun control measures then in Congress wouldn’t have prevented either Kennedy assassination.

All you need see for evidence of previous institutional press bias is see the number of newspapers with the words “Democrat,” “Republican,” “Progressive” or similar words. And even when those words weren’t in the names of the newspapers, there have usually been conservative newspapers (the Chicago Tribune, Milwaukee Sentinel, Wisconsin State Journal, and once upon a time the Los Angeles Times) and liberal newspapers (the New York Times, Milwaukee Journal and The Capital Times) in multiple-newspaper markets. The State Journal is unquestionably more liberal than it was now that it’s the only daily newspaper in Madison, while The C(r)apital Times is still as lefty as always, including in its news coverage. (One associate editor wrote in a news story “the so-called Moral Majority,” which is an error because that was the group’s name, and the writer’s opinion of it didn’t belong in a news story.)

Remember these good old days?

My suspicion is that what’s written today and this week is going to be read as nothing more than ripping on Trump (particularly in the opinion of those sympathetic to views like McCarthy’s), and will give an unrealistically gauzy view of the news media, with related offended whining that people fail to worship the media’s work (this, for instance), accompanied by hand-wringing that Trump and his supporters are destroying democracy. (They aren’t and won’t.)

Truth be told, the media has a lot of flaws today, and this campaign might be one of them. For one thing, it’s practically impossible for me, someone who has worked for low pay but long and irregular hours in the First Amendment Wars, to think I have very much in common with Acosta, Pritchard or people who get their paychecks from big media, even though I used to work for one of this country’s biggest (at the time) media companies. They get paid an order of magnitude more than I do in much better conditions with much better benefits, including being wrongly famous.

Is Trump trying to control the media? Of course he is. So did his predecessor, and every president in this media age, and probably every president before that. So do most politicians. They have media relations people to feed quotes and pass on good things about their guy and bad things about the other side. They all answer questions posed by the media with answers to the questions they want to be asked, instead of what they were asked.

That, however, is part of the job, and always has been. A reporter who expects to be fed information and not have to do actual asking of questions is either lazy or a toady for whoever is in power. (Too many journalists worship at the altar of government because they cover government.)

A few things have certainly gotten worse in my professional lifetime. There have been far too many stories labeled “Analysis” that are in fact the writer’s opinion not on the opinion pages. There are far too many expressions of reporter opinion on social media, particularly on Twitter reporter accounts, when the correct number of opinions that are not labeled opinions is zero. (News-media social media should report and only report, not give the reporter’s opinion.)

Too much of this “analysis” since approximately the Clinton administration has been inside baseball — some political staffer feeds their view about the brilliant politics of (insert politician’s name here). That violates the sentence I have had printed on top of every computer I’ve had for more than 25 years — “What does this story mean to the reader?” And unless you’re a political junkie, the political fortunes of a politician are and should be about 367th in your list of important things.

There are also far too many journalists who seek to curry favor among the politically powerful. In fact, I have to wonder how much news media bitching is taking place due to failures to curry favor among the Trump administration. The Washington phrase, “If you want a friend, get a dog,” applies to journalists in state capitals, county seats and basically anywhere else.

There is a large and growing disconnect between the news media and the people we are supposed to be serving. Yes, news media people are considerably more politically liberal on average, and because of that many seem to not grasp conservative views. (Conservatives working in the mainstream media often  keep their political views secret because they think those views will hurt their career among their liberal colleagues and bosses.) The media utterly failed in not seeing the possibility of Trump’s election, and they compound that error by refusing to see why people might have voted for Trump, and that a huge number of Americans believe that government failed them under the previous administration.

But the political divide isn’t the only divide. Those readers who live in communities with newspapers or radio stations with news departments might get an education by finding out how many reporters (1) live in the community they work in, (2) have or had children, and (3) go to church regularly. That was me once upon a time, when the only thing I did among those three was live where the job was. Your view of life and what’s important, and therefore what is important news and what isn’t, changes when you have ties to a community, particularly children. And as has been pointed out on this blog, the media gets more things wrong about guns and gun control than can be listed here.

Here is a dirty little secret about Trump and the media: Trump is president today not just because he was running against Hillary Clinton and as an anti-Barack Obama vote; he is president today in large part due to the news media. Trump has been providing quotable copy and video for the media since he was a New York City developer who showed up on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” The media focused on Trump in 2015 because Trump was so much more interesting than any of the other presidential candidates. Trump and the media have a symbiotic–parasitic relationship regardless of what Trump or the media say about eachother.

I sort of feel like an orphan in today’s argument, not on Trump’s side but not on the media’s side.(I can generally pick apart most publications and see their flaws.) I have, I think, more respect for the First Amendment than most journalists do anymore. I believe in giving the opposing side a voice. It’s hard to see that from the national media today.

Individual thinking is not in very much evidence today on any side of the political divide. I have always wanted to be judged on my own work, not lumped in with everyone else in the news media.

But as I wrote before, I really do not care what politicians think of the media or of me, and I have to wonder why media people care what Trump or any other politician thinks of them. I would have thought that journalists would have thick skins and not be snowflakes, but apparently I was mistaken.

In my professional life, I’ve gotten threats of various kinds, including threats to my health. I got invited by a school board president to stand in front of their table and listen to what they were saying while they were trying to skirt the Open Meetings Law. (I did.) I got publicly asked to leave a speech given by Madison Catholic Bishop Robert Morlino. (I didn’t. He did.) They didn’t, don’t and won’t faze me from doing my work. Nor will anything any politician says about the news media. We always get the last word when we want it.

 

Internet 1, gun-grabbing judges 0

Earlier today I reported about the hysteria over the releasing of blueprints for guns that could be assembled with a 3-D printer.

A federal judge blocked the release of those blueprints. But, the Huffington Post reports via Yahoo! News:

Gun rights activist groups found a way around the temporary halting of 3D-printed gun blueprints by publishing another set of blueprints on a new website Tuesday, which they say is activity protected under the First Amendment.

“Through CodeIsFreeSpeech.com, we intend to encourage people to consider new and different aspects of our nation’s marketplace of ideas – even if some government officials disagree with our views or dislike our content – because information is code, code is free speech, and free speech is freedom,” reads a statement on the site, which was created by a variety of groups including the Firearms Policy Coalition and the Firearms Policy Foundation.

The site features downloadable blueprints for a variety of firearms, including the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, the AR-10 battle rifle as well as the Liberator, a single-shot handgun.

It went live the same day that U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik blocked a settlement that President Donald Trump’s administration had reached with digital firearms nonprofit Defense Distributed, which had been granted permission to relaunch its website on Wednesday with blueprints.

Attorneys general from eight states and Washington, D.C., announced Monday they were suing the federal government in an attempt to halt the settlement.

“There are 3D printers in public colleges and public spaces and there is the likelihood of potential irreparable harm,” Lasnik said.

Defense Distributed had been hosting schematics for seven different firearms from July 27 until the site’s founder Cody Wilson announced on Twitter Tuesday that the site was “going dark.” Thousands of the blueprints had already been downloaded by Tuesday.

Three comments on this story point out the silliness of this latest anti-gun controversy:

  • MakerBot Replicator Z18 – 3D printer $6,499.00 MakerBot PLA Filament $160.00 per roll,Not cheep for a use and lose 1 timer.
  • Even though this new era of 3D printable parts to manufacture firearms is in controversy, it may come as somewhat of a surprise that it is still completely legal to make and own a homemade gun.
  • Anyone with minimal mechanical ability can build a zip gun from hardware store supplies in under 5 minutes…. Why is this such an issue?

Brandon Burdette added on Facebook:

Ghost guns only seem to terrify the political class. No average person I’ve met really gives a crap.

I wonder why that is.

The ACLU vs. free speech

Former American Civil Liberries Union board member Wendy Kaminer:

The American Civil Liberties Union has explicitly endorsed the view that free speech can harm “marginalized” groups by undermining their civil rights. “Speech that denigrates such groups can inflict serious harms and is intended to and often will impede progress toward equality,” the ACLU declares in new guidelines governing case selection and “Conflicts Between Competing Values or Priorities.”

This is presented as an explanation rather than a change of policy, and free-speech advocates know the ACLU has already lost its zeal for vigorously defending the speech it hates. ACLU leaders previously avoided acknowledging that retreat, however, in the apparent hope of preserving its reputation as the nation’s premier champion of the First Amendment.

But traditional free-speech values do not appeal to the ACLU’s increasingly partisan progressive constituency—especially after the 2017 white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville. The Virginia ACLU affiliate rightly represented the rally’s organizers when the city attempted to deny them a permit to assemble. Responding to intense post-Charlottesville criticism, last year the ACLU reconsidered its obligation to represent white-supremacist protesters.

The 2018 guidelines claim that “the ACLU is committed to defending speech rights without regard to whether the views expressed are consistent with or opposed to the ACLU’s core values, priorities and goals.” But directly contradicting that assertion, they also cite as a reason to decline taking a free-speech case “the extent to which the speech may assist in advancing the goals of white supremacists or others whose views are contrary to our values.”

In selecting speech cases to defend, the ACLU will now balance the “impact of the proposed speech and the impact of its suppression.” Factors like the potential effect of the speech on “marginalized communities” and even on “the ACLU’s credibility” could militate against taking a case. Fundraising and communications officials helped formulate the new guidelines.

One half of this balancing test is familiar. The “impact of suppressing speech”—the precedents that suppression might establish, the constitutional principles at stake—is a traditional factor in case selection. But, traditionally, the ACLU has not formally weighed the content of speech and its consistency with ACLU values in deciding whether to defend it.

Tension between competing values isn’t new to the ACLU. Given its decades-old commitment to defending civil rights and liberties, the organization has long navigated conflicts between equality rights and freedoms of religion, speech and association. The guidelines assert that “no civil liberties or civil rights value should automatically be privileged over any other.” But it’s clear that free speech has become second among equals. Where is the comparable set of guidelines explaining when the ACLU should decline to defend gay-rights claims that infringe on religious liberty or women’s-rights cases that infringe on due process?

The speech-case guidelines reflect a demotion of free speech in the ACLU’s hierarchy of values. Their vague references to the “serious harm” to “marginalized” people occasioned by speech can easily include the presumed psychological effects of racist or otherwise hateful speech, which is constitutionally protected but contrary to ACLU values. Faced with perceived conflicts between freedom of speech and “progress toward equality,” the ACLU is likely to choose equality. If the Supreme Court adopted the ACLU’s balancing test, it would greatly expand government power to restrict speech.

In Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), for example, the ACLU defended the First Amendment rights of a Ku Klux Klan leader prosecuted for addressing a small rally and calling for “revengence” against blacks and Jews. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed Clarence Brandenburg’s conviction, narrowly defining incitement to violence as speech both intended and likely to cause imminent illegal action. Brandenburgmade an essential distinction between advocacy and action, which progressives who equate hate speech with actual discrimination or violence seek to erase.

The ACLU would be hard pressed to take Brandenburg’s case today, given its new guidelines. The organization hasn’t yet endorsed a ban on hate speech, or a broader definition of incitement. The guidelines affirm that “speakers have a right to advocate violence.” But even if Brandenburg managed to pass the new balancing test for speech cases, some participants at his rally were armed, and, according to the guidelines, “the ACLU generally will not represent protesters who seek to march while armed.”

Respect for all of the Bill of Rights

CBS News reports a story from my former area:

A Wisconsin high schooler is fighting to wear shirts with images of guns to school. Matthew Schoenecker says his T-shirts reflect his personal beliefs, but after the Parkland school shooting, administrators at his high school said his shirts were inappropriate and that he could no longer wear them. He is suing his principal over the ban.

Shooting is an activity the Shoeneckers enjoy as a family, but it’s one Matthew now says is being used against him.

“They just said something like, ‘You could be the next school shooter maybe,'” he told CBS News’ Nikki Battiste.

The remarks are part of the backlash the 15-year-old now faces for wearing T-shirts with images of guns and a grenade in school.

Matthew says he’s been wearing the same shirts since the fall. But his parents say it was only after the Parkland school shooting in February, that the school’s principal sent home a letter telling Matt to “change the shirt” because “it was inappropriate.” When Matt refused, he was moved to a cubicle for two days.

“He says, ‘Well, your son’s T-shirt’s promoting violence,'” Matt’s mother, Pam Schoenecker said. “I said, ‘His T-shirts celebrate diversity. And then his other T-shirt says, ‘love.’ How is that promoting violence? None of the times was he able to answer that question.”

In April, Matthew filed a lawsuit alleging that “there are no school rules explicitly banning wearing clothing that depicts firearms” and that doing so “violated his freedom of expression.”

“He is perfectly within his First Amendment rights to wear those shirts,” John Monroe, Matthew’s lawyer, said.

Monroe is being paid by Wisconsin Carry, a pro-gun group.

“The issue here isn’t really a gun issue, it’s a speech issue. And, you know, if Parkland had never happened,” Monroe said.

Cases like Matthew’s are popping up across the country. In Nevada, a middle school student is suing his school district after it also barred him from wearing T-shirts containing images of guns. In a statement to “CBS This Morning,” a school spokesperson said, “the child was not harmed in anyway except for being asked to wear a sweatshirt over his shirt.” Lawyers in both the Wisconsin and Nevada case say the schools allowed students to participate in school walkout activities supporting gun control.

“I just, I just think they’re hypocrites….You can promote an anti-gun agenda but then you have a student that comes in there, knows history, knows the Constitution and you’re going to tell him he can’t,” Pam said.

“This is a complex issue. I think that schools should have the ability to regulate a student’s clothing for a whole host of reasons,” CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman said. “We don’t want violence in schools. We don’t want gang signs, we don’t want people with Nazi swastikas….These things are all obvious that we would not condone. But the mere picture of a gun? Is that sufficient?”

While the lawsuit is pending, Matthew can still wear his favorite shirt to school, expressing a belief the Schoeneckers say is a just a normal part of their lives. But why not just stop wearing the shirts for a while?

“Because that’s just who Matthew is….He’s always gone hunting, he’s gone target shooting,” Pam said. “The Second Amendment thing, the Constitution, all of that is part of our family.”

“I get where they’re coming from. But at the same time, they’re expecting my son to change who he is because of what is going on in another part of the country,” she said.

The Schoeneckers said they are not asking for financial damages in their lawsuit. They just want Matthew to be allowed to wear his shirts in school. CBS News reached out to Markesan High School and its attorneys, but they declined to comment.

WISN-TV in Milwaukee also reports:

Nine Marquette University High School students on Wednesday morning walked out of class to show support for the Second Amendment.

“We’re here for the Second Amendment,” said junior Jack Dubois, who was wearing an NRA sweatshirt to make his point. “There’s not many of us because our school doesn’t support it. They said, basically, ‘You’re going to get [detention] if you walk out.'”

The students were taking part in walkouts happening nationwide called Stand for the Second. They are protesting to guarantee their constitutional rights to bear arms.

WISN 12 News spotted school officials scattered around the building, even hearing one worker yelling at the students to come back in.

“It’s not just about the Second Amendment. It’s about the First Amendment,” said junior Jack Kujawa.

Shortly after making this statement, Kujawa was interrupted by a school official, who said, “I warned you. Don’t be late.”

A Marquette University High School spokesman told WISN 12 News that “no student was told they would face detention for walking out. Students were allowed to leave the building to express themselves via the walkout, and it was the position of the school that they would be allowed to express their First Amendment rights.”

The students’ version of what Marquette administration told them, if correct, is ironic since Marquette and all other parochial schools are able to exist because of the First Amendment. The cynic might believe Marquette administration changed its mind on detention after seeing the cameras, whose existence is also protected by the First Amendment.

Teump vs. the First Amendment

I suppose we should not be surprised that private citizen Donald Trump, famous for suing or threatening to sue those who wrote things he didn’t like about himself, shows as much disrespect for the First Amendment as president.

Last week Trump threatened to pull the broadcast lucense of NBC, something presidents would have no authority to do even if network licenses existed. (Neither networks nor cable channels have licenses. Radio and TV stations, some of the latter of which are owned by the networks, are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, over which the president has no authority except to appoint commissioners.)

Trump’s fans defend his off-the-wall statements by claiming that Trump has a right to say such things under the First Amendment.

Eric Boehm suggests otherwise:

One of the truly great things about the First Amendment is that it applies to everyone. Well, almost everyone.

With very few exceptions, the free speech protections enshrined in the U.S. Constitution give Americans the right to say pretty much whatever we want, whenever we want. And the courts have carefully protected that right for a long time—even that silly thing about not being allowed to shout fire in a crowded theater was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court—guided by the wisdom that free speech is vital for a vibrant, democratic, pluralist society to function.

You can talk, yell, tweet, post, and publish pretty much anything you want. You can even say that you want to stop other people from having free speech rights—which would be a bad thing to do, but hey, man, free speech!

Unless, of course, you happen to be the President of the United States, or another public official. Then the First Amendment works a little bit differently.

This is important because the current occupant of the White House, a certain Donald Trump, is in the midst of a slap-fight with NBC over what the president views as “fake news” about his administration. Twice on Wednesday, Trump tweeted that “network news” could have licenses revoked over reporting “distorted” and “partisan” information.

Reason’s Matt Welch has already covered the reasons why Trump is very wrong about this—in fact, Trump’s own FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, gave a speech last month where he sounded the warning that “free speech in practice seems to be under siege in this country.”

But, somewhat ironically, Trump’s attacks on the First Amendment may themselves be a violation of the First Amendment. And not in the philosophical sense—they are that too, of course—but in the very real sense of actual law regarding the First Amendment.

As Trever Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Association, writes in the Columbia Journalism Review today, Trump doesn’t even need to act on his threats against NBC to be violating the constitution. “There’s a compelling argument Trump is in violation of Constitution right now—after he crossed the line from criticism of protected speech to openly threatening government action,” Timm writes.

Timm cites quite a bit of case law to support his claim. Perhaps the most important bit comes from Judge Richard Posner, who wrote the Seventh Circuit ruling in BackPage LLC v. Thomas Dart, Sheriff of Cook County, Illinois. In that case, law enforcement officials were trying to threaten credit card companies, processors, financial institutions, or other third parties with sanctions intended to ban credit card or other financial services from being provided to Backpage.com (here’s Reason’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown’s take on the case and ruling). Dart wasn’t taking direct legal action against Visa and Mastercard, but he did send threatening letters to their offices, pressuring them to cut off services with Backpage.com.

That’s not something government officials are allowed to do, said Posner, citing earlier case law on the matter.

“A public official who tries to shut down an avenue of expression of ideas and opinions through ‘actual or threatened imposition of government power or sanction’ is violating the First Amendment,” the judge wrote.

As Timm points out, some Trump defenders—including Vice President Mike Pence—have said that Trump is merely exercising his own First Amendment rights to say what he wants to say about NBC and the media in general. But are threats to use government force part of the First Amendment? Posner suggests otherwise:

“A government entity, including therefore the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, is entitled to say what it wants to say—but only within limits. It is not permitted to employ threats to squelch the free speech of private citizens. “[A] government’s ability to express itself is [not] without restriction. … [T]he Free Speech Clause itself may constrain the government’s speech.”

This makes sense. Like the other rights protected by the Constitution, the right to free speech is a right that resides with the people, not the state. Enumerating those rights, as the Founders well knew, was important to protect them from infringement by the state. The government does not have the same right to free speech because that speech can always be backed up with coercive force. Allowing government officials to make threats like the ones made by Trump or Dart would strip away free speech from their respective targets who would have to live in fear of government action.

And it doesn’t matter that Trump does not have direct authority to revoke NBC’s license. As Timm points out, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that public officials free speech can be curtailed when it “attempts to coerce,” rather than attempting to convince. There is little doubt that Trump’s tweets—and, don’t forget, those tweets count as official statements from the White House—are a form of coercion.

Trump is no longer a private citizen. As the head of Trump, Inc., he could threaten to revoke NBC’s licenses as many times as he wanted. Someday, when he returns to being a private citizen, he can do that too.

As long as he sits in the Oval Office, though, Trump’s free speech rights are necessarily curtailed.

Presidents and other elected officials (and members of the Armed Services) swear to, in the words of the presidential oath of office, “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Presidents and other politicians must respect your First Amendment rights; you are not required respect theirs.

What part of “right” do you not understand?

Kurt Schlichter:

I don’t agree with liberals often, because I’m not an idiot and because I love America, but when they once again say, “We must have a conversation about guns!” I still couldn’t agree more. And, since all we’ve heard is you leftists shrieking at us all week, I’ll start it off.

You don’t ever get to disarm us. Not ever.

There. It sure feels good to engage in a constructive dialogue.

Now, we should have this conversation because in recent years we’ve seen a remarkable antipathy for the fact that normal Americans even have rights among those on the left. We should have this conversation to clear the air before leftists push too far and the air gets filled with smoke. But we really don’t need to have a conversation about our rights to keep and bear arms. They’re rights. There’s nothing to talk about.

This goes for all our rights that the left hates, like the rights to speak and write freely, to practice our religion as we see fit, and to not be railroaded by liberal authority without due process. Leftists hate our rights because they hate us, and when we assert our rights it gets in the way of their malicious schemes to dominate and control us. It makes them stamp their little sandaled feet in rage when we normals just won’t cooperate and surrender our rights. But we love our rights – rights are wonderful things with which we were endowed by our Creator, and which our beloved Constitution merely reiterates. But the left, including its pet media, thinks that our rights were merely iterated, and that the left can take an eraser to the parchment and – voila! – no more pesky rights for you flyover people.

Nah. I think we’ll keep ‘em. All of them, unchanged. And there’s only one way we can lose them, unless a lot of leftists buy a lot of guns, conduct a lot of tactical training, and stop being little weenies. I’m not worried about any of those things happening, particularly the last one. So, as a practical matter, we only lose our rights if we allow ourselves to be shamed, threatened, whined, and lectured into giving them up by skeevy tragedy-buzzard pols, mainstream media meat puppets, and late night chucklemonkeys whose names and faces all blend together into one unfunny, preachy blur.

I just don’t see Jimmy Kimmel donning Kevlar to molon labe and risking his sorry carcass trying to separate normal Americans from their ability to defend themselves, their families, and their Constitution from the people who constantly tell us how much they hate us.

Yeah, hate us. Sorry, but the left hates you, and because you’re nice and you try to always act in good faith, you probably have a hard time accepting that the people on the other side don’t. You want to believe that we just have some minor disagreements but that we can still all come together and blah blah blah blah blah. Well, that’s not happening unless the left has a major rethink, and thinking isn’t its strong suit. You want to see the hate? Wade into the social media cesspool, a world where no impulse is controlled and if you only wait long enough, they’ll tell you how they really feel. Did you see the people celebrating the attack on normal people at a country music festival? Did you see them then pivot to calling us “terrorists” and “murderers” for refusing to give up our rights? Just check out what gets launched at me on my Twitter timelineDana Loesch gets it even worse, because she’s a conservative woman and that’s a double heresy.

I, for one, am not super inclined to give up my ability to defend myself in response to demands by people who eagerly tell me they want me enslaved or dead. Literally dead.

And this isn’t just about the ravings of a few unhinged loonies on social media (also, it ain’t “a few”). This verbal hyperbole is the leftist establishment’s MO. This is how they intend to strip us of our rights – via a constant campaign of hate that they hope somehow leads to us just giving them up. And it’s not just guns. Free speech? Oh, that’s racist, and it causes violence – by which they mean that leftists will attack you if you attempt to speak freely. Freely exercising your religion? Not if you violate leftist scripture – then you’re a bigot and your livelihood must be destroyed even though Sue and Shelly can wander two doors down and get someone else to decorate their nasty organic carrot wedding cake.

And due process? Well, you must love rape if you think that a young man accused of it should be informed of the charges against him, allowed to cross-examine the witnesses, and have an impartial judge. Do you phallocentric male-identifying men and others have any idea how much harder it is to railroad some guy in the name of smashing the patriarchy when you actually have to prove your case with evidence? Like any woman would ever make up a rape allegation out of whole cloth! A fair trial? That’s something right out of The Handmaid’s Tale!

And don’t get me started on the hate crime of hatred that is misgendering. Why, calling a man a “man” when xe got up this morning and decided xe was a non-binary, femme-leaning, twin-spirit otherkin is pretty much just what Hitler did.

So, let’s continue our important conversation. How about this? How about we continue to speak freely, saying whatever we want however we want, and you leftists just sit there and be offended? How about we practice our faiths however we want, even if that means some of us don’t end up validating every one of your preferred personal peccadillos (I checked under all of the penumbras and emanations in the Constitution and I can’t find anywhere that you have a right to have us high-five everything you do). And how about we insist that everyone accused of something gets due process and the chance to defend himself – or herself, or even xirself?

Yeah, we know that us having rights is inconvenient, but that’s too damn bad. Because we aren’t asking you for our rights. We’re telling you we aren’t giving them up.

See, we’re done walking on eggshells and playing your verbal minefield game. You’ll call us “murderers,” “racists,” “sexists,” “homophobes” and every other kind of “phobe” you can invent no matter what we do anyway, and it’s all a lie. It’s also all meaningless. You don’t even believe it. It’s just a rhetorical weapon, and a lame one, but you’ve fired all your ammo. The chamber is empty. Keep pulling the trigger on your slanders, but we’re now woke to the scam and you’re just shooting blanks.Anyway, let’s continue our conversation. You’re not going to pin the rampage of some scumbag on millions and millions of people who didn’t do it. You’re not going to leverage this spree into disarming us – which is your ultimate goal. We know how you hate the idea that we are armed and independent, that we hold a lead veto over your fever dreams of tyrannical rule over us. You know how important it is to us to be free citizens; you yearn to humiliate us by stripping us of our self-respect by taking away our means of keeping ourselves free from the tyranny of people like you.You never cared that 59 people were murdered – some of you, as we have seen, cheered – and I gotta say, it’s a bad look to screech “I’m glad you crackers are dead, now heed my command to give up your guns!” If you really cared about 59 people being murdered, you’d demand that the Chicago PD flood the ghetto and stop and frisk until every punk with a gun was disarmed because 59 people get murdered there in a slow month. Oh, but wait – their rights! Gee, I thought that RIGHTS DON’T MATTER IF TAKING RIGHTS AWAY SAVES JUST ONE LIFE… I guess it’s really about whose rights, isn’t it?

Let’s not even mention abortion. Jimmy Kimmel’s head might explode because he’s all about the kids not getting killed, except only after they’re born. He and you liberals seem cool with killing them before then.

So, let’s finish our conversation about guns. Where was I? Oh yeah. No.

No to your fake “solutions” that have nothing to do with this guy’s rampage.

No to your bogus “care” and “concern” that arises only when it involves stripping normal Americans of our sacred natural rights.

No to your has-been Democrat pols, your 23-year old Vox scribblers, and your hack Hollywood goofs thinking they get a say about our rights.

They don’t.

I guess that’s the end of our little conversation, because we’ve already heard every poisonous thing you leftists have to say, and I don’t have anything else to say except this. If you really want to disarm us, come on and try.

A modest proposal

In the Facebook Friends of Best of the Web Today group, Steve Aunan asks:

When are we going to pass common sense mass media reform? Despite repeated warnings by psychiatrists and criminal justice experts to avoid sensational reporting, American journalists behave like Pavlov’s dog every time a mass shooting occurs. If our Democracy is to survive the rampant spread of Fake News and Constitutional illiteracy, America needs sensible lawmakers to enact the following regulations:

* common sense restrictions on the kinds of stories the mass media can publish
* enhanced background checks on J-school grads
* renewable permits on journalism licenses, subject to proof of competency by the permitting authority
* a mass buyout program to take irresponsible journalists off the street
* a central database of journalists to track psychotropic drug prescriptions and domestic abuse allegations

The First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press, but the Founders never imagined that journalists would have Internet-connected cellphone cameras and instantaneous worldwide distribution of sensational – and often false – reporting.

Anyone who objects to these sensible reforms is both misguided about, and intolerant of, the Democratic principles that this country was built on.

The Internet? Cellphones? For that matter, the First Amendment was created well before radio, TV and magazines existed. Perhaps the First Amendment should only apply to newspapers.

Additionally, there should be limits on how many media outlets are permitted in one market, as well as how many people are allowed to blog, and how many comments anyone should be allowed to post. How many opinions do you really need?

As a 30-year journalist educated at a world-class university I certainly believe I am better qualified than some blogger somewhere to report about and comment upon the news. Allowing untrained professionals (who may or may not know much about English grammar, let alone the five Ws and one H) to report on the news, let alone to express opinions about the news, is potentially dangerous to the public. The public must be protected from the menace of untrained journalism.

Hopefully by now readers realize that what you’ve read up to here is as valid a proposal as Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal. And proposals to curb gun violence by abridging our Second Amendment rights make as much sense as fixing some social ill by abridging our First Amendment rights.