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    "You must lay aside all prejudice on both sides, and neither believe nor reject anything, because any other persons, or description of persons, have rejected or believed it. Your own reason is the only oracle given you by heaven, and you are answerable, not for the rightness, but uprightness of the decision." T. Jefferson

Archive for the ‘Freedom of Speech’ Category

Internet freedom at risk again

Posted by Free to Think on May 9, 2012

“CISPA is Big Brother writ large, putting the resources of private industry to work for the nefarious purpose of spying on the American people.”Rep. Ron Paul

Back in January I wrote a piece about SOPA and PIPA, the overreaching online piracy bills that threatened to censor free speech and invade our privacy in the name of fighting copyright infringement. Though I was celebrating the popular outcry that resulted in the bills being dropped by both houses of Congress, I warned that “SOPA and PIPA will likely return in some form.” As predicted, similar legislation has been introduced, and it didn’t take long.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, passed in the House of Representatives last week and now heads to the Senate. Its stated purpose is to thwart the trafficking of pirated and counterfeit goods online.

Intellectual property theft is a huge problem. But many Internet and communications experts say that this legislation will not only be ineffective against copyright infringers, but could be easily abused by those who gather our personal information.

If enacted, CISPA would allow the government and technology companies to share confidential information about Internet users. The Electronic Frontier Foundation says that the bill “leaves ample room for abuse,” and that it would “cut a loophole in all existing privacy laws.”

What has sparked privacy worries is the section of CISPA that says “notwithstanding any other provision of law,” companies may share information with any other entity, including the federal government. By including this phrase, it’s possible for CISPA to nullify existing federal and state laws that protect our private information. “Notwithstanding any other provision of law” is so broad a term that in 2003 the non-partisan Congressional Research Service warned against using the phrase in legislation because of “unforeseen consequences for both existing and future laws.”

If CISPA is enacted, “part of the problem is we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen,” says Lee Tien, an attorney at EFF, which sued AT&T over the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program.

On April 26, twenty-two civil liberty organizations such as the ACLU signed a letter urging our legislators to vote against CISPA, stating, “We are gravely concerned that this bill will allow companies that hold very sensitive and personal information to liberally share it with the government, which could then use the information without meaningful oversight.”

Mozilla has also issued the following statement, “While we wholeheartedly support a more secure Internet, CISPA has a broad and alarming reach that goes far beyond Internet security. The bill infringes on our privacy, includes vague definitions of cybersecurity, and grants immunities to companies and government that are too broad around information misuse. We hope the Senate takes the time to fully and openly consider these issues with stakeholder input before moving forward with this legislation.”

Declan McCullagh, chief political correspondent for CBS subsidiary CNET, cautions that CISPA would allow any user’s personal information to be inspected by government agencies as long as companies agreed to share it. And already pledging their support is Facebook, Microsoft, Oracle, Symantec, Verizon, AT&T, Intel, and the trade association of T-Mobile, Sybase, Nokia, and Qualcomm.

Even without the privacy concerns, the effectiveness of this legislation is questionable.

“Imagine the resources required to parse through the millions of Google and Facebook offerings every day looking for pirates who, if found, can just toss up another site in no time,” points out the San Jose News in an editorial. “When political polar opposites like San Jose Rep. Zoe Lofgren and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul are both arguing against a piece of legislation, you know it must have serious problems.”

Edward J. Black, president and CEO of the Computer & Communication Industry Association, writes that, “Ironically, it would do little to stop actual pirate websites, which could simply reappear hours later under a different name. New America Foundation predicts that this legislation would instigate a data “arms race” requiring increasingly invasive practices to monitor users’ web traffic.

Over 650,000 have signed an Avaaz.org petition against CISPA. Click here to add your voice.

 

Posted in constitutional rights, curtailing freedom, Detrimental policies, Freedom of Speech, Intrusive government, Politics, Ron Paul | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

The Power of the People

Posted by Free to Think on January 23, 2012

Typically my blog posts are full of doom and gloom, but this week I’m happy to comment on good news: the American public stood up for their rights and actually won.

The Senate’s Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) and the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) were introduced as a way to thwart intellectual property theft and sales of counterfeit products online. But opposition from Internet-based companies and their users argued that the bill would lead to over-regulation and censorship. An excellent short video describing how these laws could curtail freedom can be seen here.

On January 18th, 13 million of us took the time to tell Congress that we wanted to protect free speech rights on the Internet. In fact, so many voters bombarded their senators and congressmen with so many protest messages that it temporarily knocked out some representatives websites.  Petition drives abounded, such as the one by Google which attracted more than 7 million participants.

The power of the Internet has given us opportunities to rally together like we never have before. And finally, Americans seized the chance. On Friday the bills, which were being fast-tracked through Congress, were indefinitely shelved.

The bills had been backed by the entertainment industry and also initially by Congress. Only 5 senators opposed the bill the week it was introduced. Then the protests began. Within a week 35 senators publicly opposed PIPA.

Ron Paul denounced SOPA from its inception, the first Republican congressman to oppose it. Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich were silent on the issue until after the massive public protests. Rick Santorum remained the only Republican presidential candidate to defend some form of the bills during Thursday night’s Republican debate in South Carolina.

Last week, incensed Hollywood executives cancelled Obama fundraisers when the President also sided against the legislation.

Former Connecticut senator Chris Dodd is now Chairman of MPAA, the movie studio lobby that crafted these bills. He told the New York Times that passage of PIPA and SOPA had been “considered to be a slam-dunk.” The bills were backed by over 350 large, powerful corporations and organizations. Comparing the protests to the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising, Mr. Dodd said he was humbled to learn that “no Washington player can safely assume that a well-wired, heavily financed legislative program is safe from a sudden burst of Web-driven populism.”

I must admit that when I went to Wikipedia last Thursday only to find it blacked out in protest, it was quite a powerful statement. A sampling of some of the best website protests can be seen here.

“It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products,” said Judiciary Committee Chairman and SOPA sponsor Rep. Lamar Smith.

Hurray, the people made their wishes known! Yes Mr. Chairman, we’d like the government to address the problem of piracy without claiming the right to completely choke off the traffic, free speech and revenue of entire web sites without ever having to try or convict its owners of any crime. Even without these expanded powers, sites have already been wrongfully shuttered by the government.

Copyright owners do need to be able to go after piracy sites, and they already have some mechanisms at their disposal. But these industries have concocted some truly absurd statistics purporting apocalyptic damages that require draconian measures, while in fact these businesses remain very healthy.

SOPA and PIPA will likely return in some form, as the bills were not killed, just postponed.

The SOPA/ PIPA protest was one of the biggest populist movements in America since the Vietnam War, engaging millions of Americans to rally against governmental policy that could substantially change the way we live. Yet there was relatively scant coverage of the movement in the major mass media. Last week, news organizations seemed to find the Italian cruise ship disaster, which killed 12 people on the other side of the globe, much more newsworthy. It should be noted that these media outlets are owned by the same corporations that sponsored these bills.

Americans have proven that the right to gather information and communicate on the web freely is very important to us. Now if only the public would get equally up in arms about the national debt and government detention laws!

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Posted in constitutional rights, Detrimental policies, Freedom of Speech, Intrusive government, Media bias, obama, Politics, Ron Paul | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Who can authorize a citizen to die?

Posted by Free to Think on January 10, 2012

How would you answer the following: “Under what circumstances, if any, would the Constitution permit the president to authorize the targeted killing of a United States citizen who has not been sentenced to death by a court?”

The New York Times submitted this question to each of the major presidential candidates.

The discussion here is not about imprisonment—we’re talking about death. Without due process. In other words, without the ability to defend oneself.

The question posed by The New York Times even specifically asked when “the Constitution would permit” the president to authorize the killing of an American citizen without trial.

Newt Gingrich answered, “Under wartime circumstances.” Well, since the U.S. is officially engaged in an indefinite War on Terror, that isn’t very limiting. “If such an individual is engaged on a battlefield it would be irresponsible not to kill him,” says John Huntsman. This wouldn’t restrict President Huntsman from killing someone anywhere in the United States, since the new National Defense Authorization Act deems the U.S. homeland part of the “battlefield” of the War on Terror.

Rick Perry says, “The Constitution clearly vests in the President…an absolute duty, to protect the nation when vital American security interests are at stake. The President would be so authorized…where a citizen has joined or is associated with a nation or group engaged in hostilities against the United States.”  Opines Mitt Romney, “Due process permits the use of deadly force against all enemy combatants, including citizens, who engage in acts of war against the United States on behalf of an enemy of the United States. U.S. citizens have no right to affiliate themselves with al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups plotting attacks against our country.”

This language is frighteningly vague. Vague terms are dangerous because they leave open-ended opportunities for misuse. What’s the definition of a “vital American security interest?” Is it possible that “a citizen associated with a nation or group engaged in hostilities against the United States” is a phrase that could be abused?

What specifically is an “act of war” that would deem assassination?

Can any of these terms be found in the Constitution, or is there any other language referring to the president’s authority to kill American citizens?

Ron Paul had the most clear and concise answer as to what kind of circumstance would permit the president to order the death of an American: “None.” In no way does the Constitution indicate that the president can ever authorize the targeted killing of a United States citizen who has not been sentenced to death by a court.

President Obama did not submit an answer.

Here are their answers in full.

Posted in constitutional rights, Freedom of Speech, Intrusive government, obama, Politics, Ron Paul | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The National Defense Authorization Act: Who’s laughing now?

Posted by Free to Think on January 2, 2012

Once again I must defer to Jon Stewart’s biting humor as he illustrates the outrageous absurdity of the pending national defense bill.  With tongue in cheek, Stewart states that he see why 7 of the senators were a bit leery to pass a bill that would nullify the fourth amendment and allow for the indefinite detainment of Americans without trial. But what about those other 93 senators who voted for the bill?

At least our level-headed President had threatened a veto. But wait a minute: it was the Obama administration that requested the indefinite detentions in the first place.

The only reason Obama has ever given for wanting to veto the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 was a fear that the measure might infringe on his own executive branch powers.

In another segment, Jon Stewart drolly illustrates the about-face Obama has done since he reached Executive Office. Stewart offers a clip of a 2007 speech by presidential candidate Obama, rebuking the Bush administration’s policy of detaining foreigners at Guantanamo without due cause. He juxtaposes it with President Obama’s 2011 desire for “infinite power” to detain anyone, including American citizens.

Unfortunately for the American public, adjustments made by a House-Senate conference committee have sufficiently addressed White House concerns that the bill could infringe on presidential powers. In his last official act of business in 2011, last weekend President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law.

Human Rights Watch said of our Noble Peace Prize-winning leader, “By signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in U.S. law.”

Another political humorist, funnyman Andy Borowitz, satirically tells us that most voters “no longer believe that the 2008 Obama and the current Obama are the same person.”

Jon Stewart and Andy Borowitz make me laugh about the things I want to cry about. I wish I were witty enough to make this situation sound humorous. But to me there’s nothing funny going on here. What’s happening is terrifying.

“This should be the biggest news going on right now — literally legalizing martial law,” says Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul.

“The founders wanted to set a high bar for the government to overcome in order to deprive an individual of life or liberty,” said Paul this week. “When the bar is low enough to include political enemies, our descent into totalitarianism is virtually assured. The Patriot Act, as bad as its violations against the Fourth Amendment were, was just one step down the slippery slope. The recently passed National Defense Authorization Act continues that slip into tyranny, and in fact, accelerates it significantly.”

“The danger of the NDAA is its alarmingly vague,” Paul continued, “with undefined criteria for who can be indefinitely detained by the U.S. government without trial.”

As I will discuss in my next article, no other presidential candidate has a problem with this expansion of legislative and executive power.

As Jon Stewart advises us, we needn’t worry about losing our due process to defend ourselves all that much. “In the event that you find yourself suddenly and perhaps capaciously imprisoned under this bill” they can’t detained you forever, Stewart explains. Once the War on Terror is over “and terror surrenders, and is no longer available as a human emotion, you’ll be free to go.”

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Posted in constitutional rights, Detrimental policies, Freedom of Speech, Intrusive government, National Defense Authorization Act, Politics, Ron Paul | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The War on Terror Becomes a War on the Constitution

Posted by Free to Think on December 9, 2011

Last week Congress voted to strip us of our most basic human rights as American citizens.

That isn’t hysteria or hype, it’s fact.

Last week Bill S 1867, otherwise known as the National Defense Authorization Act, was passed in the Senate 93-7. It had already been passed in the House 322-96 with bipartisan support.

This new law gives our government the ability to arrest U.S. citizens and put them in jail indefinitely without charge, and without an opportunity for the detained to defend themselves. It denies us of our right to be considered innocent until proven guilty, our right to a fair and speedy trial, and our right to due process under the law.

Buried on page 426 of the 926 page legislation, a provision gives the federal government the unprecedented authority to turn over suspected “terrorists” to the military, be they foreigners or U.S. citizens on American soil. These suspects become prisoners of war, and thus can be held without trial until Congress declares an end to the war on terror.

Wouldn’t you assume that the major news media would be all over this story?

Wouldn’t you expect Americans to be picketing in the streets in fury? Wouldn’t you imagine rallies taking over Washington in opposition of the legislation?

You may have seen a story or two about the bill. But the AP article, which was published in most major newspapers the day before the November 30 Senate vote, describes the bill without even mentioning the provision about detaining U.S. citizens without burden of proof or opportunity for trial.
The day following the Senate approval, the Associated Press began their article thus: “The White House on Friday accused the Democratic-controlled Senate of political micromanagement at the expense of national security after it approved legislation requiring military custody of suspected terrorists.” Ho hum. The discussion of constitutional rights doesn’t begin until paragraph 12.

The headline of the CBS News story, “Senate OKs $662B defense bill despite veto threat” may not have caught your attention. The CBS article drones on about the cost of the bill and whether the law would constrain the president’s authority when suspects are rounded up. You’d have had to get to paragraph 9 to find the mention that, “The legislation also would deny suspected terrorists, even U.S. citizens seized within the nation’s borders, the right to trial and subject them to indefinite detention. The series of detention provisions challenges citizens’ constitutional rights, tests the boundaries of executive and legislative branch authority…Civil rights groups fiercely oppose the bill.”

The CNN headline that followed the Senate vote reads, “Senate passes defense bill with detainee policy compromise.” The article doesn’t elaborate on what each side originally proposed, but does describes the “compromise” as requiring that “any suspected al Qaeda terrorists, even those captured inside the U.S., to be held potentially indefinitely by the military.” The article also fails to point out that, unlike with civil arrests, the military doesn’t need to provide evidence to a court of law, nor would defendants have an opportunity to appeal their detainment.
I could find no mention of the bill at all on the NPR website.

Since most Americans get their news from one of the sources above, chances are they have not been made aware of the implications of this new law.

Why is the only outcry from blogs? Where is outrage on the opinion pages of the major newspapers? Discussion by the talking heads on TV? One of the few editorials I could find was from the Star Ledger of Newark, NJ.

“We’re fighting a war,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, an Air Force Reserves military lawyer and key author of the nation’s detainee treatment law. “America is part of the battlefield. We firmly believe the war is coming back home… if you make it to America, all of a sudden you get Miranda rights and you go to federal court. That’s an absurd result; never been known in war before.”

So now our nation has been deemed a “battleground” and we are in effect under martial law. How does this law distinguish us from Manuel Noriega’s Panama? Or the military rule in Argentina, when thousands of “subversives” disappeared without formal arrest or charge?

Without the burden of proof, without even needing to provide grounds for arrest, someone like me could simply disappear tomorrow for writing literature that’s a “menace to the government.” There’s nothing to keep the government from rounding up last week’s Occupy Portland protesters, who spoke out about this defense bill. After all, their opposition could be seen as abetting terrorists. Of course, the longest they can be detained is until “Congress declares an end to the war on terror.” But as long as there’s at least one crazy person in the world who can be deemed a terrorist, can there ever be a conclusion to this ‘war?’

Graham and John McCain say the Administration should not object to the requirements of their bill, because they put in a national security waiver, allowing the Secretary of Defense to determine if certain situations necessitate a criminal/civil path, not a military one. Phew, that should certainly put us all at ease.

Yes, the war on terror has come home. We no longer have to worry about Muslim extremists terrorizing us, or taking away our freedoms or our way of life. We’re doing it to ourselves.

Posted in constitutional rights, Detrimental policies, Freedom of Speech, Intrusive government, Politics | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Who is Ron Paul?

Posted by Free to Think on November 11, 2011

My dear Common Sense followers,

Five months ago I walked away from my blog, feeling disheartened and hopeless.

The more I researched, the more evidence I found that our country is shifting at an exponential pace from its foundations. Not only have checks, balances, inalienable rights, and constitutional, limited government become things of the past, but so have public concern and the objective, watchful eye of the free press. I began to feel that expressing a critical view was simply futile.

I admit I don’t have the time or heart to continue producing the in-depth posts I have in the past. At least not consistently enough to fill a blog. But I am still reading and learning. I hope that more and more people begin to understand some of the causes of the crises that our nation is now facing. Problems are coming to a head, and one can only hope there’s a positive side to that. When things are relatively good, it’s easy to be complacent about irresponsible government spending, trampling of personal rights and unconstitutional laws.

I’d like to do my part by using this venue to pass along some pieces worth thinking about. I’ll start with the wisdom of Jon Stewart.

To me, a very pressing and troubling issue  is the media’s determination to shun Republican candidate Ron Paul, the only person running for President who has something unique to say. While our Titanic of a nation sinks, every other politician is busy declaring how they’d rearrange the deck chairs, while Paul has spelled out exactly how he’d plug up the hole.

Last week Paul came in first in the Illinois straw poll. In fact, he won 52% of the vote, more than Romney, Cain, Perry, Gingrich, Bachman, Huntsman and Santorum combined. Wow, big news? Hardly. Paul’s notable victory was promptly buried by the mainstream press. Meanwhile there’s been a plethora of airtime about Herman Cain’s irrelevant personal debacles. The obvious and intentional snubbing of Ron Paul by the media was well summed up in a hilarious piece by Jon Stewart back in August.

In addition to the silence of the press on his grassroots campaign, Ron Paul’s airtime during the Republican debates have been glaringly inequitable. One blogger went to the trouble of doing the math for one of the debates and found that Paul was 8th in speaking opportunities, though at the time he was 3rd in the polls (were you aware that he was third in the polls?) Yet, as evidenced by the Illinois survey, Ron Paul’s popularity has continued to grow.

Whether or not you like Ron Paul’s message, a burning issue is why the press has gone from purveyors of the truth to outlets for their own personal agendas.

In a side note: it has been so long since I last wrote that I didn’t remember what my last post was about. It was interesting to see that it was an argument against sending American troops into Libya. I was disputing the position that the Libyan people needed us to intervene in their civil war to escape being crushed by government-backed forces.  As it turns out, the Libyan people were able to oust strongman Moammar Qaddafi in short order without the help of a U.S. ground war. This averted the deaths of American servicemen and likely saved our nation hundreds of millions of dollars. But perhaps most importantly, by limiting America’s role in another nation’s conflict there will be less potential for our enemies’ animosity: Qaddafi was killed by his own people, not by an”invading U.S. force.”

I apologize for disappearing.  I hope you’ll continue to be a loyal reader.

Posted in Debt, election, Freedom of Speech, Libya, Media bias, Politics, Ron Paul | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Does everyone have a right to Freedom of Speech?

Posted by Free to Think on March 8, 2011

After a long winter’s hibernation, an exchange with someone on another website regarding this issue has prompted me to post. Our conversation is below. The other person’s comments are italicized.

The United States Supreme Court ruled on March 2 in favor of Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, stating that the funeral picketing conducted by the church is a form of protected free speech.

Other: This is the worst Supreme Court decision in my lifetime. If MY child died for this country and these yahoos showed up at the FUNERAL (not posting a blog or writing an article), a time of intense grieving and screamed that he/she deserved to be dead because this country accepts gays, I don’t know what I would do.

Common Sense: I must disagree that this was the wrong verdict, though I do concur that these people are despicable and their message hateful. But as military families must understand, we must protect freedom at all costs, even when extremely unpleasant.

It’s unlawful to hurt another, but to offend another, even deeply, is not against the law. We can’t ask the government to step in to protect our feelings without stepping on our own right to express ourselves. The best way to make the Westboro Church go away is for the media to give them less attention. If they don’t get exposure, they’ll figure out that they’re wasting their time.
As Thomas Paine said, “He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”

I appreciate your sentiments, but the court has previously ruled that one can’t yell fire in a movie theater and this kind of speech is an invitation to violence; no one is precluding them from voicing their vile opinions through the media but a funeral is a private, sacred event.

You have to understand the difference between these 2 examples. The reason why you can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded place is not because it will upset or annoy people, it’s because it could lead to a deadly panic in which people could be killed.

Can society pass laws against saying things that make others want to punch them in the face? Well, civil society should denounce it, but morality can’t be legislated. Allowing the government to draw the line on what is “offensive” to shield us from being affronted is censorship, pure and simple. So we have no choice but to allow it, even when it’s obviously heinous. Can neo-Nazis stand outside a Jewish funeral and cry that the Holocaust never happened? They can’t come onto private grounds, but as awful as that is, they can stand in the street and say it.

You cannot legally threaten someone or a group and I perceive this to be in the same realm; and while I believe in free speech, am “liberal” and hate to be on the same side as Justice Alito on this (or anything), I don’t know if I want to live in a society that would tolerate such vile taunts at a family whose child sacrificed his life to preserve “freedom”, especially at such a vulnerable time. There is a Bob Dylan line that says, “when something’s not right, it’s wrong”, and dress it up in First Amendment finery all you want, this ruling and this group’s actions are simply not right. In order to have a society in which public issues can be openly and vigorously debated, it is not necessary to allow the brutalization of innocent victims.

Let’s differentiate between morality and legality. This group has been very careful not to threaten anyone. With all due respect, you and Bob Dylan and most of America may agree that someone’s action is clearly wrong, but our Constitution severely limits what our government can tell us to do. Some things that you find reprehensible can still be legal. And it’s important that this is the case because morality is different for everyone.

As strongly as you feel about the Westboro Church, others feel just as strongly that it’s offensive for a gay couple to hold hands in public. Others deeply feel that it’s criminal for a woman to have an abortion. Most of us probably agree that it’s terribly cruel for someone to put their aged mother in a nursing home and never visit her again. Or for someone to cheat on their spouse. Does our government get to decide which of these warrant a trip to prison or a fine? No. No one is allowed to harm us physically, threaten or libel us, steal or damage our property. But in this fine country you are allowed to do things that others think are wrong, as long as you don’t violate their constitutional rights. That does not make those actions right, just not illegal. Our government cannot protect us from every evil someone conceives because your evils may not be the same as mine.

However twisted their thinking may be, I can guarantee that these people from Westboro Church believe with all their hearts and souls that they’re defending what’s right. Brutalization is a charged word. Dictionary.com defines brutal as: 1. cruel; vicious; savage 2. extremely honest or coarse in speech or manner. Do we have a constitutional right to be free from brutal speech? We’re not allowed to ‘harass’ someone, but harassment is a sticky legal concept. According to Wikipedia, ‘where the term is defined by law, the law varies by jurisdiction. It is difficult to provide any exact definition that is accepted everywhere.

I believe that it’s just as important for a woman to be able to walk freely into an abortion clinic as it is for another woman to be allowed to stand outside that clinic with a sign that says, “Abortion is murder.” Both will think the other is misguided, even evil. Both are free to try to convince the rest of America that they are the one in the right. Neither may impose the force of law upon the other.

Finally, I think people need to stop limiting themselves with labels such as ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative.’ We must keep in mind that it’s okay to disagree with most of what one group says, while seeing eye to eye with them about other things. And vice versa. It becomes dangerous when “loyal party members” feel compelled to agree with everything their party backs. We need to think for ourselves, on every individual issue.

I understand both sides of this issue and respect those who disagree, but Justice Alito’s comment  rings true to me; no one is preventing these people from spouting their hateful ideas on any of the millions of media outlets available to them; their showing up at military funerals does not further their cause. We are one of the few countries in the world where these wackos can state their perverted points of view without recrimination, but there has to be a limit as to time and place…in my opinion. Your other examples are nowhere near as heinous as this.

The fact that no one’s preventing them from taking the more upstanding road is beside the point. If this group simply took the mainstream route and tried to speak to media outlets, no one would give them air time. So their actions ARE furthering their cause. Or at least they believe so, because now people like you and I know all about them. Unfortunately for them, all most people will take away from this exposure is that the members of Westboro Church are warped individuals.

If this was an easy decision there’d be no controversy. They’re treading along the very edge of what they are constitutionally permitted to do- evil but smart. Yes, we as society should frown upon their behavior. But the justices who voted to defend this group’s constitutional rights are no less kindhearted than you, nor are they condoning the actions of the Westboro Church in any way. They made the very tough decision to defend the rights of us all, even those who participate in very, very antisocial behavior.

Morality cannot be legislated. We can’t quantify negative but lawful behavior. As far as whether picketing and yelling cruel slogans outside a funeral is more hurtful than abusing the trust of your life partner and potentially destroying your family is certainly up for debate.

Posted in Freedom of Speech, Intrusive government, Politics, supreme court | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »