Is This Texas Republican Enabling Police Brutality?

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At a time when the entirety of Western civilization is focused on eliminating police corruption and ending the suffering that unlawful police departments inflict upon citizens, a Texas State Representative, Jason Villalba (R-Dallas), is ramping up his crusade against civil liberties, seeking to diminish public oversight of police action.

This month, Representative Villalba introduced a bill that would prohibit:

  • filming, recording, photographing, or documenting the officer within 25 feet of the officer; or
  • filming, recording, photographing, or documenting the officer within 100 feet of the officer while carrying a handgun

(thereby criminalizing basic rights enumerated in the first and second amendments to the US Constitution.)

Villalba has included language in the bill that provides an exception for government-defined “members of the press,” mimicking the failed attempt by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein to curtail free speech with her amendment to the 2013 Free Flow of Information Act.

Activists within the Texas Liberty Movement indicate that Viallba’s bill will be opposed in the House, although no legislators have gone on record to confirm this yet.

Critics of the bill say that it is a continuance of a frightening trend in government to criminalize lawful behavior, limit human rights, and eliminate citizen oversight.

On Friday, Murdoch Pitzgatti, the President and co-founder of Come and Take It Texas, said:

When filming anything in public becomes illegal, the First Amendment has died. Where the First Amendment is restricted, the Second Amendment will be used to remedy the situation.

Pitzgatti added: “Under this bill, concealed handgun license holders must stay even further away while filming. We will not follow an unconstitutional law, especially one that singles out law-abiding citizens that have been vetted and have undergone extensive background checks and treats them like criminals.”

The bill stands in marked contrast to the efforts made by Texas citizens, including police and lawmakers, to increase oversight of police actions through the use of body cameras and other measures. Similar initiatives, put forth on the national level, have received nearly universal support in the wake of Ferguson and other highly publicized incidents involving police shootings.

Like Feinstein, Villalba would have the legislature ignore the ways in which technology has enabled journalism to evolve, narrowly defining “journalist” in such a way that would criminalize the work done by many of today’s most powerful and influential members of press.

Sadly, these attempted end-runs around the First Amendment are far from isolated occurrences. Over the past decade, a multitude of evidence has surfaced that reveals an increasing animosity towards the press on the part of government–though this animosity has not gone unchecked.

In 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled unanimously in favor of Simon Glik, who was arrested and charged with illegal wiretapping for making a video recording of police actions in Boston. Sarah Wunsch, a staff attorney for ACLU Massachusetts, called the case “…a resounding victory for the First Amendment right to openly record police officers carrying out their duties in a public place.”

The right to a free press is an American principle that predates the founding of the republic. In an Appeal to the Inhabitants of Quebec (1774), the First Continental Congress wrote:

The last right we shall mention regards the freedom of the press. The importance of this consists, besides the advancement of truth, science, morality, and arts in general, in its diffusion of liberal sentiments on the administration of Government, its ready communication of thoughts between subjects, and its consequential promotion of union among them, whereby oppressive officers are shamed or intimidated into more honorable and just modes of conducting affairs.

Fifteen years later, the people’s right to criticize government specifically compelled the Founders to include within the Bill of Rights the statement that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”

Americans have long cherished the right to a free press–and rightfully so. Efforts by those in government to flout this basic premise of our constitutional republic clearly recalls the Nazis’ Reichstag Fire Decree, which in 1933 made criticism of the government a criminal offense in Germany and paved the way for the terror of national socialism.

But what terrorizes minions of big government, like Jason Villalba, is a free people exercising their natural rights unimpeded by regulation.

Another highly publicized bill filed by Villalba this session, under the guise of protecting religious liberty, would amend the Texas constitution to allow state and local governments to “burden” a person’s free exercise of religion if “the burden is necessary to further a compelling governmental interest…” Villlalba has since folded under the pressure coming from both sides of the issue and withdrawn support for his own bill, leaving Representative Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) to pick up the slack.

Last year in US News & World Report, Jason Stverak wrote:

The term “public servant” has become the vogue euphemism that career politicians and government employees use for themselves, but it more aptly applies to people working for the common good and the betterment of their community. Journalists fit under this umbrella because they are a check on those in power, and our government should be applauding anyone who puts in the legwork to uncover the truth instead of drawing arbitrary lines to hinder them.

Take note, Villalba; that’s the way real Texans think.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

This Symbol Of Christmas Is Under Assault, But Here’s Why America’s Freedom Depends On It

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Tis the season for the heartwarming Christmas letters from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).  You know the routine.  Each holiday season, these groups send letters to municipalities threatening lawsuits if the recipient municipality will not remove a nativity display from a particular public property.

Last Christmas, I wrote an article explaining why it is frivolous to remove nativity displays from government property.  In that article, I observed that a nativity display is the antithesis of an apotheosis display.

To recap that article, a nativity display celebrates the moment in time God becomes a man, while an apotheosis display celebrates the moment in time man becomes a god.

I then pointed to the “Apotheosis of Washington” painted on the domed ceiling of the U.S. Capitol rotunda by Constantino Brumidi.  Ironically, Brumidi was commissioned by the government to paint the Apotheosis for $40,000.  Next, I asked the rhetorical question, “Why is it unconstitutional to have a nativity display on public property, but not a government-commissioned apotheosis display?”

Now I want to explain why it matters that cities and towns across America remain allowed to display nativity scenes on public property at Christmas.

When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, he explained that our freedoms come from God.  “All men are created equal,” he says, and “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  Jefferson also clearly stated that the purpose of civil government was “to secure these rights.”

A nativity display on government property reminds us that all humans have unalienable rights- rights that cannot legitimately be taken away- because these rights come from God.  A nativity display celebrates the source of our rights and reminds our government officials that it is their duty to help secure these rights.

Similarly, a nativity scene on government property reminds us that we are a republic, not a democracy. Our republic acknowledges God as the source of our unchangeable rights. A democracy is vastly different. The rights granted in a democracy are determined not by God, but by the ever-changing opinions of the majority of mankind.

Ultimately, the present battle waged by the FFRF and ACLU is a battle over who gets to be God. Who will be acknowledged as the source of our rights?  Will it be God, or will it be man?

Given the nation’s present woes and injustices, it is altogether fitting that nativity displays remain in the public arena as a guiding light and reminder to all of the source of our freedoms.

 

Learn more about your Constitution with Doug Carter and the “Institute on the Constitution” and receive your free gift.

 

About the author:

Doug Carter is currently an instructor of Ethics, Old Testament, New Testament, and World Religions in N. C.

Photo credit: shutterstock.com

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

What Holder And Obama Are Doing To This Border Agent Exposes Their Backward Thinking

Murrieta Border Patrol Station

Nearly two years ago, a Mexican teen was shot to death by a U.S. Border Patrol agent near the fence that separates the United States from Mexico. A few weeks ago, the ACLU, acting on behalf of the mother of 16 year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, filed suit against Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The lawsuit claims the boy was innocently playing basketball just before he was shot in the back. The Border Patrol claims the teen was throwing rocks across the border, endangering the agent’s life.

Now, it’s learned that Attorney General Eric Holder has ordered DOJ’s Civil Rights Division to investigate this shooting, as well as at least one other, by CBP agents in Arizona.

According to a post on the typically left-leaning buzzfeed.com:

CBP, and in particular the Tucson Sector in Arizona, use of force against undocumented immigrants and Mexican citizens inside their home country has come under increasing scrutiny over the last year, and the investigations come on the heels of a federal civil lawsuit filed by the family of a 16-year-old Nogales, Mexico, boy who was killed during a cross-border shooting by CBP.

The involvement of Justice Department headquarters could represent a significant shift in how the Obama administration is addressing violence along the border. FBI investigators almost never bring criminal charges against CBP agents and officers, and human rights organizations have accused the administration of turning a blind eye towards the border.

News of this stepped-up probe by Holder’s Justice Department comes shortly after an earlier report of a leaked intelligence analysis by CBP that brought to light serious border-security issues — problems many argue are created, or made worse by, Obama administration policies of lax border enforcement.

Here are highlights of the critical CBP analysis via breitbart.com:

Among the significant revelations are that individuals from nations currently suffering from the world’s largest Ebola outbreak have been caught attempting to sneak across the porous U.S. border….

As of July 20, 2014, 1,443 individuals from China were caught sneaking across the porous U.S. border this year alone….

Twenty-eight individuals from Pakistan were caught attempting to sneak into the U.S. this year alone….

Thirteen Egyptians were caught trying to sneak into the U.S. this year alone….

Four individuals from Yemen were caught attempting to sneak into the U.S. by Border Patrol agents in 2014 alone….

So, here we have an Eric Holder civil rights investigation underway into actions of besieged Border Patrol agents whose job is made all the more difficult and dangerous because of actions/inactions of Holder’s boss, Barack Obama.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

The 4th Of July Celebrates Freedom And This Sheriff Won’t Allow His To Be Crushed By The ACLU

Photo credit: Facebook/Julian Whittington Campaign

When Louisiana lawman Julian Whittington announced plans for a Fourth of July prayer rally, many locals expressed a desire to attend the faith-based patriotic event. Activists from the American Civil Liberties Union, however, wanted to shut it down, alleging such a gathering is unconstitutional.

The Bossier Parish sheriff said this week that he has no intention of giving into the demands, noting that his constituency is overwhelmingly supportive of the principles embraced by the ‘In God We Trust’ rally.

“Not only am I elected to serve the people of Bossier Parish,” he told the Shreveport Times; “but I live here and my family lives here. I think Bossier Parish is a better place with Christianity and Christian values involved in it.”

His loyalty, he maintained, is to the people he serves and his community – not Washington, D.C. bureaucrats.

“What they, what they say,” he asserted, “I couldn’t really care less.”

Nonetheless, the ACLU is determined to make its opinion known.

“If the event is held on sheriff’s property,” the Louisiana chapter’s executive director stated, “then by definition it is a public event that sends a message of government endorsement of Christianity.”

Whittington has plenty of local support for the event, though, including one high-profile Republican who attended last year’s inaugural rally: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Don Gasper, like many locals, is enthusiastic about the rally and Whittington’s efforts overall.

“I’m behind him,” he said. “Too many of our Christian values are being thrown aside for this politically correct environment.”

The sheriff asserted that it is not the intention of organizers to proselytize, insisting that the event is only offered as a way to give interested locals an opportunity to embrace America’s founding principles.

“We’re not trying to push or convert,” Whittington said. “We’re not trying to round them up and force them into anything. There are no consequences if you don’t; that’s not it at all.”

He concluded the “idea that a small meeting in Bossier City somehow needs federal approval is ridiculous.”

Photo Credit: Facebook/Julian Whittington Campaign

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Teachers Union Contract Blatantly Discriminates Against Christians

It is common knowledge among millions of Americans that the current driving force behind public education has increasingly led the charge to indoctrinate the next generation with leftist ideology. Teachers unions have amassed considerable control over the school system, using their sway to shape the direction of an institution children are required by law to attend.

One of the latest outrageous reports emanating from this bastion of leftism, however, indicates just how dedicated unions are to the cause of whitewashing America’s founding principles and values.

One Michigan school district’s teachers union boasts a contract that unequivocally states that “[s]pecial consideration shall be given to … those of the non-Christian faith” in filling open positions within the school system. It appears that this inclusion not only violates a previous passage in the contract but also a state law that prohibits religious discrimination in employment decisions.

The contact, which governs teachers in the community until 2017, guarantees similar advantages for minorities and women. Though millions of Americans consider such considerations antithetical to the selection of the best candidate, regardless of race or gender, the emphasis on hiring non-Christians is especially distasteful.

Ann Arbor’s Thomas Law Center President Richard Thompson expressed his concern regarding the contract’s language.

“Why would they be discriminating against Christians?” he asked. “They are not supposed to be discriminating against people for their religious beliefs. It’s outrageous – and I believe it’s unconstitutional.”

He concluded that the document could clearly result in a religious litmus test for current and future teachers in the district.

“Are people going to hide their faith so they can get a promotion?” he wondered. “There is a subtle persecution of Christians.”

While Thompson’s organization generally champions traditional causes, even the overwhelmingly leftist American Civil Liberties Union found fault with the contract.

Rana Elmir of the state’s ACLU chapter indicated that “public schools themselves should not be in the business of promoting particular religious beliefs or religious activities over others and they should protect children from being coerced to accept religious or anti-religious beliefs.”

The fact that Christianity is specifically denigrated in the contract offers a stark insight into the level of disdain today’s left has toward the morals and values found in the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Though this particular passage is outrageous on its own, research has shown that Michigan’s teachers unions as a whole have a long history of including contract stipulations in violation of the law. Six in 10 of these contracts reportedly contain such passages.

–B. Christopher Agee

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Photo Credit: Lovemykia (Creative Commons)

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom