Freedom Of Speech And Faith Not For Wimps

Brother Tatsuo is a man who likes to talk about his best friend, Jesus, outside the Torrance, California, Department of Motor Vehicles. He talks with anyone who wishes to engage and leaves alone those who do not. While talking in February, he was surrounded by police, handcuffed, and arrested. He was charged with what amounted to offending someone by speaking about God in front of a government office.

Brother Tatsuo retained attorneys from Pacific Justice Institute, but the judge abruptly dropped all charges. Someone figured out it is not a crime to exercise First Amendment rights in front of the DMV. My question is whether Brother Tatsuo will now sue the Torrance Police for false arrest and assault under color of authority. I think he should. I think he should because I think we should all be sick and tired of being harassed by officials who neither know nor care what the law actually says.

I think we should be just as sick and tired of wimp demagogues like Al Sharpton who encourage riots and then leave town for the next racial hot spot they can find. I would like to see him in jail – inciting to riot is actually a crime in most places – or bankrupted in civil court for the damage he causes to many lives before escaping what he foments. Speech like his – exhorting and encouraging crime – is not protected under the First Amendment, nor should it be.

I would like to see Dan Savage, the gay activist who loves to mock and bully high schoolers when they are a captive audience, lose his television program and live on unemployment checks. His repulsive speech is constitutionally protected, but so is my call to shun the man and his bigotry toward any who disagree with him. I am betting he is not so brave when he doesn’t have paid security all around him.

I would like to see sued the wimp city officials in New York, Baltimore, and Oakland who ordered police to stand down during recent rioting in those cities because they wanted to limit the violence to mere burning of buildings and businesses. I would like to see those officials living on welfare and in the projects so they would know what it is to be afraid to close their eyes at night. Free speech and faith is a right for Americans and for Christians; wimp officials who hide in their high rise government offices should lose what they gain when they refuse to protect those rights.

Kirsten Powers is anything but a wimp. A left-leaning pundit, the Fox News contributor and USA Today columnist calls her friends “the illiberal left” and accuses them of hijacking free speech and expression in her book “The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech.” She cites the smear campaign against Chic Fil A President Dan Cathy for daring to say he supported traditional marriage; this was more a mob than a government action, although the mayors of several cities illegally declared Chic Fil A unwelcome in their cities. She refers to government-owned universities expelling Christian clubs from campus – this has been wholesale in California and present in other states – for expressing their beliefs. Returning to the private sector, we find the firing of Brandon Eich as head of Mozilla for making a contribution to Proposition 8; bouncing back to the government sandbox, we note the persecution of military chaplains like the highly decorated Wes Modder for expressing their faith to their flocks. Whether the government or the activist mob, the attitude is: “We know what you need to hear, and we will permit only what we endorse to be spoken.”

Reality is that free speech and faith amendments are not in place to protect what people want to hear, but to guarantee the right to speak what some do not want to hear. Whether the speech and expression is correct or incorrect – short of fraud – is irrelevant to any discussion of these rights. But more important is the obligation we have to place responsibility where it belongs.

I hear speakers and writers every day decrying what the left will not let them say. (By the way, when I was a boy in the good old fifties, it was the right in power and the disciples of Joe McCarthy suppressing free speech; it is ugly and wrong in any form.) I don’t blame the suppressers of speech; I blame and hold accountable the wimps who have something to say and permit themselves to be bullied into resentful silence. Freedom is ours – to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin and every biblical prophet – if we have the courage to keep it.

When I testified against SB 128 before a state senate committee, I was booed by some two hundred supporters of the bill when I said we Californians have blood on our hands and are hellbent on adding more. I was accosted and insulted by one witness for the other side and glared at by many. Big Whup! It is time for we-who-have-something-to-say to man up – or woman up – and say it.  Spare me the complaining.

The truth is I don’t really wish evil on anyone. I want to see the evils and the perpetrators I described earlier stopped, not punished, and certainly not destroyed. I serve a God whose will is that none perish. I choose to live in the tension between God’s call to confront evil wherever it rises and the recognition we contend not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in non-material realms, as St. Paul (that always contentious apostle) states so clearly. When I fail in that choice, I repent and ask God for a do-over. I can only really appreciate this as a Christian, and one whose old nature is ever ready to take over if I permit it to rule. But by His grace, I can speak what I am called to speak and bless without prejudice. That grace under pressure is what is needed in this season of desperate aggression and easy cowardice.

Once a while back, I was leading a prayer team through the streets of Downtown Redding. We stopped in front of the Old City Hall, which is now the city-owned home of the Arts Council. As we prayed blessings on the building, staff, and even the pagan statue in front of it (what God blesses He transforms), a staffer came boiling out of the building demanding to know what we were doing. When I explained we were praying on this public sidewalk, he demanded we stop because of the separation of church and state. I explained that this separation is exactly why we have every right to pray in public walks and other places. He began waving his arms around and again demanded we cease prayers in front of his building. This time, I said: “But we only wish to bless you.” When he growled that he did not want our blessing, I smiled and said: “Too late.”

 

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 – Equipping You With The Truth

This 60-Yr-Old Marine Vet Just Made A Defiant Move Against Muslims, And He’s Not Backing Down

Jerry Delemus, a 60-year-old former Marine, is planning on pushing the envelope of his First Amendment freedom. He wants to express his rights in the form of a “draw Muhammad” contest that will take place sometime in August in New Hampshire.

While Delemus stated that he acknowledges there are risks that come with hosting an event of this nature, he has assured the public that there will be an exceptional amount of security available at this event.

In November 2011, the office of Charlie Hebdo, in France, was burned down on the same day that a new cover of their magazine was set to be released. The cover depicted the prophet Muhammad saying, “100 lashes if you’re not dying of laughter.” Then again, in January of this year, the same magazine came under attack by two gunmen. Two armed men burst into a meeting at the Charlie Hebdo office, firing at everyone. Sixteen people were killed as a result of this attack.

In May, two gunmen opened fire outside an event center in Garland, Texas. The center was holding a “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest.” Two men drove up to barricades outside the event center, exited the car, and began to fire on security. Police assisted security and returned fire; both gunmen were killed.

Delemus has not heard from the local Islamic community. In light of attacks on citizens surrounding these types of venues, some locals are nervous. One resident stated: “I don’t understand the point of inciting violence. It’s just going to cause more problems.”

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Cops Are On Edge After The Highly Disturbing Thing Found On This Car

According to a recent WBTV report, motorists in central Virginia reacted quickly after spotting a vehicle bearing an incendiary anti-police bumper sticker. Images of the message have since been shared extensively across social media platforms.

Capture

News of the offensive sticker first spread locally, sparked by a denunciation by the Virginia Fraternal Order of Police. Organization spokesperson Kevin Carroll asserted that such public calls for violence are “dangerous for the officers.”

In light of several anti-cop rallies across the U.S. in recent months, Carroll acknowledged that criticism of an imperfect institution is appropriate.

“Officers make mistakes. I understand that,” he said. “But I did not know that it now has become fashionable to hate the police.”

Despite complaints, however, WBTV legal analyst Steve Benjamin explained that, unless the sticker can be linked to an incitation of violence, the individual responsible for displaying it has not committed any crime.

“As obnoxious and stupid and potentially dangerous as that might be, that’s the expression of a message,” he said, “—and that’s protected by the First Amendment.”

He went on to say that a police officer is not allowed to stop someone strictly on the basis of such a bumper sticker, though he noted that “you are inviting that kind of attention when you drive around with something that inflammatory.”

Some readers questioned whether encouraging an act of violence is truly protected speech, with one suggesting someone try “changing cop to something racist and see what happens.”

Another predicted what might occur if this driver actually attempts what his or her sticker encourages.

“I guess we’ll hear about how GREAT of a person he was when he’s shot in a shootout after wreaking havoc and pointing a gun at law enforcement,” the reader wrote.

Should endorsements of violence be protected under the First Amendment? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Exposed: Obama Admin’s Shadowy New Plan Could Silence A Huge Group Of Americans

The Obama administration is proposing new regulations that impinge on not only Americans’ Second Amendment rights, but their First Amendment rights as well.

As reported by Western Journalism last week, the administration plans to move forward with more than a dozen gun-related regulations. Many of them were considered in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, but failed to gain congressional approval. The proposed regulations are all part of the administration’s Unified Agenda.

The NRA reports that also included in this agenda is a “large-scale overhaul of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which implement the federal Arms Export Control Act (AECA). The Act regulates the movement of so-called ‘defense articles’ and ‘defense services’ in and out of the United States.”

ITAR was originally adopted before the Internet was readily available. Some State Department officials are now claiming that any guns designs, etc. posted online have been “exported” since the web is available worldwide–and therefore fall under the jurisdiction of ITAR.

Items regulated under ITAR encompass ‘technical data’ about defense articles. These include “detailed design, development, production or manufacturing information” about firearms or ammunition. “Technical data may be in any tangible or intangible form, such as written or oral communications, blueprints, drawings, photographs, plans, diagrams, models, formulae, tables, engineering designs and specifications, computeraided design files, manuals or documentation, electronic media or information gleaned through visual inspection,” according to the proposed regulations.

The NRA believes the new regulation would constitute a massive restraint on free speech regarding firearms and their accessories, thus violating the First and Second Amendments. This is because all such releases of information would require the “authorization” of the government before they occurred. “The cumbersome and time-consuming process of obtaining such authorizations, moreover, would make online communication about certain technical aspects of firearms and ammunition essentially impossible.”

“Gunsmiths, manufacturers, reloaders, and do-it-yourselfers could all find themselves muzzled under the rule and unable to distribute or obtain the information they rely on to conduct these activities. Prior restraints of the sort contemplated by this regulation are among the most disfavored regulations of speech under First Amendment case law.”

Those found guilty of violating the regulations would face severe penalties including up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Bob Owens writes on Bearing Arms:

You did a gun review about your new AR-15 and posted it to YouTube? That’s up to 20 years in prison..

You took a small unit tactics class, and wrote about what you learned on your Blogspot blog? That’s a fine of up to one million dollars.

You’re a manufacturer that posts product manuals your web site? Obama will shut you down.

I’m not going to register for permission from the government to write here at Bearing Arms, and so you can expect me to wind up in a federal prison… or worse.

Your favorite gun forums, blogs, web sites, gun video channels, and virtually all other firearm-related online speech would be banned, with your favorite personalities subject to fines and prison, in a direct assault by this corrupt government on both the First and Second Amendments.

Public comment will be accepted on the proposed gag order until August 3, 2015. Comments may be submitted online at regulations.gov or via e-mail (DDTCPublicComments@state.gov with the subject line ‘‘ITAR Amendment—Revisions to Definitions; Data Transmission and Storage.”)

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

‘Jailbird Journalists’ Gather At Press Club

A dozen journalists from around the nation were behind the dais at the National Press Club, facing a capacity crowd on June 1. They were dressed in regular business attire, not orange prison jumpsuits; but they all had vivid memories of their days behind bars.

The symposium was the first-ever gathering of almost all living U.S. journalists who have been jailed or detained for refusing to reveal their sources to the government. The Western Center for Journalism was a sponsor for the event, along with professional journalist organizations and other groups whose orientation ranged from progressive to conservative. All were united in defense of freedom of the press and support of whistleblowers.

Some of the journalists had incurred the wrath of the federal government. Most had been jailed by state and local courts. It was a reminder that abusive government exists at all levels. However, 49 states (all except Wyoming) and the District of Columbia have “shield laws” that protect journalists to some degree, while there is no shield law protecting journalists from the federal government—the largest and most abusive level of government by far. A major goal of these journalists and the National Press Club is to campaign for a federal shield law.

Each year, hundreds of American governmental jurisdictions threaten journalists with jail if they refuse to disclose their confidential sources for their stories. These courageous journalists had refused—and paid for it with a trip to the pokey.  From their round-table discussion, two themes became apparent.

First, jail is not fun. It would be stupid to risk it just to “advance your career,” as some detractors have claimed these journalists did. Instead, it claims time and money that cannot be recovered. Bradley Stone was a TV reporter in Detroit when he spent just two days in stir—“the first day in jail was pretty claustrophobic,” he remembers—but all the legal machinations “really cost me three years of my professional life—the worst three years of my life.” He admires Houston journalist Vanessa Leggett, also on the panel, who spent 168 days in jail for protecting her sources.

A second theme with the panel was how the situation has become much worse for journalists under the Obama administration. “I have covered every President from Reagan on, and Obama is by far the worst,” said moderator Brian Karem. “More journalists have been served subpoenas by the Obama administration than in all former presidencies combined,” said Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Judith Miller (85 days in jail), who reported for 28 years with The New York Times and is now a commentator for Fox News.

Who Does the First Amendment Protect?

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”

“Freedom of speech,” it is obvious, belongs to all citizens. “The press” is important enough to then be cited specifically, making it clear that our speech is protected both as an individual citizen and as a member of the press, if we are such.

The prevailing view among “the press” is that requiring a member of the press to disclose confidential sources is an “abridgement” of his or her freedom of speech. A federal employee in a sensitive position or some other source may decide not to disclose something that is embarrassing to the government unless the reporter promises confidentiality. Thus, the public is deprived of information it has a right to as citizens.

“The press” is singled out for recognition because of its importance in providing information to the citizens, but who is “the press”? Or, in today’s parlance, who is a “journalist”? Some state shield laws originally sought to protect only print journalists. Broadcast journalists—some of them on this panel—had to fight to extend protection to radio and TV journalists. But today, the Internet has drastically expanded the reality of who provides information to the public. Bloggers, personal or independent websites not affiliated with any institution, public spirited or just cranky individuals—a virtual citizen army is now reporting on what the government is doing. This is an especially important point for conservatives and libertarians, who have used the Internet to spread their insights and do end runs around the “gatekeepers” at established journalistic institutions who are hostile to their views.

Only one blogger, Josh Wolf, was on the National Press Club panel. He suggested, as have others, that the emphasis in a federal shield law should be not on who is a journalist, but on protecting anyone who is performing “the act of journalism”—that is, informing the public. That would be an improvement, but still promises endless court struggles as long as we think of “protected” or “covered” journalists and those who are not protected.

The feds, for their part, are aware of the public support for a federal shield law but are trying to restrict it to institutional journalists. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif), for example, thinks bloggers and citizen journalists do not qualify for protection. Only “salaried agents” of institutions like the Washington Post or NBC News should qualify. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wants to know your employer, salary, and frequency of publication before you would qualify. These insiders know that almost all major journalistic institutions are owned by six giant corporations, mega-corporations that can be pressured to force their journalist serfs to cooperate with the feds. Independent bloggers and citizen journalists are as hard to herd as feral cats.

Noted constitutional lawyer William J. Olson argues, on the other hand, that we should not draw up lists of “approved” and “unapproved” journalists. He recommends that we return to the concept enunciated in the Constitution and restated by Chief Justice Warren Burger in 1978, namely that “the First Amendment does not ‘belong’ to any definable category of persons or entities. It belongs to all who exercise its freedoms.”

 

David Franke was one of the founders of the conservative movement in the 1950s and ‘60s.  He is the author of Safe Places, The Torture Doctor, America’s Right Turn and other books.

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 – Equipping You With The Truth