You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘free speech’ tag.
The federal government, in the face of allegations it was trampling on free speech, has closed its investigation of a major insurance company for allegedly trying to scare seniors with a mailer warning they could lose important benefits under President Obama’s health reform plan.
U.S. health officials announced Friday that private insurers can send seniors information on health-related issues as long as they allow their members to opt out of receiving the communications, apparently ending its probe of Humana.
“While we feel it is important to protect Medicare beneficiaries from potentially unwelcome marketing and other communications, we also recognize plans’ interest in contacting their enrollees on issues unrelated to the specific plan benefit that they contract with CMS to provide to those enrollees,” Teresea DeCaro, acting director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Medicare Drug and Health Plan Contract Administration Group, wrote in a memo…
More at the link.
The Obama administration really, REALLY doesn’t like Fox News: White House Escalates War on Fox News
The White House escalated its offensive against Fox News on Sunday by urging other news organizations to stop “following Fox” and instead join the administration’s attempt to marginalize the channel.
White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel told CNN that President Obama does not want “the CNNs and the others in the world [to] basically be led in following Fox.”
Obama senior adviser David Axelrod went further by calling on media outlets to join the administration in declaring that Fox is “not a news organization.”
“Other news organizations like yours ought not to treat them that way,” Axelrod counseled ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “We’re not going to treat them that way.”…
More at the link.
Time for federal prosecutors to sharpen their powers of extrasensory perception. Senate OKs bill on hate crimes
…The legislation, named the Matthew Shepard Act after the gay University of Wyoming student beaten to death in 1998, would impose longer prison sentences for offenses motivated by gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
It increases federal power:
It also would make it easier for federal prosecutors to pursue hate-crime charges when local authorities do not.
If enacted, it would be the largest expansion of federal hate-crime laws since they were created in 1968 in response to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
It was attached as an amendment to the defense spending bill, which passed by a voice vote. Senator McCain calls BS:
“Our legal system is based on identifying, capturing and punishing criminals, and not on using the power of government to try to divine biases,” Mr. McCain said during floor debate. “Crimes motivated by hate deserve vigorous prosecution, but so do crimes motivated by absolute wanton disregard for life of any kind.”
Religious groups also oppose the bill, saying it will infringe upon free-speech rights to preach against homosexuality.
A similar bill was passed in the House last April 249-175.
This legislation shifts the justice system’s focus from the criminal act to a prosecutor’s perception of the motive driving the act. It will have the effect of making crimes against some people punished more severely than the same crimes against other people. It is another step on the road to European-style multiculturalism, which selectively prosecutes and judges crimes depending on which identity group the victim is identified with. It’s not an individual whose rights are violated, it’s an ethnicity, a religious affiliation or gender group that is injured in that legal point of view.
I thought America was about equal justice for all. This bill will achieve the polar opposite.
You can’t gore progressives’ sacred cows if you attend a Pennsylvania college. From FIRE, Bucknell University Slams Door on Student Satires of Obama Stimulus Plan, Affirmative Action
LEWISBURG, Pa., June 11, 2009—Student rights are under assault at Bucknell University, where a conservative student group’s protests against affirmative action policies and President Obama’s stimulus plan have repeatedly been shut down or forbidden by administrators using flimsy or patently false excuses. After the Bucknell University Conservatives Club (BUCC) had three events censored in two months, the students turned to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help.
“Bucknell promises free speech, but it delivers selective censorship,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “Bucknell administrators have gone out of their way to abuse and even invent policies in attempts to silence these students, all the while professing to respect free speech.”
What were the group’s thought crimes? Passing out “fake dollar bills with President Obama’s face on the front and the sentence “Obama’s stimulus plan makes your money as worthless as monopoly money” on the back”, and an affirmative action bake sale satirizing the reality of it by pricing products in such a way that “African-American and Hispanic students are asked to pay lower prices than Asian and white students for the same items.”
FIRE has written a letter to the college president, “informing him of these incidents and reminding him that the university’s handbook “instructs students not only that they have freedom of speech but that ‘deliberate interference’ with this freedom is prohibited … By shutting down BUCC events, Bucknell sends the message to its students that speech is to be feared, monitored, and ultimately restrained if it is deemed sufficiently controversial.” Bucknell has yet to respond.”
More at the link, including contact information for the university.
More countries are stepping up to the plate behind the US. From CNN, Boycotts hit U.N. racism conference
Australia and the Netherlands were the latest to pull out of next week’s meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, as a dispute gathered pace over a document said to single out Israel for racism.
Canada, Israel, Italy and Sweden have also announced they are boycotting the conference aimed at creating a global blueprint for tackling discrimination. Britain says it will attend.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, is not happy:
“A handful of states have permitted one or two issues to dominate their approach to this issue, allowing them to outweigh the concerns of numerous groups of people that suffer racism and similar forms of intolerance to a pernicious and life-damaging degree on a daily basis all across the world, in both developed and developing countries,” she said in a statement. “These are truly global issues, and it is essential that they are discussed at a global level, however sensitive and difficult they may be.”
Why is the US out?
Washington says despite numerous redrafts of the controversial document, due to be adopted at the conference, it remains unhappy, and says it violates American principles of free speech.
…The U.S. State Department said the current document “prejudges key issues that can only be resolved in negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.”
… President Obama said Sunday the 2001 conference became “a session through which folks expressed antagonism towards Israel in ways that were often times completely hypocritical and counterproductive.”
He said the United States had warned it would not attend this year’s conference if the document was not sufficiently altered in advance.
Obama said the United States is hoping to partner with other countries “to actually reduce discrimination around the globe, but this [conference] wasn’t an opportunity to do it.”
I’m glad he understood that. I had my doubts.
Fox Cable News was showing live action at the conference this morning, when Iran’s Ahmedinejad was speaking. Two men wearing those rainbow-colored wigs were escorted out after yelling while he was on the podium.
Thanks to Daily Beast
The United States will not participate in Durban II. The AP report: US to boycott UN racism meeting
The Obama administration has decided “with regret” to boycott a U.N. conference on racism next week over objectionable language in the meeting’s final document that could single out Israel for criticism and restrict free speech, the State Department said Saturday.
The decision follows weeks of furious internal debate and will likely please Israel and Jewish groups that lobbied against U.S. participation but upset human rights advocates and some in the African-American community who hoped President Barack Obama, as the nation’s first black president, would decide to send an official delegation.
The administration had wanted to attend the April 20-25 meeting in Geneva, although it warned in late February that it would not go unless significant changes were made to the draft text.
Some revisions — including the removal of specific critical references to Israel and problematic passages about the defamation of religion — were negotiated.
But the State Department said the text retains troubling elements that suggest support for restrictions on free speech and an affirmation of the findings of the first World Conference Against Racism, held in Durban, South Africa, in 2001 that the U.S cannot endorse.
“Unfortunately, it now seems certain these remaining concerns will not be addressed in the document to be adopted by the conference next week,” State Department spokesman Robert Wood said in a statement. “Therefore, with regret, the United States will not join the review conference.”
Good going, Mr. President.
Eye On The UN has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of what Durban II is all about. It’s a good source of information on the UN in general.
H/T Daily Beast
From CNS News, Durban II Boycott Swells
As negotiations come down to the wire ahead of Monday’s opening of the United Nations’ politically charged racism conference in Geneva, several European countries are expected on Friday to announce that they will boycott the event.
U.N. officials’ attempts to avert a widening boycott of the gathering appear to have been undermined by continued wrangling over wording in the conference’s draft declaration, and by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s decision to attend.
Canada and Israel have already said they’re not attending. Germany, Australia, The Netherlands, Denmark, Britain and the Czech Republic, acting on behalf of the European Union in it’s role as its President, are signaling their intention to refuse to play.
The US? We’re still on the fence, although the article says the State Department is indicating we won’t participate.
The article details specific objections by various governments. A few of them:
– E.U. members said the religious stereotyping and foreign occupation paragraphs were unacceptable.
– Iran and other Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) members opposed a paragraph stating that “the Holocaust must never be forgotten.” Australia’s representative insisted the paragraph was non-negotiable.
Good news for the people of the world. I’ll be watching for definitive statements from these countries.
The ball is in the President’s court. He said he wanted changes in the wording before the US would sign on. Did he get them? The Durban II document shows changes in wording, but not in the ideas basic to its guiding principles. The Durban II Snow Job: One giant leap backwards for humankind
…When Al-Hajjaji clocked out 30 minutes after showing up for work, she asked delegates to pick up a new draft of the “Durban II Outcome Document” on their way out the door. Little wonder she wanted no opportunity for public discussion. Here is what can be found in the latest draft of the UN’s new “anti-racism” bible:
* Condemnation of “foreign occupation” – aka Israel-bashing. Foreign occupation is said to be “closely associated with racism, racial discrimination…and contribute to the persistence of racist attitudes and practices…” In other words, labeling the Jewish nation as the world’s racist state is back.
* “Defamation of religions” returns under a new guise. The document professes “deep concern” about “the negative stereotyping of religions.”
* More of the Islamic assault on free speech. The draft “reaffirms that all dissemination of ideas based on…incitement to racial discrimination…shall be declared offences punishable by law…”
* More Iranian-driven references to “cultural diversity” – the diplomatic cover for the murder of homosexuals, judicially-sanctioned amputation of hands and feet, and the stoning of woman for alleged adultery.
* Renewed emphasis on the “transatlantic slave trade” and total rejection of a proposed mention of the trans-Saharan slave trade perpetrated by Arabs and other Africans.
* Additional emphasis on the adoption of “complementary standards” on racism and xenophobia – an Islamic idea designed to subvert the universal principles in existing treaties.
Much more at the link, including the political maneuvering behind the scenes.
Will the President put an American seal of approval on this freedom-killing document? We’ll see.
Free speech, that is. Jonathan Turley points out the trend in Enlightenment-based cultures: The Free World Bars Free Speech
…But now an equally troubling trend is developing in the West. Ever since 2006, when Muslims worldwide rioted over newspaper cartoons picturing the prophet Muhammad, Western countries, too, have been prosecuting more individuals for criticizing religion. The “Free World,” it appears, may be losing faith in free speech.
…Emblematic of the assault is the effort to pass an international ban on religious defamation supported by United Nations General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann. Brockmann is a suspended Roman Catholic priest who served as Nicaragua’s foreign minister in the 1980s under the Sandinista regime, the socialist government that had a penchant for crushing civil liberties before it was tossed out of power in 1990. Since then, Brockmann has literally embraced such free-speech-loving figures as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whom he wrapped in a bear hug at the U.N. last year.
Give censors an inch, and they take a mile:
History has shown that once governments begin to police speech, they find ever more of it to combat. Countries such as Canada, England and France have prosecuted speakers and journalists for criticizing homosexuals and other groups. It’s the ultimate irony: free speech curtailed for the sake of a pluralistic society.
Take away freedom of speech, and human rights fall like dominoes:
Not only does this trend threaten free speech, freedom of association and a free press, it even undermines free exercise of religion. Challenging the beliefs of other faiths can be part of that exercise. Countries such as Saudi Arabia don’t prosecute blasphemers to protect the exercise of all religions but to protect one religion.
Religious orthodoxy has always lived in tension with free speech. Yet Western ideals are based on the premise that free speech contains its own protection: Good speech ultimately prevails over bad. There’s no blasphemy among free nations, only orthodoxy and those who seek to challenge it.
President Obama has an opportunity to stand up for individual freedom and all the rights it implies by standing against actions meant to curtail it taken by the UN. I await his response.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has released a video detailing the University of Delaware’s disgraceful social indoctrination program aimed at their students. From the article Video: ‘Think What We Think… Or Else: Thought Control on the American Campus’,
In the fall of 2007, the University of Delaware implemented an Orwellian program of ideological reeducation aimed at coercing students to change their thoughts, habits, and values to conform to a highly specific ideological agenda. Over 7,000 undergraduate students living in the dorms at UD were required to attend training sessions, floor meetings, and “one-on-one” meetings with their Resident Assistants (RAs), who followed procedures described internally by ResLife as a “treatment” and defined “learning” as “specific attitudinal or behavioral changes” in line with ResLife’s social, economic, political, and environmental agenda.
You can watch the video here. It’s about 15 minutes long, but worth the watch if you’re interested in seeing thought control in action.
Elsewhere in the college campus world, Eugene Volokh discusses The University of the Totally Disarmed
Many universities ban firearms, but some research I’ve been doing reveals that some universities ban firearms and stun guns and chemical defensive sprays, either in dorm rooms or in the university as a whole. This basically leaves students entirely without any defensive weapons, and also has the effect of disarming dorm residents when they go off campus property, since they have no place to store the defensive weapons when they’re back on campus.
This strikes me as quite shocking, especially with regard to women students who are in the age range where the danger of rape is at its highest. The university basically leaves them as sitting ducks, unless they’re willing to violate the university policy. Even if the university tries to compensate by offering a good deal of on-campus policing (some do and some don’t), it surely can’t protect the students when they leave campus.
Much more at the link.
If you’re paying for a child’s college tuition, make sure you know what you’re getting.