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Sorry, Free Speech is only for Frauds and Criminals

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“When God shuts a door, he opens a window.”

The Democrats must think they’re God. Why? Because though they recently shut the door of political free speech, they managed to crack the window of “filing a false police report” wide enough for the criminals to crawl through.

Doors and Windows? Allow me to bring this metaphor to life:

Door:

Democrats overwhelmingly voted to prevent the protection of political speech on the internet. The act in question was the “Online Freedom of Speech Act” and it aimed to make the words of individuals exempt from campaign finance laws.

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The act would have amended the Federal Election Campaign Act to guarantee that restrictions on political endorsements in the media would not apply to private individuals expressing political opinions or preferences on the web. In other words, it guaranteed freedom of speech to bloggers who might have it taken away by partisan bureaucrats during an election using the campaign finance reform rules.
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Basically, the law was aimed at preventing a blogger’s endorsement of a political candidate from counting as a campaign donation. It was to protect individual internet writers from the standards applied to the large corporations that run radio stations, newspapers and cable networks. In other words, being that posting on the internet is no different than passing a note to a friend, web communication ought to be exempt from political restrictions.

As BlogCritic Dave Nalle stated, it goes down like this:

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Pretty simple and straightforward. If you voted for it, you want bloggers to have free speech. If you voted against it you want to muzzle free exchange of ideas on the web. Nothing ambiguous or open to interpretation in the one-sentence bill.

Lest you’re one of those who continues to labor under the impression that the Democratic Party is the party which supports freedom and civil rights, the bill was defeated on overwhelming opposition by Democrat representatives and was strongly supported by Republicans. 179 Republicans voted ‘yea’ and only 38 voted ‘nay’. 143 Democrats voted ‘nay’ and only 38 voted ‘yea’. The numbers don’t lie. There was clearly an organized effort by Democrats to kill this bill. If even half of the Democrats had voted in favor of free speech on the internet the bill would have passed.
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Wait wait wait. I thought the Democrats were the champions of civil liberties, and the last line of defense against the tyrannical Republican fascist state? I thought George Bush was slowly chipping away at our rights in a diabolical plan to rule the world?

What I didn’t think though, was that Democrats would allow Big Brother to sit at a tollbooth on the Information Super-Highway. The internet literally made Howard Dean. Literally. Without the work of bloggers, webmasters and visitors, he wouldn’t have nearly won the United States Presidency. But a year later, his own party is shutting it all down? This is more than just a violation of our rights, its political suicide.

I’d ask where the ACLU is one this one, but that leads me to the window…

Window:

Queue the worst court in the United States of America.

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A federal appeals court nullified a California criminal law adopted after the Rodney King beating that made it unlawful for citizens to knowingly lodge false accusations against police officers.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Thursday the law was an unconstitutional infringement of speech because false statements in support of officers were not criminalized. The decision, hailed by civil liberties groups and opposed by the California District Attorneys Association and law enforcement groups, overturns the California Supreme Court, which in 2002 ruled that free speech concerns took a back seat when it came to speech targeting police officers.
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IS THIS COUNTRY INSANE???????

We just ruled that internet writers aren’t free to express their political viewpoints unfettered and without restriction but I can file a false police report without fear of punishment? I can’t endorse a candidate I feel will make a difference, but I sure as hell can lie to cops?

Let’s for a second, analyze the potential harm in this ruling.

Anyone with an agenda against an officer of the law (see: ALL CRIMINALS) can now file reports of abuse or wrong-doing THAT ARE COMPLETELY BASELESS and are be protected by the court.

Translation: Legally, I can accuse a hard working cop of rape or racism and then not be held accountable.

What’s the harm in that right? If its untrue, eventually it will be sorted out right? WRONG. If you’ve lived with our sensational mass media for more than 8 seconds, you’d realize that they eat these stories up. I’m fairly certain Bill O’Reilly sets aside an obligatory 10 minutes a night for stories on police brutality. If the 24 Hour Cable Networks were a stock, now would be a good time to buy. If it bleeds it leads, and nothing gets more play than a prisoner claiming to have been hurt by someone in a position of authority. The more severe the better, especially if the victim claims race is a factor.

Of course though, we never follow these stories from beginning to end. We like to rubberneck just long enough to permanently tarnish the officer’s reputation, and then cut out before it gets to trial. Accusations are exciting, but “not guilty” verdicts on the other hand, are just plain boring. THEY MIGHT NEVER RECOVER, but that’s fine, at least according to our Judical system, who just legalized a heinous form of slander.

The people that protect us–the nameless heroes that risk their lives every single day–have just been sold down the river. Apparently physical danger isn’t enough of a responsibility, because the 9th Circuit just put our police officers in financial danger as well. Their jobs are now, on a daily basis, open to the vendetta of criminals, anarchists and morons. (sorry for the redundancy)
Not only that, but we’ve decided they shouldn’t be held accountable once the allegations are proven false.

This is ridiculous. It is absolutely, and unequivocally unacceptable. I firmly believe that the 1st Amendment is our most sacred freedom, but nothing justifies this. Nothing set forth by our Founding Fathers was intended to put at risk our first line of defense against lawlessness and evil.

How can these two vastly different attitudes possibly come from the same government? How can political speech be so strictly regulated while lying to the police is a protected institution? Why does it even matter who Bush nominates to the bench, when the court regularly humiliates itself? Martha Stewart can’t lie about a stock trade, but a petty thief can lie about his arresting officer? How dare our Representatives even worry about Campaign Finance while the 9th Circuit is hollowing the greatest of Amendments by using it to justify this monstronsity.

For more writing:
RyanClarkHoliday.com
RyanClarkHoliday.com/Blog

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About ChaunceyBillups

  • http://freewayjam.blogspot.com uao

    How does Bruce Dickinson figure in?

  • http://www.ryanclarkholiday.com ryan

    I was listening to the cd as I wrote it :)

  • Mike

    As far as I can tell, if you falsely and maliciously accuse a police officer of rape, then this can be prosecuted under the slander/libel laws. But if you falsely and maliciously tell the police that some crime occurred when none in fact did, you’re immune to prosecution. This makes the law a little better, but not much. The problem here is symptomatic of having a government of laws. When you have the laws on free speech that we do, and when you have such reverence for the law, common sense goes out the window and the laws take on a life of their own.

    By the way, you never mentioned why the Democrats supported the anti-blogger bill. I’d like to hear it.

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    >> In other words, being that posting on the internet is no different than passing a note to a friend.

    You don’t really believe this do you?

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Basically, the law was aimed at preventing a blogger’s endorsement of a political candidate from counting as a campaign donation. It was to protect individual internet writers from the standards applied to the large corporations that run radio stations, newspapers and cable networks.

    Mmmmmm…no. The amendment would have made all speech on the Internet, even by large corporations, exempt from the regulations in the McCain-Feingold law, which referes to an older 1971 law.

    It was not at all specifically targeted at individuals in general or bloggers in particular. [Bloggers really, really, really need to get over themselves.] It would simply have made the medium of the Internet exempt from the law, no matter who was doing the speaking.

    Specifically, the bill sought to exclude the internet from the definition of “public communication” in the 1971 Federal Election Campaign Act. Here’s that definition:

    (22) Public communication.— The term “public communication” means a communication by means of any broadcast, cable, or satellite communication, newspaper, magazine, outdoor advertising facility, mass mailing, or telephone bank to the general public, or any other form of general public political advertising.

    The bill would have added the sentence, “Such term shall not include communications over the Internet” to the end of that definition.

    Not a word about bloggers. Not a word about the difference between “individual internet writers” and corporations.

    Now, I happen to agree that individuals should not have their speech [political or otherwise] restricted [by the government] on the Internet or anywhere else. But the bill wasn’t written specifically to address this issue. It merely excluded the Internet from the campaign finance regulations. It might have passed had it been more specific.

    As for the rest of your article, you’ve set up a poor argument. The Democrats in the House and the ACLU are not one and the same. So you can’t mix the actions of both groups together as if they’re comprised of the same people acting in unison. The ACLU is an independent organization that acts independently of the Democrats in the House.

    Plus, the McCain-Feingold law was passed by CONGRESS, the majority of whom are Republicans, and signed by President Bush. It was aptly named a “Bipartisan” act.

    So you can blame Democrats all you want, but Republicans were also responsible for voting in the original restrictions in the first place.

    Regarding the California law, it sounds like you want police officers to have special rights. You wrote [or quoted, not sure]:

    The decision, hailed by civil liberties groups and opposed by the California District Attorneys Association and law enforcement groups, overturns the California Supreme Court, which in 2002 ruled that free speech concerns took a back seat when it came to speech targeting police officers.

    Now, why should police officers receive special protection in the law? Isn’t that law a lot like the laws against hate speech? And wouldn’t the law have the effect of chilling criticism of local law enforcement, who have the obvious upper hand when it comes to deciding whether to label something a rime and press charges?

  • http://www.ryanclarkholiday.com ryan

    The speech targeting officers IS REFERRING TO THE FILING OF POLICE REPORTS. How could you possible defend that?

    Communications over the internet INCLUDE BLOGS.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    The speech targeting officers IS REFERRING TO THE FILING OF POLICE REPORTS. How could you possible defend that?

    I never defended anything. I just asked some questions that you seem to have ignored.

    Isn’t it already illegal to file a false police report? If so, why do the police need a special law that refers only to false reports about them? If not, why not? I think it’s illegal just about everywhere.

    Communications over the internet INCLUDE BLOGS.

    No kidding. But that’s not what you wrote. You wrote that the bill was “aimed to make the words of individuals exempt from campaign finance laws,” and that “the law was aimed at preventing a blogger’s endorsement of a political candidate from counting as a campaign donation. It was to protect individual internet writers from the standards applied to the large corporations that run radio stations, newspapers and cable networks” [emphasis mine].

    What you wrote is completely untrue. The law was aimed at making ALL speech on the Internet — not just the speech of individuals — exempt from the campaign finance restrictions. It exempted a MEDIUM, not a set of particular people or organizations. “Large corporations that run radio stations, newspapers and cable networks” would also have had the Internet restrictions lifted from their Internet speech.

    So your post is wrong.

  • http://www.ryanclarkholiday.com ryan

    Yeah there was a law making filing a false police report illegal, now its considered free speech

  • http://www.kolehardfacts.blogspot.com Mike Kole

    What’s important here is what bhw said- the medium of the internet was voted not to be exempt from campaign finance law requirements.

    That includes blogs, but also any other website. Any linkages to campaign websites can be construed as campaign contibutions under BCRA (McCain-Feingold).

    Bloggers tend to take an advocacy approach to their linkages, touting favored candidacies. Where this can really become troublesome is media websites that are inclined to simply list all webpages associated with candidates on the ballot. Think: CNN, CBS, MSNBC, etc. Local sites such as Indiana Legislative Insight (and the myriad equivalents) also do this. It’s meant as a public service, but now may well be construed as a campaign contribution. I would expect news media to avoid such linkages in the future as a result.

    Is this what we want for our media? Is this what we want for our bloggers?

    Also- yes, be sure to blame Republicans, too. While this vote was mainly Dems against, bhw is dead on in identifying Republicans in support of BCRA. Look no further than the “McCain” part of the name of the legislation.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    It’s not clear to me that the post is as wrong as BHW and others think that it is. While the wording of the bill might have exempted the whole internet as a medium, it’s clear fromt he statements of the supporters that blogs were a large portion of what they were concerned about.

    There’s certainly no justification for restricting political speech on blogs and there’s not much for restricting things like candidate websites or the websites of PACs or issue-oriented groups. Everyone whether an individual or an organization ought to be free to express their opinion without government interference.

    Dave

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    While the wording of the bill might have exempted the whole internet as a medium, it’s clear fromt he statements of the supporters that blogs were a large portion of what they were concerned about.

    Well, then maybe they need to learn how to write better bills. They could have written one dealing with the rights of individuals rather than focusing on the entire medium if that’s what they were intending to address. There was no way the bill was going to pass written the way it was.

    Sometimes, you have to be realistic in your goals, and this was a time when a little realism would have come in handy. Then we could be talking about how happy we are that the bill passed but that it didn’t go far enough.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Is this what we want for our media? Is this what we want for our bloggers?

    Absolutely not. But we don’t want it for any information delivery medium or any writer/commentator, no matter how s/he chooses to express her/himrself. [I know you agree with this.]

    So the point is that if you want to chip away at McCain-Feingold — because it’s not going to be repealed by Congress any time soon — you have to be smart about how you do it. This bill wasn’t very smart.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    There’s nothing unrealistic about protecting ALL internet speech from being shut down. Not even anything unrealistic about considering repealing the ridiculous campaign finance reform bills alltogether. They do far more harm to the system than they do good for anyone.

    Dave

  • http://www.ryanclarkholiday.com ryan

    thank you dave.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    There’s nothing unrealistic about protecting ALL internet speech from being shut down. Not even anything unrealistic about considering repealing the ridiculous campaign finance reform bills alltogether.

    Sorry, but it’s absolutely unrealistic to expect Congress to repeal that law so recently after they passed it and got Supreme Court validation. And it’s unrealistic to expect them to exempt an entire medium from the law’s restrictions. They’re still too proud of those very restrictions and the law in general.

    Keep dreaming.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    The original law was passed in 1972 – that’s not exactly recent. They’ve been tinkering with it ever since and it just gets more and more inconsistent and arbitrary as time goes by. They need to scrap the whole thing and either have no restrictions, or a few simple and comprehensive ones.

    Dave

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    1971, actually.

    But the McCain-Feingold bill was recent and was HUGE. It added more restrictions. They’re not about to start taking away large chunks of those restrictions so soon.

  • Dave Nalle

    More’s the pity, really. Any legislation which requires lots and lots of special provisions and unique individual cases is almost guaranteed to be bad law. But I do understand how legislators get their egos tied up in something – even if it’s a disaster – and will be reluctant to go back on it. Perhaps if McCain runs for President again he’ll see first hand what a mess the FEC legislation is in practice.

    I go with Rousseau when he said “Good laws lead to the making of better ones; bad ones bring about worse.” We started out here with bad campaign finance law, and made it successively worse and worse with each effort to fix it.

    Dave

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Okay, stop talking! I actually agree with that last comment. Earth must have shifted off its axis. I’m sure it will be corrected by morning.

  • http://www.ryanclarkholiday.com ryan

    my whole point though, is that if filing a false police reports is free speech, how can we possible justify any restrictions on speech via campaign finance?

  • Bennett

    They aren’t connected, ryan.

    I think that the campaign finance aspect would limit a party’s ability to spend serious money to set up “info sites”, or hundreds of web sites that support a particular candidate, or hire hundreds of college students to spam places like BC with a political message. But hey, it’s not spending, we’re just excercising freedom of speech.

  • http://www.nrlc.org/ Anthony Grande

    Great post again, Ryan.

  • http://www.nrlc.org/ Anthony Grande

    Blogcritics needs more bloggers like Ryan.

  • http://www.ryanclarkholiday.com ryan

    Bennet– THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY RELATED. Just as it would be related if they passed a law that said murdering people was an extension of the right to bear arms, but similarly ruled that white men who owned guns were subjected to heavy taxation.

    You can’t have some extremely liberal intrepration of the 1st Amendment and then possibly begin to justify gov’t sanctions like the ones put forth about the internet.

    AG- Thanks again.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    my whole point though, is that if filing a false police reports is free speech, how can we possible justify any restrictions on speech via campaign finance?

    The court didn’t rule that filing a false police report is free speech. The title of the article you cited is inflammatory and incorrect. The court ruled that the specific law in question was unconstitutional because everyone wasn’t held to the same standard of truth during a police misconduct investigation. Only one specific kind of false statement was criminalized under this law, the kind that [falsely] alleged malfeasance against police. False statements that supported the police were not against the law.

    From the article you cited:

    The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Thursday the law was an unconstitutional infringement of speech because false statements in support of officers were not criminalized.

    In other words, according to the law, only false statements alleging police misconduct were illegal. False statements made in support of the police during the subsequent misconduct investigation were not illegal. The court ruled that it was unconstitutional to treat false statements against officers any differently from false statements that supported them.

    That’s pretty logical, don’t you think? Why shouldn’t all false statements about officer conduct, pro or con, be illegal? Or do you think it should be legal to lie as long as you tell the same story as the police [who might also be lying]? That makes no sense.

    I’m not sure why you’re upset by this ruling. It’s based on a Scalia opinion in a hate speech case that the Supreme Court struck down:

    Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the [hate speech] law imposed special prohibitions on speakers who express views on “disfavored subjects” but did not punish those speaking on behalf of favored topics.

    Sounds like good reasoning, doesn’t it, that false speech against the police shouldn’t be treated differently than false speech that supports them?

    Also, the specific California law sure sounds like it’s trying to scare people away from filing complaints against the police:

    Sec. 148.6 applies to anyone who “files any allegation of misconduct” against a peace officer. The section provides that agencies accepting such complaints must require the complainant to sign an advisory statement warning of the possibility of prosecution.

    That’s not trying to chill speech? Especially when others can lie to protect the police officer and not be charged with a crime? Isn’t the deck just a wee bit stacked in favor of the police, especially since it was shown that it wasn’t even clear in the law that police officers could be charged with a crime for lying during a misconduct investigation?

    If California wants to fix the problem with their law:

    “California can make all parties to an investigation of peace officer misconduct subject to sanction for knowingly making false statements…”.

    That sounds fair, doesn’t it?

  • http://www.nrlc.org/ Anthony Grande

    Democrats do not believe in shit. They run around speaking and preaching and protesting and bad mouthing just to get a few votes here and there.

    They have no beliefs. They scream and persist about extreme liberal intepretation of the First Amendment just to squeeze some votes from people who look at it and actually believe that the Democrats are the party for the people.

    They do not care what the 1st Amendment says or means. They will use it to get a couple votes here and there like going about this fraud and criminal thing to get a few more votes from the criminal and anti-Police population and turn and try to go behind our backs to stop us from posting what we believe on the internet like the Communists that they really are.

    If the Democrats had an opportunity to destroy the Bill of Rights and still look good at the same time they would.

    The thing is that the Democratic Party is extremely dangerous to America because the Elite portion of the Party extremely evil and smart at the same time. They got the poor actually believing that they are helping them. They got rest of the idiots actually believing that they are good for this country.

  • RogerMDillon

    AG, illustrating once again, that some 16-year-olds can have a mature opinion about politics.

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