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Correction: Before I get into today's subject matter, I want to issue a correction regarding a source I used in a post about voting fraud. In a January 23rd post titled, 'Monday Madness', I cited the South Carolina Attorney General's letter to the U.S. Justice Dept., which stated that 953 dead people voted in a South Carolina election. I used that source to say liberals were lying about occurrences of voting fraud. Liberals have been contending recently that there are very few instances of voting fraud (contrary to what liberals contended in the aftermath of the 2000 and 2004 elections). After a partial investigation of the matter, it turns out the S.C. Attorney General's voting fraud fears may be unfounded:
The State Election Commission said Thursday that 95 percent of the 207 allegedly dead people who voted in the 2010 general election either were alive and cast ballots legally or did not vote.
But, citing limited manpower and money, the commission said its review of zombie voters did not include 696 other allegedly dead voters whom some state officials say cast ballots in elections before 2010.
However, Attorney General Alan Wilson Thursday said his office still is investigating the allegations along with SLED.
The investigation is not complete, but there may be few to no instances of dead people voting in the 2010 South Carolina election. It could all boil down to clerical errors and such. For sure, nowhere near to 953 dead people voted fraudulently. I regret jumping the gun in my post. I should have waited for confirmation of the alleged voter fraud before I wrote what I wrote. Mea culpa.
Today's subject is free speech. What is permissible and what isn't ? Some stories in today's news raise the question. First, from the Los Angeles City Council:
The City Council has approved a resolution calling on local TV and radio stations to limit any “racist” and “sexist” comments on their broadcasts.
The City Council voted 13-2 to pass the resolution with a motion urging “the management of radio and television stations in Los Angeles to do everything in their power to ensure that their on-air hosts do not use and promote racist and sexist slurs over public airwaves in the City of Los Angeles”. Councilmen Joe Buscaino and Mitchell Englander cast the two opposing votes to the resolution, which was introduced on Mar. 7 by Councilwoman Jan Perry in response to a the controversy over recent comments by KFI 640 talk radio hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou. The duo had recently drawn criticism for referring to the late pop singer Whitney Houston as a “crack ho” in February in the wake of her untimely death.
It has been confirmed that cocaine was a significant factor in Whitney Houston's death, but where does the "ho" part come from ? I have no idea, but is this type of slanderous speech allowable ? We hear it all the time. From Rush Limbaugh to Bill Maher, it occurs across the spectrum. And if we're going to crack down on "racist" and "sexist" comments, shouldn't we also crack down on "age-ist", "fat-ist", "blond-ist", "ethnic-ist", "tall-ist", "short-ist", "ugly-ist", "non-pc-ist", and all kinds of other "ist" language ? Shouldn't we just crack down on all speech that anyone might find offensive ? Where is that line drawn ? I suspect we wouldn't have much free speech left if we did that. Politicians would have to go on the campaign trail and talk about the weather if they didn't want to risk offending anyone. No, strike that. Even the weather has become a political hot topic (no pun intended) these days.
Next up, a Marine gets in hot water for criticizing President Obama on Facebook:
The Marine Corps has initiated disciplinary action against a Marine sergeant for comments he posted on his "Armed Forces Tea Party" Facebook page criticizing President Barack Obama, a spokesman said on Thursday.
Sergeant Gary Stein, 26, a weather forecaster assigned to Camp Pendleton near San Diego, cast the Marines' reaction to his comments as an infringement on his freedom of speech and defended his right to express personal political opinions when he is off-duty and out of uniform. "There is not a document in this world that trumps the United States Constitution," the San Diego Union-Tribune quoted him as saying.
Defense Department rules allow military personnel to express political opinions so long as they are not doing so as representatives of the armed services.
Stein told the newspaper the Marines accused him of making statements about the president "that are prejudicial to good order and discipline," in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and were taking steps to discharge him from the corps. Major Michael Armistead, a spokesman for the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot in San Diego, said the corps had begun administrative action against Stein after a preliminary inquiry into allegations that he "posted political statements about the president of the United States on his Facebook web page titled 'Armed Forces Tea Party.'"
The comment in question has since been removed, and Stein said he could not remember it precisely. But he paraphrased himself as stating: "I say screw Obama. I will not follow orders given by him to me." He said he later clarified online that he meant he would not follow "unlawful orders" from the president. Stein enlisted in the Marines nine years ago at age 18, and deployed once to Iraq, according to the newspaper. The American Civil Liberties Union in San Diego went to bat for Stein in 2010, according to its website, sending a letter to his commanding officer at Camp Pendleton saying that the ACLU "strongly supports the First Amendment rights of service members to discuss and critique the government's policies and conduct."
This example is more troubling to me, because it infringes of freedom of political speech. Are the soldiers fighting and dying for our country not allowed freedom of speech, one of our most cherished principles ? That sure doesn't sound right. If our soldiers aren't allowed basic constitutional rights...then exactly what are they fighting for ?
In the next hateful free speech example, Rush Limbaugh's name comes up again. If you detest Limbaugh for calling Sandra Fluke a "slut", then go over to YouTube or Facebook, where you can listen to the "Kill Rush Limbaugh" song, by the band Detente. Ugh. That's way over the line. If you say something like that about an elected official, you will be arrested. Suddenly, calling someone a "crack ho" or a "slut" seems almost tame by comparison. Now we have people saying you should kill Limbaugh for engaging in free speech. And here I thought it was bad that Media Matters and other liberal groups are trying to silence Limbaugh's voice (without resorting to murder):
Rush Limbaugh’s opponents are starting a radio campaign against him Thursday, seizing upon the radio star’s attack of a Georgetown law student as a “slut” to make a long-term effort aimed at weakening his business.
The liberal Media Matters for America is using a past campaign against Glenn Beck as a template. In Limbaugh, however, they’re going after bigger game. He’s already fighting back and the group’s stance has provoked concerns that an effort to silence someone for objectionable talk is in itself objectionable.
Media Matters is spending at least $100,000 for two advertisements that will run in eight cities.
In one of the anti-Limbaugh ads, listeners are urged to call the local station that carries Limbaugh to say “we don’t talk to women like that” in our city.
Ad time was purchased in Boston; Chicago; Detroit; Seattle; Milwaukee; St. Louis; Macon, Ga.; and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The cities were selected to support active local campaigns against Limbaugh or because of perceptions Limbaugh may be vulnerable in that market, said Angelo Carusone of Media Matters.
Beyond the First Amendment concerns, industry experts like Talkers magazine publisher Michael Harrision are concerned that Media Matters’ effort will simpy take some advertisers out of radio altogether when they have different options.
Liberals aren't the only speech chillers:
The means of protest puts Media Matters and the conservative Media Research Center in the unlikely position of agreeing with each other. Brent Bozell, founder of the conservative media watchdog, said his group also informs advertisers of things it considers objectionable.
“We all have free speech,” Bozell said.
That’s where the agreement stops. Bozell this week called on MSNBC chief Phil Griffin to resign, citing objectionable things said in the past by Ed Schultz and Al Sharpton, both MSNBC show hosts. It’s in part retaliation for attacks on Limbaugh, he said. The Fluke story was covered extensively by MSNBC.
“There’s a great sense of selective outrage that is going on here,” he said.
Brent Bozell wants to fire people who want to get people fired for engaging in free speech ? That's his payback, to engage in the same behavior as the people he dislikes ? What a convoluted web these would-be free speech Czars weave. Hey, maybe ohio.com should boot my blog because that South Carolina Attorney General's voting fraud allegation turned out to be exaggerated !!! That'll teach me !!! How dare I...quote people !!! Such nerve I have !!! Why, the next thing you know, I might be offering opinions other people disagree with !!! We sure can't have that in America, land of the free.
I know I haven't used the best examples possible here to defend free speech. I mean, who wants to defend a person who would call a woman a "dumb twat", as Maher said of Sarah Palin ? It's vulgar and base, and we do need some standards on the air, but if you look beyond the smoke screens these speech chillers put up, one thing becomes evident - this is mostly about POLITICS, and nothing else. All you have to do is look at the selective outrage that is generated to discover that much. Media Matters could care less what Bill Maher says, but when it's Limbaugh...OUTRAGE !!! It's all about politics, and if we chill political speech in this country, where will that leave us ? Let's ask the father of our country...
If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter - George Washington.
It's easy to guarantee freedom of speech for those with whom we agree. Anyone can do that much. It's tolerating the free speech of those with whom we vehemently disagree that measures our true resolve on the matter. That's why it's troubling when Media Matters tries to shut down Rush Limbugh, or when the L.A. City Council tries to regulate free speech, or when the military tries to suppress free speech, or when Brent Bozell tries to get people fired for free speech. I mean, I hear all kinds of speech I find offensive, from Limbaugh's "slut" remarks, to Bill Maher's "c*nt" remarks, to misogynistic rap lyrics, to Obama's dishonesty with the American people, and on and on. I could name all kinds of speech I don't care for, but what I don't do is TRY TO SHUT THEM UP, because I don't want to live in some fascist country where nobody can voice their opinion for fear they will lose their livelihoods, or worse. Besides, ignorant speech carries it's own penalty. As the journalist Anna Quindlen once pointed out, "Ignorant free speech often works against the speaker. That is one of several reasons why it must be given rein instead of suppressed".