Tag Archives: free speech

Alex Jones: no free-speech martyr

Alex Jones has been kicked off some social media platforms.

I have to offer a huge round of applause for those platforms that have seen fit to abide by the standards they set for those who use them. Jones didn’t do that. He’s gone at least from those particular venues.

Who is this clown? He’s a talk-show blowhard and noted conspiracy theorist. His infamy grew exponentially when he alleged that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn. — where 20 first- and second-graders and six teachers were gunned down in 2012 — was a “hoax.” He said the grieving parents were actors brought in by anti-gun activists to carry the cudgel for disarming the American public.

He is a monstrous purveyor of hate speech.

Facebook, Apple, Spotify and YouTube all have banned Jones from using their platforms to spew his garbage.

Jones’s response has been predictable. He says the First Amendment guarantees him the right to speak his mind. No matter how vile his thoughts might be.

Hold on, buster.

This argument reminds me of discussions I had throughout my journalism career with individuals who would submit letters or other commentary that I found unsuitable for publication on the opinion pages I edited.

They would say, “But what about free speech?” My response was the same. “You are free to purchase and run your own newspaper and then you are free to publish whatever you want. We have rules and standards and your submission falls short of them.”

So it is with Alex Jones’s hate speech. The social media platforms are within their own constitutional rights to set standards that those who use them must follow. Jones crossed many lines with his hideous pronouncements.

He’s still able to spew his filth. The U.S. Constitution allows it. He simply is no longer able to do so using the venues whose owners and managers have done what they should have done long ago.

They cut him off.

NFL tells players to stand … or else

Freedom of speech and political expression has just been dealt an improper blow to the gut by the National Football League.

To be candid, this story makes my gut churn. The NFL, though, has made the wrong decision to restrict the manner in which its players can express themselves politically.

It began a couple of seasons ago when a player decided to kneel during the national anthem prior to the start of a game. Former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick wanted to protest the treatment of African-Americans by police.

At one level, I wish the young man had decided to stand during the anthem. His decision to “take a knee,” though, didn’t bother me greatly. I understand why he decided to do that.

But a presidential candidate, Donald Trump, decided to make a major issue out of it. Then the candidate was elected president in 2016 and he kept up the drumbeat. He called protesting NFL players “sons of bit****” who should be “fired.”

This week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said players henceforth will stand when they play the anthem. They are free to stay in the locker room, but while they are on the field, they will stand.

Trump won one, yes? I guess so.

I want to stipulate something here. The nation’s founding was based on its honoring of peaceful dissent. Its very governing document, the Constitution, guarantees citizens the right to protest.

NFL players who “take a knee” are exercising their right to protest. I have heard the argument that as employees of professional football team owners, they are obligated to behave the way their bosses dictate.

Yes, but they are performing on a public stage, subsidized by the public that pays top dollar to watch them play a game. As a social media acquaintance of mine noted recently, these men aren’t “indentured servants.” They are highly paid professional athletes, some of whom choose to make a political statement.

They do so peacefully. And to my way of thinking, their kneeling doesn’t disrespect the nation in the least. It honors the basis for the nation’s very founding.

Why give Alex Jones a platform?

People such as Alex Jones give me heartburn.

I happen to be a First Amendment purist. I believe in the amendment’s guarantee of free speech and I do not want it watered down.

Then along comes people like Jones, the radio talk show blowhard who’s been thrust into the news yet again. Broadcast journalist Megyn Kelly has booked him on her NBC News show and snippets of her interview with Jones have enraged some survivors of one of the nation’s worst tragedies.

Jones has spoken infamously about how the 9/11 attacks against the United States were an “inside job” and then — and this goes way beyond anything resembling human decency — he has alleged that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut was staged; he says the children who were slain were “actors.”

Kelly is giving this guy’s moronic views a platform.

Should he be allowed to spout that trash? Should he be given air time on a major broadcast network? That pesky First Amendment says “yes.” Tenets of good judgment and basic humanity suggest that this guy shouldn’t be given a platform to spout the filth that pours out of his pie hole.

Kelly deserves the criticism she is getting from at least one of the Sandy Hook parents who lost a child in that hideous act of cruelty.

And that damn heartburn continues to churn in my gut.

‘Playing to his base’? What about the rest of us?

american-flag-burning

Light a match to Old Glory and go to jail and lose your citizenship.

Yeah, that’s the ticket. Never mind the constitutional guarantee that doing something so reprehensible is protected under the First Amendment’s freedom of speech clause.

The president-elect, though, ignored that fundamental truth when he blasted out a tweet that said those who do such a thing need to spend time in the slammer and forsake their citizenship as Americans.

The Washington Post and other media, though, say that Donald J. Trump is “playing to his base,” the voters who’ve stood with him through all the insults, innuendo and idiocy that have poured from his mouth.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/in-flag-burning-comments-trump-again-plays-to-the-voters-that-elected-him/ar-AAkW3eS?li=BBnbfcL

They helped elect him president and I guess that’s his way of saying “thanks, guys.” As the Post reported: “Trump won rural America, where support of the flag is a big issue,” said Scott Reed, a longtime Republican strategist who served as Bob Dole’s campaign manager in 1996. “A lot of those homes that had Trump signs out front were also flying American flags. This is clearly part of his base politics.”

But what about the rest of the country, Mr. President-elect, that didn’t vote for you? What about those of us who are appalled by your seeming ignorance of constitutional protections and your belief — if that’s what you truly believe — that the Supreme Court got it wrong when it ruled on two occasions that burning the Stars and Stripes is protected political speech?

My wife and I fly a flag in our front yard, too, by the way.

I won’t buy into the notion that Trump isn’t my president. I didn’t vote for him, but he’ll take office in January and will assume the role of head of government and head of state. I ain’t moving anywhere. I’m staying right here in the U.S. of A. and will continue to register my gripes — more than likely quite often — over policy pronouncements that come from the president.

Trump won’t be president just for those who stood with him. He’ll be my president, too.

Thus, I hereby demand that he stop making idiotic declarations. How about taking back that crap about flag burning?

Twitter tirade shows danger of Trump presidency

constitution-burningb

Donald J. Trump’s propensity for popping off on social media came into amazing, sharp focus with his latest rant about flag burning.

And it demonstrates why the president-elect’s on-the-job training for the office he is about to assume is so troubling to many of us … who didn’t vote for him.

Trump went on another Twitter tirade and said that those who burn the flag out of protest should spend time in the clink and possibly lose their citizenship.

Really, Mr. President-elect?

This goonish statement underscores as well as anything he’s muttered or sputtered during the course of his fledgling political career how — in a normal election year — he wouldn’t have won the presidency.

His ridiculous assertion ignores — willfully? — that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled time and again that flag-burning is a protected form of political speech. The First Amendment is pretty damn clear about it and anyone who has read that amendment ought to know it — and that makes me believe beyond a doubt that Trump has no clue as to what’s contained in the nation’s governing document.

And yet …

Donald Trump won enough electoral votes to defeat Hillary Rodham Clinton and become the 45th president of the United States.

It puzzles me to the max — even now, weeks after the election — just how this happened. Still, I accept the result, as distasteful as it is to my political palate.

I cannot help but wonder, though, how many more idiotic pronouncements the president-elect is going to make. How much more consternation is he going to cause with his utter ignorance of something so fundamental as freedom of speech and political expression?

I’ll repeat what I’ve said before and what others have said already: We have elected a dangerous man as our next president.

Keep politics out of this parade

parade

KGNC-FM radio in Amarillo asks for comment on whether a man who portrayed an “imprisoned” individual believed to be President Obama went over the line at the Tri-State Fair parade through the city’s downtown district.

I believe I’ll provide my answer here.

Yes, he crossed several lines. One of them was civility. Another was good taste. Another dealt with respect for the high office of president of the United States.

The individual reportedly was dressed in black. He was “contained” behind bars. There was a guy with a “Make America Great” banner standing on the wagon carrying the Obama-like “prisoner.”

Hmmm. Political? Do you think?

I consider it a disgraceful slight to the office of the presidency. It suggested that the current president needs to be locked up. For what, I don’t know.

You know the cliché about “time and place for everything.”

This kind of overt politicization need not occur in a parade meant to honor a community event, the Tri-State Fair.

What’s more, it need not disrespect the presidency of the United States of America.

http://www.kgncfm.com/man-amarillo-tri-state-fair-parade-mocks-obama/

Free speech? Political expression? It’s all protected by the U.S. Constitution.

The folks who run the Tri-State Fair, though, ought to set some standards for the kind of exhibits it allows to roll through public streets.

This one was disgraceful.

Even chumps have the right to speak out

founders

Colin Kaepernick is a bozo. A chump.

He’s become a poster boy of sorts for all kinds of issues stemming from his decision to remain seated during the playing of the National Anthem before a pro football exhibition game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers.

Kaepernick, a quarterback for the 49ers, said he can’t stand in support of a flag that represents a country that oppresses “people of color.” Kaepernick is half black and half white.

Hmm. OK. I wasn’t aware of Kaepernick’s social conscience. I don’t recall him ever speaking out before. But I guess one has to start somewhere. Thus, Kaepernick chose to make this profound political statement in this highly visible fashion.

I just want to make one comparison with Kaepernick’s demonstration. He reminds me of the flag burners, the goofballs who think burning Old Glory in public to protest this or that cause is going to win them support.

It won’t. It hardly ever does.

However, it’s protected “speech.” The U.S. Constitution allows Americans to make such statements against government policy. Kaepernick chose to mount his grievance with a lousy demonstration of defiance.

He’s not going to win many converts to his cause any more than the flag burners manage to make friends and allies when they do the things they do to protest government policy.

The Constitution, though, gives even chumps like Colin Kaepernick the right to speak out as he has done.

I honor and cherish that right, even if I detest the way some of us exercise it.

Pro QB sits during National Anthem; a big deal? Yes, but …

the New York Giants the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on October 14, 2012 in San Francisco, California. The Giants won 26-3. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

I’ve been stewing for a couple of days over the news of Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the playing of the National Anthem prior to the start of a pro football exhibition game.

Kapernick has been reviled, vilified and called everything but a traitor for refusing to stand.

I am not going to go that far.

I wish the San Francisco 49ers quarterback had stood and paid proper respect to the flag and to the nation where he has earned a handsome living playing a kids’ game. He said he sat because he couldn’t support a nation that oppresses “people of color.”

He could have written an essay for newspapers, he could have tweeted his displeasure with American policy toward “people of color,” he could posted something on Facebook.

But no-o-o-o. He wanted to make a spectacle of himself in a stadium in front of tens of thousands of spectators.

Kaepernick obviously wasn’t talking about himself, as he’s hardly been oppressed, except perhaps by his coaches who cannot decide whether he should be the starting quarterback.

Critics have noted that in many other countries around the world, Kaepernick would have been arrested and jailed for failing to stand while the band played a national anthem.

Let’s understand this: Kaepernick is an American citizen. He refused to stand in this country, which has no law requiring Americans to get off their duffs — if they are able — while we play the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

So, he made a political statement. He’s not the first one to do so. He won’t be the last.

Sure, he’ll likely pay a price down the line. My hunch is that sports apparel shops won’t be selling many 49ers jerseys with Kaepernick’s name and No. 7 from this day forward.

The fact remains, though, that our nation’s belief in free speech and political expression gives all of us — even well-known pro athletes — the right to make fools of themselves.

Free speech does have its limits

Garland police officers responded as they should have when two gunmen opened fire at a “contest” to draw the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

They shot the men dead.

http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/2015/05/be-thankful-innocent-people-didnt-die-but-dont-tell-me-the-garland-conference-was-about-free-speech.html/

Now the debate has ensued. Were the provocateurs — the folks who sponsored a contest they knew would provoke that kind of response from Muslims — merely exercising their rights of “free speech”?

My answer? No.

They knew that illustrating the prophet is offensive to Muslims. Indeed, the group that sponsored the “contest,” an outfit called the American Freedom Defense Initiative, has been identified as an extremist anti-Muslim group.

So, do you think these folks knew what to expect when they staged this event? My guess is that they knew.

The shooters were described as Islamists. One of them, Elton Simpson, allegedly wrote a good-bye note to his friends and family before he started shooting. He knew he’d meet his end in Garland.

As Jim Mitchell of the Dallas Morning News writes in his blog: “Islamic extremism is a global curse. Cartoon contests in Garland aren’t going make a bit of difference in combating it. But insensitive contests like the one yesterday will provoke lone wolves and insult an entire religion. And I ask, to what purpose? This wasn’t discourse; it was a opportunity to draw offensive cartoons for the sake of drawing offensive cartoons. My idea of defensible free expression has a higher and more noble purpose.”

It’s widely established and known around the world that Muslims don’t react well when Muhammad is depicted in cartoons or illustrated simply for the sake of producing a worldly image. Do non-Muslims agree with this religious tenet? No. But it’s not non-Muslims’ place to judge how those who worship a certain religion are supposed to believe.

We should be grateful that the FBI had tipped off the Garland Police Department.

Its officers responded correctly.

'Free speech' at OU goes off deep end

The question has arisen: Should those nimrod students caught on video shouting racial epithets be allowed to say those things because it’s “free speech” guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution?

Here’s my answer: No.

http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/2015/03/from-greek-life-at-ou-to-a-broken-ferguson-mo.html/

The University of Oklahoma has acted on several levels in response to this hideous video in which white students are shouting the n-word and making references to lynching while saying bad things about black students on the campus.

The students have been expelled; the fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, has been disbanded; University of Oklahoma President David Boren has issued the strongest statement possible in condemning such conduct.

Will it end this kind of despicable behavior on college campuses across the land? Don’t hold  your breath.

This isn’t a free speech issue. Students ought to be held to some standard of conduct. What the nation has seen coming out of that video at OU is a demonstration of crass behavior that stoops to unspeakable levels.

Jim Mitchell’s blog for the Dallas Morning News, which is attached to this post, doesn’t address the free speech issue directly, but he presents an interesting view of what happened that day when the SAE students went berserk.

One of the aspects of modern life, and the OU students should know this, is that nothing — not a single act that anyone commits in public — is immune from technology’s prying eyes. Everyone has a camera these days; it’s contained in that little telephone we’re carrying around with us. You start chanting things you don’t want the world to hear? Be careful, because someone’s going to record it and send it out there.

Free speech? Not even close.

As Mitchell writes in his blog: “These students deserved hefty punishment and they received it, unlike previous generations of Sigma Alpha Epsilon students who apparently learned the same vile song in an age without social media. But these students have absolutely no power to impact lives — yet.”