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How about defending speech because it’s speech, not because you agree with it
 

How about defending speech because it’s speech, not because you agree with it

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Earlier today, in the course of discussing...

Earlier today, in the course of discussing
possible jackass/possible troll/possible mentally
ill person George Tierney, Jr., I asked people to
consider calling out vengeful would-be censors
because they are vengeful would-be censors, not
because the victim of the moment is on “our
side”:

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    How about defending speech because it’s speech, not because you agree with it How about defending speech because it’s speech, not because you agree with it Document Transcript

    • How About Defending Speech BecauseIt’s Speech, Not Because You Agree WithIt?PopehatMay 24, 2012Earlier today, in the course of discussingpossible jackass/possible troll/possible mentallyill person George Tierney, Jr., I asked people toconsider calling out vengeful would-be censorsbecause they are vengeful would-be censors, notbecause the victim of the moment is on “ourside”: Political differences are meaningful, and should not be disregarded, but recognition of mutual humanity is often productive, and there are few more common human experiences than encountering crazy douchebags on the internet. In addition, we all have a stake in calling out, and opposing, censorship.I’d like to expand upon that theme.Last week I blogged about how convicted bomber and perjurer Brett Kimberlin pursued blogger AaronWorthing, and linked to Aaron’s story about how he was fired, and falsely charged with a crime, as aresult of Kimberlin’s vengeful efforts to silence him. Since Aaron released his story, many people havewritten about it. This is a good thing. It’s a story that ought to be told. Moreover, there are legitimatepartisan political elements to this story — like the question of why certain leftist political activistsassociate with Kimberlin, and why some entities donate to Kimberlin’s organizations. For that matter,the various people who wrote about Kimberlin and incurred his wrath may have been motivated, atleast in part, by partisan politics. But to me, the core of Aaron’s story is not about partisan politics. It’s about freedom of expression, and how it can be attacked by frivolous litigation, by threats to employers, and by other such contemptible measures. Some of the responses to Aaron’s story recognize that. But others do not — other responses frame this as a story about Left vs. Right.
    • I’ll cite Michelle Malkin as an example, though sheis by far the only one. Fair disclosure: I oftendisagree with Michelle Malkin and this site hascriticized her before. In her post discussing Aaron’sstory, she quoted and linked us, which I appreciate.However, I must dissent from her framing of theissue: “Free speech blogburst: Show solidarity fortargeted conservative bloggers.” In a better world,this issue should be framed as “Free speechblogburst: show solidarity for targeted bloggers.”Protecting freedom of expression, and condemningits enemies, benefits everyone — conservatives,liberals, and so forth.We’ve talked about legal (and other) threats againstall sorts of expression here, and occasionally beenable to lend a hand. We’ve talked about lawsuits against former parishioners criticizing churches,threats against artists criticizing how Etsy is run, Democratic senators lashing out at parody, variouslegislatures of different political stripes posturing about “cyber-bullying,” junk scientists suing critics,the TSA “cautioning” journalists, colleges threatening alumni critical of their new administrations,twerps threatening me for making fun of them for threatening critics of junk scientists, and and libelsuits springing from book reviews. And that’s just 2012.What this diversity of topics shows is that legal threats — and threats of other forms of retaliation forspeech — represent a pervasive problem in our culture, and are a deterrent of all sorts of speech, notjust the speech you like. Say that someone sues, or threatens, or abuses someone whose ideas youdespise, someone whose good faith you doubt, someone working for political or social ends you arestruggling against. If that censor is successful in any measure, are you harmed? Yes. You are harmedbecause the next censor, the one gunning for you or someone you agree with — is emboldened. You areharmed because people, in general, are deterred from discussing controversial ideas. You are harmedbecause when censors are successful, censorship increasingly becomes the norm, and the populace’salready tenuous support of principles of free expression ebb a little more.That’s why decent people ought to be unified behind protecting people like Aaron Worthing, andopposing people like Brett Kimberlin — not because we agree with one of them or the other. When therallying cry is “protect conservatives from censorship by leftists” — or the reverse — the rallying cry isless effective, easier to ignore, easier to dismiss as mere partisanship. We shouldn’t defend Aaronbecause of his political stance. We should defend him because in this country you should have theright to express yourself without a convicted domestic terrorist and his cronies harassing you withfrivolous litigation and threats.There is no need to agree with, or praise, or even treat respectfully the people we defend. For instance,when I wrote about Nadia Naffe’s threats against blogger Patterico because of his support of JamesO’Keefe, I felt free to make fun of Naffe, O’Keefe, and (to a lesser extent) Patterico. And even though Isaid Evan S. Cohen was right on the law, he won’t be thanking me any time soon for what I said abouthim. It’s perfectly fine to say “this person is a jackass, this person is wrong, what this person urges iscontemptible and awful — but this person should not be censored, and I stand against such censorship.”That should be the message. “Stand against the censorship of our side is the wrong message. I’mdisappointed to see so much of it in the wake of Aaron’s posts. I think it is detrimental to the cause offree expression, and a boon to the censors, who will use it to portray the defense of free speech as justanother instance of tiresome political bickering.
    • Mass Government Surveillance DragnetGoes Into OverdriveSteve WatsonInfowars.comMay 24, 2012FBI unit to spy on all communications, including skype conversationsAs if the government were not engaging in enough surveillance of law abiding Americans already, twomajor developments just ensured that the snooping will increase exponentially.Firstly, the FBI is about to launch a huge new surveillance unit that will have the ability to monitor allinternet and wireless communications, including internet Skype conversations.The incredibly Orwellian titled Domestic Communications Assistance Center, will “assist” local, state,and federal law enforcement agencies in spying on the American people.After reviewing a multitude of government documents and interviewing sources involved with the FBIunit, Declan McCullagh of CNet reports: “DCAC’s mandate is broad, covering everything from trying to intercept and decode Skype conversations to building custom wiretap hardware or analyzing the gigabytes of data that a wireless provider or social network might turn over in response to a court order. It’s also designed to serve as a kind of surveillance help desk for state, local, and other federal police.”McCullagh notes that the unit has been in the pipeline for years and that spearheading it will be theFBI’s massive wiretapping project, which was allocated $54 million by a Senate committee last month.McCullagh has also extensively reported on the FBI’s push to make it law to require social-networksand providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail to build in backdoors for governmentsurveillance.The Bureau is reportedly urging Internet and communications companies not to oppose the move.We want to “be able to obtain those communications,” FBI Director Robert Mueller said lastWednesday. “What we’re looking at is some form of legislation that will assure that when we get theappropriate court order that those individuals — individual companies are served with that order dohave the capability and the capacity to respond to that order.”The second major development on the government surveillance front is that a Senate Panel has votedthis week to extend the government’s authority to engage in warrantless wiretapping.The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted to extend through to June 2017 the 2008 provisionof the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).The provision would allow the government to continue monitoring e-mails and phone calls of those itconsiders to be “terrorism suspects.”The Washington Post reports:
    • The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit challenging the 2008 law, arguing that it allows dragnet surveillance that could pick up Americans’ communications. But many current and former administration officials disagree, saying any collection of communications by Americans would be incidental and subject to procedures to shield their identities. In a joint statement, committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and ranking Republican Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) said the law’s provisions have provided necessary intelligence to fight terrorism and understand adversaries’ intentions around the world. “These authorities cannot be allowed to expire, and we urge quick action by the Senate and the House,” they said.The FISA provision introduced in 2008 was merely a confirmation of activity that government spyagencies, such as the NSA, have been engaging in for years.The ACLU recently released an infographic (below) detailing how the NSA’s warrantless wiretappingprogram has grown in gargantuan proportions and now intercepts 1.7 billion US electroniccommunications every single day. Those communications will soon all be funneled through the topsecret $2 billion spy center in the Utah desert, which the NSA has refused to provide Congress withdetails of.The surveillance dragnet just got a hell of a lot bigger, and rest assured that while the government saysits official targets are “terrorists”, snoops are using these powers to go after Americans exercisingtheir constitutional rights. http://www.infowars.com/ http://planet.infowars.com/