Last night, historian Eric Daniels gave the preview for his upcoming webcast on the foundations of free speech. Unfortunately, we had problems with the video feed, so he was limited to just audio. (Not to worry… we’ll get that fixed for the webcast.) However, the preview was fabulous nonetheless, and I’m now even more excited to hear Dr. Daniels’ discussion of the bad, the good, and the ugly in recent developments in free speech law on Monday evening.

This podcast contains the audio from the 17-minute preview given by Eric Daniels, after a five-minute introduction by me about pledging for Monday’s webcast.

You can pledge for the webcast using the form below, and if you have any questions about the webcast or pledging, please see the main page for this event: Eric Daniels Webcast on the Foundations of Free Speech.

Podcast Segments

These segments are marked as chapters in the M4A version of this podcast.

  • Diana Hsieh’s Introduction (0:00)
  • Eric Daniels’ Preview (5:18)
  • Diana Hsieh’s Introduction (22:37)

Podcast: Listen Now


    23:24 minutes

Podcast: Download

Podcast: Subscribe

Pledge Now

If you want this webcast by Eric Daniels on the foundations of free speech to take place, if you want to support Dr. Daniels’ work, and if you want to support this new webcast series, please pledge!

As always, you’re welcome to pledge any amount. However, please remember that whether the webcast happens or not depends on the total amount of money pledged. The webcast will be green-lit or cancelled, depending on the pledges received by noon on January 6th. (That’s just two days away!) Also, if the webcast takes place, I’ll post it for sale after the fact for $50.

Your pledge is a contract to pay for the webcast, if delivered, and you should consider yourself honor-bound to pay that pledge when you receive your invoice.

If you have any problems with that embedded form, try this form.

Optional Resources

For some additional commentary on free speech law by Dr. Daniels, check out The Looming Crisis over Free Speech (a lecture given by Dr. Daniels last January to LOGIC) and Citizens United and the Future of Campaign Finance Law (a panel discussion from last March that included Dr. Daniels).

For anyone wishing to read a bit before the webcast, Dr. Daniels recommends Steve Simpson’s article in The Objective Standard (Spring 2010): “Citizens United and the Battle for Free Speech in America.”

The videos and article are totally optional: you need not watch/read them before the webcast.

 

I’m pleased to announce a second pledge-funded webcast, this time with Eric Daniels! (Yay! I’m so excited!) I hope to arrange for one of these pledge-funded webcasts each month, hosted by OList.com.

On January 10th at 7:00 pm MT, historian Eric Daniels will webcast on the foundations of free speech, answering your questions about it.

Here’s Dr. Daniels’ proposal for the webcast:

Freedom of speech and expression forms a vital foundation of a free society. The Founding Fathers established a firm but not unassailable foundation for protecting this freedom in the First Amendment. Over the course of the twentieth century, freedom of speech experienced a patchwork of protection and rejection by the courts. In recent major cases, the US Supreme Court and lower courts have appeared to bolster the protection for speech in areas such as campaign finance, obscenity, and compelled speech. Despite these victories, the foundation of these decisions has relied upon the flawed theories of free speech that have been part of American jurisprudence. Without a proper foundation for freedom of speech, these cases will remain a paper barrier to further assaults on our freedoms.

In this webcast, Dr. Daniels will investigate some interesting recent developments in First Amendment cases (including Citizens United v. FEC, United States v. Stevens, and others). In many of these cases, he will illustrate how the flawed theories that support the correct decisions act to undermine the proper defense of freedom. He will also discuss what a proper defense would look like in each case and suggest ways that we can act to protect freedom of speech into the future by improving its foundations.

For those of you not yet familiar with Eric Daniels as a lecturer, I pity you, because he’s legendary! His courses at OCON are always stellar. I was particularly enthused by his course on Freedom of Speech in American History given in 2008. That, plus my own frustrating encounters with campaign finance laws, are why I invited him to webcast on the topic of free speech.

The structure for this webcast will be slightly different from Adam Mossoff’s November webcast on intellectual property.

First, Eric Daniels will give a 10 minute free “teaser” for the webcast on Monday, January 3rd at 7:00 pm MT. That’s exactly one week before the webcast, and five days from today. You’ll be able to access that on the public web page for this webcast. (Yes, I will post reminders of that.)

Second, every pledger will be welcome to attend the live webcast and participate in the text chat. Every pledger will be able to submit and vote on questions via Google Moderate too. People who pledge more money will be more likely to have their questions addressed, however.

Third, an audio file of the webcast will be available for download. You cannot share that with anyone outside your own household, but you’ll be able to play it from now until doomsday, if you like. You’ll also have access to streaming video of the webcast for about two months.

As before, you’re welcome to pledge any amount. However, please remember that whether the webcast happens or not depends on the total amount of money pledged. The webcast will be green-lit or cancelled, depending on the pledges received by noon on January 6th. (That’s just eight days away!) Also, if the webcast takes place, I’ll post it for sale after the fact for $50.

So… if you want this webcast to take place, if you want to support Dr. Daniels’ work, and if you want to support this new webcast series, please pledge!

Do you want to pledge? I hope so! Please remember that your pledge is a contract to pay for the webcast, if delivered, and you should consider yourself honor-bound to pay that pledge.

If you have any problems with that embedded form, try this form.

The critical dates for this webcast can be found on the OList Calendar. To sum up:

  • Monday, January 3rd, 7 pm MT: Free Teaser Webcast
  • Thursday, January 6th, 12 pm MT: Pledge Deadline
  • Monday, January 10th, 7 pm MT: Private Webcast for Pledgers

OList Webcast Pledge FAQ

How much should I pledge?

That’s entirely up to you. You should pledge whatever the webcast is worth to you, knowing that if enough people don’t pledge enough money, the webcast will be cancelled. In that case, all pledges will be void. Also, you should pledge more if you have questions that you’d really like answered.

Will anyone know what I’ve pledged?

No one except the webcast organizers and webcaster will know how much you’ve pledged. Nothing about your pledge will be made public.

What if I don’t pay what I’ve pledged?

If you’re not satisfied with the quality of the webcast, I will grant a refund, provided that you explain your reasons. However, if you simply welch on your pledge, you’re a schmuck. In that case, you will not be welcome to pledge on any future projects until you pay me the money you owe me, including a hefty penalty for being a schmuck.

What if I want to alter my pledge?

If you wish to increase your pledge, you can always pledge more by e-mailing me your new pledge amount. If you make a mistake in your pledge, you can e-mail me before the pledge deadline to adjust it.

How will I submit questions for the webcast?

You’ll submit questions for the webcast via Google Moderator. I’ll send you the link to that forum shortly after I receive your pledge.

How will I get access to the live webcast?

A few days before the webcast, I’ll e-mail you the url, login, and password for the live webcast. After the webcast, you’ll be able to use the same url, login, and password to view the streaming recorded video or download the audio file.

Can I share the webcast with anyone else?

You may only share it with other members of your household. If you’d like to give the webcast to someone else as a gift, you can do that by submitting an additional pledge. If you distribute the private link or audio file, you will not be welcome to pledge on any future projects until you compensate me for the theft of that property, even if accidental.

How do I pay you?

After the webcast, you’ll receive payment instructions in the invoice I’ll send you. My preferred method of payment is PayPal, but you’re welcome to sent me a check or money order, if that’s what you prefer.

What if I’m not satisfied with the webcast?

If you’re not satisfied with the quality of the webcast, I will grant a refund (or void your pledge), provided that you e-mail me to explain your reasons.

If I don’t pledge, will I be able to purchase the webcast later?

The webcast will be available for sale for $50.

What do I do if I have some other question?

Please e-mail me at diana@dianahsieh.com.

Major Institute for Justice Victory for Free Speech

 Posted by on 10 November 2010 at 8:00 am  Free Speech
Nov 102010
 

I cannot properly express my joy over this fantastic victory for free speech won by the Institute for Justice:

Major Legal Victory for Free Speech: Federal Court Strikes Down Disclosure Laws Imposed upon Colorado Neighbors

WEB RELEASE: November 9, 2010
Media Contact:
John Kramer
(703) 682-9320
[First Amendment]

Arlington, Va.–A federal appellate court today held that six neighbors in the tiny subdivision of Parker North, Colo., should not have been forced to register with the government and comply with burdensome campaign finance laws simply for opposing a ballot issue involving the annexation of their neighborhood.

In Sampson v. Buescher, Judge Harris L. Hartz of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, writing for a unanimous court, recognized the severe burden Colorado’s campaign finance laws imposed on grassroots political activists. In his opinion, he wrote, “The average citizen cannot be expected to master on his or her own the many campaign financial-disclosure requirements set forth in Colorado’s constitution, the Campaign Act, and the Secretary of State’s Rules Concerning Campaign and Political Finance.”

IJ client Karen Sampson said, “This ruling is a complete vindication of what we’ve said all along. Campaign regulations and red tape serve no purpose in local ballot issue elections other than to make political participation more difficult for ordinary citizens.”

For a brief and funny video discussing this lawsuit, visit: http://www.ij.org/2504

Sampson and her neighbors first learned about Colorado’s campaign finance laws when they organized to oppose the annexation of their neighborhood into the adjacent town of Parker. The group talked to neighbors, circulated postcards and planted yard signs. But in Colorado and other states, when two or more people spend more than $200 to speak out about a ballot issue, they must register with the state as an “issue committee” and comply with rules and regulations that rival the tax laws in their complexity. Issue committees must appoint a registered agent, open separate bank accounts, and disclose all contributions and expenditures of more than $20 for such things as yard signs and fliers. Because Sampson and the others failed to register with the government before speaking, the principal proponents of the annexation used Colorado’s campaign finance laws to sue them.

“This ruling means that grassroots political activists in Colorado and the other states that compose the 10th Circuit can speak freely without fear of being sued by their political opponents,” said Steve Simpson, an Institute for Justice senior attorney who represents the neighbors in Parker North. “The Court recognized that the states have little or no interest in requiring groups that simply wish to speak out for and against ballot issues to register and comply with complicated disclosure rules.”

A recent study by campaign finance expert Dr. Jeffrey Milyo of the University of Missouri asked 255 people to comply with the registration and disclosure laws, and not one participant managed to do so correctly. The average correct score was just 41 percent. Each person could have been subject to fines and penalties in real life. Like those in Parker North, participants found the red tape was, “Worse than the IRS!” and said it would make them less likely to get involved in politics.

This is yet another important victory in the Institute for Justice’s efforts to protect free speech from government-imposed restrictions in the guise of so-called campaign finance “reforms.”

In March of this year, the Institute for Justice, working together with the Center for Competitive Politics, scored an important legal victory in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of SpeechNow.org, a group of individuals who wanted to pool their money to run independent political ads for or against candidates based on their support for the First Amendment. The ruling struck down federal campaign finance laws that made it practically impossible for new and independent groups of individuals to join together, raise money and advocate for the election or defeat of political candidates.

In May 2009, the Institute for Justice scored another important victory for free speech when a federal court struck down Florida’s “electioneering communications” law–the broadest regulation of political speech in the nation. The ruling freed community groups and educational non-profits across Florida and the nation to speak about candidates and issues on the Florida ballot without registering with the government and navigating bureaucratic red tape.

And on November 23, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether to accept the Institute for Justice’s challenge to Arizona’s so-called “Clean Elections” system. That system funnels “matching funds” to government-funded political candidates and punishes those politicians who reject taxpayer money for their campaigns and instead raise money as most politicians have for the history of our nation–through private, voluntary contributions.

Plaintiff Becky Cornwell, who had to comply with Colorado’s laws for the Parker North group, said, “Individuals should not have to comply with complicated rules just to speak. As the group’s registered agent, I was constantly worried about making a small error that would lead to another lawsuit and possibly fines. Thanks to this ruling, I finally feel like my neighbors and I can join together to speak out about the issues we care about.”

In its ruling, the court also rejected the idea that Colorado’s disclosure laws for ballot issues could be supported by an “informational interest,” noting that such disclosure facilitated “ad hominem arguments.” Said the court, “When many complain about the deterioration of public discourse–in particular, the inability or unwillingness of citizens to listen to proposals made by particular people or by members of particular groups–one could wonder about the utility of ad hominem arguments in evaluating ballot issues. Nondisclosure could require the debate to actually be about the merits of the proposition on the ballot.”

Steve Simpson said, “Freedom of speech means that citizens, not government, get to decide whether to disclose their identities when they speak out about ballot issues. For those who don’t trust anonymous speech, the solution is not to listen to it.”

And indeed, research shows that most people do not use such information anyway. IJ Director of Strategic Research Dr. Dick Carpenter surveyed views on disclosure of ballot issue contributors in six states, including Colorado, and found that most people–about 60 percent–do not even know where to find contributor information, nor do they seek it out before voting.

“This is yet another example of an important judicial trend the Institute for Justice has advocated since our founding–that of judicial engagement,” said Institute for Justice President and General Counsel Chip Mellor. “Judges are becoming rightfully more engaged in defending vital rights and striking down laws that exceed constitutionally enshrined limits on legislative powers.”

Download Milyo’s study, “Campaign Finance Red Tape.” Carpenter’s research is also available for download, “Disclosure Costs,” and “Mandatory Disclosure for Ballot-Initiative Campaigns.”

Here’s why I’m so excited about this victory: Because of Ari’s and my policy paper on the “personhood” movement, I’ve felt the burdens of annoyance, confusion, and worry in my attempt to comply with these campaign finance laws. And now, thanks to the Institute for Justice, I will feel those burdens no more. When was the last time that I was able to say that, when I experienced serious and personal political victory? NEVER! And I’m thrilled.

My heartiest congratulations to Steve Simpson and his fabulous free speech team at IJ. You guys ROCK!

In my post on Free Speech Versus Regulated Speech: My Experience, I explained the effects of these campaign finance regulations on me, and then I wrote:

I hope that makes you angry — angry enough to want to strike back at the politicians and bureaucrats muzzling all of us. If so, then let me suggest that you donate to the free speech work of the Institute for Justice. IJ is the only organization that I know to be fighting for free speech, including against campaign finance laws, on principle and by concerted effort. And they’re effective too! I plan to write another check to IJ — once again, directed toward their free speech projects — in the next few days. If you want to protect free speech rights in America, then I urge you to do the same.

Now, in the wake of this victory, I can only reiterate that, more strongly than ever before. (Goshdurnit, I just realized that I didn’t write that check yet… no time like the present!) After defeat upon defeat of late, it’s a great feeling to be able to contribute a to well-deserved victory in the struggle for liberty.

 

As some of you might recall, the Coalition for Secular Government is subject to Colorado’s campaign finance laws due to our pledge-funded policy paper against Amendment 62: The ‘Personhood’ Movement Is Anti-Life.

For those of you curious about the ins and outs of the speech regulations with which I must comply, I present this excerpt from Colorado Campaign and Political Finance Manual:

Issue committees

Definition: Any person, other than a natural person, or any group of two or more persons, including natural persons, that has a major purpose of supporting or opposing any ballot issue or ballot question, AND that has accepted or made contributions or expenditures in excess of two hundred dollars to support or oppose any ballot issue or ballot question OR has printed two hundred or more petition sections.

Issue committee status applies to organizations made up of members who support or oppose an issue in their community. Please familiarize yourself with the laws concerning issue committees before you as a group engage in political activity, to ensure that you comply with any campaign finance laws that may apply.

You must register an issue committee if you:

* Are a group of two or more individuals (natural persons) or businesses (or both);

* That supports or opposes a ballot issue or ballot question (see below for definition); AND one of

* You have accepted or made contributions or expenditures of $200 or more to support or oppose that ballot issue or ballot question; OR

* You have printed more than 200 petition sections or more than 200 petition sections have been accepted. (This provision effective 1/1/2011)

Registration and reporting requirements

Registration is required within 10 calendar days of accepting contributions or making expenditures in excess of $200 to support or oppose any ballot issue or ballot question.

Issue committees at the state, county, or special district level, or those active in multiple counties or special districts, register with and report to the Secretary of State. Municipal issue committees (those supporting or opposing ballot measures at the local municipal only) register with the municipal clerk. Filing dates vary depending on whether your issue committee is statewide, county, special district, school district, etc. Please consult TRACER for the filing calendar applicable to your committee.

Only the registered agent may sign and electronically file the committee’s reports.

Any amendments or changes to your registration must be filed with the appropriate officer within five days of the change.

There are no contribution limits or prohibitions for contributions to issue committees.

The name and address of the contributor must be reported for all contributions of $20 or more, and the contributor’s occupation and employer must be listed for contributions of $100 or more.

An issue committee may only be closed by filing a termination report indicating a “zero” balance. Issue committees may return unexpended campaign funds to the contributors or donate them to a charitable organization recognized by the Internal Revenue Service.

A disclaimer statement is required on communications produced by expenditures of more than $1,000 made by an issue committee.

Major Contribution Report

Contributions received within 30 days before a primary or general election, which exceed $1,000, must be reported as “major contributions” in the TRACER system in addition to reporting such contributions on regular reports.

The Coalition for Secular Government is clearly subject to those regulations: we’re a group, our major work is our policy paper against Amendment 62, and we’re accepting and spending more than $200, thanks to the generous people who pledged to support the policy paper. Hence, we must comply.

Initially, I thought that those campaign finance instructions were clear enough. They’d be a pain, but at least I’d know what to do. However, now that I’ve submitted two reports, I can’t say that any longer. For example:

  • I’ve promoted the policy paper via Facebook advertisements. I used my own personal credit card for that, and I’ve not yet reimbursed myself from CSG’s funds. So when does that become an expenditure that I must report — when my personal credit card is charged or when I reimburse myself?
  • Many people paid me through PayPal, which was awesome, because that’s more convenient than checks. However, PayPal automatically takes a small percentage in fees from such transactions. So what do I report as the donation amount — the amount given or the amount received?
  • When I receive checks, I don’t report them until they’re deposited in the bank. However, does the same apply to payments via PayPal? And in my case, I had limitations placed on my PayPal account for a while that prevented me from accessing the funds. Was I obliged to report those funds, even though temporarily inaccessible?

In short, the laws are just not clear. As a result, I’ve tried to do whatever seemed like the safest option open to me. I don’t have an army of lawyers to guide me… and even if I did, that might not be enough! With every wrong move, I risk $50 per day in fines.

Of course, the fundamental problem with such regulations is not that compliance is difficult, time-consuming, and nerve-wracking. That’s true, and it’s important, but it’s not essential. These campaign finance regulations would be wrong, even if compliance with them was easy, quick, and fun. Even in that case, the regulations would be a blatant violation of every person’s free speech rights. People should not have to register with the government to speak their minds. They should not have to register with the government to donate money so that others can speak for them.

Speaking personally, I feel that violation of free speech rights more clearly and more personally now than ever before. I’ve been forced — coerced, at the point of a gun — to spend hours of my time attempting to comply with these regulations, so that I might have permission to speak my mind. That’s vile — and it’s disheartening to me.

And I’m not alone in those feelings. The practical result of such speech regulations that is that ordinary citizens keep quiet, while well-funded “special interests” dominate the political debates. That’s not an unintended consequence: that’s what the politicians and bureaucrats want, I think. Free speech in America is under assault — not by outright censorship but rather by devious regulations in the name of “transparency” and “fairness.”

I hope that makes you angry — angry enough to want to strike back at the politicians and bureaucrats muzzling all of us. If so, then let me suggest that you donate to the free speech work of the Institute for Justice. IJ is the only organization that I know to be fighting for free speech, including against campaign finance laws, on principle and by concerted effort. And they’re effective too! I plan to write another check to IJ — once again, directed toward their free speech projects — in the next few days. If you want to protect free speech rights in America, then I urge you to do the same.

Free Speech Versus Colorado Law

 Posted by on 27 October 2010 at 2:00 pm  Activism, Colorado, Free Speech
Oct 272010
 

Robert Frommer of the Institute for Justice published an excellent op-ed in the Denver Post today about the incomprehensible morass of Colorado’s campaign finance laws. It begins:

In America, the only thing you should need to speak out is an opinion. But this election season, groups of concerned citizens around the country are finding out that they need more than just their opinions; they also need a lawyer.

But even that isn’t enough, as Clear the Bench Colorado discovered. Go read the whole op-ed for the details. Although I’m sadly familiar with Colorado’s campaign finance laws, this case flabbergasts me. It’s non-objective law at its finest.

I’ll have more to say on my own experience with campaign finance laws tomorrow.

 

The Institute for Justice recently launched its Citizen Speech Campaign against campaign finance laws. Here’s their announcement:

Freedom of speech and freedom of association are so important that they are enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Yet across the nation, in nearly every state, government regulation stifles the ability of citizens to exercise their rights to speak and to associate with one another to discuss the most pressing issues of the day. The culprit? So-called campaign finance laws.

For example, in 24 states, citizens who wish to spend money to speak out about ballot issues must register as political committees or “PACs” and navigate a complex maze of regulations. As a result, a group of citizens in Florida who want to pool their funds to speak out against a controversial amendment that would inhibit development in the state must register with the government, appoint a treasurer, open a separate bank account, and track and report every penny that they raise and spend for their efforts. In Colorado, a group of citizens was sued under these laws for putting up lawn signs opposing a local initiative and sending post cards to neighbors.

Another 22 states add contribution limits to these regulatory burdens for citizen groups that spend money on speech supporting or opposing candidates. For example, in Rhode Island, individuals may contribute no more than $1000 per year to such groups. The result is that although individuals and even corporations may spend unlimited amounts on ads saying vote for or against a candidate, individuals in Rhode Island who join together in unincorporated groups are limited to $1000 each.

To remedy this, the Institute for Justice launched its Citizen Speech Campaign on September 29, 2010. Kicked off with a lawsuit, Andrew Nathan Worley, et al. v. Dawn K. Roberts, et al., that challenges Florida ballot issue campaign finance laws, the campaign is a nationwide effort to ensure the promise of the First Amendment’s command that government “shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.”

To catalogue the various state laws that restrict citizen speech, the Institute today released a new research report, Keep Out: How State Campaign Finance Laws Erect Barriers to Entry for Political Entrepreneurs. The report, written by University of Missouri economist Jeff Milyo, explains why citizen speakers are important and how state campaign finance laws get in their way.

Along with the report, the Institute is launching a public campaign calling on officials in the 22 states that impose both contribution limits and PAC requirements on groups that wish to speak out about candidates to bring their laws into compliance with the First Amendment.

As part of this campaign, IJ is highlighting stories of political entrepreneurs — and I’m pleased (sort of) to report that I’m one of them: Colorado Blogger Wrapped Up in Red Tape.

The story concerns the onerous campaign finance laws applicable to me (or rather, the Coalition for Secular Government) because — horror of all horrors — we’re a group receiving and spending more than $200 in opposition to a ballot measure, namely Amendment 62.

The sidebar begins:

Diana Hsieh was a blogger when few people knew what the term meant. A passionate advocate for individual rights, she launched her now-popular blog Noodlefood in 2002 while working as a programmer as a way to get herself to write regularly on political and philosophical issues. Today, Diana presides over a mini-empire of online activism including blogs, discussion groups and even a small nonprofit. A recent Ph.D. in philosophy, Hsieh regularly speaks at philosophy conferences, writes articles and podcasts on various subjects–and still manages to find time to care for a small farm’s worth of dogs, cats and horses at her home in Sedalia, Colorado.

Go read the rest of the story!

The campaign also released a fun video about “Camp Politics”:

I’ve not yet read the primary report — Keep Out: How State Campaign Finance Laws Erect Barriers to Entry for Political Entrepreneurs — but it looks like more good work from IJ in defense of freedom of speech. If you like what IJ does here, please consider donating for its free speech work. Our very ability to advocate our ideas depends on our freedom of speech — and IJ is acting in defense of everyone willing to speak his mind.

Free Speech and Video Games

 Posted by on 27 September 2010 at 3:40 pm  Free Speech
Sep 272010
 

From David Rehm, posted with his permission:

Forgive the quoted paragraphs in explanation, but I’m traveling with almost no time to invest in this right now:

“For nearly two decades, elected officials have tried to regulate which video games you can buy, rent and play. Every single time they’ve passed a law, the federal courts have struck it down as unconstitutional. [Yay!] But this may change this fall. [Scary big deal!]“

“The Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to hear the State of California’s infamous ‘violent video game case,’ Schwarzenegger v. EMA. That means that this year, or early next, the Court is going to decide whether to agree with the lower federal courts or not. Agreeing would mean that they believe that video games are, and should continue to be, First Amendment protected speech; just like books, movies and music.”

(More info, here.)

Whether you care about video games or not, I think this is a huge deal regarding the principle of free speech and new mediums–setting a dangerous precedent if they decide that free speech rights apply only narrowly to a defined set of mediums (such as books and films), versus applying universally, as a principle, to all speech over all mediums (new or not yet invented). Insert bit about slippery slope here.

I hope you can find an opportunity to bring more attention to this from people who actually understand the broader implications.

By reposting, I’m doing all that I can here. Keep your eyes on this issue, folks.

Jun 102010
 

PajamasMedia has just published my latest OpEd, “Free Speech: Use It or Lose It“.

My theme is that Americans need to be aware of some dangerous new threats to our freedom of speech, and we must fight back based on a proper intellectual defense of free speech.

Here is the introduction:

“We’re from the government and we’ll have to revoke your blogging license if you keep spreading too much ‘misinformation.’”

A few years ago, such a warning would have seemed far-fetched. But recent developments threaten to turn this from bad science fiction into grim reality. If bloggers and independent journalists wish to avoid this nightmare, we must speak out now to defend freedom of speech — and we must defend it for the right reasons…

(Read the full text of “Free Speech: Use It or Lose It“.)

I’d also like to acknowledge two excellent sources for some of the ideas presented in this OpEd.

The first is Steve Simpson’s article in the Spring 2010 issue of The Objective Standard, “Citizens United and the Battle for Free Speech in America“.

The second is Eric Daniels’ superb course from OCON 2008, “Freedom of Speech in American History“.

Update: Thank you, Instapundit!

Muhammad, or His Imposter

 Posted by on 20 May 2010 at 7:00 am  Free Speech, Religion
May 202010
 

In honor of Draw Muhammad Day, I present this picture of Muhammad… or an impostor. At this point, I’m just not sure.

I traced the image from this Islamic illustration found in the Muhammad Image Archive.

You can find more drawings of Muhammad under the religion label on the blog of The Objective Standard.

I strongly encourage you to post your own drawing of Muhammad. Please, stand up for freedom of speech!

Muslims Threaten South Park

 Posted by on 29 April 2010 at 7:00 am  Free Speech, Religion
Apr 292010
 

On Tuesday, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the author of the stellar book Infidel, published an excellent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on the informal fatwa against South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Here’s why the supposed warning message posted by 20-year-old Muslim covert “Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee” was a fatwa:

There is a basic principle in Islamic scripture—unknown to most not-so-observant Muslims and most non-Muslims—called “commanding right and forbidding wrong.” It obligates Muslim males to police behavior seen to be wrong and personally deal out the appropriate punishment as stated in scripture. In its mildest form, devout people give friendly advice to abstain from wrongdoing. Less mild is the practice whereby Afghan men feel empowered to beat women who are not veiled.

By publicizing the supposed sins of Messrs. Stone and Parker, Mr. Amrikee undoubtedly believes he is fulfilling his duty to command right and forbid wrong. His message is not just an opinion. It will appeal to like-minded individuals who, even though they are a minority, are a large and random enough group to carry out the divine punishment. The best illustration of this was demonstrated by the Somali man who broke into Mr. Westergaard’s home in January carrying an axe and a knife.

So what can we do? Ms. Ali has some good suggestions for what we might do to stand up for freedom of speech:

One way of reducing the cost is to organize a solidarity campaign. The entertainment business, especially Hollywood, is one of the wealthiest and most powerful industries in the world. Following the example of Jon Stewart, who used the first segment of his April 22 show to defend “South Park,” producers, actors, writers, musicians and other entertainers could lead such an effort.

Another idea is to do stories of Muhammad where his image is shown as much as possible. These stories do not have to be negative or insulting, they just need to spread the risk. The aim is to confront hypersensitive Muslims with more targets than they can possibly contend with.

Another important advantage of such a campaign is to accustom Muslims to the kind of treatment that the followers of other religions have long been used to. After the “South Park” episode in question there was no threatening response from Buddhists, Christians and Jews—to say nothing of Tom Cruise and Barbra Streisand fans—all of whom had far more reason to be offended than Muslims.

Along these lines, Ari Armstrong has launched an Everybody Draw Mohammed campaign. I’ll be posting my contribution sometime next week — and I hope that you will do the same.

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha