Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘First Amendment’

The Resistance Has Begun! 24 Examples of Americans Resisting – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on April 16, 2020

The BBC describes the American death count with this problematic sentence: “At present in the US, any death of a Covid-19 patient, no matter what the physician believes to be the direct cause, is counted for public reporting as a Covid-19 death.”

Probably happening everywhere.

More free government/EU/UN money, more grants, more publicity. The entrepreneurial spirit is strong.

If your church still refuses to open, have your own service.


Neil Ferguson has called for an 18-month rolling quarantine. Many government officials have cited his Imperial College paper as defense of the corona lockdowns. Like every other algorithm, this too has turned out to be based on the mere guess of an academic. Algorithm is another word for “guess.” Model is another word for “guess.”

It turns out that those guesses aren’t actually panning out. We have wagered a lot on those guesses, and taken unprecedented anti-social action. New York, for example, has needed some 18,000 hospital beds, not the 55,000, 73,000, or 136,000 that some predicted.

Data from Oregon shows the lockdown to be unnecessary. A professor there demonstrated more than a week ago that lockdowns are not working.

Though there are severely inflates death counts, only 150 healthy individuals are believed to have died of Covid-19 with no pre-existing conditions. The BBC describes the American death count with this problematic sentence: “At present in the US, any death of a Covid-19 patient, no matter what the physician believes to be the direct cause, is counted for public reporting as a Covid-19 death.”

Wow. Corona wasn’t that big of a deal? That’s great news.

These lockdowns aren’t working? That’s some pretty big news too.

What are officials doing in response? Doubling down on lockdowns.

What are people across the country starting to do in response to that? Saying they’ve had enough. The resistance is here.

The Face Mask Resistance – If You’re Gonna Wear A Mask, Make It A Guy Fawkes Mask

75 people showed up outside the Ohio State House to protest the lockdown. Some came masked, not in the obligatory fear mask mandated by the national top-down fear mask movement, but in Guy Fawkes masks!

Video footage of Ohio state house protests can be found here and here. Photos here.

If they make you wear a mask, send a message. If you think face masks work, please read this pre-politicization of face masks (2016) piece. They certainly don’t work well enough for people to get violent with those not wearing them.

Early Victory: Philadelphia Fear Mask Resistance Forced The Hands Of Pols

People were being pulled off busses in Philadelphia for not wearing face masks, some of the thugs doing the enforcing weren’t wearing face masks themselves.

Philadelphia‘s SEPTA public transportation system required passengers to wear a face mask as of Thursday, April 9. Passengers refused and stood their ground.

In the exact opposite of social distancing, passengers were violently pulled off buses by gangs of cops in Philadelphia for not wearing masks. After these shameful displays of police violently removing unmasked passengers were captured by bystanders on social media, the face mask requirement was rescinded.

In our heavily charged political climate, somehow the willingness to not wear a face mask has itself become a potent sign of civil disobedience in some corridors of America.

The Bravest Principal In California

Principal Derrick Bravo at Outside Creek Elementary in California’s San Joaquin Valley has kept his school open. It is the only public school in California that remains open.

A Gulag California Restaurant Owner Has Quietly Stayed Open

In his essays these past weeks on black markets and corona, Arizona sheriff candidate David Hathaway has predicted that, just as the prohibition on alcohol caused speakeasies to form, speakeasies and other informal arrangements will open around restaurants. Daniel McAdams proves him right.

America Was Founded In Religion

Religious freedom has been an important theme since America’s European settlement began. It can be no surprise that some of the most active resistance to corona communism is taking place among the religious.

Mississippi Preacher Taunting The Police

Temple Baptist Church of Greenville, Mississippi had a drive-in prayer service this past week. Police raided, ticketing the congregants $500 each, saying the mayor wanted to make an example of the congregation.

How did the pastor respond? Did he cower? Did he apologize? Did he admit he was wrong to worship against the will of the local officials? In his words “I told them to get some more tickets ready because we will be preaching Sunday morning and Sunday night.”

Church Bravery In Louisiana

A pastor in Baton Rouge said of the members of his congregation “They would rather come to church and worship like free people than live like prisoners in their homes.” Pastor Tony Spell of Life Tabernacle Church, vowed to hold an Easter celebration.

The media in the weeks preceding Easter was vocal about the need to shut down the church, but was afterward surprisingly silent about whether the Easter service took place.

When I called the church to verify that they held an Easter service, the most distinguished sounding Southern gentleman picked up the phone and said to me matter-of-factly, “We’re Christians, we hold church every Sunday.”

It’s “Legal” To Go To Church Again (Sort Of)

Laws are made by legislatures. Laws are not made by governors. Rights are granted by God, or some would say by nature of being a human, but not by constitutions. Any governor who thinks he makes the law is a fool. A few governors have gotten the message.

Easter services were made “legal” again in Wisconsin (sort of), as long as the service is held outdoors.

Church was made legal again in Texas too, before Holy Week got under way, with the Governor being reminded that he’s only a visitor in the governor’s mansion. A handful of other governors have gotten the same message.

In Colorado churches are now “exempt” from the lockdown after a Baptist group threatened a First Amendment lawsuit.

Standing Up To Police Intimidation In Kentucky

Kentucky’s Governor vowed to track down Easter worshipers by using license plates: which certainly means there were a lot of people expected to worship there on Easter, otherwise there would be no need to even make such a policy. Good on you Kentucky!

Despite finding nails on the ground, meant to harm and deter them, and police in their parking lots, meant to intimidate them, Christians in Kentucky met on Easter Sunday 2020.

The Sonny Method

When encountered with intimidation, Thomas DiLorenzo points to the “Sonny method” for dealing with cops and media hacks attempting to interfere in a religious ceremony.

Courageous Christians Even in DC

Rather than shutting its doors, St. Cyprian in Washington DC commits to remains open throughout the day, each day, for prayer.

Courageous Serbians

This Serbian Bishop refused to comply with the orders to shutter the churches and boldly said mass.

More Courageous Californians

Parishioners of Bethany Slavic Missionary Church are said to be meeting in small groups in private homes for worship. Some would consider this admirable. The church, perhaps tiring of the legal attention, tiring of the media publicity, and wanting to be left alone, denies this.

Tennessee Resistance

Even though Facebook removed his post for “promoting a crime,” Greg Locke, lead pastor of Global Vision Bible Church in Tennessee, says he will keep his church open during the coronavirus panic.

The Most Inspiring Use Of A U-Haul

From the back of a U-Haul in a parking lot, this priest refused to abandon his flock. In contrast to some of the many cowardly clergy out there, the image of the U-Haul and the sea of cars is something to behold.

Stop Giving – Let The Obedient Churches Go Broke

Some American pastors are shocked that their congregations won’t pay for them to do nothing when they are most needed. Churches are being hit hard by the lack of collection. If your pastor won’t re-open the church doors, let the church go broke.

Social Distance From Compliant Pastors

Speaking of do-nothing pastors, Laurence Vance calls on all Christians to socially distance from milquetoast pastors in our age of corona communism.

Have Your Own Service

If your church still refuses to open, have your own service. Here’s how one LRC reader started his Easter.

Have Your Own Service 2.0

And one can also take it a step further than having your own Easter celebration. You can invite others and welcome them to bring their guns. Ammon Bundy invited hundreds for Easter in Idaho and got a decent turnout. The corona bans demonstrate the point that without the Second Amendment, there really is no First Amendment.

Republican Idaho State Representative Heather Scott has spoken against the Republican Governor’s corona ban, as has Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler. Wheeler has called for a meeting of the full Idaho State Legislature to discuss the Governor Brad Little’s actions.

Bravely Helping Others

In defiance of an order to stay off the streets,  a doctor and a team of volunteers has provided Covid-19 testing to homeless in Miami.

Keep Minding Your Own Business

In a hilarious video, a police officer came after a man running down what was ostensibly a closed beach. The guy’s response: he just kept on running.

Power To The People

Pulling out a camera is a potent statement to someone in power that they are being put on the record. This gentleman called out an officer’s arbitrary rules and filmed the officer.

San Francisco Style Corona Response

A freedom cell in San Francisco responded to lockdown orders with some disruptive entrepreneurship. They opened an underground night club. Police responded by confiscating the booze and arresting no one.

There Are Even Examples Of Government Coming To Its Senses (Very Slowly)

Recognizing that Covid-19 is not turning into the catastrophe some experts predicted it might be, Seattle sent back a 250-bed army field hospital after 9 days. It never saw any patients.

Republican Tennessee Mayor Glenn Jacobs calls out Republican Tennessee Governor Bill Lee for his bad decisions in issuing a statewide stay-at-home order.

The president of Brazil is snubbing social distancing.

Thomas Massie, will go down as a hero during this chapter in American history, for his bold stand against corona communism.

Courage Is Contagious

If this collection of notes from the resistance inspired you, please pass it along to others. Courage, after all, is contagious. Resistance thrives on courage.

If you have inspiring tales from the resistance to share, shoot me an email.

Be seeing you








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Death in Slow Motion – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on April 16, 2020

Now, we have become a nation of sheep. We have elected officials with constitutionally assigned duties — and constitutionally imposed limitations — who have assumed to themselves dictatorial powers and have falsely claimed that they can interfere with our personal choices. Who are the governors to decide which human activities are essential? Abortion is essential but Mass is not? No constitution gave them that power.

Closing churches meets no constitutional standard. There is no question that fighting a pandemic is a compelling state interest, yet there are far less restrictive ways to address it than preventing worship.


During the past month, as Americans have been terrified of the coronavirus, another demon has been lurking ready to pounce. It is a demon of our own creation. It is the now amply manifested inability of elected officials to resist the temptation of totalitarianism. And it is slowly bringing about the death of personal liberty in our once free society.

It is one thing for public officials to use a bully pulpit to educate and even intimidate the populace into a prudent awareness of basic sanitary behaviors — even those which go against our nature — to impede the spread of the virus. It is quite another to contend that their suggestions and intimidations and guidelines somehow have the force of the law behind them.

They don’t. Read the rest of this entry »

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Coronavirus vs. Constitution: What can government stop you from doing in a pandemic?

Posted by M. C. on March 13, 2020

Apparently pretty much anything it wants.

Precedents are set.

People are trained to obey…or else.

Laws do not go away. Income tax, social security, tax withholding are a few that come to mind.

By Hayley Fowler

Public closures, a ban on gatherings, quarantine notices and orders for isolation have become increasingly common as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States.

Officials in Washington state and San Francisco are limiting the number of people allowed to attend public gatherings. The governor of California joined them on Thursday in urging the cancellation of all events with more than 250 people in attendance.

The governor of Kentucky, a Bible belt state, has asked churches and other religious institutions to temporarily cancel services.

But if it seems these actions are infringing on individual freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, think again.

“You don’t have a right to assemble against the backdrop of known public health risk,” James G. Hodge told McClatchy News.

Hodge is the director of the Center for Public Health Law and Policy at Arizona State University, an affiliate of the Network for Public Health Law. As the number of COVID-19 cases climbs, he said, the types of “aggressive measures” taking place in some parts of the country will be used elsewhere.

As of Thursday, more than a dozen states from California to North Carolina have declared a state of emergency to try and stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Hodge said those declarations help shape how public health officials can respond at the state and local level, enabling them to act fast while instituting forms of social distancing — “which is one of the only tools we have available to us” during a public health crisis like the coronavirus pandemic, he said.

Officials typically have to go through legal processes to close an establishment or shut down public gatherings, Hodge said. But under a state of emergency, everything is expedited.

“It’s not that we don’t have time for First Amendment interests, it’s that we must act fast,” he said. “What was opened today can be closed tomorrow.”

Getting the courts involved

That doesn’t mean communities in the U.S. will see the kind of large-scale lock-downs happening in Italy and China, Hodge added.

But there are circumstances under which a voluntary recommendation can become involuntary.

A man in Missouri left quarantine to attend a father-daughter dance at a nearby hotel, McClatchy reported, prompting county health officials to warn “he must remain in his home or they will issue a formal quarantine that will require him and the rest of his family to stay in their home by the force of law.”

When someone opts to evade such recommendations, Hodge said, public health authorities can seek a court order mandating their compliance.

“Some of those basic liberties are going to be truncated for a brief period,” he said. “Most Americans understand the need for that.”

But these types of public closures and requests for self-quarantine aren’t without good reason — it’s “flattening the curve,” Vox reported.

If officials don’t stop the rapid spread of coronavirus, or at least slow it down, epidemiologists have said the health care system could be “overwhelmed by a sudden explosion of illness that requires more people to be hospitalized than it can handle,” according to Vox.

Our #FlattenTheCurve graphic is now up on @Wikipedia with proper attribution & a CC-BY-SA licence. Please share far & wide and translate it into any language you can! Details in the thread below. #Covid_19 #COVID2019 #COVID19 #coronavirus Thanks to @XTOTL & @TheSpinoffTV

— Dr Siouxsie Wiles (@SiouxsieW) March 10, 2020

Least intrusive means

Still, these measures aren’t undertaken without due process.

“The government does have sweeping powers to combat communicable disease but there are limits,” said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union.

Stanley told McClatchy News officials have a set of guidelines to follow when it comes to making these decisions — it has to be overwhelmingly in the public interest, rooted in rational, scientific ends and done by the least intrusive means possible. There must also be a mechanism to challenge it.

Officials can’t, for example, use COVID-19 as an excuse or pretext “to achieve illegitimate ends” like shutting down a protest or discriminating against certain groups, he said.

Hodge said these types of measures aren’t designed to be punitive, they’re protective — and they don’t “trip any constitutional safeguards when done right.”

He pointed to a case from the 1980s in West Virginia where a man who officials suspected had tuberculosis was involuntarily confined in quarantine. The man argued he was denied due process when the trial court delayed appointing him an attorney, and judges agreed.

That, Hodge said, is an example of what not to do in a public health emergency.

“There really are definitive checklists of things you have to show to utilize quarantine and isolation powers at the level we’re going to see,” he told McClatchy.

‘Not guesswork’

But he said state and local health authorities know that — “this is not guesswork.”

The coronavirus hasn’t caught the public health system off guard so much as prompted them to operate on a much larger scale than usual, Hodge said.

“It gets a lot easier when Americans act on their own volition and self-quarantine pursuant to public health directives,” he said. “Most Americans will respond that way.”

The CDC has guidelines on legal authorities governing isolation and quarantine as well as the types of laws and regulations that come into play during a pandemic.

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I Make No Predictions, But Evil Takeover Is Imminent!

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51% of Americans Want to END Free Speech – The Organic Prepper

Posted by M. C. on October 28, 2019

57% of those surveyed wanted to see the government crackdown on newspapers and TV stations that published “biased, inflammatory or false” content. 54% wanted journalists punished with a fine or a ticket, while 46% felt they should face jail time.

They differentiated between the mainstream media, who they felt “check facts, even if they are occasionally wrong or slanted” and alternative media, whom they opined “allow anyone to say anything.” 36% wanted to see a government agency reviewing alternative media content and 47% did not want to see that happen.

How can anyone with functioning brain cells believe government can fix anything?

by Daisy Luther

Of all the rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution, the First Amendment is arguably the most important. And despite the fact that we are country built on glorious dissent, a poll undertaken by the Campaign for Free Speech found that more than 51% of Americans are ready to give up the rights guaranteed by that amendment, deeming it “outdated.”

A Quick Primer on the First Amendment

First things first (pun intended), most folks don’t even know what the First Amendment protects.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The basis of freedom lies within that small paragraph. If you want to be able to access information other than that which is provided by the government, or be able to speak out when you believe that the government is in the wrong without fear of governmental prosecution, then you should be utterly horrified that more than half of Americans are ready to just get rid of it.

But that might be because a whopping majority of Americans don’t understand the First Amendment. CFS reports:

80% don’t actually know what the First Amendment really protects. Those polled believed this statement is true: “The First Amendment allows anyone to say their opinion no matter what, and they are protected by law from any consequences of saying those thoughts or opinions.”

It’s actually not true. The First Amendment prevents the government from punishing you for your speech (with exceptions such as yelling “fire” in a crowded area to induce panic).

But more broadly, freedom of speech does not mean you are protected from social consequences for your speech. You may have the right to say something extreme or hateful and not get thrown in jail, but others in society have the right to shun you. (source)

This is something we’ve mentioned repeatedly here: just because you have the “right” to say something, it doesn’t mean that others don’t have the “right” to think you’re a terrible person and no longer do business with you. The freedom to say something doesn’t free you from the repercussions of what you say. It just means you can’t be prosecuted for it.

Here’s what the Campaign for Free Speech’s survey found.

Despite (or maybe because of) not understanding the First Amendment, 51% believed that the First Amendment is outdated and needs to be rewritten to “reflect the cultural norms of today.” Nearly half of those surveyed (48%) believed that “hate speech” should be illegal, with half of those people considering jail time a reasonable punishment. The poll did not define “hate speech,” leaving it up to the respondent.

Bob Lystad, the executive director of the Campaign for Free Speech (CFS) told the Washington Beacon that “free speech is under more threat than previously believed.”

“The findings are frankly extraordinary…Our free speech rights and our free press rights have evolved well over 200 years, and people now seem to be rethinking them.” (source)

More than 60% of those surveyed wanted to see free speech curbed in some way.

Of the 1,004 respondents, young people were the most likely to support curbing free expression and punishing those who engage in “hate speech.” Nearly 60 percent of Millennials—respondents between the ages of 21 and 38—agreed that the Constitution “goes too far in allowing hate speech in modern America” and should be rewritten, compared to 48 percent of Gen Xers and 47 percent of Baby Boomers. A majority of Millennials also supported laws that would make “hate speech” a crime—of those supporters, 54 percent said violators should face jail time.  (source)

And since “hate speech” is such an arbitrary term dependent upon the whims of popular culture in many cases, that’s some pretty alarming stuff.

More alarming still are opinions on the free press.

Here at OP, we point out the shortcomings, biases, and inflammatory reporting of the mainstream media all the time. But that doesn’t mean we want to see them silenced.

That’s not the case for many of the respondents of CFS’s poll.

57% of those surveyed wanted to see the government crackdown on newspapers and TV stations that published “biased, inflammatory or false” content. 54% wanted journalists punished with a fine or a ticket, while 46% felt they should face jail time.

They differentiated between the mainstream media, who they felt “check facts, even if they are occasionally wrong or slanted” and alternative media, whom they opined “allow anyone to say anything.” 36% wanted to see a government agency reviewing alternative media content and 47% did not want to see that happen.

We believe that the alternative media is an important balance in this day and age of constant propaganda and that the attacks on alternative media support the fact that this type of independent journalism threatens the establishment. I’ve gone so far as to say that the destruction of alternative media and unpopular opinions can be likened to virtual book burning, a terrifying comparison for those who are familiar with the history of censorship.

68% of those polled wanted to see restrictions placed on social media speech.

Facebook was a particular topic of contention. (Beginning on page 13 of the survey.)

38% of respondents believed all speech should be allowed on the platform while 49% felt that “Facebook should monitor and restrict offensive speech and views.”

There are specific topics that rose to the top of the list of things that people wanted to see restricted on social media:

  • Racist content: 52%
  • Neo-Nazi content: 50%
  • Radical Islamic content: 46%
  • Holocaust denial content: 35%
  • Anti-vaccination content: 20%
  • Climate change denial content: 18%

Facebook and other social media outlets have taken great strides toward making the internet an echo chamber with the purge of alternative media accounts, the demonetization of alternative media, and widespread censorship.

Social media itself may be to blame for the shift against the First Amendment.

Lystad cites an incident in which some college students recorded themselves shouting racial slurs at people of color and the video went viral.

Lystad said such incidents and the rise of social media may be behind the increased willingness of Americans to curb speech rights.

“I think [our findings] are fueled in large part because of a rise of hate speech, but traditionally, hate speech is protected in the First Amendment,” Lystad said. “The Supreme Court has upheld that principle time and time again.”

“Hate speech should be condemned, but legally, the answer to speech we don’t like is more speech, not censorship,” he said. “Our primary focus is education, and to help people better understand the First Amendment, free speech, free press, and why it’s so vital to our democracy.” (source)

When there is no free press, there is no free thought.

If people can only access one government-approved point of view, freedom is dead. The free press, the freedom to speak our minds and not be prosecuted, and the freedom to peacefully dissent are all the very foundation on which liberty is built.

We’re far more restricted than we were decades ago and the trend seems to be taking us downhill into complete censorship faster and faster. But the answer isn’t more legislation because as we learned by the Patriot Act (anything but patriotic) and the Affordable Care Act (far from affordable for most Americans) when the government gets involved, the results are generally to the benefit of the government and its cronies, and quite the opposite of how they’re portrayed.

What’s the answer?

It’s simple. Learn to scroll past things with which you disagree or even engage in a productive discussion. Stop tattling on one another over words. Quit being a crybaby because somebody said a mean thing on the internet.

You can choose not to engage in circles with which you disagree, but trying to shut them down only leads to censorship.

Free speech and free press are the only antidotes to propaganda. You may not like hateful people or anti-vaxxers or voters of a different ilk, but when you silence them, you have to know that you’re opening the door to be silenced yourself when your line of thinking becomes unpopular.

Then you’re looking at a world with only one point of view – the approved point of view of the government. Selco has warned us what happens when that world occurs and we need to look no further than China to see that world in action today.

What do you think?

What do you think about this? Are you surprised or is it what you expected? I think that the end of free speech and free press would be the end of our country as we know it. I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments.​​

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The FBI’s Long History of Treating Political Dissent as Terrorism

Posted by M. C. on October 25, 2019

Like the old bureau under Palmer, today’s FBI also casts its net around a wide range of civil society and social justice groups as well as racial and religious minorities.

“What is known is that there is a persistent pattern of monitoring civil society activity,”

While terrorism in the U.S. is relatively rare, over the last decade most politically motivated violence has come at the hands of far-right extremists. Despite that reality, the FBI has devoted disproportionate resources to the surveillance of nonviolent civil society groups and protest movements, particularly on the left, using its mandate to protect national security to target scores of individuals posing no threat but opposing government policies and practices.

Since 2010, the FBI has surveilled black activists and Muslim Americans, Palestinian solidarity and peace activists, Abolish ICE protesters, Occupy Wall Street, environmentalists, Cuba and Iran normalization proponents, and protesters at the Republican National Convention. And that is just the surveillance we know of — as the civil liberties group Defending Rights & Dissent documents in a report published today. The report is a detailed catalog of known FBI First Amendment abuses and political surveillance since 2010, when the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General published the last official review of Bush-era abuses. The incidents the report references, many of which were previously covered by The Intercept, were largely exposed through public records requests by journalists, activists, and civil rights advocates. The FBI relentlessly fought those disclosures, and the documents we have were often so heavily redacted they only revealed the existence of initiatives like a “Race Paper” or an “Iron Fist” operation, both targeting racial justice activists, while giving away little detail about their content.

But the targeting of political dissent is nothing new for the FBI. In fact, one of the bureau’s first campaigns, which began a hundred years ago next month, was an abusive crackdown of politically active immigrants it viewed as disloyal potential terrorists.

On the second anniversary of Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution, law enforcement agents at the direction of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Investigation — the FBI’s precursor — raided the Russian People’s House in New York City, where immigrants gathered to take classes, and beat and arrested everyone they found there. In the months following, local and federal police across major U.S. cities rounded up thousands of men and women, mostly foreign-born, who they accused of being subversives and Communists. The raids followed politically motivated investigations into immigrant associations, labor organizing groups, and leftist and anarchist circles.


Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, seen through the window of his home at in Washington, D.C., after it was bombed on June 2, 1919.

The Palmer Raids, as they came to be known, after Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, ushered in an era that tested the nation’s commitment to the civil liberties enshrined in the Constitution. One hundred years later, the FBI continues to target political dissent with a broad mandate, little oversight, and next to no transparency. The FBI continues to routinely conflate dissent with terrorism, and remains particularly fixated on leftist ideologies. Like the old bureau under Palmer, today’s FBI also casts its net around a wide range of civil society and social justice groups as well as racial and religious minorities.

“What is known is that there is a persistent pattern of monitoring civil society activity,” the report concludes, calling for strict oversight and reform of the bureau. “The FBI continuously singles out peace, racial justice, environmental, and economic justice groups for scrutiny. This is consistent with a decades-long pattern of FBI First Amendment abuses and suggests deeply seated political bias.”

After reviewing the report, a spokesperson for the FBI wrote in a statement to The Intercept that every activity the FBI conducts “must uphold the Constitution and be carried out in accordance with federal laws.” The spokesperson added that the bureau’s investigative activities “may not be based solely on the exercise of rights guaranteed by the First Amendment” and that its methods “are subject to multiple layers of oversight.” On its website, the bureau calls the Palmer Raids “certainly not a bright spot for the young Bureau” but adds that they did allow it to “gain valuable experience in terrorism investigations and intelligence work and learn important lessons about the need to protect civil liberties and constitutional rights.”

In fact, FBI violations of civil liberties and constitutional rights continued to be exposed at different points in the bureau’s history — most notably in the aftermath of the civil rights movement and in the post-9/11 years. Yet the bureau’s propensity for the policing of political dissent has remained largely unchallenged, the Defending Rights & Dissent report argues. “In the 100 years since the Palmer Raids,” asks Chip Gibbons, the report’s author, “how much has changed?”

From the Palmer Raids to 9/11

The Palmer Raids were launched on November 7, 1919, on the heels of U.S. government panic about the spread of Bolshevism and anarchism in the country’s nascent labor movement, and following a series of bombings, including one targeting Palmer’s own house. In response, police officers carrying clubs and blackjacks but no arrest warrants stormed apartments and meeting rooms, and rounded up scores of mostly Eastern European and Italian immigrants they accused of being “leftists” and “subversives.” Over several months, 10,000 people were arrested in a dozen cities, with thousands held in detention and ordered deported. While most deportation orders were ultimately invalidated, more than 500 people were forcibly removed, according to the report.

The raids swept up hundreds of people with no connection to political movements and failed to yield anyone responsible for the bombings that had justified them. The abuse resulted in the first official efforts to put a check on the powers of the Bureau of Investigation, which had been established in 1908 over Congress’s opposition. At the time, legislators had feared the bureau would become a “secret police force” used to spy on Americans and infringe on civil liberties, but when Congress adjourned, President Theodore Roosevelt proceeded to set up the bureau anyway. The raids confirmed legislators’ fears.

“It was the first real awakening of a civil liberties consciousness in the country,” said Christopher Finan, author of a book on the Palmer Raids. “Because even though we had had the First Amendment for more than 100 years at that point, and we were philosophically committed to free speech, it hadn’t actually been protected. There really were no protections that could be thrown up to protect people when the Red Scare began.”

While groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, founded months after the raids began, have won important First Amendment battles, repeated legislative efforts to limit the powers of the FBI have been short-lived. Decades after the raids, the man who masterminded them — a 24-year-old J. Edgar Hoover — went on to lead COINTELPRO, perhaps the FBI’s most infamous political policing operation. The revelation that the FBI had engaged in covert efforts to infiltrate, discredit, and sabotage the anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960s led to a Senate investigation, a moment of national reckoning, and reforms aimed at protecting First Amendment rights from government overreach.

“Unfortunately, after 9/11 those protections were removed and so the abuse that we had was not only predictable, but predicted,” said Mike German, a former FBI agent and outspoken critic of the agency. “It’s easy for a government that is focused on addressing national security threats to quickly begin to view any threat to that government’s hold of power as a security threat, rather than a political threat.”…

The rest here

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J. Edgar Hoover: A law unto himself - CBS News

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Edward Snowden Responds After Trump DOJ Sues Whistleblower Over New Memoir the US Government “Does Not Want You to Read”

Posted by M. C. on September 19, 2019

By Julia Conley

Citing what First Amendment advocates have called an “unconstitutional” system of controlling what federal employees can and cannot say about their work, President Donald Trump’s Justice Department on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden over the publication of his new memoir.

The day the book Permanent Record was released, the DOJ filed its lawsuit claiming Snowden had published without submitting the book for “pre-publication review.”

The DOJ is not seeking to block publication of the book but is instead arguing that Snowden should not profit from the story of his 2013 decision to leak files about the NSA’s phone and email spying program since he didn’t have permission from the government to share the information.

The government wants all proceeds from the book and is asking MacMillan Publishers to keep any revenue from being transferred to Snowden.

Government approval is required of federal employees before they write or speak publicly about their work—a requirement that the ACLU says has kept millions of Americans from being able to speak openly about the government.

Snowden tweeted about the lawsuit shortly after it was reported, including a link to his book’s page on Amazon and the words, “This is the book the government does not want you to read.”

“Mr. Snowden wrote this book to continue a global conversation about mass surveillance and free societies that his actions helped inspire,” said Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project and a lawyer for Snowden. “He hopes that today’s lawsuit by the United States government will bring the book to the attention of more readers throughout the world.

“This book contains no government secrets that have not been previously published by respected news organizations,” added Wizner. “Had Mr. Snowden believed that the government would review his book in good faith, he would have submitted it for review. But the government continues to insist that facts that are known and discussed throughout the world are still somehow classified.”

The Movement for a People’s Party decried the Justice Department for continuing its “war on whistleblowers” targeting Snowden and others who in recent years have publicized government secrets, including war crimes.

The ACLU and the Knight First Amendment Institute are currently challenging the pre-publication review in court, arguing it violates the First and Fifth Amendments.

“The prepublication process in its current form is broken and unconstitutional, and it needs to go,” Brett Max Kaufman, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, said in April when the groups filed suit. “It’s one thing to censor the nuclear codes, but it’s another to censor the same information high schoolers are pulling from Wikipedia. Prepublication review gives the government far too much power to suppress speech that the public has a right to hear.”

Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute, called the agreement that demands federal workers’ silence a “far-reaching censorship system” that “simply can’t be squared with the Constitution.”

“The government has a legitimate interest in protecting bona fide national-security secrets,” said Jaffer, “but this system sweeps too broadly, fails to limit the discretion of government censors, and suppresses political speech that is vital to informing public debate.”

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Victory! Individuals Can Force Government to Purge Records of Their First Amendment Activity | Electronic Frontier Foundation

Posted by M. C. on September 16, 2019

The FIB will do what it wants.

It knows about keeping a second set of books.

By Aaron Mackey

The FBI must delete its memo documenting a journalist’s First Amendment activities, a federal appellate court ruled this week in a decision that vindicates the right to be free from government surveillance.

In Garris v. FBI, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered the FBI to expunge a 2004 memo it created that documented the political expression of news website and two journalists who founded and ran it. The Ninth Circuit required the FBI to destroy the record because it violated the Privacy Act of 1974, a federal law that includes a provision prohibiting federal agencies from maintaining records on individuals that document their First Amendment activity.

EFF filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case that called on the court to robustly enforce the Privacy Act’s protections, particularly given technological changes in the past half century that have vastly increased the power of government to gather, store, and retrieve information about the expression and associations of members of the public. For example, law enforcement can use the Internet to collect and store vast amounts of information about individuals and their First Amendment activities.

Congress passed the Privacy Act after documenting a series of surveillance abuses by the FBI and other federal agencies, including tracking civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., and spying on political enemies by President Richard Nixon. The law established rules about what types of information the government can collect and keep about people. The Act gives individuals the right to access records the government has on them and change or even delete that information.  One of the most protective provisions is a prohibition against maintaining records of First Amendment activity. Law enforcement was given a narrow exception for records that are “pertinent to and within the scope of an authorized law enforcement purposes.”

As EFF’s brief argued, “The prescient fears of the Act’s authors have been proven true by forty years of technological innovation that have given the federal government unprecedented ability to capture and stockpile data about the public’s First Amendment activity.”

In reversing a trial court’s ruling that the FBI did not have to delete the 2004 memo, the Ninth Circuit reviewed the language of the statute and concluded that the FBI did not have an authorized law enforcement purpose for keeping the memo. As the court explained, the Privacy Act’s expungement provision defines “maintain” as “maintain, collect, use, or disseminate.”

The court said that because the definition is broad, Congress intended for the statute’s protections to apply to all those distinct activities. Simply put, an agency facing an expungement claim under the Privacy Act must show that the record at issue is pertinent to an authorized law enforcement activity both (1) during the initial collection of the record, and (2) during the ongoing storage of that record.

Or as the court put it: “That is, if the agency does not have a sufficient current ‘law enforcement activity’ to which the record is pertinent, the agency is in violation of the Privacy Act if it keeps the record in its files.”…

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Who Cares What the Government Thinks? – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on September 12, 2019


In 1791, when Congressman James Madison was drafting the first 10 amendments to the Constitution — which would become known as Bill of Rights — he insisted that the most prominent amendment among them restrain the government from interfering with the freedom of speech. After various versions of the First Amendment had been drafted and debated, the committee that he chaired settled on the iconic language: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.”

Madison insisted upon referring to speech as the freedom of speech, not for linguistic or stylistic reasons, but to reflect its pre-political existence. Stated differently, according to Madison — who drafted the Constitution as well as the Bill of Rights — because the freedom of speech pre-existed the government, it does not have its origins in government. The use of the article the reflects that pre-existence.

The First Amendment also reflects the framers’ collective belief that the freedom of speech is a natural right. It has its origins in our human nature. We all yearn to speak free from restraint, and we all understand that we can use our speech to express any idea we want to express without fear or hesitation. Those yearnings and understandings are universal — hence, natural.

The framers wrote the First Amendment to codify negative rights. That is, the First Amendment recognizes the existence of the freedom of speech for every person, and it negates the ability and the power of Congress — after the Civil War amendments, of all governments — to infringe upon it. The First Amendment does not command Congress to grant the freedom of speech (it is not Congress’ to grant); rather, it commands that Congress shall not interfere with it.

Nearly all of the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights are negative rights. Their essence is not a grant of liberty. Their essence is a restraint on the government from interfering with pre-existing liberty.

I offer this brief understanding of the freedom of speech in our constitutional form of government as an introduction to a discussion of the dangers of government exercising free speech. We know from the plain language in and the history of the First Amendment that all persons have the freedom of speech. But what about the government? Does government have the freedom of speech?

That is not an academic question. The short answer to it is: Under the theory of the Declaration of Independence — that our rights come to us from the Creator and are inalienable — and consistent with Madison’s understanding, the government has no freedom of speech. Government only can exercise the powers we have given it. Nowhere in the Constitution did the states give such powers to the feds, and nowhere did the people give such powers to the states. We don’t elect government to identify ideas it loves or hates. We elect it to protect our freedoms.

Stated differently, who cares what the government thinks?

In San Francisco, one needs to care. Last week, the city government there condemned the National Rifle Association, labeled it a domestic terrorist organization and prohibited city agencies from interacting with it or with those with whom it interacts, because of the NRA’s robust defense of the Second Amendment. Can any government in America constitutionally do that? In a word: No….

Whatever one thinks of the NRA, the government has no business condemning it. Can it condemn McDonald’s as a health menace for selling fatty foods? Can it condemn pro-life groups as domestic terrorists for publicly attempting to dissuade young women from having abortions? Can it condemn young socialists for demanding confiscation and redistribution of property? Can it condemn the free press as a public enemy when the press criticizes it? The answer to all these hypotheticals (the last is not so hypothetical today) is: No. The First Amendment was written to keep the government out of the business of influencing the free market of ideas.

The whole purpose of the First Amendment is to encourage and foment open, wide, robust, unbridled speech about the government. Speech without fear or favor from the government. Speech without government interference. Speech without government challenge or reward.

In the most liberal city in America — where free speech was once sacrosanct — it is now subject to official government disapproval…

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Our Free Speech Crisis – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on July 10, 2019

We should reject any restriction on free speech. We might ask ourselves, “What’s the true test of one’s commitment to free speech?” It does not come when people permit others to say or publish ideas with which they agree. The true test of one’s commitment to free speech comes when others are permitted to say and publish ideas they deem offensive.


The First Amendment to our Constitution was proposed by the 1788 Virginia ratification convention during its narrow 89 to 79 vote to ratify the Constitution. Virginia’s resolution held that the free exercise of religion, right to assembly and free speech could not be canceled, abridged or restrained. These Madisonian principles were eventually ratified by the states on March 1, 1792.

Gettysburg College professor Allen C. Guelzo, in his article “Free Speech and Its Present Crisis,” appearing in the autumn 2018 edition of City Journal, explores the trials and tribulations associated with the First Amendment. The early attempts to suppress free speech were signed into law by President John Adams and became known as the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. Later attempts to suppress free speech came during the Civil War, when President Abraham Lincoln and his generals attacked newspapers and suspended habeas corpus. It wasn’t until 1919, in the case of Abrams v. United States, when the U.S. Supreme Court finally and unambiguously prohibited any kind of censorship.

Today, there is growing contempt for free speech, most of which is found on the nation’s college and university campuses. Guelzo cites the free speech vision of Princeton University professor Carolyn Rouse, who is chairperson of the department of Anthropology. Rouse shared her vision on speech during last year’s Constitution Day lecture. She called free speech a political illusion, a baseless ruse to enable people to “say whatever they want, in any context, with no social, economic, legal or political repercussions.” As an example, she says that a climate change skeptic has no right to make “claims about climate change, as if all the science discovered over the last X-number of centuries were irrelevant.”…

We should reject any restriction on free speech. We might ask ourselves, “What’s the true test of one’s commitment to free speech?” It does not come when people permit others to say or publish ideas with which they agree. The true test of one’s commitment to free speech comes when others are permitted to say and publish ideas they deem offensive…

I am afraid that too many of my fellow Americans are hostile to the principles of liberty. Most people want liberty for themselves. I differ. I want liberty for me and liberty for my fellow man.

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When Guns Are Outlawed Only Outlaws Will Have Guns –

Posted by M. C. on January 8, 2019

Their agenda is the disarming of the American people, a people already disarmed of the protections of the US Constitution by the fake “war on terror.” The only remaining barrier to tyrannized Americans is the large percentage of the population that is armed and skilled in the use of “gun violence.”

Paul Craig Roberts

Guns are banned in the UK, but the black market is booming and criminals are loading up on firearms.

I have often wondered what is the real agenda of gun ban advocates. More people die from falls than from being shot. Deaths from accidents far exceed deaths from being shot.

The FBI reports that there were 1,247,321 violent crimes in the US in 2017.

Aggravated assault and robbery account for 91% of violent crimes. Rapes account for 7.7%. Murders accounted for only 1.4% of violent crime.

According to the FBI, there were 17,284 murders in 2017.

Assailants using rifles killed 403 people, and 1,591 were killed by people using knives. Handguns were used in 7,032 killings, many of which resulted from criminals killing one another over, for example, drug distribution.
See also: Read the rest of this entry »

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