Silence of the Damned

With so much protests going on about us, why is there relative silence about the suppression of free speech? Such silence will surely damn America like a cancer causing the destruction of our cultural and social values. As Mark Twain said “The truth hurts but silence kills.”

What is it about Edward Snowden that scares the NSA so much?  After all, what he released seven years ago is already in the public domain, and much of it disclosed what should be deemed illegal activities by that organization to begin with.  He was a true whistle blower, and the American people should embrace him as a hero, not a traitor. His actions were a protest against our government’s obscene surveillance and invasions of privacy of Americans. I think exposing that scares those that are up to no good.

Amazingly Trump is considering pardoning Snowden.  That is likely motivation due to his feud with the intelligence community regarding his dealings with Russia and the Ukraine, but you take whatever good comes along and pardoning Snowden would be a good thing.

Snowden had supporters in Congress, such as Ron Paul, who stated “My understanding is that espionage means giving secret or classified information to the enemy.  Since Snowden shared information with the American people, his indictment for espionage could reveal, or confirm, that the US Government views you and me as the enemy.” That’s a chilling insight we need to seriously consider.

Snowden was charged under, among other statutes, the Espionage Act of 1917.  That was a shameful law that was meant to silence protest about the US entry into the Great War; the most shameful episode was the acquiescence of the Supreme Court in Schenck v. United States. Schenck was protesting through the distribution of pamphlets, the same publication medium as Thomas Paine’s Common Sense during the American Revolution. The Courts twisted logic in finding against Schenck was a repudiation of free speech if there ever was one. We currently face a tsunami of forces against free speech.

Politically we face the likely revision to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Oddly enough the original purpose of that legislation was to restrict free speech on the internet that was deemed “obscene”, but it also included this section which protected social media as an open public platform against law suits about what someone may publish that anyone found offensive. Now both Democrats and Republicans want to change that as they seek to silence free voices that may criticize them.

Academically there’s the very troubling phenomenon on college campuses where opinions expressed by students and faculty that fellow students and teachers find offensive often results in censorship, suspension, firing and expulsion. How can institutions of higher learning not support free expression, the very essence of intellectual development?

Socially, we are not doing much better.  Consider for a moment the Antifa movement, which openly espouses that the very concept of free speech is a tool of “liberal” suppression.  The term liberal here does not refer to a political spectrum of modern politics but that of the Enlightenment. That the acronym Antifa stands for Anti-Fascism is another Bizzaro World reversal of our times. Also be aware of the “woke” movement which seeks to suppress any free expression that someone finds “threatening”; well there’s a slippery slope that can’t lead to anything good.

The mass media has not been very helpful here; they are supposed to represent an essential element of democracy as a free press but in fact have deteriorated into political advocacy contrary to objective journalism. This failure aids in polarization and provides an open door for interference from bad actors like Russian and Chinese agents. The effectiveness of those actions increases in the absence of reliable information.  

Soon we will see political debates as a lead up to the 2020 elections. It’s troubling that both major parties are actively working to prevent the inclusion of third party candidates, even initiating law suits in that effort. This is not an encouraging development in support of free speech. Americans have a right to hear from all those seeking public office and a true democratic process requires an informed electorate.

Regardless of your political position, keep in mind that free of speech is the foundation of liberty which provides you with the right to even have a political position.  A lack of support for free speech is a silence that will damn that right to an empty phrase.

Author: jvi7350

Politically I am an independent. While I tend to avoid labels, I consider myself a Libertarian. I find our politics to have deteriorated to a current state of ranting tribialism, and a growing disregard for individual rights; based on the axiom that silence is consent, I choose instead to speak out and therefore launched this blog.

12 thoughts on “Silence of the Damned”

  1. As I have mentioned earlier, I believe, the major parties have not brought suit to prevent any third party from participating in the presidential debates, as you suggest. The third parties in 2016 brought a lawsuit to be allowed to participate, but lost that lawsuit. It was brought against the Commission on Presidential Debates with regard to their rule that no candidate gets onstage unless he or she is polling at 15 percent or better. I have found this, which does not effect the presidential debate or election. “Texas Democrats are successfully suing to kick Green Party candidates off the November ballot”
    https://www.texastribune.org/2020/08/19/texas-democrats-green-party-november/

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    1. Not so, it’s a fact that there are. Further, as far as the Commission is concerned, the 15% rule pertains to a poll in which third parties are not allowed to participate, so it’s disingenuous to say they did not qualify. The League of Women voters, who for years sponsored the debates, withdrew their support when the commission was effectively hijacked by both major parties to the exclusion of all others. As the then League President Nancy Newman said back in 1988 when this happened “It has become clear to us that the candidates’ organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and honest answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public. The campaigns’ agreement is a closed-door masterpiece. Never in the history of the League of Women Voters have two candidates’ organizations come to us with such stringent, unyielding and self-serving demands.”

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      1. Revealing classified information to the American people, is also revealing it to our enemies. But on another point: Surveillance program that gathered Americans’ phone data was illegal, court finds
        The bulk collection effort was launched after 9/11 and later detailed by Edward Snowden.
        By Devlin Barrett

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/phone-records-surveillance-edward-snowden/2020/09/02/97f26498-ed67-11ea-99a1-71343d03bc29_story.html

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      2. Sounds like the position of the agencies that were revealed as spying on American citizens, excellent point.

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  2. There is no lawsuit brought by a major political party nor are they a party to any lawsuit to keep any other party from participating in the presidential debates. The plaintiffs in a lawsuit to have third parties participate, contrary to the rules, are Level the Playing Field, a non-profit corporation created to promote independent candidates for elected office; Peter Ackerman, a registered voter from the District of Columbia; the Green Party; and the Libertarian National Committee, Inc.

    The decision denying their appeal of an order denying their request is here:

    https://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/fec-cadc.pdf?_gl=1*ntehzx*_ga*YW1wLW9waUhuaHVtS2JiUDctdzRPcUEwVUhyUjdLX3pHYzZvQXlaUlYyVVNXeEM0d2JpOHR6NWJrYk1weXl4SzRac2Y.

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    1. Yes, correction – it is reverso – third suing majors, not other way around. The decision however reeks of cronyism between judiciary and major parties, the repressive nature of it all is sickening as the League of Women Voters describes.

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      1. Wrong Again. As I believe I pointed out, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are not parties to the lawsuit and thus are not being sued.

        And if you read the most recent appeals court’s decision and are up on your Administrative Law, you should have to concede that the decision is correct. If you disagree what did the court get wrong?

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      2. Again pedantic. The CPD is controlled by the RNC and DNC as Newman pointed out on ’88 and demanded such rules that determined participation that effectively eliminated third parties, which was the objective which it appears you are OK with.

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  3. Also you say: “ the 15% rule pertains to a poll in which third parties are not allowed to participate.” Parties, by the way, do not participate in polls.

    Which of these five nationals polls, is the poll you say excludes a third party candidate?

    1. ABC/Washington Post Poll
    2. CNN Poll
    3. Fox News Poll
    4. NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll
    5. NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll

    As far as I know, none of these polls limits responses to only the two major parties once the nominations have been made.

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    1. Waiting for an answer to this:

      Which of these five nationals polls, is the poll you say excludes a third party candidate?

      Or maybe we have some confusion. What do you mean by “participate,” in the context of “a poll in which third parties are not allowed to participate?”

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