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Wednesday, May 19

Obama and the silencing of dissent

Up north, Marc Lemire is still battling it out with the Canadian Human Rights Commission and their attempts to quash freedom of speech in Canada. The CHRC has been putting great energy into turning itself "into a quasi national security-type agency," charges Marc. In this way any internet postings deemed politically incorrect by the CHRC could be judged a threat to Canada's national security.

When I first got involved with the battles of Canada's free speechers, which was in January 2008, I knew little about the maze of authoritarian-minded cadres that had been laboring for decades under the radar of the American public's attention, nor of Obama's connection with them.

So while I knew that the battles of Canada's free speech advocates would eventually be played out in America I saw those as distant on the horizon. And I believed freedom of speech in America would be hard to dismantle because of the wording of the First Amendment.

Fast forward to today. There are growing concerns in the American news profession about Barack Obama's draconian tactics to control media coverage of his administration and policies:
Much of the criticism is off the record, both out of fear of retaliation and from worry about appearing whiny. But those views were voiced by a cross section of the television, newspaper and magazine journalists who cover the White House.
Unless you're aware of the concerns and the authoritarian approach of Obama and his administration it might be hard to read the following May 19 report from RBO, crossposted here, without thinking, It can't happen in America.

Aaron Klein, Jerusalem bureau chief for World Net Daily, reports from New York:

It was President Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, who hired radical regulatory czar Cass Sunstein as a Harvard law professor.

Sunstein and Kagan have expressed views about freedom of speech that should be of concern.

In February 2008, Kagan, serving as dean of Havard Law School, announced the arrival to Havard of Sunstein, then a longtime University of Chicago scholar. Kagan called Sunstein “the preeminent legal scholar of our time.”

WND previously reported Sunstein drew up a "First Amendment New Deal" – a new "Fairness Doctrine" that would include the establishment of a panel of "nonpartisan experts" to ensure "diversity of view" on the airwaves.

WND also reported that in a recently released book, "On Rumors," Sunstein argued websites should be obliged to remove "false rumors" while libel laws should be altered to make it easier to sue for spreading such "rumors."

In the 2009 book, Sunstein cited as a primary example of "absurd" and "hateful" remarks, reports by "right-wing websites" alleging an association between President Obama and Weatherman terrorist William Ayers.

He also singled out radio talker Sean Hannity for "attacking" Obama regarding the president's "alleged associations."

Ayers became a name in the 2008 presidential campaign when it was disclosed he worked closely with Obama for years. Obama also was said to have launched his political career at a 1995 fundraiser in Ayers' apartment.

Meanwhile, in a lengthy academic paper, Sunstein, argued the U.S. government should ban "conspiracy theorizing," WND reported.

Among the beliefs Sunstein would ban is advocating that the theory of global warming is a deliberate fraud.

Sunstein also recommended the government send agents to infiltrate "extremists who supply conspiracy theories" to disrupt the efforts of the "extremists" to propagate their theories.

Just yesterday, Breitbart.com posted a video of Sunstein proposing that Congress hold hearings about mandates ensuring websites post links to a diversity of views on issues.

Meanwhile, when it comes to other First Amendment issues, Kagan shows strong beliefs for court intervention in speech, going so far as to assert free speech should be weighed against "societal costs."

She has advocated silencing some kinds of speech, stating, for example, speech that promotes "racial or gender inequality" could be "disappeared."

In her 1993 article "Regulation of Hate Speech and Pornography After R.A.V," for the University of Chicago Law Review, Kagan writes:

Also in a 1996 paper, "Private Speech, Public Purpose: The Role of Governmental Motive in First Amendment Doctrine," Kagan argued it may be proper to suppress speech because it is offensive to society or to the government.

The paper asserted First Amendment doctrine is comprised of "motives and … actions infested with them," and she goes so far as to claim, "First Amendment law is best understood and most readily explained as a kind of motive-hunting."

Kagan's name was also on a brief, United States v. Stevens, dug up by the Washington Examiner, stating: "Whether a given category of speech enjoys First Amendment protection depends upon a categorical balancing of the value of the speech against its societal costs."

Kagan's academic writings are sparse – just nine articles, two of which are book reviews.

Her stand on free speech could become a hot button issue as the Senate confirmation hearings convene.

With research by Brenda J. Elliott

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