Friday, December 08, 2006

How We Will Lose Our Freedom of Speech

If people were asked about actor Michael Richards' epithet-laced outburst at a Los Angeles nightclub, there would be a lot of focus on the verbal assault but very little on an assault on freedom of speech. In truth, however, if there's anything at all relating to this story that rises above gossip-column fodder, it's that it's also fuel for demagogues who seek control over discourse in America.

Representing the two targets of Mr. Richards' bile, Frank McBride and Kyle Doss, "civil rights" attorney Gloria Allred appeared on Hannity and Colmes Thanksgiving eve. The stone-faced Allred opened with a very telling assertion, boldly proclaiming, "This is not free speech, this is hate speech!" This was no spontaneous statement. No, it was well-crafted and calculated and, I believe, designed to serve a far more insidious end than simply extracting money from a goofy comedian. Let's examine this with the introduction of a subject that on the surface seems unrelated.

As a dissenting justice in the 1958 Baer v. Kolmorgen case, one Judge Gallagher is quoted as having warned that "If the court does not stop talking about the separation of church and state, people are going to start thinking it is part of the Constitution." But the courts didn't stop, and the result is that four decades later this "fact" is imprinted upon the American mind. So much so, that now the average Joe has been inured to the denuding of the public square of historic religious symbols out of respect for this "principle" of the Constitution.

And this is why Allred's statement bears mention. There are social engineers in our time - and I count Allred among them - who are trying to imbue the American mind with the notion that so-called "hate speech" is not protected under the First Amendment. Now, let's try to understand how these puppeteers will transform America by taking a lesson in social engineering 101.

First, use the term "hate speech" as much as possible so as to burn it into the lexicon and establish it as a category unto itself. And it's not hard. This has already been accomplished with terms/concepts such as "sexual harassment" and, the concept of which hate speech is a corollary, "hate crime." Then, be sure to juxtapose the two terms frequently, as beautifully illustrated by Gloria Allred herself. Saying "This is not free speech, this is hate speech!" creates further separation between the two, cementing the notion that they are starkly different verbal species. Once this is accomplished, the idea that the latter is protected by the former may seem laughable.

Understand in its entirety what is being achieved here. Not only will this strategy persuade many legislators and judges that hate speech isn't protected under the Constitution and therefore can be criminalized, it will also influence the man on the street. And this harks back to the old advice, "If you really want something, act like you already have it." As long as you continually condemn "hate speech" and juxtapose it with "free speech," more and more people will assume that it already is illegal. And once enough Americans believe this, all that is left is to make it official. And the beauty of this is that you don't even have to lie. Success hinges mainly on the positioning of words, timing, tone and, most of all, re-pe-ti-tion.

Oh, you think it won't work? To a great degree it's already a fait accompli. After decades of "positioning" (this refers to Italian Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci's idea about the placement of leftist ideologues in positions of influence for the purposes of altering the culture), with social engineers in academia, the media, entertainment and various organizations and activist groups, it isn't uncommon to find Americans possessed of this lie. I myself have met them, and even pundit Bill O'Reilly uttered this misconception on his cable television show. Remember, as nineteenth century philosopher William James said, "There is nothing so absurd but if you repeat it often enough people will believe it."

Ah, but there is that impediment called the Constitution. Or, not really. Although some fancy it to be an insurmountable bulwark against tyranny, it erects no wall so high that it cannot be scaled by justices corrupted by popular swill and emboldened by popular will. Just as they were able to perform the intellectual contortions necessary to read the separation of church and state into the First Amendment, so will they read freedom of speech out of it. Although, how it will happen is not entirely uninteresting.

Since many western nations, such as Australia, Canada and England, already have hate speech laws, there is precedent for them. But foreign precedent doesn't constitute American legal precedent, you say? Well, then you forget that there is precedent for the idea of considering it precedent. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg herself once said, "We must look for inspiration beyond our borders, to the laws and constitutions of other nations." And she is no lone gunman. Sandra Day O'Connor and others have expressed similar sentiments. Hate speech laws will come in like March goes out: Like a lamb. Most people won't object because, after all, who should be using offensive epithets anyway? I mean, common decency informs that a "good" person would prohibit such things. But it will be more like the ides of March.

But what am I talking about? Well, if you really take Ginsberg's advice and examine the "laws of other nations," you'll see that hate speech legislation was quickly broadened beyond the proscription of epithets to encompass unfashionable beliefs. "Aha! So this will be the poison pill that disenamors people of this scheme! Surely the average person doesn't want to see legitimate dissent squelched," you say? Ah, you have much to learn.

A good salesman doesn't give specifics, knowing full well that many won't read the fine print. When we first sold people on the separation of church and state, we billed it as a defense against the imposition of religion. If we had told Americans that this principle would expand inexorably and one day be used to tear crosses off city seals and property, remove religious statues, ban the singing of Christmas carols in schools, rename Christmas Trees "Holiday Trees," and that ne'er do wells would seek to remove the word "God" from the pledge and currency, they would have balked. So we just marketed the idea as a way to protect Americans' rights. And that's exactly how we'll peddle this.

And you don't have to worry about people uncovering our machinations. Most don't think about the law of unintended consequences - or the law of intended consequences of unintended motivations - and "most" is all we need to effect our will. Most people, be they laymen, legislators or judges, will know no better. And many of those who will, will be our well "positioned" operatives.

And what of the rest? What of those troublesome prophetic voices of doom? They won't be a problem. Oh, they'll warn of how hate speech laws in other western nations have been used to imprison people for speaking in accordance with their consciences. They will mention how Canadians Mark Harding and Hugh Owens were punished for, respectively, criticizing Islam and homosexuality. They'll cite the story of English schoolgirl Codie Stott, who was jailed on a "racial offense" after requesting to be seated with English-speaking students. Or, they may mention the case of Ake Green, a Swedish pastor who was jailed for criticizing homosexuality in a sermon. And they'll also point out that freedom of speech is not freedom of speech at all unless it protects even the most unpopular speech, for popular speech's popularity is protection enough. Yes, they'll warn about the perils of setting dangerous precedents and that one thing leads to another. All to no avail.

You see, good chess players are rare. Most don't think a few moves ahead. And the "watchdog" of the mainstream media? Surely you jest; it's more like our lapdog. We can count on it to print neither articles like this one nor stories like the above, lest such admonitions rouse Americans from their slumber. Instead, along with Hellywood and academia, it will do its best to convince all that the grand imperative of silencing the occasional acid-tongued bigot justifies the rending of the First Amendment.

Thus, those prophetic voices will remain in the darkness, a location from which credibility is ever elusive. After all, if some a half century ago had predicted that the principle of the separation of church and state would be used as it has been, they would have been thought crazy. Likewise, mere laughter and a rolling of the eyes will suffice in answer to today's prescient minds.

In summary, once support for the criminalization of hate speech has galvanized, we'll have legislation. And once the legalistic rationalization that allows for it permeates enough jurists' minds, we'll have it upheld in court. Then, with the principle of hate speech enshrined in American law, it will be open season on positions contrary to those of the positioned. Once an unacceptable belief is identified, our culture-shapers in the media, entertainment and academia will simply define it as "hateful" and beat that drum until it becomes the next supposition. And then the legal definition will be sure to follow.

And hegemony will be ours. As it is, the media, entertainment realm and academia sing our tune. Even corporations feel the pressure, as evidenced by their sensitivity training classes, support of politically correct causes, refusal to support traditional ones, and the limiting of the dissemination of politically incorrect ideas by certain Internet entities. Yes, we have done our best to imprison dissenting voices in that small, dark box. The last piece of the puzzle is the destruction of that box. And then America will be a beautifully dark place indeed.



Former One Nation leader Pauline Hanson says she'll stand for Parliament at the next federal election. She didn't say whether she would run for the lower house or Senate. Asked why she wanted to return to politics, the former federal MP for the Queensland seat of Oxley said, "Why not". "I feel I want to have another go at it, and I'm putting my hat in the ring for the next federal election," she told the Ten Network news.

Ms Hanson said: "It's up to the people of Queensland, or wherever I decide to stand, to decide whether they want me to have a voice in parliament for them". "And you know what, they feel they haven't got a voice and someone out there asking questions on their behalf. "So I have every right to stand for parliament, like any other Australian, and I'm raising my issues, I'm raising my concerns. "So it's up to the people."

Earlier yesterday, a decade after warning Australia was being swamped by Asians, the right-wing firebrand voiced concerns about Muslims and said diseased Africans should be barred from the country. Last night, she said the main issues she would be campaigning on were the industrial relations laws and the nation's water crisis. "I've been on about water for many, many years - but also immigration," she said.

"Why shouldn't Australians know that the people we bring in to this country are there for the right reasons, and we bring them in for the right reasons? "Why do we have to bring people in who are of no benefit to this country whatsoever, who are going to take away our way of life, change our laws? "And I'm asking these questions. And it's about time someone dam well did, because the federal government is not addressing the concerns of the Australian people."

Ms Hanson earlier said she was concerned by the ease with which people were able to gain Australian citizenship, especially Muslims and Africans. "We're bringing in people from South Africa at the moment, there's a huge amount coming into Australia, who have diseases, they've got AIDS," Ms Hanson said. "They are of no benefit to this country whatsoever, they'll never be able to work. "And what my main concern is, is the diseases that they're bringing in and yet no one is saying or doing anything about it." A Department of Immigration spokeswoman rejected the claims, saying stringent health checks were carried out on all permanent and temporary residents.

Refugee groups were angered by Ms Hanson's comments, calling them "fanciful", damaging and hurtful to Africans who were simply trying for a life in Australia. But Ms Hanson said politicians had gone too far in affording rights to minority groups and she was angered at the loss of Australian traditions because of Muslims. "Our governments have bent over backwards to look after them (Muslims) and their needs, and regardless of what the Australian people think," she said. "You can't have schools not sing Christmas carols because it upsets others, you can't close swimming baths because Muslim women want to swim in private, that's not Australian. "Surely, can't we look at what's happened in other countries around the world with the increase in Muslims that are there ...?"

Ms Hanson also objects to the Howard Government's industrial relations laws, and said she had been encouraged to consider re-entering politics by the public who wanted her to represent the average "Joe". Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said that although he disagreed with Ms Hanson's ideas, he supported her democratic right to run. Ms Hanson failed to win re-election to parliament in 1998 and unsuccessfully stood for the Senate in Queensland three years later.

She served a short stint in a Queensland prison for electoral fraud in 2003 before the charges were overturned. She again tried a comeback in 2004, standing as an independent for the Senate, but failed to win a seat. However, she was awarded almost $190,000 funding from the Australian Electoral Commission after earning more than four per cent of the primary vote. Ms Hanson says she plans to release a book early next year about her political life and time in jail.


No one is served by covering up Islamic outrages

An editorial from "The Australian" below

It is precisely because the act was so stupid that level heads need to be kept about what happened last week during a school expedition run by Melbourne's East Preston Islamic College. According to a report of the incident filed by the school, a group of teenage Muslim boys on the outing defiled a Bible by urinating on it, spitting on it, tearing its pages and setting it alight. The boys involved have, appropriately, been expelled, and it is hoped they will grow up to be responsible Australian citizens who will look back and be horrified at the actions of their youth. Far more pressing is the need to root out the climate of intolerance described by non-Muslim teachers at the school, an atmosphere fostered by radical videos shown to students at the college that describe Australian Christians as "evil people". Here it is clear the school's principal, Shaheem Doutie, needs to do much more to prevent students from graduating into the wider community with such attitudes.

This incident once again focuses attention on the relationship between Islamic and non-Islamic communities in Australia, and the media's role in covering conflicts between the two groups. The issue came up last October when this newspaper reported that Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, imam of Sydney's Lakemba Mosque and Australia's senior Muslim spiritual leader, had delivered a rambling sermon which, among other things, suggested that if women walk the streets like "uncovered meat" they have only themselves to blame if they are sexually assaulted. The report had several effects. On the plus side, it gave Australia's moderate Muslims a chance to stand with the wider community and condemn the sort of retrograde thinking demonstrated by Sheik Hilali. This is something we would like to see happen again in the case of East Preston Islamic College.

But the reporting on Sheik Hilali also flushed out a number of people who were horrified by The Australian's coverage, and who wished the whole story would go away. Chief among them was self-styled Muslim advocate Irfan Yusuf, a young lawyer of Pakistani extraction, who accused this newspaper of committing an "editorial lynching" of the sheik in its news and opinion pages. This is simplistic thinking. Rather than condemn the newspaper, Mr Yusuf should have put his shrewd legal mind to work considering whether he would really prefer to let intolerant attitudes fester in the shadows before exploding and catching Australia unawares, as has happened in countries such as England, Denmark, Spain and The Netherlands. A far more responsible and thoughtful sort of thinking was demonstrated by the likes of Waleed Ali and Tanveer Ahmed, two Australian Muslims who saw the publicity surrounding Sheik Hilali's offensive statements as a chance to promote their own thoughtful messages about the need for Islam to modernise to remain relevant. Likewise, the reporting of the desecration of a Bible by Muslim students presents another opportunity for moderate Muslims to condemn extremists and point the way forward.

By its very nature, Australian society rejects the sort of intolerance demonstrated by Sheik Hilali and the EPIC students, and revels in deflating fundamentalisms of all stripes. A perfect example is this weekend's "Great Australian Bikini March", in which women are being urged to parade past the Lakemba Mosque in swimwear to protest against Sheik Hilali's comments. Lebanese Muslim Association president Tom Zreik has been quoted as describing the plan as "hilarious", showing he has the right idea. The more of this attitude, and the more light shone on extremists in Australia's Muslim community, the better.


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