Monday, July 25, 2016

FEC Commissioner Warns Against Infringed Online Speech

Recently, the Federal Election Commission handed freedom of expression a victory, but one of its commissioners is ringing the alarm against proposed regulations that could further encroach on digital free speech.

In a decision announced June 30, the FEC ruled in a four to two vote that Fox News Channel did not make an illegal in-kind, corporate contribution when it televised a debate between second-tier Republican presidential candidates. A complaint was filed last fall accusing the cable news outlet of giving certain candidates preferential coverage over others.

Just the day prior, Federal Election Commissioner Lee Goodman sat on a CATO Institute discussion panel titled “Digital Speech Under Attack: How Regulators Are Trying to Shut Down Dissent Online.”

During the panel, Goodman argued that Fox News was “exercising its newsroom judgment and discretion” in creating the August undercard debate.

Goodman also addressed the growing infringement of free speech on the internet.

“Remember, what YouTube and what the internet is. It’s an opt-in technology. I choose to click on that video. I will watch it and I will stop playing it at any moment if I don’t like what I’m hearing. I don’t need to know who posted it in order to judge whether it’s persuasive or convincing to me,” Goodman said.

“When you think of the social costs for imposing that type of regime, a disclosure regime on all this internet speech, you’re gonna get far less political speech on the internet as a result of it, and for no great political or public policy good,” he asserted.

“All you’re really doing is empowering those who want to out the speakers and engage in the type of counter speech that we see on college campuses,” Goodman asserted.

“Those words and ideas might convince somebody, right? Because the people still vote.”

Goodman described the implications all this has on the Federal Election Commission as “a creeping regulation on eminent speeches.”

Disclaimers on internet videos — including production cost estimates and participant disclosure reports filed with the FEC on the date of video publication — were among the potential regulations on digital speech that Goodman warned against.

“Even though the dissemination [of the video] is free,” he said.

“Now we know who to come after. Now we know where to target our counter speech in this otherwise free stream of information, where words and ideas and pictures flow freely,” Goodman hypothesized. “Now we can visit that type of counter political movement to chill political speech in the polity at large.’

“So when you hear the stymied song of, ‘All I want is disclosure of this internet speech,’ you should understand it for what it really is. Because I don’t really think people are clamoring to know who posted that video on YouTube,” he said.

“Now, if you have a press exemption that is that limited for even an established news entity like Fox News, imagine if you were an online publisher and you cannot rely on an internet exemption. There’s a cloud over your free speech.”

During the panel, Goodman alluded to the so-called Geller Order — a 1983 Federal Communications Commission decision cited in the FEC ruling — and said that “debate sponsorship by news organizations and broadcasters stations is news coverage.”

According to, the votes split on partisan lines. The May 24 decision shows Ann Ravel, Steven Walther and Ellen Weintraub — the three Democrats in the six-member commission — voted against “no reason to believe” Fox News violated federal law. The Republican commissioners — Goodman included — voted in the affirmative. Under that motion, the decision fell short one vote to penalize.

In addition, Ravel and Walther were the two commissioners who voted against “no reason to believe” the news network made an illegal contribution.

In its debut Republican presidential debate night of Aug. 6, Fox News broadcasted two debates featuring a total of 17 candidates. The criteria for participating candidates split the debate into two broadcasts. One was a primetime slot debate for the 10 candidates with the highest national average in five select polls. The other, a so-called undercard debate, was broadcast earlier and featured seven other candidates.

“This is nothing short of censorship of news coverage, and it is wrong,” Goodman and the two other Republican commissioners wrote in a statement.

“It is difficult to imagine where we would be today had the government micromanaged the internet for the past two decades as it does Amtrak and the U.S. Postal Service,” Goodman wrote in a Politico op-ed published in February, coauthored with Federal Communications Commission member Ajit Pai.

After the panel, FreedomWorks asked Goodman if he had a solution for lawmakers on Capitol Hill seeking to protect digital speech.

“Because support for a free internet has eroded at the FEC, Congress should consider institutionalizing freedom of speech on the internet through legislation,” Goodman told FreedomWorks.

Goodman’s call to action echoes one of FreedomWorks’ Digital Bill of Rights' amendments, “the right to freedom of expression shall be preserved online.”

One of the five amendments explains how government should not infringe on digital speech:

    III. The right to freedom of expression shall be preserved online.

    Freedom of expression without fear of government censorship is the backbone of a free society. As more of our communications are conducted online, this freedom must be preserved. This also includes the existence of a robust public domain to foster creativity and innovation.

As technology advances, we must protect the core liberty tenets of an open and free society. Goodman’s defense of digital speech is in line with this philosophy and in sync with our foundation principles.


Comedians say the push for political correctness is no laughing matter

When the Quebec Human Rights Commission ordered comedian Mike Ward to pay $35,000 to Jérémy Gabriel for making fun of the former child star with a disability, the reactions were fierce and polarized.

Many felt that making fun of a sick child is crossing the line, even for the guy who is headlining the contingent of the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal called The Nasty Show. Yet others felt that the fine was Draconian, and a dangerous precedent.

"I'm worried that we're trying to victimize everyone and trying to frame the freedom of speech," said Gilbert Rozon, the founder of Just For Laughs, in an interview with CBC News in Montreal. "Taste is a very personal thing."

Whichever camp you fall in, it's worth noting that the Ward/Gabriel controversy is not an isolated incident, but the most extreme example of the battle that has been brewing in comedy circles for a while.

Some of the biggest names in comedy, including John Cleese, Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld, have publicly complained that the climate of political correctness is stifling their art form.

Yes, Jerry Seinfeld, perhaps the cleanest of comedians in recent memory. In an interview with Seth Meyers, he called the current obsession with political correctness "creepy."

In the U.K., Monty Python legend John Cleese called what the comedians are facing "an Orwellian nightmare." In a video blog for the website Big Think, Cleese said: "All humour is critical. If you start to say 'Ooh we mustn't criticize or offend them,' then humour's gone."

Chris Rock has said he can't tour university campuses anymore because they are so committed to creating an emotionally safe space that anything he says could be construed as offensive to someone in the audience.

In fact, so many comics subscribe to the belief that they're under unprecedented pressure not to offend anyone that there's a new documentary about it, called Can we take a joke?, starring comedians Adam Carolla, Gilbert Gottfried and Lisa Lampanelli.

Finding the balance between comedy that pushes the envelope and a routine that doesn't offend anyone has been a precarious task for decades.

But many comedians today say that social media has put them under an unprecedented amount of scrutiny. Whereas a comedian's ill-advised or offensive joke would once elicit boos or, at worst, a few cancelled gigs, it now ends up on social media, where it's seen by millions.

Evan Carter, a Toronto comic who's been performing stand-up since the early 1980s, agrees comics today have it harder than when he started in the business.

"There's something that they don't like and they've picked out two minutes of a one-hour show completely out of context, and the next thing you know — boom! — it's on Twitter, it's on Instagram, it's on Facebook, and before you get off stage, you're hated."


US Marines denounce 'crazy political correctness' after order to remove the word 'man' from job titles

US Marines have been told the word "man" will be removed from their job titles in an effort to make the service more gender-neutral.

The move sparked a row with some Marines taking to social media to denounce "crazy and idiotic political correctness".

A total of 19 of the 33 titles used in the Marines Corps will be renamed, the majority of those having the word "man" replaced by "Marine".

So a "basic infantryman" will now become a "basic infantry Marine", and an "amphibious assault vehicle crewman" will soon be called an "amphibious assault vehicle Marine".

It follows a six-month review ordered by Ray Mabus, the US Naval Secretary, and an official announcement is expected this week.

The review was launched in January, a month after Ash Carter, the US Defence Secretary, announced all military roles, including in combat, would be open to women.

A small number of designations which  include the word "man" - such as "rifleman" and "mortarman" - will not be changed.

One official told the Marine Corps Times: "Names that were not changed, like rifleman, are steeped in Marine Corps history and ethos. Things that were changed needed to be updated."

On social media Marines and former Marines called the move "pointless" and "idiotic". One said: "We have reached peak crazy."

Another called it a "direct reflection on society’s crybaby political correctness".

A former Marine said: "I can't help but feel this is less about equality and more about catering to the frail egos of the easily offended."

When the review was launched Secretary Mabus said: "As we achieve full integration of the force this is an opportunity to update the position titles and descriptions themselves to demonstrate, through this language, that women are included."

But Heather Heinzman, a female former Marine, said there was no need for the change.

She said: "I was a now they're just Wire Marines? Come on."


Terrified residents of Melbourne neighbourhood who have lived there for decades reveal young African members of Apex gang have left them too frightened to leave their homes

The Africans concerned were rescued from refugee camps in Africa by Australia.  Their behaviour is a despicable way to say "thank you".  But it does bear out Richard Lynn's comment of pervasive psychopathy among Africans

Residents in the street where a 12-year-old girl who was threatened with death during a violent carjacking linked to the Apex gang say they are terrified to leave their homes.

There has been a violent carjacking every day for the past six days in Melbourne's suburbs.

The 12-year-old girl is now afraid of sleeping in her own bed and her family, who wish to remain anonymous, told Daily Mail Australia the attack terrified them.

She was ripped from her car and threatened with death as her family pulled up to the George Street home in St Albans, in Melbourne's north-west.

The shocking incident has left neighbours so frightened that one couple, who have lived in the street for 40 years, will not leave the house at night.  'I am a man and I am too scared to go for walks in my own street,' the man said.

'It is scary to even sleep - I am keeping a metal bar beside my bed in case they come inside.'

Another neighbour said the area has become 'so scary' in the last year with groups of young teenage boys hanging out in the nearby park drinking. 'They drink and do drugs and are so loud,' she said.  'It makes you not want to live here anymore.'

A young African man who grew up alongside some of the boys in the gang is trying to become a good role model for his community and direct the men away from crime.

Nelly Yoa, 26, does not want the boys to become career criminals and also fears that their actions are having a huge negative effect on the whole African community.

'Now I get pulled over by police when they see me because they think I am driving a stolen car,' Mr Yoa told Daily Mail Australia.

The 26-year-old plays soccer professionally and hopes to start for Melbourne City this year so he can be a better role model.

He recently went to a youth conference held by Victoria's police commissioner only to be pulled over metres down the road.

'When I left the conference I only drive about 500 metres before the police pulled me over,' Mr Yoa said. 'They had to check if the car was stolen and if it just hadn't been reported yet.

'I can understand why they have to do this and I know that there is a lot of fear and they are just doing their job but some people might not and might get angry.'

Mr Yoa is currently working with children in juvenile detention who are connected with the gang and hopes they change what they are doing before they become career criminals.

'Part of the problem is these kids know they can't get in much trouble and will get a slap on the wrist because they are under 18,' he said.  'But it is when they keep going when they turn 18 and get a criminal record and go to jail.  'They come out of being locked up even angrier than they were before and re-offend.'

While the Apex members are a minority numbers-wise in Melbourne - and all come from minority backgrounds - their presence is creating a lot of fear.

Frightened residents across the city - especially in satellite suburbs like St Albans are buying weapons to defend themselves - and patrolling the streets at night in the hope it will keep their families safe.

One man told Daily Mail Australia he had armed his wife and children with bats and hammers, and 'taught his eldest son to defend the family if he wasn't home'.

'The two younger kids know to hide in the cupboard and my 13-year-old has his own little bat,' the man said.  'I taught him not to hit people in the head with it but he knows where it is if he does need to use it.'



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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