Terrorists: Shut Up! Politicians: Speak Up!

Need proof that Newt Gingrich is serious about his will-of-the-people presidential bid? He's already mastered the First Amendment flip-flop. Exhibit A: Free speech is good!

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says First Amendment rights need to be expanded, and eliminating the McCain-Feingold law's restrictions on campaign contributions would be a start.

Gingrich, a Republican, suggested allowing people to give any amount to any candidate as long as the donation was reported online within 24 hours.

Exhibit B: Free speech is bad!

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich yesterday said the country will be forced to reexamine freedom of speech to meet the threat of terrorism.

Gingrich, speaking at a Manchester awards banquet, said a "different set of rules" may be needed to reduce terrorists' ability to use the Internet and free speech to recruit and get out their message.

Now the punchline: Gingrich said all of this in the same speech.

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  • ||

    What a typical Republican dumbass. Bunch of authoritarian ninnys.

  • Pax Americana||

    Oh, come on. Every pre-law undergrad knows the difference between political speech (protected by the 1st Amendment) and shouting fire in a crowded theater (not protected.) All Newt is saying is that there is a difference between saying "George Bush is a bum," and "I incite you to jihad to kill George Bush." Not exactly cognitive dissonance.

  • jhupp||

    You only got half the punchline: the "awards banquet" was the Nackey Loeb First Amendment Award banquet.

  • ||

    Given the very vague wording of "getting out their message", color me skeptical. Newt is as much of an authoritarian as the rest of them from what I've seen.

  • ||

    So, what if terrorists form their own PAC's?

  • Timothy||

    Rip | November 28, 2006, 12:45pm | #
    What a typical Republican dumbass. Bunch of authoritarian ninnys.


    It isn't just the Republicans. See Jesse Jackson RE: Kramer. Or look into any number of University speech codes, to quote Cathy Young, "BOTH SIDES SUCK!"

  • ||

    Timothy,

    I completely agree, though I'd go a step farther and say that both sides swallow.

  • ||

    Oh, come on. Every pre-law undergrad knows the difference between political speech (protected by the 1st Amendment) and shouting fire in a crowded theater (not protected.) All Newt is saying is that there is a difference between saying "George Bush is a bum," and "I incite you to jihad to kill George Bush." Not exactly cognitive dissonance.

    How exactly is inciting people to your cause, even if illegal(protected by Brandenburg), even remotely comparable to "falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater"? Generally, whenever someone wants some speech they find scary to be outlawed, they say but what about "shouting fire in a crowded theater" even though their comparison isn't even remotely similar.

  • ||

    All Newt is saying is that there is a difference between saying "George Bush is a bum," and "I incite you to jihad to kill George Bush." Not exactly cognitive dissonance.

    Well said. Encouraging people to commit crimes of violence is a crime. NEXT!

  • Brian||

    These cowards really piss me off.

    Somehow we survived a couple of those French and Indian wars, wars with the UK, a Civil War, Spain, WWI, WWII, the USSR having 10,000 nukes pointed at us, the Hair Band era, a war with Iraq, a couple with Mexico, various Banana Republic foolings around, Canada, that time we invaded Panama (Operation Just Because?), took on the menace of Haiti and Granada. Probably forgetting a few.

    But now, we have to scrap the Constitution? For this?

    I think we can handle a few dozen dusty weirdbeards. The only way we're going down is if we off ourselves with imperial overstretch. Luckily, I think Iraq is going to make overseas adventures look less awesome for a generation or so.

  • ||

    All Newt is saying is that there is a difference between saying "George Bush is a bum," and "I incite you to jihad to kill George Bush."

    Slippery Slope Alert!
    Slippery Slope Alert!
    WaWawawawawawa!
    Slippery Slope Alert!

  • Paul||

    All Newt is saying is that there is a difference between saying "George Bush is a bum," and "I incite you to jihad to kill George Bush." Not exactly cognitive dissonance.

    Please, please, stop. The same 'fire in a crowded theater' arguments were used to get us McCain-Feingold. Slippery slope, thy name is necessity.

  • ||

    Pax Americana, if all Gingrich is doing is re-iterating a distinction familiar to "every pre-law undergrad," why the necessity to "reexamine freedom of speech to meet the threat of terrorism"?

  • Dan T.||

    Come to think of it, how exactly is legalizing bribery of public officals equal to "Free speech"?

  • ||

    Does anyone have a link to the actual speech so I can see what what said, not just get a reporter's characterization of it? I think a lot of conclusions are being jumped to by some rather vague and out-of-context quotes.

  • ||

    "Shouting fire into a crowded theatre" is not even in the same ballpark as decrying GWB as an evil dictator that must be thrown down. They appeal to completely distinct parts of a humans psyche, the former activating every persons innate desire for survival and initiating a glut of anti-social behavior from instinct. The latter being a higher thought process emotional response in those who feel similarly to the speaker. There is a delay however between thought and action where tempers can be cooled because the individual percieves no immediate danger to life and limb. Not that I feel this speech is totally harmless, but it is not in any way shape or form the same premise as the first.

  • ||

    What does reporting a donation online within 24 hours have to do with anything? Does free speech have an expiration date?

  • ||

    Brian, that was great. Just wondering, in the treaty to end the Hair Band War of 1989, did we stipulate Aerosmith could stay as long as all of the others disbanded? I've always wondered that.

  • Jennifer||

    I'm not convinced that giving sums of money to politicians is in fact a form of "speech," but even assuming it is, I am not at all surprised that Gingrich promotes the sort of free-speech rights that are more likely to be exercised by the rich, while clamping down on the free speech rights that even a poor person could afford to practice.

    to quote Cathy Young, "BOTH SIDES SUCK!"

    No, no, no. It's "Both sides suck, but at the same time both sides make some very valid points, which is not to say that both sides don't have some serious flaws, yet on the other hand both sides have valuable contributions to make to whatever the hell it is I'm talking about. The lukewarm middle ground is the shizznit."

  • Dan T.||

    Come on guys, I'm trying to troll here. Someone please bite.

  • ||

    Sounds like a good plan to me. After all, most Jihadi sites certainly wouldn't be overseas and behond the reach of US law. Certainly not.
    When are politicians going to get it straight - the internets is a series of tubes, not a truck.

  • ||

    Dan T. you've accidentally allowed too many rational positions to slip through to still be considered a troll.

  • Dan T.||

    Troll or not, can anybody explain the difference between a bribe and a "campaign contribution"?

    Of course, in libertarian land I imagine bribery would be legal?

  • Greg||

    This doesn't even approach being a contradiction. Like Tom Palmer has argued, banning Nazi slogans and swastikas immediately after WWII is not an unreasonable burden on "free speech." Same thing here re: Terrorists (at least plausibly).

  • dhex||

    "Troll or not, can anybody explain the difference between a bribe and a "campaign contribution"?"

    a bribe is "do this for XXX dollars"
    a contribution is "here is XXX dollars"

    at least, broadly speaking. am i bribing the ACLU when i send them cash?

  • Dan T.||

    I suppose I should have asked how one distinguishes a bribe and a "campaign contribution".

    am i bribing the ACLU when i send them cash?

    No, for a bribe to occur the person or group you're giving the money to must be in a position of some authority to act on your behalf.

  • ||

    dhex: Let's be realistic, to a politician, a "contribution" is: "here is XXX dollars, thanks a million for getting me that defense contract, and I really appreciate your making that subtle suggestion about maybe giving money to your campaign for all the great work you are doing".

  • ed||

    Someone please bite.

    You already do.

  • ||

    The Union-Ledger article is probably wildly inaccurate concerning Gingrich's statements about free speech and terrorism. First of all, it contains no in-context quotes to let us decide for ourselves what he actually said. Second, the AP wire report (read it here: http://www.accessnorthga.com/news/ap_newfullstory.asp?ID=83807 ) suggests that the context of the "different rules" quote was about treatment of prisoners, not the Internet or free speech:

    [quote]
    Gingrich also spoke about the need to create different laws for fighting terrorism.

    Noting the thwarted London terrorist attacks this summer, Gingrich said there should be a Geneva Convention for such actions that makes those people subject to "a totally different set of rules."
    [/quote]

  • ||

    No, for a bribe to occur the person or group you're giving the money to must be in a position of some authority to act on your behalf.

    Authority is not limited to the state. If you give your minister/pastor a check, are you bribing him for prime lay positions that might arise in the church (ok, we can all figure out our own crude humor on that)? I don;t think so...money isn;t inherently corrupting...anymore than any other human exchange of goodwords, goodwill, or a handjob.

  • ||

    You probably don't like Newt Gingrich, but you should listen to him. Not necessarily agree, mind you, but listen.

  • ||

    I don't have a problem with the person yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. I have a problem with all the idiots that start trampling each other that never looked around to see if there really is a fire. If the room is not filling up with smoke, then it's not an emergency worthy of trampling, so don't. When people act irrational upon hearing a word they fear, I can't blame the speaker. I have to blame those who act irrational.

    I saw Newt testify in front of Congress about terrorism a while ago. I thought he was good, the best of the three that were there. He spoke of the importance of protecting the Constitution while fighting terror. Now I see he's trying to appease both sides, and now I'm convinced he's a wolf in sheep's clothing.

  • ||

    """Authority is not limited to the state. If you give your minister/pastor a check, are you bribing him for prime lay positions that might arise in the church (ok, we can all figure out our own crude humor on that)? I don;t think so...money isn;t inherently corrupting...anymore than any other human exchange of goodwords, goodwill, or a handjob."""

    It's the intent that's corrupt. If your giving a church money to receive a prime lay position, then you are bribing. If your giving money because you think that the right thing to do and you want nothing in return, and the pastor decides to give you the position because your a big donor, you didn't bribe him. Your intent was not to "purchase" the position.

    A bribe contains an "expectation" that you will received something in return.

  • Dan T.||

    Authority is not limited to the state. If you give your minister/pastor a check, are you bribing him for prime lay positions that might arise in the church (ok, we can all figure out our own crude humor on that)?

    I'd say there is a difference between giving the church a check and giving one directly to the minister. Since the minister is in a position of authority within a church, you could bribe him to influence certain events within that church.

    Just like with the ACLU - a contribution to the organization is not a bribe, but a contribution to an ACLU official might very well be.

  • Dan T.||

    It's the intent that's corrupt. If your giving a church money to receive a prime lay position, then you are bribing. If your giving money because you think that the right thing to do and you want nothing in return, and the pastor decides to give you the position because your a big donor, you didn't bribe him. Your intent was not to "purchase" the position.

    This is true - but the question is, how does a third party tell one from the other?

  • ||

    eddie:

    I agree with you, and I'm still reserving judgment until I can actually see what Newt said.

  • ||

    It's the intent that's corrupt...

    Absolutely. And it's the presumption of bad intent that drives some to see all money contributed to a politician as a bribe. Right Dan T?

  • ||

    This is true - but the question is, how does a third party tell one from the other?

    Short of monitoring one's thoughts, a third party cannot tell the difference in advance...but for some, the perceived risk that someone might have bad intent is all the jusitification necessary to restrict everyone's speech...a presumption of guilt if you like.

  • ||

    Do politicians do what big donors want, or do people make large donations to politicians that they agree with? The latter is obviously not bribery or immoral.

  • Dan T.||

    Short of monitoring one's thoughts, a third party cannot tell the difference in advance...but for some, the perceived risk that someone might have bad intent is all the jusitification necessary to restrict everyone's speech...a presumption of guilt if you like.

    But we're not restricting speech, only transfers of money.

    And even if a contribution is not technically a bribe, it is at the very least a form of influence. So by allowing unlimited campaign contributions, you end up with elected leaders who don't act in the public's best interest, but in the interests of the people who funded their campaign.

    It's another one of those reasons that the libertarian philosophy tends to fail in the real world - you guys on one hand advocate unlimited campaign contributions and then on the other wonder why politicians once elected pass laws that benefit some people over others.

  • ||

    "Campaign contribution" = a bribe done the long way around.

  • ||

    Dan T., this is a simple one. There is only one difference between a bribe and a campaign contribution:

    A "campaign contribution" is done with public knowledge, a "bribe" is done under the table.

    If I know Exxon gave Senator X money, I have an idea where his loyalties are I can use that knowledge to make a decision about my vote.

    If it is under the table, and I have no idea Exxon gave Senator X money, I don't know where his loyalties are.

    It is ok for a politician to have loyalties, as long as I know what they are before I vote for the bastard.

    Perfect information is a must for a true free market to exist. Campaign contributions are bribes that give the consumers (voters) perfect information. So yeah, in a way, bribes are legal in libertarianville.

  • ||

    Dan T,

    "It's another one of those reasons that the libertarian philosophy tends to fail in the real world - you guys on one hand advocate unlimited campaign contributions and then on the other wonder why politicians once elected pass laws that benefit some people over others."

    Take a course in logic. According to you, the libertarian philosophy fails because the libertarian philosophy is eschewed. The Rules of Chess are invalid because on one hand, chess players allow castling and en passant, on the other hand, some people are playing badminton.

  • Dan T.||

    It is ok for a politician to have loyalties, as long as I know what they are before I vote for the bastard.

    This is where we disagree. Elected leaders should not have "loyalties" except for the voters they represent and society as a whole.

  • ||

    who don't act in the public's best interest, but in the interests of the people who funded their campaign.

    it is the impractical definitions of vague things like 'the public good' that results in so much perceived influence for sale...contributing to a politician who will not legislate against anyone's interests (i.e., gridlock) is not equivalent to a contribution to one who will legislate for your interests at the expense of mine (i.e., activist).

  • ||

    """This is true - but the question is, how does a third party tell one from the other?"""

    Just because a third party can't tell the difference doesn't make it bribery. :-)

  • ||

    People that work for Exxon are voters. People that own Exxon stock are voters. People that agree with and fund Green Peace are voters. Individual campaign contributors are voters. Unioin members are voters. Church goers are voters. The local scout troop leaders are voters. Trial Lawyers are voters. Having loyalties to these entities is having loyalties to the voters they represent.

    It only gets a little tricky for me with foreign entities. Even with that, if the government of China wanted to fully fund a campaign it would be ok with me as long as I know and everyone else knew too. One ad by the opposition stating, "my opponent's campaign has been fully funded by red china - go here to find out I'm not lying" would be all it would take to end that.

  • Dan T.||

    Take a course in logic. According to you, the libertarian philosophy fails because the libertarian philosophy is eschewed.

    No, I'm saying that it's a philosophy (much like communism) that looks fine on paper but simply isn't going to work in the real world. In this case, you want to allow Widget Corp to influence the government by giving candidates money, but somehow expect that the government will not be influenced by Widget Corp's money into passing legislation or awarding contracts that benefit Widget Corp.

  • ||

    But we're not restricting speech, only transfers of money.

    From "Speechless in Seattle" by George F. Will.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15078348/site/newsweek/

    "Campaign-finance "reformers," who advocate ever-increasing government regulation of the quantity, timing and content of political speech, always argue that they want to regulate "only" money, which, they say, leaves speech unaffected. But here they argue that political speech is money, and hence must be regulated. By demanding that the speech of two talk-radio hosts be monetized and strictly limited, reformers reveal the next stage in their stealthy repeal of the First Amendment."

    So speech is money, but money isn't speech. Curiouser and curiouser, Dan T.

  • ||

    Other than the degree of transparency, there is no substantive difference between a campaign contribution and a bribe.

    Regulating campaign contributions simply causes the favor-seekers to find other ways of doing the same thing.

    The root of the problem is that the politicians have control of other people's money and welfare.

    Libertarians argue that the best way to end corruption is to end that control.

  • R C Dean||

    But we're not restricting speech, only transfers of money.

    Try getting your message out without spending any money on anything.

    Including paper, loudspeakers, ads, posters, etc.

    Then tell me how restricting spending on communication isn't restricting speech.

    Except you can't, because you don't have a computer (they cost money, you know).

  • Windypundit||

    "So by allowing unlimited campaign contributions, you end up with elected leaders who don't act in the public's best interest, but in the interests of the people who funded their campaign."

    What's the alternative? If campaigns are "publicly funded," that just means that those already in power fund the campaigns, so the elected leaders will act in the interests of those already in power. This is a recipe for entrenched government.

    "It's another one of those reasons that the libertarian philosophy tends to fail in the real world - you guys on one hand advocate unlimited campaign contributions and then on the other wonder why politicians once elected pass laws that benefit some people over others."

    It's funny that someone advocating campaign contribution limits is talking about the "real world." As if crooked politicians and the people who want to influence them can't figure out how to work around the laws.

    When campaign contributions are outlawed, only outlaws will get elected.

  • Jennifer||

    Try getting your message out without spending any money on anything. Including paper, loudspeakers, ads, posters, etc.

    But there is a difference between me spending a million dollars to print flyers saying "I, Jennifer, like Candidate X," versus me simply giving a million dollars to candidate X himself.

  • ||

    Jennifer

    When you give Candidate X a million bucks his campaign is going to use it "to print flyers" or, more than likely, buy TV time to get his message out.

    It won't do him any good if he just spends it on booze and hookers.

  • ||

    ...that just means that those already in power fund the campaigns, so the elected leaders will act in the interests of those already in power. This is a recipe for entrenched government.

    I suspect Dan the troll loves entrenched government.

    Only he thinks of them as experienced, professional, dedicated, selfless public servants.

    Everybody else is happy with them too as long as they think there getting free stuff.

    Sigh.

  • ||

    I agree with Jennifer. If she has a million dollars to spend on printing flyers for a candidate using her message that is completely different from her tossing a million clams into the political machine. She (and we) should be able to spend our money on speech we control without interference.

    Of course, I especially want this because I want to see the wacko fringes on both sides embarrass political candidates by showing the true character of the people who so fervently support them.

    Maybe someone else can provide some good hypothetical examples.

  • ||

    jf -

    Assuming you had the million to blow, wouldn't you still give to an organization to do so?

    I mean you can certainly spend a million saying what you want on TV, but a million spent inside a goup used to doing so will likely get more bang for their buck through experience, volume purchasing, and other variables.

    Why else does Soros give to so many organzations? Couldn't he just do it himself?

  • ||

    Whenever I read something like this, I AM SO THANKFUL THAT LIBERTARIANS & lIBERTARIANS LOOKED TO SMALL GOVERNMENT CONSERVATIVES like Newt here for salvation. Really, I'm sure supporting republicans only put the libertarian causes back 2 or 3 hundred years.

  • ||

    This is where we disagree. Elected leaders should not have "loyalties" except for the voters they represent and society as a whole.

    BWAhahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    And they say libertarians are hopeless idealists?

    Or did Dan T. just troll me?

  • ||

    SixSigma,

    Well, if this is about me, then yes I would do it myself. I work in the printing industry, and have a lot of experience in both effective design and direct mail. I can guarantee that I could get more for a million bucks than George Soros could (on his own) any day of the week.

    If we are talking about your average citizen, it's still their money to do with what they want, and if they want to blow $1,000,000 campaigning indepently for someone they want elected they should be able to do so.

    It's notable to note that here in Ohio the biggest campaign finance scumbag of late is coin dealer Tom Noe, who spent way more than the limit on George Bush's campaign by convincing people to contribute with the understanding that he'd personally pay them back (out of money he stole from the state's Worker's Compensation fund, no less), and he was rewarded by the Bush campaign for raising so much money. Had Noe been allowed to just give Bush the money on his own, it would have been far more transparent.

    Yeah, I know, I mixed two different topics together, by CFR drives me insane sometimes.

  • ||

    Dan T.:

    You guys (libertarians) on one hand advocate unlimited campaign contributions and then on the other wonder why politicians once elected pass laws that benefit some people over others.


    But libertarians (and real conservatives) favor making a vast reduction in the money and power available to politicians to trade for campaign contributions and votes. The evidence of history shows that this is the solution to the world's worst problems and the way toward liberty and prosperity.

  • ||

    Newt Gingrich yesterday said the country will be forced to reexamine freedom of speech to meet the threat of terrorism.

    How stupid and frightening! This "reexamination" of freedom of speech will likely be used to punish dissent.

  • ||

    The transcript finally got posted on Gingrich's website: http://www.newt.org/backpage.asp?art=3819

    The headline is "What did Newt really say about free speech and terrorism?". It's not a transcript of his entire speech, but it does completely cover the part that's been reported on as "Gingrich wants to curtail free speech" and provides the context for all the excerpts that have been reported on so far.

    Here's what I consider the truly important paragraphs:

    This is a serious long term war, and it will enviably [transcription error? should be "inevitably"?] lead us to want to know what is said in every suspect place in the country, that will lead us to learn how to close down every website that is dangerous, and it will lead us to a very severe approach to people who advocate the killing of Americans and advocate the use of nuclear of biological weapons.

    And, my prediction to you is that ether before we lose a city, or if we are truly stupid, after we lose a city, we will adopt rules of engagement that use every technology we can find to break up their capacity to use the internet, to break up their capacity to use free speech, and to go after people who want to kill us to stop them from recruiting people before they get to reach out and convince young people to destroy their lives while destroying us.

    This is a serious problem that will lead to a serious debate about the first amendment, but I think that the national security threat of losing an American city to a nuclear weapon, or losing several million Americans to a biological attack is so real that we need to proactively, now, develop the appropriate rules of engagement.



    I completely agree with the first paragraph: the threat of terrorism will lead us to want to snoop on everyone, to shut down websites, and to punish people who advocate terrorism. I partially agree with the second paragraph: we will eventually adopt such "rules of engagement". I completely disagree with his third paragraph: we don't need to develop those rules of engagement. The fact that people will want them because of terrorism doesn't mean we should have them. It does mean we'll probably get them, but that's not a good thing; it's a tragic loss.

    That is, unless by "rules of engagement" he means "letting people say what they want, any time, any place, no matter how repugnant we find what they say"… rules of engagement that have served us pretty well so far, and need no further development. But I can't read that transcript as saying anything of the sort.

    Shame, shame on Newt.

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