Censorship

Why Sermons, Tweets, and Campus Speech Are Targets of Liberal Censorship Attempts

Censorship isn't just for conservatives anymore. The First Amendment is under fire from all directions.

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Once upon a time in America, censorship was a largely conservative project. From the Hayes Office and the Smith Act to wartime censorship and the Federal Communication Commission's fleeting-expletives rule, censorship served mostly Puritanism or jingoism.

Those sorts of censorship have waned. Sexuality and sedition no longer stir such a strong urge to smother and stifle—at least not to any effective degree. Parents occasionally complain about a book on a school reading list, but the instances in which the complaints lead to removal are rare. FBI chief James Comey might sound alarms about cellphone encryption, but nobody in Congress is proposing legislation to ban it.

Yet the impulse to stifle still thrives. Only the targets have changed.

Some recent examples.

(1) In May, Houston passed an ordinance protecting gay and lesbian residents from discrimination by private businesses. Religious conservatives objected, and launched a petition drive to place a repeal referendum on the ballot. The drive collected more than 50,000 signatures—well in excess of the 17,259 required. But Mayor Annise Parker and the city attorney refused to allow the ballot measure, contending the petition had too many irregularities.

Petition backers sued—whereupon the city subpoenaed five local pastors, demanding they turn over their sermons—even though the pastors are not party to the lawsuit, and the validity of petition signatures hardly hangs on what they said on any given Sunday. A national outcry ensued.

The Parker administration has made a small strategic retreat, claiming it no longer wants to see the sermons. It still insists on copies of any email or other communication the pastors made regarding "equal rights, civil rights, homosexuality, or gender identity." The Texas ACLU supports the equal-rights ordinance, but says there was "no need to include" sermons in the subpoenas.

The Parker administration claims religious groups made a big fat deal out of nothing. It accuses the churches of misrepresenting the subpoenas to stir up a "media circus." But that spin is contradicted by the mayor herself, who wrote just a few days ago that "if the 5 pastors used pulpits for politics, their sermons are fair game."

In any event, most people have enough sense to see what was going on: an attempt to browbeat religious people into silence. As an article in The Federalist noted recently (quoting an online commenter): "Imagine you lived in a country where there was no law saying you couldn't criticize the President, but the authorities would just like a copy of it if you did."

(2) The authorities would like to monitor people's communications in other ways as well. As Ajit Pai, a member of the FCC, explained recently in The Washington Post, the National Science Foundation has underwritten an Indiana University project to monitor what people say on Twitter. Dubbed "Truthy," the project explores interesting academic questions such as how memes spread across social media.

"But there's much more to the story," Pai writes. "Focusing in particular on political speech, Truthy keeps track of which Twitter accounts are using hashtags such as #teaparty and #dems. It estimates users' 'partisanship.' It invites feedback on whether specific Twitter users, such as the Drudge Report, are 'truthy' or 'spamming.' … The Truthy team says this research could be used to 'mitigate the diffusion of false and misleading ideas, detect hate speech and subversive propaganda, and assist in the preservation of open debate.' "

As Pai asks, what business does the government have deciding which political sentiments are false, hateful or subversive? He notes that the project's leaders wrote a 2012 paper warning of activity by a "highly active, densely interconnected constituency of right-leaning users using Twitter . . . to further their political views." If you lean to the left, that might not seem so alarming. But imagine a project like Truthy under the direction of, say, Dick Cheney.

(3) By now most Americans are familiar with campus speech codes and restrictive "free-speech zones." Many colleges and universities have adopted a sort of kid-glove totalitarianism that seeks to make colleges "safe spaces"—by ridding them of any idea that might cause discomfort, providing "trigger warnings" for works that broach sensitive subjects, and indoctrinating students in the correct attitudes and viewpoints on issues of identity politics. For all their self-professed devotion to diversity, many colleges enforce a rigid conformity of thought on a wide range of issues—often to the point of violating the First Amendment.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has done a stellar job of documenting, exposing and correcting many of those violations. But it cannot address the underlying ailment: a seething hostility to out-group ideas that greets even mild heterodoxy with histrionic outrage and demands that invited speakers be dis-invited posthaste. Recent examples abound.

"Dissent," according to a bumper sticker popular during the Bush years, "is the highest form of patriotism." Judging by recent events, that sentiment often depends on what it is the dissenter is dissenting from.

NEXT: IRS Doesn't Care That You Haven't Committed a Crime—It Will Still Steal Your Money.

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  1. The only war time censorship I can think of occurred during the first and second world wars. And those were all done by Democrats.

    The headline is a fine angle for the story. But you might want to do a little better than thinking “anything bad that happened in the past must have been the Republicans doing”. It doesn’t help your case.

    1. Come now, Woodrow Wilson is a conservative hero, right?

      1. Woodrow Wilson was a Progressive asshole and an appalling bigot.

        1. That can’t be; I’ve been assured censorship was a conservative thing.

          1. I’ve been assured that businesses don’t create jobs. By the same type of people that said that. I guess we should consider the source.

    2. It’s (a) moral equivalence, and (b) a shaming tactic against the Left – “you’re acting just like conservatives!”

    3. OT:John, maybe people in maryland aren’t as stupid as I thought.

      1. If this election is so bad for Democrats that they can’t win the governorship in Maryland and Massachusetts, it is going to be the most epic wave election of my lifetime.

        Coakley is behind in MA. The fucking Boston Globe endorsed the Republican. And now this. Holy cow.

        1. It helps that Hogan is running against the guy who was in charge of the MD health exchange that is under federal investigation.

          1. But Obamacare is not an issue in this election. This election is about nothing. Nick told me so.

            I have no idea what kind of a person Hogan is. Even if he is horrible, there is value to him winning for no other reason than the Democrats will only get worse if they keep winning.

        2. One of the anti-Hogan ads says something like “Larry Hogan opposes universal pre-K!!!!1!!1 He says we can’t afford it”.

          Made me wish I lived in MD so I could vote for Larry Hogan.

          1. I havne’t seen those ads. I have seen the Warner ads for VA. There is one Warner Ad that shows this 20ish woman talking about Gillespie wants to overturn Roe v. Wade and that settles the issue for her. She is not voting for Gillespie no way no how.

            It is the most sexist and insulting political ad I have ever seen. It portrays young women as being incapable of voting on or weighing any issue other than abortion and also apparently being so stupid they think a single Senator can overturn Roe v. Wade. How any woman could watch that commercial and not be insulted is beyond me.

            1. The election commercials in VA have been ugly with mud slinging and wild accusations. It’s been terrible.

              1. Warner’s campaign seems to boil down to abortion and throwing the bums in Washington out. It is like some sort of Jedi mind trick for the retarded voters of Virginia. “I am not the Senator you are looking for” kind of thing.

                1. Gillispie has no money left so Warner is just clobbering him. Warner was a pretty popular gov. here, I think the only guy who had a legit shot at him was McDonald, hence the indictment. I think everyone involved expected him to walk, even the prosecution, as the feds offered a plea of bank fraud for under-reporting his assets to qualify for a loan.

                  1. Warner was a pretty popular gov. here, I think the only guy who had a legit shot at him was McDonald, hence the indictment.

                    I am not saying you are wrong but the casual way you say that is both terrifying and infuriating. The Democratic Party is nothing but a fascist criminal gang at this point. Criminalizing your opponents is what fascism looks like.

                    And Warner is a pathetic empty suit senator who has done nothing but vote the way Obama and Reid told him to vote. Warner is supposed to be one of those reasonable Democrats who brings the party back towards the center. Instead he is nothing but a mindless toady.

                2. “We’re gonna send a message to those bureaucrats down in the state capital!!!”

                3. Warner is pretty much going for the “Gillespie the Lobbyist” tack. It’s Foust v. Comstock that focuses on “social issues”.

            2. That’s the Comstock v. Foust race, I believe. The woman has a seriously irritating whine when she talks.

          2. really? I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemies. It would be fine with me if anthony brown won if only for the dumpster fire that is the maryland is fun to watch from a distance as the business’s flee.

      2. Don’t you live in MD, John?

        1. Yes I do. And I am of the firm belief that everyone associated with state government there should be shot as a first step towards reform.

          1. But can we tar and feather them first?

            1. Only someone who has never lived here could be for such half measures. They need to be shot just to be sure.

              1. I wasn’t excluding that, I said can we tar and feather them ‘first’. Oh yeah, and then we need to move on down closer to the Potomac and repeat as necessary.

              2. Nuke them from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

          2. I’ve developed and deep and abiding hatred for all things DPRMD. I hate this place.

      3. I hate to say it, but this is MD. Illegal aliens and dead people, deer and squirrels, fucking rats, will start voting here if the R gets a lead. This state is just cronyism and corruption, all the way down.

        1. Don’t most of the illegals simply got to Maryland for the ID, then move-on from there?

      1. Don’t worry, child, TOP MEN will decide, TOP MEN!

        1. And the Top Men with the best intentions, of course.

    4. Also Al and Tipper Gore and their attempt to censor music lyrics.

    5. Need to remind y’all of the “Free Speech Movement”, which was harshly opposed by traditionalists (conservatives) and – of course – put into gear by the LEFT LEFT LEFT.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Speech_Movement

      While I agree that Political Correctness has often gone too far, it should be noted that the LEFT is where the Free Speech Movement started and continued and that the ACLU and other such LEFTY group continue to hold the torch.

      We can quibble around the edges, but trying to claim that the right has been into free speech in any manner other than trying to free Hate Speech just doesn’t hold water.

      Check in with Oral Roberts or those dozens of rightie bible and christian colleges and get back to us with their free speech efforts.

      1. The ACLU tends to only get exorcised when the target also supports some other lefty (not liberal) cause, similar to the NAACP.

        1. Right, like their protection of Rushbo…eh?

      2. How many rightists are (successfully) trying to get people arrested and prosecuted for disagreeing with them over twitter?

        http://fullcomment.nationalpos…..e-guthrie/

        Or what about Boston College radfem prof Mary Daly banning males from her classes. Or Sheryl Sandberg and the other leftists at facebook censoring right leaning groups?

        The fact is, as of today, the left has far surpassed the right as perpetrators of censorship. Any pro-free speech legacy the left had is long dead. Try supporting free speech on a college campus these days, see how fast the students and faculty label you a reactionary.

        1. “Try supporting free speech on a college campus these days, see how fast the students and faculty label you a reactionary.”

          If this is true, it’s because the youth needs to man-up (or women-up)…..like “we” did back when.

      3. the ACLU and other such LEFTY group continue to hold the torch.

        By supporting campaign finance restrictions and limitations of political speech. Thank god for the LEFT!

  2. “Once upon a time in America, censorship was a largely conservative project. From the Hayes Office and the Smith Act to wartime censorship and the Federal Communication Commission’s fleeting-expletives rule, censorship served mostly Puritanism or jingoism.”

    Wartime censorship was done under the administration of FDR. Hardly a conservative. In point of fact, the Progressive/Liberal/Radical Left has been prone to fits of censorship since it became a political force in the country. They happen to be especially bad about it right now because they have a Liberal in the White House who doesn’t play by the rules and is conspicuously incompetent, and they are trying to cover for the silly sonofabitch. They will become pro-first amendment the minute a Republican gets elected and they want to spout of about him.

    1. The Hays Code was self enforced by Hollywood in the 1930s – anyone familiar with political movies of that era knows that they were all in for the FDR progressive democrats.

      The Smith act was introduced by and named for Howard W Smith Democrat VA. Voted for overwhelmingly by democrats in both the house and senate and then signed by FDR.

      1. The Hays code was totally unenforced until 1934. Hays basically ran interference for the studios with the Catholic moralizers until finally capitulating with the hiring of Joseph Breen. The MPPC was adopted to forestall government censorship which somehow wasn’t a serious threat until 1934. How did the government become so “conservative” in 1934. I’ll have to consult a history book to study up on the conservative wave of the Early/mid 1930s.

    2. I think a lot of people here are making the mistake of thinking “conservative = Republican” or “conservative socially = conservative economically”. Socially and philosophically, FDR was plenty conservative; he just put those views to work in the service of a “Top Men” style of governing.

      1. FDR was conservative only by comparison to todays demented lefties. By the standards of the day he was a flaming government interventionist progressive nutcase. The Progressives have world hard ever since to disguise this, but it’s there if you look.

    3. The serious crackdown on the media sort of censorship certainly has happened more under Democrats.
      But the “you can’t say fuck on TV or show a nipple” kind of censorship seems to be more popular with those who would generally be called social conservatives today.

      I think JD the Elder makes a good point. We too easily conflate liberal with Democrat and conservative with Republican. It’s also worth adding that “conservative” is pretty meaningless without context. And it is quite possible to be very conservative in some ways and very liberal or progressive in others. You can certainly see that in people like Wilson or FDR.

      1. However popular it may be with so-cons, they didn’t make it law.

  3. “Once upon a time in America, censorship was a largely conservative project.”

    Let’s see…

    Was Abraham Lincoln a conservative? All factions like to claim him (well, except Judge Napolitano). But the newspapers he shut down, and the people he imprisoned, tended to support peace with the Confederacy. Is that a left-wing position?

    Woody Wilson was nobody’s conservative, but he was even more censor-iffic than Lincoln.

    FDR censored extreme rightists as well as leftists.

    JFK and LBJ harassed right-wing radio broadcasters using the FCC’s “Fairness Doctrine” – which Reagan’s FCC repealed.

    And that’s just off the top of my head.

    1. Oh, and FDR’s Post Office Department tried to restrict Esquire magazine for being too suggestive.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H…..uire,_Inc.

      Ah, and I don’t think that Wertheim (sp?), the comic-book guy, was a conservative, since conservatives were thin on the ground in the Frankfurt School.

      1. And how could I forget the NAACP trying to ban Birth of a Nation in 1915?

        Of course, Reason documents the libertarian links of the NAACP, so maybe it’s just another example of a conservative pro-censorship group?

        1. Wow, that’s impressive NGKC. Someone ought to cut and past that on their blog as a timeline of lefty censorship.

    2. Part of the problem is the use of “conservative” as the name for a political faction rather than a description of a particular view or policy. It is quite possible for people who are considered progressive or liberal overall to be conservative in some ways. Hell, I’d say that hard core environmentalists and people who think that indigenous cultures should be preserved at all costs are in fact reactionary conservatives and not liberals or progressives at all.

      1. Except that when one probes the reasoning behind this censorship, one finds nothing linked to ‘conserving’ things–only the well worn prog trope of doing things to people for their own good.

  4. I have nothing agianst porn. But don’t insult my intelligence by telling me that porn is as important as political speech. It is just not. Given a choice between a country that allowed porn but censored political speech and a country that censored porn but not political speech, I am taking the latter every time.

    The only cases of actual government censorship of political speech that have occurred in the last century have been done by Progressives and Democrats. Sorry but “the evil conservatives won’t let us show boobs or say fuck on prime time TV” doesn’t really measure up to things like the Fairness Doctrine or the Alien and Sedition Acts.

    Why does Reason have such a hard time admitting that sometimes progs really are worse than conservatives?

    1. As I said, moral equivalence and shaming leftists by comparing them to conservatives.

      Plus, I think, many of the self-conscious “anti-censorship” activists have been lefties. (including ACLU types who were cool with censorship in Communist countries). And much censorship was by moderate leftists against ultra-leftists, making it sorta-kinda conservative.

      So that turns into a narrative about lefty crusaders against censorship, facing opponents who by *their* standards were conservatives.

      1. But Reason does its cause no favors by lumping porn in with political speech. Political speech really is special.

        1. Like anti-Bush protesters who were corralled into pens? Was that political speech?

          1. Sure it was. And that wasn’t good. Of course, it still pales in comparison to using the FBI and IRS to go after you enemies which is what Obama did.

            All over America after 2010, people who tried to form grass roots political movements had their homes visited by FBI agents and had their applications to the IRS targeted and help up for years preventing them from organizing and exercising their political rights. In Wisconsin people were subjected to paramilitary SWAT raids of their homes for the crime of supporting Scott Walker.

            That wasn’t conservatives who did that. That was Progressives. And to my knowledge not a single progressive as ever stood up and even admitted those things were wrong much less done anything to stop that.

            That is who your side is now. You own all of that. Sorry but pointing to some protestors being limited to one area doesn’t really help you much or make any reasonable person think the two sides are equivalent.

          2. You don’t have a point, Tony. Pretty much no one here likes Bush. You sound like Shreek.

          3. Tony, you little turd, do you really think that anyone here (besides maybe Tulpa) thought that that shit was OK?

          4. Tony…that was only because of the smell. If the wind had been going in the opposite direction, it wouldn’t have happened.

            1. They were protecting the environment!

        2. The writers here a progressive journos forced to work for a third rate publication (in there minds) until something better comes along.

          So they have to drop proggy dog whistles into the stories to maintain career viability.

          1. Every time I almost convince myself that is not true, they prove me wrong by writing something like this.

          2. This was not written by a member of the Reason staff.

            If Reason is such a horrible magazine run by dishonest people, why are you here every day?

            1. Because it is wonderfully fun to call them out for it Zeb.

          3. The writers here a progressive journos forced to work for a third rate publication (in there minds) until something better comes along.

            There have certainly been cases of that (Weigel being the most prominent). But I really don’t see it with most of the current senior staff. The sort of iffy ones like Nick I think are genuinely trying to get more libertarian ideas to a broader audience. If you only write things that H&R commenters completely approve of, you really aren’t going to reach many people who aren’t already pretty far in that direction.

            1. Zeb. I think they are genuinely committed to attracting liberals, which is a good and necessary thing. The problem is that their way of doing that is to make sure they talk about how much they hate Republicans. That is nice and all but doesn’t succeed in attracting any liberals since the Democratic Party hates Republicans too. So it doesn’t really give liberals much of a reason to become libertarians.

              1. Fair points. There is value to distinguishing libertarian ideas from the amorphous boogie man of Republicans and conservatives, though. Too many on the left just lump libertarianism in with conservatism, or even see it as an extra extreme form of conservatism.

          4. “The writers here a progressive journos forced to work for a third rate publication (in there minds) until something better comes along.”

            Being able to write and communicate usually is a sign of intelligence and worldliness (to an extent).

            As is said, Reality has a well known liberal bias.

            So, yeah, you are right. Luckily we have lots of commenters who know how to string together curse words, insults and talking points…those are the REAL right wing free speechers as well as examples (other than Coulter) of Right Wing Journo.

            1. That is only said by lefty true believers, such as yourself. If it makes you feel special to be playing on your team, great, but don’t expect everyone to pretend that your team is super.

            2. ‘Reality’ is not a proper noun genius. And did you just call left-wing journalists intelligent? What, pray tell, is your measure of intelligence? Frequent use of the word ‘plethora’ like a high school student someone trying to impress the grader of their SAT essay? Or the ability to call your opponents ‘fascist’ (without knowing the definition of the word) or labelling their ideas ‘hate speech’ in order to justify censoring them and avoid having to engage them?

        3. The emphasis here is misplaced, I think. We shouldn’t be constructing a continuum of which form of expression is most important to protect vs. least. We should be focusing on whether the state has any legitimate power to force, prevent, or punish expression of any kind.

          No need to justify private speech at all; the burden of moral justification rests on those who’d use violence to affect that speech, regardless of its content.

    2. John, don’t you remember when the “sexual revolution” of the 60’s ushered in a glorious age of universal freedom? It was great, especially compared to before when no one even knew how to have sex and or what colors were.

      1. The only winder of the Sexual Revolution were the Sexually Transmitted Diseases, which increased about five-fold, I seem to recall.

        1. “Winner” nor “winder”

          Sorry, I can’t fricking type. And autocorrect doesn’t help (but wan’t to blame here, I don’t think.)

        2. The increase in STDs seems like it is a pretty good indicator that the sexual revolution succeeded. Having sex more freely with more people was sort of the idea, wasn’t it?

          1. Certain states seem to have 5X to 20X the incidence of STD’s – in many cases it seems to line up with those states that decided not to teach certain things or have certain services available.

            http://www.livescience.com/481…..s-map.html

    3. Well scientific research about Twitter counts as censorship, for some reason, so I don’t know why we wouldn’t include forms of actual censorship.

      1. It is not “censorship”. It is just an idiotic rip off. The things Wilson and FDR did and the FEC wants to do in contrast are actual censorship.

      2. It may not be censorship yet, but are you telling me you have no issue with public money being used to develop methods to monitor and potentially ‘correct’ the activity of “right-leaning” groups on the internet? It certainly has some sinister applications for which the researchers themselves expressed a willingness to use it.

    4. The problem with that position (which I sympathize with viscerally, BTW) is that when sexual publications were censored, it was used to censor political speech; the publication of birth control information for the poor.

      If you allow a government to censor ANY class of speech it will inevitably find that all kinds of speech offensive to the Political Class falls into that category.

      Censorship simply is not a power that the State can be trusted with.

      That said, I do think the author has made the mistake of accepting the Liberal narrative of Censorship past without sufficient examination. Liberals have always been willing to stifle their opposition if they thought they could get away with it.

      1. The rule for porn should have remained what it was, public indecency. Thinks like strip clubs and such really do affect the quality of life of those around them, because they are public.

        The rule should have always been and remained, whatever you do in your own home or get in the mail is none of the government’s business. That would have kept the government’s dirty paws off the internet and affirmed a proper distinction between public and private life.

        Sadly we never got that choice.

        1. Thinks like strip clubs and such really do affect the quality of life of those around them, because they are public.

          I get what you’re trying to say with porn vs political speech, but this statement makes no sense to me. I have never once observed a strip club to bring down the quality of life of neighboring businesses or residents. And I lived in Montreal.

          1. Quality of life is a subjective thing. Just because you don’t think it did, doesn’t mean other people didn’t find the opposite. Since it is subjective, neither one of you are really wrong.

            And strip clubs and X-rated movie theaters certainly brought down the quality of life in places like Times Square because they prevented other businesses from being able to attract customers.

            1. Sure it is subjective. If we identify things that can bring down quality of life by finding someone nearby that doesn’t like it, then literally anything could count. On balance, you would also have to ask how many people like, for example, having a strip club nearby.

              But going by less subjective measures, like crime rates, impact on sales for neighboring businesses, etc., I would be really surprised to find that strip clubs or porn shops cause areas to decline. I can absolutely believe they are symptomatic of already declining conditions. But to use the example of Montreal, you can find strip clubs (really extreme ones by U.S. standards) next to really nice restaurants, bars, and stores in the busiest pedestrian/tourist areas.

              I’ll admit that I only have anecdotal evidence, so I’ll back off my earlier statement a bit. But I’m very skeptical of the notion that sex-based businesses are a cause of declininng quality of life.

      2. The problem with that position (which I sympathize with viscerally, BTW) is that when sexual publications were censored, it was used to censor political speech; the publication of birth control information for the poor.

        That is one small example. That hardly counts as significant. And there will always be some form of censorship, even if it is only child porn, slander and state secrets. So we are walking on that slope no matter what.

        The larger point is that while I don’t agree with banning porn, it is not the mortal threat to the Republic that regulating political speech is. Moreover, the fact that you point to how it can spill over to political speech as an objection to regulating porn just further proves my point that political speech is special.

    5. I think it is impossible to have a country that censors pr0n, that won’t eventually get around to censoring all forms of free speech.

      1. Really? The US was just such a country for about 190 years. The US always censored “indecent materials” yet only banned political speech rarely.

        In contrast porn was widely available in the old Communist Eastern Europe. Political speech not so much.

        1. You have a different breed of censors in control now. So let me slightly rephrase that and say that I think that you can’t have a government today that will ban pr0n and not wind up banning any other speech they don’t agree with. The old censors thought they were banning pr0n for moral reason. The new censors have no morals, only tyranny.

        2. In contrast porn was widely available in the old Communist Eastern Europe.

          Was it? I thought a lot of them became pretty socially conservative after they gave up on the free-loving communalism thing. I’m trying to imagine what commie porn would be like. I’m picturing grim faced women with tightly braided hair being monotonously pounded by Stalin look-alikes.

          1. You have to go for the PRNK pr0n to get the really good commie pr0n. With that, you get to watch Kim Fat Jung try to bang a most excellent horse like woman.

        3. Porn was not ‘widely available in the old communist Europe’. It was severely criminalized.

          There are books about legal porn resurfacing after the fall of the wall and the collapse of the USSR.

        4. The US didn’t allow anyone to be a Communist for decades. You couldn’t speak about it. Nor, could you be homosexual, or write about it openly.

          You can’t forbid some speech in one area without it happening in other areas.

          You say the US was just such a state for 190 years, but it wasn’t. It was ruthlessly locked down in many, many ways.

    6. Porn isn’t as important, but it should be just as protected.

      Maybe someone should combine the two and make pornographic political ads. That could make for a very interesting Supreme Court case.

      1. Maybe someone should combine the two and make pornographic political ads.

        Don’t give Nutra-Sweet any ideas. The results would be horrific. **Shudders**

  5. “Imagine you lived in a country where there was no law saying you couldn’t criticize the President, but the authorities would just like a copy of it if you did.”

    ^ This.

    “But imagine a project like Truthy under the direction of, say, Dick Cheney.”

    ^^ And This.

    “…a seething hostility to out-group ideas that greets even mild heterodoxy with histrionic outrage…”

    ^^^ And this, too. (ps, I think they would call “heterodoxy” hate speech. Just sayin’.)

    What blows my mind is that they, Karl Rove-style, believe they will ALWAYS be in power. What happens when somebody like a Santorum not only gets elected (lolololol… *ahem* Sorry…) but mannages to sway enough of the country to use these against their creators.

    There is ALWAYS a bigger monster. What I am amazed by is the lack of perspective that some of these pepole have. As if the fickle massess will never turn against them. All it takes is a war, an attack, some sort of international black-swan event to throw everything into the wrong hands.

  6. As I mentioned on another post last week, NSF funding research on the language of tweets is not government censorship.

    Government funding of science is a general issue for libertarians, but this example, like many in the old Proxmire ‘Golden Fleece’ awards is legitimate scholarship, and I’d be surprised whether anyone above the level of program director within the NSF hierarchy even knew about the program that funded it, let alone the actual proposal. And the idea that ‘the government’ knew about this research is beyond ridiculous. The Obama administration is too busy tripping over its own shoelaces to be scanning the thousands of NSF grant that are handed out.

    1. Pretty much. The story is an example of how horrible the researchers themselves are and how stupid the government is for letting them rip off tax money.

    2. It may not be ‘government censorship’ but its a mighty slippery slope to start having SUBJECTIVE ‘government studies’ of things like Twitter.

      Once those studies are published, they will have unjustly earned ‘gravitas’ simply because they were commissioned by the government.

      Nothing good will ever come of that, at best, its a waste of money…at worst… I don’t want to think about it.

      1. What happens when a study like that reaches the conclusion that 479% of women have been literally raped by reading tweets?

        1. Well, plenty of media types are already trying to use the whole ‘gamergate’ thing and the ever important need to protect the precious womens from harsh words to basically Trojan horse the concept of systematically censoring social media and criminally prosecuting expressing opposing viewpoints into the mainstream.

          Just look at the recent NYT article comments section. Many are already demanding people be incarcerated for hastags.

  7. my best friend’s mother-in-law makes $71 every hour on the laptop . She has been fired for eight months but last month her pay check was $19647 just working on the laptop for a few hours. view it …..

    ?????? http://www.cashbuzz40.com

  8. Still waiting for Truthy to denounce as false the Republican War on Women.
    Do you think it will be a long wait?

    1. Well, I’m not saying it will be a long wait, but by the time it happens, this will have happened:

      (from modemworld)

      http://tinyurl.com/pr5uan2

  9. Barton Hinkle explains, liberals have lately gotten in on the act.

    Yeah, it ain’t “lately”.

  10. People do it in their every day lives. There is an app called BuyPartisan that breaks down how which party various companies, say Pepsi, donate to. It is billed as a way of helping people support companies that reflect their values. In reality, it is a way of punishing those with the wrong thoughts and just increases partisan divides. It isn’t backed up with force of law but it is still an attempt at censorship.

    1. Yes. This is why I think boycotts based on politics are unamerican and dangerous as hell. We won’t want to live in a world where people make economic decisions based on politics.

      When I made this point during the controversy over the Mozilla CEO getting run out, I was immediately shouted down on here by all right thinking people because apparently no bad could ever come from non governmental action taken in support of the Gays or something.

      1. The ends don’t justify the means, but neither do the means justify the ends.

      2. “This is why I think boycotts based on politics are unamerican and dangerous as hell.”

        I can’t tell if you are being sarcastic or not!

        Are you saying that the Bostonians should have just bought the tea even though they didn’t like the source?

        Or that I should buy a product from a company which treats it’s worked like shit? Or that has a poor environmental record?

        This seems like the complete opposite of a free market! As to “politics” and “unAmerican” – firstly, everything is political. Secondly, boycotts have been a part of American patriotism since day one….

        Independent of official boycotts, it amazes me if anyone here is saying we should not be discretionary in our purchases!

    2. “n reality, it is a way of punishing those with the wrong thoughts and just increases partisan divides. It isn’t backed up with force of law but it is still an attempt at censorship.”

      U R kidding us, right?

      Would this be a PERFECT example of libertarianism – that is, letting transparency and the MARKET decide?

      I stopped buying Eden health food products once the CEO said he stopped giving his female employees certain benefits because “I don’t know much about women, I’m a man”.

      Isn’t voting with your wallet a perfect example of libertarianism?

      I admit – I don’t use such an app. However, it’s pretty easy to see that most American consumers vote for Apple, Google and Facebook, etc. liberalism with their wallets and eyeballs.

      I’m baffled. Really! So a consumer shouldn’t care if the profits from products they buy go toward harmful (in their opinion) causes? Explain?

      1. So you don’t buy from companies that aren’t sexist in favor of women? Tell me, if at least 90% of a company’s workplace injuries and deaths don’t happen to male employees, do you stop buying their goods in the name of ‘equality?’

        Just curious. I’ve always been fascinated at the selectivity of the leftist conscience, if you can call it that.

        1. “Just curious. I’ve always been fascinated at the selectivity of the leftist conscience, if you can call it that”

          You didn’t answer the basic question!

          Do you (Yes or No) feel that consumers should make free decision in the free market as to which companies they wish to support?

  11. Was censorship ever just for conservatives? Who created the FCC?

  12. Once upon a time in America, censorship was a largely conservative project. From the Hayes Office and the Smith Act to wartime censorship and the Federal Communication Commission’s fleeting-expletives rule, censorship served mostly Puritanism or jingoism.

    Censorship is fundamentally technocratic and authoritarian, not conservative (a philosophy that doesn’t have political values of its own outside of advocating established, stable norms, whatever those might be at any place or time). The only way nanny-state censorship would ever be considered conservative is if the conservatives are conserving an authoritarian tradition (which has notably been alive and well since the days of Hamilton and the Alien and Sedition acts continuing all the way to today).

  13. censorship served mostly Puritanism or jingoism

    The American Left was pretty jingoistic in both World Wars. Also didn’t the Puritans overthrow Charles I?

  14. Sooo…what was the sedition act if not left wing?

    Is 100 years ago now considered recent?

  15. “Once upon a time in America, censorship was a largely conservative project… censorship served mostly Puritanism or jingoism.”

    Wait, please tell me that I’m mistaken and Reason realizes that Puritanism was, from its earliest inception, a prototypical progressive movement right?

    Does Reason really believe that in the war between Cromwell and Charles, Cromwell represented… conservatism?!

    Theres no way you guys are this historically illiterate, right? right?

    1. What, are you new?

  16. “Houston passed an ordinance protecting gay and lesbian residents from discrimination by private businesses” This has got to be one of the most disingenuous sentences I have read from this website.

    Actually the biggest hangup was about letting “questioning” people use whatever bathroom they darn well felt like. I’m sure you would be totally comfortable with a grown man using the same bathroom with your 13 year old daughter. Or better yet, taking a shower with her at a local gym. Because NO sexual predator would EVER take advantage of such a ridiculous law.

    Also, whatever happened to private property rights? I imagine the “public accommodation” nonsense is rattling around in your noodle but that sophistry won’t wash. Either the property is PRIVATE or it is PUBLIC, it cannot be both. Public property is payed for by tax dollars, private is not. If it’s private, then the owner has the absolute right to decide who enters the establishment. For whatever reason. If you don’t like the reason, then don’t be a patron. That’s the beauty of freedom, you are free to be an a**hole, and others are free to shun you.

    If you are true to principles, then be true to them, if not, go write for the HuffPo or something.

    1. “Public property is payed for by tax dollars, private is not. If it’s private, then the owner has the absolute right to decide who enters the establishment.”

      So, it’s as simple as that?

      What about airports? Those massive terminals are paid for by dozens of different entities, from the concession corporations to the airlines to local bonds to fed. taxes, etc…..

      Which of the “only two” principles applies there?

      1. And those airlines kinda depend on the cooperation of the government that owns the airport for their business, don’cha think? According to Saulinsky’s principle, sure, an Airline could refuse to let black people on their planes, but then the government-owned airport would have the right to not let the employees or customers of that airline into the airport, solving the problem.

        You seem to think that making a business practice legal would somehow require the government to patronize the business doing it.

        1. Point is, the OP above declaring “It’s simple” and that it’s either public or private is not broad enough to tackle complex issues.

          The conservative and libertarian mind (stale) has to put things in a small box in order to understand them and to make them “true”. But the world is very complex – more like chess than checkers. Trillions of possibilities.

          Many airports are owned locally, others are state and others regional and still others may even be federal. But very often many parts of the property are privately owned or privately leased. So maybe the Gubment owned the base land, but a corporation builds and owns the US Airways Club.

          Who gets to hire the judges and the bosses that determine whether or not the private corporations have broken the law? Big Gubment, of course!

  17. Sorry, but to consider an NSF grant an “intent” by government to do anything is stupid. Election consultants, big political campaigns, and the NSA are already doing these kinds of analyses; they don’t need NSF funding. If a publicly funded research project works on this and publishes the results, it probably just makes the technology available to more candidates and helps people understand how it can be used and abused.

  18. My buddy’s sister-in-law makes $83 /hour on the computer . She has been without work for 8 months but last month her pay was $17994 just working on the computer for a few hours.
    For information check this site. ????? http://www.jobsfish.com

  19. Hinkle, censorship is a conservative thing? No you idiot, it is a statist thing. Or are you dumb enough to leave aside from Wilson in WWI, and Roosevelt in WWII and the mindless PC horshit that goes back to the late 60’s. Mega derp article.

  20. Can you have some spare time to sit back in your chair having your laptop with you and making some money online for some interesting online work said Jenny Francis in the party last nightsee more what is for you there to increase your pocket money??.

    http://shorx.com/clickforsurvey

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