Archive for the ‘Freedom of Speech’ Category
Before a throng of enthusiastic supporters in Temecula, Calif., Congressman Allen West (R-Fla.) on Friday defended the principles of limited government and stressed the importance of the upcoming presidential election in what the conservative blog The Right Scoop describes as a “must watch” speech.
And it’s burning up the Internet now.
“Two-hundred and thirty-six years ago, some men sat around and they thought about a land of dreams,” Rep. West said. “And they thought about a place where the individual and their rights and freedoms would be preeminent. They thought about a place where there would be liberties and freedoms. They thought about a place that could be a republic.”
“We cannot live in a land of dreams where we have record unemployment; where we have a record amount of Americans who live in poverty; where we have a record amount of Americans on food stamps and using EBT cards,” he added.
The Florida congressman continued, emphasizing the important role fiscal restraint plays in fending off the desiccating qualities of statism.
He concluded on a historical note: “The question that you have to ask yourself, between now and the 6th of November and continuing on, when you look at yourself in the mirror, ‘Was I a summer soldier? Was I a sunshine patriot?’”
Or did I make a stand to gain the admiration of such a good generation, so that when the history books [are written], the history books will say: “On the 6th of November of 2012, the American people once again remembered what the land of dreams was about. They remembered their fundamental principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility. They remembered the great lesson of liberty that says, ‘It’s about their individual sovereignty.’ They restored the freedoms of their free market. They stood for their traditional cultural values and they made sure that the walls that protect the longest running constitutional republic that the world has ever known — they stood as watchmen on the walls to secure those freedoms and liberties for future generations.”
“That’s what you have to ask yourself!” Rep. West concluded. “That’s what has to be in the history books!”
Thought your free speech rights, those given by God and protected by the U.S. Constitution, were assured in the United States?
A representative of Barack Obama’s Department of Justice has refused – over and over – to answer a question from a member of Congress about the agency’s dedication to freedom of speech.
It was during this week’s hearing by the House Constitution subcommittee, headed by Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., where Tom Perez, of the DOJ’s civil rights office, repeatedly wouldn’t respond to Frank’s question.
In fact, Franks repeated the question four times: “Will you tell us here today simply that this administration’s Department of Justice will never entertain or advance a proposal that criminalizes speech against any religion.”
WND has reported on the issue multiple times in the past. The issue primarily revolves around the idea contained in a proposal that has been made many times in the United Nations by the Islamic-led interests there.
The concept is that there should be a “Defamation of Religions” law internationally that would make it criminal to speak negatively about any “religion,” although the proposals always have focused on Islam.
The idea is “nothing more than an effort to achieve special protections for Islam – a move to stifle religious speech,” according to an analysis by Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice.
The Human Rights First organization has chimed in, saying the idea simply violates fundamental freedom of expression norms.
Tad Stahnke, of Human Rights First, said the concept is “unfortunate for both individuals at risk whose rights will surely be violated under the guise of prohibiting ‘defamation of religions,’ as well as for the standards of international norms on freedom of expression.”
The issue also has been addressed by Carl Moeller, chief of Open Doors USA, in an interview with WND at the time, because of the pending threat to the freedoms in America.
“This is a battle for our basic freedoms,” he warned. “This [U.N. idea] is Orwellian in its deviousness. To use language like the anti-defamation of a religion. It sounds like doublespeak worthy of Orwell’s 1984 because of what it really does.”
He said Muslim nations would use it as an endorsement of their attacks on Christians for statements as simple as their belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ, which Muslims consider an affront.
Worse would be the “chilling” effect on language that the U.N. plan would create worldwide, he said.
“This would be a huge blessing to those who would silence dissidents in their countries, Islamic regimes,” he said. “This stands as a monument to the gullibility of the masses in the United States and other places who don’t see this for what it is.”
Sarah Palin recently showed her support for Chick-fil-A on Twitter.
Imagine that it is possible to be a homophobic, right-wing zealot one moment and a gay-loving uber-liberal the next, simply by crossing the street.
In this author’s locale, it is possible (Chick-fil-A and Starbucks sit right across from one another). But that’s only if you allow yourself to believe that the customers of fast food restaurants and other businesses should be labeled simply because they prefer their chicken fried in peanut oil and like to sip coffee in a place with hip music playing in the background and a free Wi-Fi connection.
Does it really matter how companies feel about whether homosexuals should be allowed to marry? Instead of asking themselves that simple question, Americans on both sides of the debate have decided to instead jump to their feet — in largely meaningless ways — and engage themselves in a debate that has nothing to do with marriage equality or moral tradition.
Several months ago, Starbucks made clear that it supports the right of gays to marry. Some conservatives flipped out and, to the dismay of some Christian coffee lovers, a handful of pastors called for a Christian boycott of the company.
“Christians are upset with Starbucks for turning against God… Starbucks can follow Satan if they want to,” Steven Andrew, evangelical pastor and president of the USA Christian Ministries in California, said in a statement at the time. “However, pastors are to help Christians. Are you on the Lord’s side? Will you help the USA be blessed by God?”
Andrew probably joined the likes of Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and thousands of conservatives yesterday for Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. The event was aimed at encouraging conservatives to go to the restaurant after its CEO Dan Cathy said he supports traditional marriage in an interview with a Christian publication. The company has come under heavy fire from gay-rights groups and been boycotted by many people.
The takeaway message is that Christians should avoid the evil sodomite sympathizers at Starbucks and gay rights activists should avoid peanut-fried, right-wing chicken from Chick-fil-A, right? If that’s the case, here are a few other things people on both sides should boycott:
In case you forgot, those of you who are in favor of women’s equality need to support the 45 companies that pulled advertising from Rush Limbaugh’s talk show after he called Sandra Fluke a slut. His other advertisers are clearly misogynists.
Conservatives should boycott Target stores. Target sells gay greeting cards.
If you are a gay-rights fan, be sure that you avoid any petroleum products with ties to Saudi Arabia. The LGTB-unfriendly nation frequently imprisons and kills people for homosexual activities.
Don’t like homosexuality or Libertarians? Steer clear of Paypal, Facebook and several other tech companies, because innovator and businessman Peter Thiel is both gay and a Libertarian and has ties to several Internet companies that you likely use on a daily basis.
If all of this is beginning to sound a bit over the top, it is because it is over the top. There are more than 311 million people in the United States; we will never all agree completely. Rather than have a sensible debate on whether gay marriage should be legal, Americans have collectively chosen to have a shouting match about who is on what side.
Conservatives will have to accept at some point that the cat is out of the bag with regard to American homosexuality and, short of adopting the legal tactics of certain theocratic nations, it is not going to go away. And gay-rights activists must realize that some people simply do not agree with their lifestyle, and believe that it is neither natural nor moral.
In considering those two things, marriage traditionalists and gay-marriage advocates can find a common enemy: government-sanctioned marriage. Traditionalists and Christians view marriage as the union of a man and woman in the eyes of God first and foremost. Secularists view the union as a contractual one, man-made and legally binding. A traditionalist would never accept a government form as the only thing needed to be married, and a secularist would surely have similar disdain for a marriage not legally binding but God-sanctioned.
Any aspect of marriage that is provided by the government form should be freely attainable by all individuals. That is, any two, three, four and so on people in a free society should have the right to enter a contract that allows for the transfer of wealth, hospital visitation and other rights when a person is ill or dying, the sharing of common assets and the distribution of those assets in the event of breach of contract. In a free society, people have a natural right to assemble and associate as they will, so long as it does not infringe upon the rights of others to do so. The Federal government has not given married couples the special privilege of entering into that contract; it has simply denied others the right to do so — not just people who are gay, but also straight, single people.
When the Federal apparatus and its legislative minions discuss marriage, they are discussing the contractual, not the religious, aspect of the institution. And when they veer into discussing the religious definition of marriage, either in favor or against gay marriage, they abrogate the Constitutional guarantee of a political body that lacks the power to shape religious policy.
If legal gay marriage becomes standard from sea to shining sea, homosexuals who wish to be married and a whole boatload of bleeding-heart liberals will feel vindicated by the symbolic victory. Likewise, if conservatives and traditionalists are able to revive a strict adherence to the Defense of Marriage Act, they will feel a hard-fought battle against moral decay and a threat to their religious value has been won. But, aside from perceptual victory, nothing is going to change. In the first scenario, traditional Christian institutions will not feel that because bureaucracy changed its mind that God will as well and suddenly ordain gay marriages. And, in the second scenario, people who have made the decision to accept alternative sexual practices aren’t likely to stop.
If the debate about gay marriage is to ever be resolved, Americans will have to decide whether the discussion is about religion, legal contracts, the validation of an alternative lifestyle, moral decay or simply what types of people should patronize which establishments. In the meantime, when you sit down to enjoy your chicken sandwich or overpriced specialty coffee, check out a few other recent headlines. You may find that a Nation in decline on all fronts has much scarier problems than whether gays should be allowed to marry in the eyes of the government.
Michele Kirk over at BizPac attended a townhall meeting with Rep. Allen West over the weekend where he weighed in on the controversy surrounding mayors of liberal cities Chicago and Boston not allowing the private company to operate because they disagree with their pro-traditional marriage stance. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Chick-Fil-A wasn’t welcome in his city because the company does not hold “Chicago values,” (Thank God!).
William, Paul and James Newland and their sister, Christine Ketterhagen, who together own Hercules Industries, have no right to conduct their family business in a manner that comports with their Catholic faith.
The federal government can and will compel them to either surrender their business or to engage in activities the Catholic faith teaches are intrinsically immoral.
This is exactly what President Barack Obama’s Justice Department told a U.S. district court in a formal filing last week.
Never before has an administration taken such a bold step to strip Americans of the freedom of conscience — a right for which, over the centuries, many Christian martyrs have laid down their lives, and which our Founding Fathers took great care to protect in a First Amendment that expressly guarantees the free exercise of religion.
As the Founders understood, no government has legitimate authority to take this right away, because it does not come from government. It comes from God. The very purpose of government is to protect this right. A government that seeks to strip it away from the people is by that very process stripping away its own legitimacy.
What we are seeing from the Obama administration today — in its attack on religious liberty — is simply evil. When government seeks to compel individuals to act against their consciences and to engage in activities that, if willfully done, would imperil their immortal souls, there is no other word for it.
The Newland family owns and operates Hercules Industries, a Colorado-based corporation that manufactures heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment. Through their hard work and dedication, and through their willingness to reinvest their own money in building their family business, they have managed to create jobs for 265 people while exerting a positive influence on the communities they serve.
The Newlands believe the morality the Catholic faith teaches them must animate their lives not only within the walls of the churches they attend, but literally everywhere else, as well — in the way they deal with their families, their neighbors and, yes, their business.
The Newlands sued to protect their free exercise of religion in this regard because Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a regulation, under the Obamacare law, that requires virtually all health care plans to cover — without cost-sharing — sterilizations, artificial contraception and abortifacients.
Under Obamacare, businesses that employ more than 50 people must provide their employees with insurance or pay a penalty, and the required insurance must include the mandated cost-sharing-free coverage for sterilizations, artificial contraception and abortifacients.
At Hercules Industries, the Newlands provide a generous self-insured health-care plan to their employees.
It does not cover sterilization, artificial contraception or abortifacients.
“The Catholic Church teaches that abortifacient drugs, contraception and sterilization are intrinsic evils,” says the Newlands’ lawsuit.
“Consequently, the Newlands believe that it would be immoral and sinful for them to intentionally participate in, pay for, facilitate or otherwise support abortifacient drugs, contraception, sterilization, and related education and counseling as would be required by the Mandate, through their inclusion in health insurance coverage they offer at Hercules,” says the suit.
The Catholic Bishops of the United States endorse this view. At a meeting in Atlanta last month, they unanimously adopted a resolution calling the HHS regulation an “unjust and illegal mandate” and a “violation of personal civil rights.” They declared that the regulation created a class of Americans “with no conscience protection at all: individuals who, in their daily lives, strive constantly to act in accordance with their faith and moral values.
“They, too,” said the bishops, “face a government mandate to aid in providing ‘services’ contrary to those values — whether in their sponsoring of, and payment for, insurance as employers; their payment of insurance premiums as employees; or as insurers themselves — without even the semblance of an exemption.”
In a letter read during Sunday Mass in most dioceses around the country earlier this year, many of the nation’s bishops flatly said: “We cannot — we will not — comply with this unjust law.”
In response to the Newlands’ complaint that ordering them to violate the teachings of the Catholic Church in the way they run their business is a violation of their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion, the Obama administration told the federal court that a private business has no protection under the First Amendment’s free exercise clause — especially if the business is incorporated.
“The First Amendment Complaint does not allege that the company is affiliated with a formally religious entity such as a church,” said the Justice Department. “Nor does it allege that the company employs persons of a particular faith. In short, Hercules Industries is plainly a for-profit, secular employer.”
“By definition,” said the Justice Department, “a secular employer does not engage in any ‘exercise of religion.’”
“It is well established that a corporation and its owners are wholly separate entities, and the Court should not permit the Newlands to eliminate that legal separation to impose their personal religious beliefs on the corporate entity or its employees,” said the Justice Department.
This is just as if the Justice Department were to tell a family owned newspaper that it must publish editorials calling for a confiscatory estate tax, basing its coercion of the newspaper on the supposition (which lawyers for the Alliance Defending Freedom argue DOJ is by analogy making) that as a for-profit secular and incorporated employer, the paper has no First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
The White House has finally responded to criticism over US President Barack Obama’s hushed signing last week of an Executive Order that allows the government to command privately-owned communication systems and acknowledges its implications.
When President Obama inked his name to the Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions Executive Order on July 6, he authorized the US Department of Homeland Security to take control of the country’s wired and wireless communications — including the Internet — in instances of emergency. The signing was accompanied with little to no acknowledgment outside of the White House, but initial reports on the order quickly caused the public to speak out over what some equated to creating an Oval Office kill switch for the Web. Now the Obama administration is addressing those complaints by calling the Executive Order a necessary implement for America’s national security.
“The [order] recognizes the creation of DHS and provides the Secretary the flexibility to organize the communications systems and functions that reside within the department as [Homeland Security Secretary Janet A. Napolitano] believes will be most effective,” White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden tells the Washington Post.
Hayden insists that “The [order] does not transfer authorities between or among departments,” but the order does indeed allow the DHS to establish and implement control over even the privately owned communication systems in the country, including Internet Service Providers such as Time Warner, Verizon and Comcast, if the administration agrees that it is warranted for security’s sake.
Immediately after last week’s signing, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) said the order allowed the DHS “the authority to seize private facilities when necessary, effectively shutting down or limiting civilian communications.”
Following up with the Post this week, EPIC attorney Amie Stephanovich stands by that initial explanation, agreeing that the DHS can now “seize control of telecommunications facilities, including telephone, cellular and wireless networks, in order to prioritize government communications over private ones in an emergency.”
“The previous orders did not give DHS those authorities over private and commercial networks,” adds. Stepanovich. “That’s a new authority.”
According to the order, the DHS can take charge of “commercial, government, and privately owned communications resources” to satisfy what is described as “priority communication requirements.” With little insight from outside the White House, though, what constitutes such an emergency may very well be decided on by Washington, where the country’s elected leaders are still split on all things involving the Internet.
Even still, Stepanovich says that approaching Capitol Hill for comment before rushing through an Executive Order could have caused things to come out differently, but would have also arguably brought forth a firestorm such as the one that accompanied an attempt to pass the Stop Online Piracy Act. When Congress tried to pass SOPA this year — which included provisions that were argued to grossly regulate the Internet — protests nationwide played a massive part in killing the legislation.
“This should have been done by Congress, so there could have been proper debate about it,” Stepanovich tells the Post of last week’s signing. “This is not authority that should be granted by executive order.”
White House spokesperson Hayden adds to the Post, “Mobile phones, the Internet, and social media are all now integral to the communications landscape,” concreting still the allegations that this order could be used as a kill switch to any of the millions upon millions of handheld and desktop devices across the country.