“Buried in H.R. 1’s nearly 800 pages is a censor’s wish list of new burdens on speech and donor privacy. It proposes a democracy where civic engagement is punished and where fewer people have a voice in our government, our laws, and public life,” Eric Wang, the author of the study, said in a statement accompanying the release of the analysis. He is an IFS senior fellow and special counsel in the election law practice group at the Washington law firm of Wiley Rein, LLP.
Among the 14 constitutional problems identified by the IFS analysis in H.R. 1’s Title IV—including especially subtitles B, C, and D—the first are provisions that “unconstitutionally regulate speech that mentions a federal candidate or elected official at any time under a vague, subjective, and dangerously broad standard that asks whether the speech ‘promotes,’ ‘attacks,’ ‘supports,’ or ‘opposes’ (PASO) the candidate or official.”
“This standard is impossible to understand and would likely regulate any mention of an elected official who hasn’t announced their retirement.”
The proposal does that by creating a new category of regulated speech called “campaign-related disbursements” by nonprofit advocacy groups and others interested in communicating about public policy issues.
Such speech would include any public communications that mention a specific candidate for federal office and attacks or supports that candidate “without regard to whether the communication expressly advocates a vote for or against” the candidate.
Last Wednesday Martinez posted a Facebook photo of a flag-draped coffin carried by uniformed officers with the caption, “How police officers take out their trash.” Above the photo, Martinez said, “I can’t wait to see the news and hear that Detective Kenneth Mead is in that casket.”
Showing how ridiculous the charges are, that post didn’t even violate Facebook’s terms of service and it is still up on Martinez’s Facebook page.
In another post, Martinez posted a photo of Dickerson with the statement, “This is Michael Dickerson. He is Detective Kenneth Mead’s bitch. Dickerson, I hope you and Mead die a slow and painful death… Mead, I have a message for you — Molon Labe.”
Again, though this post was distasteful, it was entirely legal. One need only scroll through Twitter or Facebook for a few seconds to find millions upon millions of similar posts about Trump, Biden, cops, judges, local politicians, and individuals whose politics draw them the ire of the political foes.
According to the criminal complaint against Martinez — which apparently justified the million dollar bond — Martinez threatened Mead with the intent that Mead be “placed in reasonable fear of death or substantial bodily harm.”
The idea that these posts placed him in “reasonable fear” is laughable. Literally every single day, TFTP gets hate mail and death threats, directed at our employees and even their families and children, and no one is ever placed in “reasonable fear” because of them.
The emails directly threaten our families, claiming they will murder, rape, etc. If you are reading this now, you can probably even scroll down to the comments and find a threat below. But we don’t even report them, as some pissed off asshole ranting on the internet does not justify reasonable fear.
Not even two months into their reign as the majority party that controls the White House and both houses of Congress, key Democrats have made clear that one of their top priorities is censorship of divergent voices. On Saturday, I detailed how their escalating official campaign to coerce and threaten social media companies into more aggressively censoring views that they dislike — including by summoning social media CEOs to appear before them for the third time in less than five months — is implicating, if not already violating, core First Amendment rights of free speech.
Now they are going further — much further. The same Democratic House Committee that is demanding greater online censorship from social media companies now has its sights set on the removal of conservative cable outlets, including Fox News, from the airwaves.
The current push is based on accusations by liberals that Fox, Newsmax and OANN broadcast disinformation about the COVID pandemic and the 2020 presidential election. However, Media Matters has a campaign that preceded the current controversies, launched in 2019, called “UnFoxMyCableBox” urging liberals to demand that they stop being charged for Fox News and Fox Business as part of bundled fees.
As America debates whether to hold former President Donald Trump accountable for inciting insurrection, what about his co-conspirator Fox News?
…We can’t impeach Fox or put Carlson or Sean Hannity on trial in the Senate, but there are steps we can take — imperfect, inadequate ones, resting on slippery slopes — to create accountability not only for Trump but also for fellow travelers at Fox, OANN, Newsmax and so on.
That can mean pressure on advertisers to avoid underwriting extremists (of any political bent), but the Fox News business model depends not so much on advertising as on cable subscription fees. So a second step is to call on cable companies to drop Fox News from basic cable TV packages.
…“Given all the damage that Fox News has caused and the threat that it remains, they absolutely should unbundle Fox News,” Carusone told me. “It’s not a news channel. It’s a propaganda operation mixed with political smut. If people want that, they should be forced to pay for it the way that they pay for Cinemax.”
“During 2020, Fox News’ caldron of lies and extremism boiled over,” Carusone said. “They made us sicker and put up obstacles to the pandemic response by flooding the airwaves with over 13,150 instances of COVID misinformation. They fomented racial animus and promoted white supremacy as a response to the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. And, in the first two weeks after the election was called for Joe Biden, Fox News laid the groundwork for the attack on the Capitol by challenging the results on 774 individual instances with wild conspiracies and flat-out fabrications.”
House Democrats wrote a letter to cable and satellite providers in advance of this Wednesday’s hearing with this direct question:
“Are you planning to continue carrying Fox News, OANN, and Newsmax on your platform both now and beyond the renewal date? If so, why?”
Larry Flynt, the publisher of the sexually explicit Hustler magazine whose legal battles turned him into a flamboyant crusader for free speech rights, has died at 78. Flynt’s famed legal battles — which he took to the Supreme Court — were memorialized in the 1996 film The People Versus Larry Flynt, starring Woody Harrelson. Flynt’s death was first reported by TMZ and his brother Jimmy Flynt confirmed the news to The Washington Post. A cause of death has not been revealed.
Larry Flynt was a Navy veteran who built a small empire of nude adult clubs in the late 1960s. He took those strip clubs and built them into one of the world’s most successful sex-based brands, transforming a newsletter about the clubs into Hustler magazine in 1974, publishing adult entertainment that critics frequently lambasted as obscene and degrading to women. The magazine once published a photo illustration of a nude woman being passed through a meat grinder. The feminist Gloria Steinem famously described Flynt as “a violent, sadistic pornographer.”
Always brash and opinionated, in his later years, he traveled most places in a gold-plated wheelchair. But he prided himself on being a self-made man who came from very humble beginnings. Larry Claxton Flynt Jr. was born in Lakeville, Kentucky on Nov. 1, 1942. His father was a sharecropper and he grew up in poverty; in his 2004 book Sex, Lies & Politics: The Naked Truth, Flynt cited his meager beginnings as an influence on his attitude toward sex. “I’m a hillbilly, and people like me come to sex without all the hang-ups imposed by the hypocritical, ‘you must maintain proper appearances’ morality of the middle class,” he wrote. “When good Christian folk tell me that sex is dirty, I say, ‘Yeah, when it’s done right.’ For me, sex has always been a way of saying, ‘I am outside the reach of your power.’ “
The high court issued orders late Friday in two cases where churches had sued over coronavirus-related restrictions in the state. The high court said that for now, California can’t ban indoor worship as it had in almost all of the state because virus cases are high.
The justices said the state can cap indoor services at 25% of a building’s capacity. The justices also declined to stop California from enforcing a ban put in place last summer on indoor singing and chanting. California had put the restrictions in place because the virus is more easily transmitted indoors and singing releases tiny droplets that can carry the disease.
The military-industrial complex is doubling down on its crusade against free expression, warning that the First Amendment should no longer be tolerated because it threatens “national security.”
Citing the Jan. 6 “insurrection” against the United States Capitol as proof, Divya Ramjee and Elsa B. Kania, writing for the Pentagon’s Defense One blog, contend that all online free speech needs to be filtered by a Ministry of Truth in order to prevent the type of “disinformation and incitements to violence” that led to the Capitol false flag attack.
Tennessee law enforcement arrested a man last week for posting a photoshopped picture of two men urinating on a dead police officer’s grave.
The Dickson County Sheriff’s Office, following an investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), arrested and charged Joshua Garton with harassment after Garton posted a picture to Facebook that appeared to show two men desecrating the tombstone of Sgt. Daniel Baker, who was shot and killed on duty in 2018. Garton was held on a $76,000 bond.
“Agents subsequently visited Baker’s gravesite this morning and determined the photograph was digitally manufactured,” a TBI press release says. The agency launched the investigation at the request of 23rd District Attorney General Ray Crouch.
While the picture was in poor taste, constitutional experts say law enforcement violated Garton’s First Amendment rights by arresting him for the image.
“The First Amendment clearly and unmistakably protects this man’s right to post an offensive photo about a police officer,” says Daniel Horwitz, a Nashville civil rights attorney. “The only people who broke the law here were the police officers and TBI agents who participated in this flagrantly unconstitutional arrest.”