It is often argued that Facebook is a private enterprise and therefore free to censor whatever it wishes.
However, Facebook and the other internet giants, such as Google, YouTube (a subsidiary of Google), and Twitter, have come to control the flow of information on the internet, to such a degree – as virtual monopolies — that they have become the ‘public square’ of our times. That outcome makes them far more than merely private enterprises and endows them with a special responsibility: Those who cannot publish on Facebook or Twitter, effectively no longer have full freedom of speech.
Governments have always known that free speech can be controlled on social media — there is no internet freedom in countries such as China or Russia. For years, however, Western governments have also been controlling the conduct of free speech on the internet – in the name of fighting supposed ‘hate speech’. Controlling free speech has taken the form of ‘cooperating’ with the internet giants — Facebook, Google, Twitter and You Tube — on voluntary initiatives such as the EU “Code of Conduct on countering illegal online hate speech online“, which requires social media giants to act as censors on behalf of the European Union and to remove within 24 hours content that is regarded as “illegal hate speech”.
This control of free speech has also brought about national legislation, such as Germany’s censorship law, in 2018. This law requires social media platforms to delete or block any alleged online “criminal offenses”, such as libel, slander, defamation or incitement, within 24 hours of receipt of a user complaint. If the platforms fail to do so, the German government can fine them up to 50 million euros for failing to comply with the law.
Two new initiatives look likely to intensify government censorship on the internet.
In France, a recent government report about Facebook, commissioned by President Emmanuel Macron, has called for increasing government oversight over the social media giant. This new ‘oversight’ includes allowing an “independent regulator” to police how Facebook deals with alleged hate speech. The report has also called for laws allowing the French government to investigate and fine social networks that “don’t take responsibility” for the content published by users on their websites. As part of writing the report, French regulators who spent six months inside Facebook, monitoring its policies, concluded, “The inadequacy and lack of credibility in the self-regulatory approach adopted by the largest platforms justify public intervention to make them more responsible”.
France’s parliament is currently debating legislation that would give such a new ‘independent regulator’ the power to fine tech companies up to 4% of their global revenue if they do not do enough to remove ‘hateful content’ from their network. “I am hopeful that it [the French proposal] can become a model that can be used across the EU”, Mark Zuckerberg said after a recent meeting with Macron.
In Paris on May 15, 17 countries, the European Commission, and eight major tech companies adopted the Christchurch Call to Action agreement. This agreement, initiated by France and New Zealand, is named after a terrorist attack that killed 51 Muslim worshipers in two Christchurch mosques in March. According to the Christchurch Call’s website:
“The Christchurch Call is a commitment by Governments and tech companies to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online. It rests on the conviction that a free, open and secure internet offers extraordinary benefits to society. Respect for freedom of expression is fundamental. However, no one has the right to create and share terrorist and violent extremist content online.
“The support shown in Paris for the Christchurch Call is just the first step. We are now calling on other countries, companies, and organisations to join us.”
The US did not sign the agreement. The White House wrote in an official statement:
“We continue to be proactive in our efforts to counter terrorist content online while also continuing to respect freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Further, we maintain that the best tool to defeat terrorist speech is productive speech, and thus we emphasize the importance of promoting credible, alternative narratives as the primary means by which we can defeat terrorist messaging.”
As indicated by the US in its statement, the problem with these government-led drives for more censorship in the name of fighting “terrorist and violent extremist content online” is where one draws the line as to what constitutes “hate speech”, and the extent to which such drives can manage to uphold the rights of citizens to free speech. In Europe, hate-speech laws have increasingly been used to shut downthe speech of citizens who disagree with government migration policies.
No one would mistake the Supreme Court’s liberal justices for adherents to the concept of “originalism,” or the belief that one should consider—first and foremost—the Founders’ intent when ruling on constitutional issues. And yet their opinions in the Maryland “Peace Cross” case suggests that they, at least implicitly, support the idea.
In American Legion v. American Humanists Association, the court upheld Maryland’s Bladensburg Cross against the claim that its presence on public property violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Writing in dissent, no less a figure than Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—the Notorious RBG and hero of the American Left—turned to the thought of the Founders in order to find the meaning of the establishment clause.
The original meaning that conscientious judges should seek is the meaning as it was understood by the public at large when the Constitution was ratified, and not the personal political views of selected Founders who, we should be reminded, were not sovereigns. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that no less a liberal giant than Ginsburg is willing to use at least some form of originalism in an effort to find the meaning of the Constitution.
Nor is this an isolated case. In the previous decade, when the court grappled with the meaning of the Second Amendment in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), both the conservative and liberal justices turned to the Founding generation to understand the meaning of the “right to keep and bear arms.” Justice Antonin Scalia and the conservative majority found that the weight of the historical evidence supported an individual right to keep and bear arms, while the liberal dissenters disputed this conclusion.
Notably, however, the “living Constitution”—which some liberal commentators treat as the common sense alternative to the much-derided originalist line of inquiry—made no appearance in Heller. Justice John Paul Stevens and the liberal dissenters never suggested the meaning of the Second Amendment should be interpreted in light of today’s values. They mounted no attack on originalism itself as a mode of interpretation. Instead they countered with their own originalist investigation, looking at the same evidence and holding that it supported the view that the Second Amendment aimed merely to protect the state militia.
As well they should. Constitutional originalism provides a nonpolitical standard for judges, one that permits them to think beyond their own policy preferences. Its liberal detractors may claim that it is just a clever disguise for their own political judging (“Originalism is a scam,” according to one recent ThinkProgress headline), but their argument is a weak one.
Anyone who studies the early history of the American Republic can see that originalism is not some novel invention of modern conservatives but a long-established and venerable approach to constitutional interpretation. In his celebrated opinions for the Supreme Court, John Marshall—the “Great Chief Justice”—sought the original meaning of the constitutional provisions on which he was called to rule. Certainly Marshall never suggested—unlike the modern purveyors of the “living Constitution”—that the meaning of constitutional provisions could change over time or might be imbued with new meaning by the jurists of the present generation.
Twitter has blocked John Lott’s account because of a post about the New Zealand mosque killer, and won’t explain its decision (see pictures). If you have a Twitter account, please consider retweeting the Crime Prevention Research Center’s tweet about this.The original tweet was completely accurate, and is substantiated here. We have appealed, but we are not optimistic.
The general claim that most mass public shooters are right-wingers is also false (see here).
Perfect exemplar of crap-for-brains, and the illiteracy of ‘intellectuals’. They hate the rights acknowledged and protected by the Constitution and Bill of Rights so much they are unable to actually read and comprehend the clearly written words.
“Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.” President Abraham Lincoln’s words, delivered in 1856, still sound contemporary. Americans on all sides of the political spectrum see the Constitution as a uniquely wise document. School children learn about the founders and the great compromise at Philadelphia. Congress members read the text aloud in the capitol. The Constitution is excellent — Democrats and Republicans agree.
Well, perhaps not quite everyone. Legal scholar Mary Anne Franks’ new book “The Cult of the Constitution” dissents from this nearly universal enthusiasm. Franks isn’t anti-Constitution. But she argues that uncritical reverence for the Constitution leads, not to liberty, but to injustice.
Franks isn’t anti-Constitution. But she argues that uncritical reverence for the Constitution leads, not to liberty, but to injustice.
“When I say that reverence is a problem, I don’t mean in the sense of respect for foundational principles that we’re trying to aspire to,” Franks said. “What I’m concerned about is reverence that leads us to create an idea of the Constitution based on our intuitions of what we think should be there, rather than what is.”
Franks compares constitutional fundamentalism to Biblical fundamentalism. Both, she argues, insist that a text is both infallible and instantly comprehensible while pushing highly contentious interpretations as an excuse to harm others without remorse. “The combination of reverence and ignorance is at the heart of all fundamentalism,” Franks writes.
The clearest example of constitutional fundamentalism is the extreme rhetoric that has grown up around the Second Amendment. Second Amendment fundamentalists, led by the National Rifle Association, argue that the Constitution must always allow individuals to bear arms, though the text of the amendment is about the right to a well-regulated militia…..
This essentially selfish logic is also a hallmark of First Amendment fundamentalism. Unlike Second Amendment fundamentalism, which is mostly a phenomenon of the right, the First Amendment is embraced and revered across the political spectrum.
Nonetheless, Franks says, First Amendment fundamentalism and Second Amendment fundamentalism create similar problems. First Amendment absolutists see it as an absolute right that must always be protected.
The Supreme Court turned back a constitutional challenge to a 40-foot World War I memorial cross in Maryland Thursday, finding that the monument does not violate the First Amendment.
Justice Samuel Alito delivered the opinion for the Court, with a total of seven justices finding that the memorial — known colloquially as the Peace Cross — should be upheld. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor were the two dissenters.
“After the First World War, the picture of row after row of plain white crosses marking the overseas graves of soldiers who had lost their lives in that horrible conflict was emblazoned on the minds of Americans at home, and the adoption of the cross as the Bladensburg memorial must be viewed in that historical context,” Alito wrote.
“It has become a prominent community landmark, and its removal or radical alteration at this date would be seen by many not as a neutral act but as the manifestation of ‘a hostility toward religion,’” he added.
HARRISBURG, PA (May 31, 2019) — Today, the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court issued a significant 53-page majority opinion in the criminal appeal of Commonwealth v. Hicks. Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) and Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF) filed an important coalition amicus brief cited by the Court supporting Hicks in December of 2017, alongside Firearms Owners Against Crime (FOAC) and seven Members of Pennsylvania’s General Assembly. The Court’s decision, concurring opinions, and the FPC/FPF amicus brief can be viewed at www.firearmspolicy.org/legal.
At issue was whether someone’s carrying of a firearm could be used as reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct, and thus justification for police to conduct a “stop-and-frisk” of the gun owner. The court ruled in Hicks that such searches and seizures, in the absence of other evidence are completely unlawful.
The coalition’s brief, which was relied on heavily in the majority opinion, argued that the Pennsylvania and federal constitutions prohibit searches and seizures based on a suspicion of criminal activity due to carrying a firearm. According to the brief, “As protected by the Second and Fourth Amendments to the United States Constitution and  the Pennsylvania Constitution . . . the mere open or conceal carrying of a firearm cannot establish reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal conduct, in the absence of additional indicia of unlawful activity.”
The Court agreed, noting “that the government may not target and seize specific individuals without any particular suspicion of wrongdoing, then force them to prove that they are not committing crimes.”
“Hicks’ position is supported by several amici curiae, including Members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, Firearms Owners Against Crime, the Firearms Policy Coalition, and the Firearms Policy Foundation. Hicks’ amici argue that the Robinson rule is contrary to this Court’s precedent and to the general teachings of the Supreme Court of the United States’ Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. Amicifurther point to numerous decisions of the courts of other states and federal appellate courts that have addressed the specific question at issue here, and which have held that mere possession of a concealed firearm provides no basis for an investigative detention,” Supreme Court Justice Wecht wrote for the majority.
FPC President and FPF Chairman Brandon Combs hailed the decision. “Stop-and-frisk practices that harass gun owners who carry for lawful purposes including self-defense, like the one at the core of this case, are unconstitutional, bad public policy, and dangerous,” explained Combs. “We are thrilled that the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania agreed with these fundamental principles and issued such an incredibly positive decision in favor of constitutional rights.”
Kim Stolfer, president of FOAC, was also delighted with the ruling. “We are thrilled to have participated in this case. The Commonwealth’s position, that the ‘mere sight’ of a firearm, with no criminal act, ‘justifies’ arrest and detention at gunpoint, is constitutionally repugnant and unjustified. Today the Court rightly held as much.”
Joshua Prince, author of the coalition’s brief, said that “the Court, in dismissing the Commonwealth’s position, declared that to permit investigative detention solely to determine whether someone is properly licensed is ‘ultimately untenable, because it would allow a manifestly unacceptable range of ordinary activity to, by itself, justify Terry stops.’”
“This ruling rightly puts an end to abusive, non-justifiable searches of law-abiding gun owners, and it should be relished by all those who support the fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution,” Prince concluded.
Free speech is dangerous. The right to petition our government and to own guns is dangerous. Those rights are particularly threatening to entrenched politicians and the special interest they represent. Besides being dangerous, those rights are also the safest way to organize a society. It is time we defended them, not because they are safe, but because they are virtues.
Virtues are how we do good things. Defending your community, the right to bear arms in public, is how you ensure public safety when the police aren’t there. The police are rarely there when you’re attacked by a criminal. We’ve lost much of our right to bear arms. We surrendered it to “public safety”. The right to bear arms was never meant to be convenient for politicians.
Your gun might be “safer” if it was under lock and key. It is also less useful that way. You can’t use your gun to protect yourself and your family if it takes you minutes to put to use. We forget that. We forget that in your hands, guns save lives. Making firearms “safer” and less accessible means we save fewer lives.
I see that every day. I study self-defense week after week, year after year. I also study the statistics of armed defense. I report the stories where ordinary people like you stopped a violent assault. You saved your life. You also saved the lives of your family and other innocent parties. I see it. Unfortunately, you can’t protect the people you love once you’ve made your tools of self-defense “safe”.
Like the police, you will probably never need to press the trigger. Unlike the police who see violence every day, your family will probably see violence once in your lifetime. That is what the FBI statistics tell us. There are about 70 million families in the USA, so the numbers add up. We defend ourselves about once every 30 seconds.
You protect yourself when you go buy groceries and when you fill up your car with gas. You protect yourself at work and at home. You protect yourself on your way to the gym, to school and to church. When the attack is over and you’ve defended yourself and others, then you call the police. That is what good people do. The police show up minutes later and take a report. The fact that you go armed, that you have your self-defense tools with you, that makes all of us safer. Thank you.
About 20 million of us have permits to carry a concealed weapon in public. That is about one-in-ten adults. The number of us carrying in public increases to about one-in-five adults when the government gets out of the way. Government fees and licensing requirements disarmed about half of us. That is bad. Disarming the good guys makes us less safe.
Gun-control disarms us by inches. As we’ve seen in the news, there is no such thing as a “gun-free” zone. Politicians said that honest people should be disarmed so that only criminals would be the only ones with guns. Politicians don’t want your gun to be too big or too small, too old or too new.. except for their bodyguards, of course. Politicians want you disarmed. For many reasons, disarming you is safer for them.
Being disarmed is not safer for you and me. Good women with guns and good men with guns make their families safer and their communities safer. You can’t be a force for good if you don’t have your self-defense tools, and the training to use them.
I have to address a comforting myth about owning a gun. The average defense takes place in seconds. That isn’t enough time for you run to your gun safe, get your ammunition that you stored separately, load a magazine, and protect your family or your employees. Time yourself.* You’ll see that I’m right. A gun you can’t use is dangerous.
We defend ourselves a million times a year with a firearm. We also have thousands of firearms accidents each year. Criminals put their guns under the front steps. Thugs leave their guns under the couch cushions in their girlfriends house. That is where children find them and where children get hurt. I want you to own your firearms responsibly, but I also want you to keep them accessible so you can use your “rescue tools” when you need them. For many of us, that means you carry your gun on your body and then put it in a small, quick-access, gun vault. That is careful storage of a dangerous tool. That is what good men and good women do. I thank you.
I mean you, the average citizen of the USA. I want you to exercise your rights. I want you to have dangerous freedom because I trust you. You have more common sense and honesty than the politicians paraded before us on the news. I trust your wisdom and your motives far more than I trust theirs.
*- I asked my listeners to get their guns from “safe storage”. It takes them over half a minute to access a “safe” gun.
That’s because the Euros that populated NZ never had a constitution that restricted the government from infringing and abridging the people’s rights it was supposed to be protecting. NZ doesn’t even protect the right of free speech and a free press as the police there jailed and charged someone for posting the murderer’s manifesto online.
New Zealand Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern expressed shock at the lack of action in the United States to implement gun control laws.
“You can draw a line and say that does not mean you need access to military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles. You do not. And New Zealand has by and large absolutely agreed with that position,” Ardern said in a CNN interview.
“Australia experienced a massacre and changed their laws; New Zealand had its experience and changed its laws,” Ardern said, referring to the country’s mass shooting at Muslim mosques in March. More than 50 people were killed during the gunman’s attack
In response to the mass shooting, Ardern pushed for more gun control, saying New Zealand “had pretty permissive gun legislation.” Ardern did say firearms have a use for hunting, but only certain guns should be sold.
“To be honest with you, I do not understand the United States,” she said.
Some of the new gun laws the New Zealand parliament passed after the mass shooting at Christchurch included a mandatory gun buyback, with an amnesty period until September 2019. The Evening Standard reports said there are only two exemptions: If the weapon is used for pest control on private and nonconservation land and if the weapon is a family heirloom.
CBS anchor Anne-Marie Green openly advocated for the U.S. government to censor speech online in a recent segment, prompting the reporter she was interviewing to remind her about the First Amendment.
CBS News released a propaganda segment on Monday featuring New York Times tech reporter Cecilia Kang where they suggested the US government could do an end run around the First Amendment through strict “regulations” in order to suppress “hate speech” and “misinformation” online.
Both the CBS News host and NYT reporter Cecilia Kang said the US should look to countries like Australia, New Zealand, Germany and India — which do not have free speech — as models for suppressing free speech on the internet.
As I reported in November 2018, the New York Times editorial board wrote a propaganda piece comparing right-wingers to jihadists and demanded authoritarian censorship of the internet to stop the spread of “toxic ideas.”
The New York Times last year hired virulent anti-white racist Sarah Jeong in August 2018 as their lead technology writer and made her a member of their editorial board.
Even leftists who don’t hold tight to the ‘correct narrative’ suffer the consequences. The media’s hypocrisy knows no bounds if one of them strays off the plantation.
On Thursday, popular Twitter user and writer known by the alias “Kantbot” found his Medium account suspended in the wake of publishing a piece that went viral regarding school shootings and mental health interventions primarily in public schools.
Despite a somewhat provocative headline — “Guns Don’t Kill People, School Psychologists Do” — the piece gives a nuanced look at the culture of school psychology and mental health interventions in relation to school shootings. Notably, the post veers from talking points supporting gun control measures or, conversely, armed guards at schools — the two competing narratives consistently debated after such attacks.
According to a vague email from the tech platform, the writer’s account was suspended for “hateful text, images, or other content in (his) username, profile, or bio.”
The writer’s bio on Medium featured a photo of a philosopher-esque “Pepe the Frog” and a quote from Friedrich Schiller’s “On the Aesthetic Education of Man.”
Kantbot finds the timing suspect. The writer noted that he’s been publishing posts on Medium for two years using the same bio and photo without ever encountering an issue.
“It seems strange that after I posted a popular story to all of a sudden be cracked down on without any warning,” he told The Daily Wire, adding that he “wasn’t given a chance to remove” his avatar, if that indeed was the issue.
NRA Sues L.A. for Requiring Contractors to Disclose Support for Group
Ordinance ‘does, in fact, chill the speech of current and prospective City contractors with ties to Plaintiff NRA’
This is so risible, the District Judge should rule it unconstitutional so fast it would look like warp drive has been invented.
The National Rifle Association filed suit against Los Angeles on Wednesday after the city passed an ordinance requiring contractors disclose their support for the gun-rights group in order to work with the city.
The NRA, alongside an unnamed business that supports the organization and holds work contracts with Los Angeles, filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. They claim the city’s ordinance is unconstitutional and violates the First Amendment’s free speech and free association protections as well as the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause.
“The Ordinance, on its face and as applied or threatened to be applied, imposes an unconstitutional ideological litmus test for independent contractors, requiring that they disclose information about their political beliefs and associations,” Anna M. Barvir, counsel for the NRA, wrote in a complaint filed by the group. “The Ordinance, on its face and as applied or threatened to be applied, is unconstitutional because it seeks disclosure of Plaintiffs’ political beliefs and associations solely for the purpose of withholding government contracts.”
Los Angeles ordinance 186000 took effect on April 1, 2019. The ordinance requires nearly anyone doing nearly any work for the city to tell the city whether it sponsors the NRA or even if it merely has contracts with the gun rights organization. The ordinance states the disclosure is designed to ensure the city doesn’t do business with contractors that may not support council members’ gun-control positions.
Nancy Pelosi Declares a ‘New Era’ of Internet Regulation; E.U. Threatens Same
Nancy Pelosi wants to gut Section 230
Little wanna-be tyrants…some with dementia.
We’ve all been watching this develop for years now: The internet is being slow-choked, not by rapacious ISPs forcing users to pay for “fast lanes,” but by politicians on both sides of the Atlantic who want to have a bigger role in what we’re allowed to do and say online. To be sure, lawmakers are being greatly aided in their efforts by major tech players such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Apple’s Tim Cook, who are explicitly calling for regulation to maintain current market positions in a sector defined by creative destruction (all hail MySpace and Blackberry!).
In an interview with Recode‘s Kara Swisher, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) pronounced that in the tech sector, the “era of self-regulation” is over when it comes to privacy and speech rules. Sounding a lot like conservative Republicans such as Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, she zeroes in especially on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act as the thing that needs to be torched.
As the title of a new book puts it, Section 230 comprises “the twenty-six words that created the internet.” Author Jeff Kosseff explains that by immunizing websites, platforms, and service providers from “lawsuits over materials that their users upload,” Section 230 “fundamentally changed American life.” Indeed, the internet as we know it is based on both “content created not only by large companies, but by users,” writes Kosseff, who observes that of the top 10 most-trafficked websites in the United States in 2018, only Netflix “mostly provides its own content.” All the rest—Facebook, Wikipedia, YouTube, Twitter, et al.—either rely heavily on user-generated content (including potentially actionable reviews and comments about everything under the sun) or exist to guide users to such content (Google, Yahoo).
Pelosi is done with all that, telling Swisher that the freedom of expression empowered by Section 230 is “a gift” and a “privilege” that can be rescinded if major tech companies don’t move in the direction she and other politicians want.
The exercise of a right that’s protected here in the U.S. will get you a jail sentence in ‘liberal’ New Zealand.
Six people appeared in a New Zealand court Monday on charges they illegally redistributed the video a gunman livestreamed as he shot worshippers at two mosques last month. Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen O’Driscoll denied bail to businessman Philip Arps and an 18-year-old suspect who both were taken into custody in March. The four others are not in custody.
The charge of supplying or distributing objectionable material carries a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment.
Sanders insults Congress? Well, Congress is insulting.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said lawmakers are not “smart enough” to look through President Trump’s tax returns.
She appeared on “Fox News Sunday” as a battle is being waged over access to Trump’s financial records.
“This is a dangerous, dangerous road, and frankly, Chris, I don’t think Congress, particularly not this group of congressmen and women, are smart enough to look through the thousands of pages that I would assume that president trumps taxes will be,” Sanders said to host Chris Wallace.
A great example is how gun control has become entirely feminized. In the 1970’s, gun control polices were about limiting crime. No one said it, but it was really about making it hard for blacks to get guns. It was a debate around facts about guns and crime. Today, gun grabbing is nothing more than an hysterical reaction by women to what they see on the news. It’s all about safety, by which they mean protecting people from themselves, not reducing crime. It’s mommy putting covers over the electrical sockets.
The selfie-video made by New Zealand shooter Brent Tarrant shows the world once again how shockingly banal an act of mass homicide can be. He went through the various chambers of two mosques in suburban Christchurch exterminating unarmed, helpless worshippers as if they were mere points to be racked up in a video game. They had no personalities or histories. They were just targets. And when they moaned or moved, he shot them again to make sure they were out of the game. The shooter was arrested and lives on in police custody.
He went about his task with exactly the sort of paramilitary efficiency that is portrayed so admiringly in the Mission Impossible or Fast and Furious movies, all business, no emotion. The manifesto he left on the Internet shows his clear and detailed motive for what he didn’t hesitate to label as “a terrorist attack.” He was especially interested in provoking a fresh debate over the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution in the USA, in the hopes of provoking a civil war that would break-up the nation into warring regions divided by race. He calls himself “an eco-nationalist” because he considers overpopulation the leading threat to the planet and non-Europeans to be the most fecund and therefore responsible for the problem. He will go on trial and he says he intends to plead innocent. You’d better take him seriously.
At least half the political class in the USA doesn’t take the immigration issue seriously, except as a gambit for what they think is political advantage. The Left is doing everything possible to confound the issue and muddle it with litigation at every level, from local law enforcement to congress, starting with the longstanding effort to garble the definitions of legal versus illegal immigration. The “conservative” Right doesn’t dare call them on it, out of fear of losing Hispanic votes. So, it is left to the awkward, inflammatory figure of Mr. Trump to demand clarification about what official policy will be, including the enforcement of existing laws, and he has been reviled for it all along the way. He’s not a consensus-builder, to put it mildly.
Last week, coincidental with the New Zealand mosque massacre, Mr. Trump said the following:
“You know, the left plays a tougher game. It’s very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher. O.K.? I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump. I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”
As usual, his syntax is disastrous as well as his habit of placing himself at the center of every issue. But, also as usual with Mr. Trump, and because of his filter-less tongue, he lays out matters that should be extremely troubling to all Americans: that the land is full of men with tremendous potential for violence — and most particularly men with military and paramilitary training in killing and warfare, who have, so far, barely expressed in action their discontent with the tactics of their adversaries on the Left. This Pandora’s box of calamity includes the Left’s recent campaign to denigrate men as toxic and without value, especially white men wearing their scarlet letter “P” for privilege.
The Left had better sober up and join an intelligible good faith debate about US immigration policy and the enforcement of existing laws or this will lead to exactly what Brent Tarrant laid out and what Mr. Trump maladroitly hinted at. Instead, of course, we will more likely commence another bootless campaign over guns. Here are some plain facts about that. There are already enough firearms of every sort loose in this land to commence hot civil warfare and they will not be surrendered by their owners. The horses are out of the barn on that one, even if sales of military-style weapons are outlawed. Any effort to confiscate them from people already possessing them will only provoke more overt antagonism between the two poles of American politics — and would probably lead to exactly the sort of violence that sober observers discern on the horizon.
Our battered American common culture and its expression in political consensus ought to start with the foundation of the social contract: the agreement to not slaughter each other. That is, at least, the one principle that ought to stand on its own as self-evident, without any need for equivocation via “diversity” arguments. The Left is playing with fire on this with its dishonest, bad faith approach to debating the immigration question, and the gun debate will only provide a distraction from it.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Thursday requiring colleges and universities to uphold the First Amendment on campus if they want to receive federal research funding.
President Trump signed an executive order on Thursday to protect free speech on college campuses. The order calls for holding universities accountable “both for student outcomes and for student life on campus,” by withholding federal research funding if a university or college does not agree to respect the First Amendment.
Pamela Geller recently reported on the murders of 120 Christians in Nigeria since February of this year. This is the tip of the iceberg of attacks on churches and Christians throughout the world by Islamists who are crying for the blood of Christian martyrs. Many leftwing atheists then call those who vigorously protest this bloodshed “Islamophobes.” In effect, they are allowing and even encouraging the militant Islamists to continue their violent acting out.
The sympathy with Islamic jihadists is the necessary perverse outcome of a deep mental illness which I diagnose and call Islamophilia. This is the exaggerated love of Islam and of followers of Islam based upon a desire to bring death and destruction to Christians, Jews, and even those secularists who remain loyal to Judeo-Christian morality. It is an overidentification with the mindset that wishes to destroy Anglo/American liberty based on natural rights, and with the deep, Western attachment to personal autonomy and private property. The natural [and inalienable] rights of our Anglo-American civilization are, according to our Declaration of Independence, endowed by our Creator. These rights are Biblical rights found in Scripture, and moved forward by God’s holy providence into the natural realm of human governance.
In short, the leftist brigades of our culture are sublimating their vendetta of hate for natural rights and for Christian faith (deeply tied to Old Testament teachings and faith) through vicarious identification with the violent Islamic jihadist machinations against non-Islamic societies, cultural subgroups, and governments.
Islamophilia, not Islamophobia, is the greatest threat to the peace and tranquility of western civilization. Like many of the other “-philias,” it is a deeply irrational disturbance which functions by exaggerating the merits of a class of beings (Islam) in order to distract from a realistic assessment of that class or aggregate.
Arkansas Legislature Effectively Votes To Abolish Civil Asset Forfeiture
Arkansas joins three other states in requiring police secure a conviction before they can seize a person’s property.
The Arkansas legislature unanimously passed a significant asset forfeiture reform bill Wednesday. The new law will require police and prosecutors to obtain a criminal conviction in most cases before they can seize someone’s property.
The bill, S.B. 308, passed the Arkansas Senate by a unanimous votelast month. On Wednesday, the bill similarly sailed through the Arkansas House by a vote of 93-0. If the bill is signed into law by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas will join four three states—North Carolina, New Mexico and Nebraska—that have severely curtailed or abolished asset forfeiture.
The new law would require prosecutors to obtain a criminal conviction to forfeit property. There are a list of exceptions, however, including if the property owner is deceased, deported, flees the jurisdiction or fails to challenge the forfeiture, or if the property is abandoned.
Jenna Moll, the deputy director of the Justice Action Network, a criminal justice advocacy group, called the passage of the bill “a watershed moment for forfeiture reform efforts in the United States.”
“To see two chambers of the Arkansas legislature pass this legislation unanimously is truly remarkable,” Moll says. “Arkansas has now truly set the marker for other states seeking to protect property rights and improve due process for their citizens.”
Under civil asset forfeiture laws, police can seize property suspected of being connected to criminal activity, even if the owner is never charged or convicted of a crime. Law enforcement groups say it is a vital tool that disrupts drug trafficking and other organized crime by targeting the flow of ill-gotten money.
However, civil liberties groups argue there are far too few procedural protections for innocent property owners, who may lose their car, their cash, and even their house.
As Reason’s Jacob Sullum reported in 2016, an Arkansas highway trooper seized $20,000 from a man during a traffic stop on suspicion that it was drug money, even though there was no evidence whatsoever of illegal activity.
The proceeds of asset forfeiture are often then split between local prosecutors’ offices and police departments. The federal government also partners with state and local police on forfeiture cases, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars a year for the Justice Department’s asset forfeiture fund.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that state law enforcement agencies rake in tens of millions of dollars a year through asset forfeiture.
Arkansas law enforcement agencies seized nearly $88 million in cash from 2010-18, about $9.7 million per year, according to data collected by Jeremy Horpedahl, assistant professor of economics at the University of Central Arkansas.
That does not include the value for roughly 4,900 vehicles, at least 3,300 weapons and 1,000 other pieces of property confiscated in that span, according to numbers provided by Horpedahl, who has been tracking the data since a former student wrote a thesis on civil asset forfeiture in the state.
Numerous investigations and reports have found that, in addition to big cash hauls and flashy speedboats, police often use asset forfeiture for petty seizures against everyday people, not cartel lords. Asset forfeiture also disproportionately targets minorities and poor people who don’t have the resources to challenge seizures in court. A recent investigation by local newspapers in South Carolina revealed that black men accounted for 65 percent of all citizens targeted for civil forfeiture in the state, despite making up only 13 percent of the total state population.
More than half of all U.S. states have passed some form of asset forfeiture reform over the past decade in response to bipartisan concerns.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 9-0 decision that the Eighth Amendment’s protections against excessive fines and fees applied to the states. The case, Timbs v. Indiana, challenged the seizure of a $42,000 Land Rover—four times the maximum fine for the drug crime that resulted in the seizure.
I would be in sooo much trouble today if I was in school. Back in the Pre-Cambrian, I sketched Dad’s guns in high school art class. High end charcoal on parchment grade paper stock sketches at that. The only commentary from the teacher was to take care about smudges and erasures.
(1) A minor who posts or publishes a picture of a firearm, a BB gun, an air or a gas-operated gun, or a device displayed to resemble a firearm to a social media page, post, profile, or account that is openly viewable to the public commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable [by up to a year in jail or a fine of up to $1000].
(2)(a) Any parent or guardian of a minor, or other adult responsible for the welfare of a minor, if the minor possesses a firearm in violation of this section, may, if the court finds it appropriate, be required to participate in classes on parent education which are approved by the Department of Juvenile Justice, upon the first conviction of the minor. Upon any subsequent conviction of the minor, the court may, if the court finds it appropriate, require the parent to attend further parent education classes or render community service hours together with the child.
(3) Any firearm that is possessed or used by a minor in violation of this section shall be promptly seized by a law enforcement officer and disposed of ….
This is an obvious First Amendment violation: The statute isn’t limited to displays that constitute true threats of violence (there’s a First Amendment exception for such true threats), or possession of guns by minors in violation of state law. Indeed, it would be a crime for a minor to post a photo of himself lawfully using a gun at a shooting range.
So would a minor’s posting “a picture of a firearm” (not even a photograph of himself holding a firearm) as part of a pro-gun-rights — or anti-gun-rights — political post. So, for that matter, would be a minor’s posting a photo of soldiers holding guns. But even if the bill were somehow limited to the minor’s posting of photographs of himself holding guns (or BB guns or other perfectly lawful guns), it would still be an unconstitutional content-based restriction on speech.
States Increasingly Police Family ‘Thoughtcrimes’
As homeschooling rapidly grows, so too are state-level efforts to “oversee” families.
Oregon, Washington state, and even Iowa are trailblazing another assault on constitutionally protected individual rights. The state legislature in Oregon is currently mulling over a bill that “directs Oregon Health Authority to study home visiting by licensed health care providers.” The bill contends that home visits are “necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health and safety.”
There’s a similar scheme being conjured up in Washington. In January, Gov. Jay Inslee (now a 2020 Democrat presidential contender) declared: “My budget would also offer universal home visits. This gives every new parent the opportunity to get a visit from a nurse during the first few weeks back home with their newborn to share important information and build confidence.”
“Iowa Democrats are also attempting to gain oversight of families, specifically those of homeschoolers,” The Resurgent’s James Silberman reports. “IA HF272 would mandate quarterly ‘health and safety visits’ to homeschool families by school district officials. The bill states that these visits would be with the consent of the parents but also specifies that parents can be overridden if a judge determines there is probable cause for home inspection.”
PJ Media columnist Paula Bolyard astutely observes, “As someone who has been involved in the homeschooling movement for more than 20 years, I have seen many attempts to increase the oversight of children taught at home by requiring home visits by a teacher or social worker. … Anytime a state or locality has tried to draft legislation requiring home visits for homeschooled children, the immediate response has always been, ‘What are they going to do next, require inspections for children from birth until they enter school?’ The answer to that, of course, is yes. That has been the plan all along.”
This is statism, pure and simple. The Daily Signal this week relayed the story of a parent who said, “I was shocked when my 13-year-old daughter told me she was really my transgender son.” The parent added, “Where did she get the idea she was transgender? From a school presentation.”
This is precisely why more and more families are pulling their kids from public schooling and increasingly homeschooling. And while their reasons for doing so are more than justified, statists are ensuring that no age and no home is off limits when it comes to regulating thoughtcrimes.
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that state governments cannot impose excessive court fees, fines and forfeitures as a means of raising money.
The decision, which united the court’s conservatives and liberals, makes clear that the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against “excessive fines” applies to the states.
Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, just back in court after lung cancer surgery, wrote the majority opinion and announced it from the bench.
“The protection against excessive fines guards against abuses of government’s punitive or criminal law-enforcement authority,” Ginsburg wrote. Quoting in part from the court’s 2010 ruling that Second Amendment gun rights apply to the states, she said, “This safeguard, we hold, is ‘fundamental to our scheme of ordered liberty.’” . . .
The case came to the Supreme Court from Indiana’s highest court, which ruled that the excessive fines clause doesn’t apply to the states. It represents the latest effort to determine what portions of the Bill of Rights apply to the states.
Most rights, such as the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms for self-defense, have been extended. But the right to a unanimous jury verdict under the Sixth Amendment has not.
Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., warned President Donald Trump that if he declared an “emergency” to build a wall, “think what a president with different values can present. … Why don’t you declare [the epidemic of gun violence in America] an emergency, Mr. President? I wish you would. … A Democratic president can declare emergencies as well.”
Her fellow Democrats, Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., quickly agreed. Warren tweeted: “Gun violence is an emergency. Climate change is an emergency.”
Not every problem in America should be declared an emergency—or used by a president to justify acting without Congress.
But why are guns on the Democrats’ “emergency” list anyway?
One reason is sloppy reporting by lazy media.
Last year, they claimed that there were school shootings at “hundreds of schools.” It was “an almost daily occurrence” in the U.S., some said.
This was nonsense. NPR reporters looked into the 235 shootings reported by the U.S. Department of Education and were only able to confirm 11 of them.
It turned out that schools were added to the list merely because someone at a school heard there may have been a shooting. Good for NPR for checking out the Education Department’s claims.
Economist John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center (and the father of one of my producers), spends much of his time researching gun use and correcting shoddy studies.
A few years ago, much of the media claimed that the U.S. has “the most mass shootings of any country in the world.” Then-President Barack Obama added it’s “a pattern now … that has no parallel anywhere else … .”
CNN and the Los Angeles Times wrote about “Why the U.S. Has the Most Mass Shootings.” (“The United States has more guns.”)
But the U.S. doesn’t have the most mass shootings, says Lott. It’s a myth created by University of Alabama associate professor Adam Lankford, a myth repeated by anti-gun media in hundreds of news stories.
“Lankford claimed that since 1966, there were 90 mass public shooters in the United States, more than any other country,” says Lott. “Lankford claimed ‘complete data’ were available from 171 countries.”
But how could that be? Many governments don’t collect such data, and even fewer have information from before the days of the internet.
A shooting in say, India, would likely be reported only in local newspapers, in a local dialect. How would Lankford ever find out about it? How did he collect his information? What languages did he search in?
He won’t say.
“That’s academic malpractice,” says Lott in my video about the controversy.
I’m not surprised that Lankford didn’t reply to Lott’s emails. Lott is known as pro-gun. (He wrote the book “More Guns, Less Crime.”) But Lankford also won’t explain his data to me, The Washington Post, or even his fellow gun control advocates.
When Lott’s research center checked the data, using Lankford’s own definition of a mass shooting—“four or more people killed”—the center found 3,000 shootings around the world. Lankford claimed there were only 202.
Lankford said he excludes “sponsored terrorism,” but does not define what he means by that. To be safe, Lott removed terrorism cases from his data. He still found 709 shootings—more than triple the number Lankford reported.
It turns out that not only did the U.S. not have the most frequent mass shootings, it was No. 62 on the list, lower than places like Norway, Finland, and Switzerland.
There was also no relationship between the rate of gun ownership in different countries and the rate of mass shootings.
If journalists had just demanded Lankford explain his study methods before touting his results, his “more mass shootings” myth would never have spread.
So if Pelosi, Harris, and Warren ever follow through on their threat to declare gun violence a “national emergency,” be sure to check their math. Or just remember the wisdom of the Second Amendment.
Government’s desire to control us—and to lie to make its case—is the real emergency.