“Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” – First Amendment

You’d think that with language as clear as that, Congress would not meddle with freedom of speech, but you’d be wrong. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) is planning on resurrecting the Fairness Doctrine of decades past. In a nutshell, the Fairness Doctrine says that radio stations can’t host one political side without giving equal time to the other. That’s only fair, don’t you agree? We don’t want our media to become too lopsided, do we?

Regardless of how you wrap this idea up in nice platitudes, the fact remains that the Fairness Doctrine is Congress making laws restricting and abridging the freedom of speech. If a radio station wants to play all-conservative or all-liberal shows 24/7, that decision should be up to the owners of the station, not Congress.

Besides, why should we grant Congress any say in the playlists of radio stations? Is there any indication the Fairness Doctrine worked before? The Fairness Doctrine caused radio stations to languish during the ’70s and early ’80s. Two things fueled the resurgence of AM radio: the removal of the restrictive Fairness Doctrine in 1987, and the subsequent ascendancy of the Rush Limbaugh show made possible by the vanished Fairness Doctrine. (Whether you like Rush or hate him, he did usher in a new public interest in the talk radio format.) But with the near-complete dominance of talk radio by conservative shows, it is no wonder that the newly-elected Democrat Congress is drooling over the prospect of reanimating the corpse of the old Fairness Doctrine.

You won’t hear Democrats admit openly that they want to oppress conservative talk radio, although that is their goal. Instead you will hear them talk about how unfair it is that only one side of the political spectrum is represented on mostly-conservative talk radio. Liberal talk shows have not met much success in the free marketplace, so Democrats want to try to level the playing field by shackling conservative shows. Handicapper General Diana Moon Glampers, call your office.

It’s only fair to follow three hours of the conservative Rush Limbaugh show with three hours of the liberal Randi Rhodes show, right? Well, it depends on what your definition of “equal” is. To be really equal, the three hours of any conservative show with a ten-point market share must be followed by thirty hours of any liberal show with a one-point market share. 3 x 10 = 30 x 1, right?  So everyone is happy and everything is fair in the topsy-turvy world of Democrats. Well, except the listeners, the hosts, and the radio station owners who are getting shafted.

Feel free to send Rep. Kucinich a note reminding him that the First Amendment phrase “Congress shall make no law” applies to him and to the Fairness Doctrine. I am.

Here’s the scene — on the fifth anniversary of the attack of Sept. 11th, 2001, George “Brother Jed” Smock, a Christian preacher, stood holding a Bible in one hand and a Koran in the other at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus. He was denouncing Islam as violent and calling Allah a false god. According to the Minnesota Daily newspaper, an unidentified Muslim woman took offense at his words and tried to take the Koran from him. When he refused, she hit and kicked him. She succeeded in breaking his glasses, and she tried to choke him with his own tie.

When the University police arrived, they arrested the woman for assault and battery. Yeah, right. Maybe in another parallel universe, but not here. There is no report of the Muslim woman being arrested for her physical abuse of the street preacher. But Smock was warned (read: threatened) that if he didn’t stop preaching, he could be arrested for disorderly conduct.

I can feel badly for the Muslim. I’m sure she wasn’t used to the fact that people have freedom of speech in the United States, and they can use it to attack other religions. Smock did exactly that when he was bad-mouthing Islam. Trey Parker and Matt Stone routinely bash and mock religions in their television cartoon, South Park. And artists like Madonna and Andres Serrano create Christian-themed art and media that are seen as objectionable, even blasphemous, to many Christians. Either Christians are too wimpy to stand up for their beliefs, or they are mature enough that they don’t need to lash out at their detractors like a five-year-old in a snit. I believe it is the latter.

In Muslim nations, insulting Islam, attempting to convert someone away from Islam, or choosing to convert to another faith are punishable acts. So I can understand why the woman tried to physically restrain Smock from saying what he did. But this is the United States, and we still have our First Amendment rights, even if that Amendment is under assault. You can tell that this isn’t a common understanding in Islam. Consider Batool Al-Alawi, a Kuwaiti student who confronted Smock and another preacher at Indiana State University at Terre Haute. According to the Indiana Statesman, Al-Alawi charged the steps where Smock was preaching and told him, “You have no right.” Well, sorry, Ms. Al-Alawi, but he does have the right, no matter how much you might dislike it.

I’ve noticed recently that not everyone is treated the same way when religion and freedom of speech come together. Every six months, the followers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gather for a conference in Salt Lake City to receive teachings from their leaders. This gathering also attracts many people who object to the LDS Church and its teachings, and some of their demonstrations and actions can be deeply insulting to church members. One notorious street preacher paraded before the long lines of faithful Mormons waiting to enter the Conference Center, dragging Mormon scriptures along the ground and using Mormon religious vestments to mime wiping his rear end. To make this relevant to other religions, imagine someone using a Jewish prayer shawl or a Catholic Bishop’s stole in like manner. Most LDS members, knowing that they were being taunted, ignored the antics of these street preachers, but one person lost his temper and tried to take the religious garment from the preacher. The police promptly arrested the Mormon and allowed the preacher to continue doing his thing. Strangely, this is the polar opposite of what happened to Smock and his fellow preachers, who were forced off campus by police at both ISU and the University of Minnesota.

Why the difference between Mormons and Muslims? Muslims are treated differently because they are now part of a protected minority here in the States. You can’t treat them as Christians are treated, because the Council for American Islamic Relations would scream “hate crime” if you did.

And I can’t help but think there is another reason why Christians are punished, but Muslims are treated with kid gloves. Christians, as a rule, don’t riot in the streets and issue fatwas calling for people’s deaths. That’s reserved for the followers of Islam, who collectively display the maturity of a five-year-old in a snit.

UPDATE (9/22/2006 1:48:29 PM): This article has been corrected from its original format; there were two separate incidents involving “Brother Jed” Smock, which were accidentally compressed into one in the original article. –TPK

In the United States, unless you have signed some sort of housing covenant which states otherwise, you are free to paint your home any way you like. I’ve seen a home painted black, red, and yellow; another painted pink; a third painted pink with purple polka dots; and a fourth done in an eye-blindingly bright blue. My good friends’ home is painted in “Chatroom” with “Hardware” accents, and “Enigma” on the door — not that the names give you any clue what these colors are. (It looks good.) Why, painting your home is as American as apple pie and all that, right? A veritable cornerstone of an American’s right to free expression. So where does some judge in Connecticut get off telling a guy how to paint his home?

Well, like most things in life, there’s a little bit more to the story.

You see, Christopher Seekins was arrested last year for possession of about 100 marijuana plants. I’m not sure what it was that tipped off the cops, but I imagine it’s some evil government surveillance satellite scanning people’s traffic patterns to discover who makes late-night trips to pick up munchies. When confronted with the evidence of his crime, Dr. Richard Kimble’s response was, “It wasn’t me. It was the one-armed man!” Wait, wrong set of notes. Ah, here it is: Christopher Seekins’ response was that the pot was really “hemp,” and that he was using it as part of his research project. Sure. I think I liked the first bit of fiction better.

Protesting his arrest, Seekins proceeded to paint some marijuana leaves on his house, along with the word “hemp.” Townspeople complained because Seekins’ home is visible from the main street. If we just left the story at this point, Seekins could still claim that it was within his right of free expression to paint his home as he saw fit, and he’d be right. The State could have given him some jail time for drug possession, but since Seekins pleaded guilty, the court’s decision was to give him three years’ probation with the following stipulations: no more illegal drug use or possession, 300 hours of community service, painting over the leaves on his house, and not painting them back on. While the ABC News story doesn’t mention it, I’m sure the judge whispered in Seekins’ ear that he could either willingly paint over his home and enjoy probation, or he could make a stand on his free speech rights and enjoy some time in jail.

In the unlikely event that I were in Seekins’ place, I think I would make the same decision.

We enjoy the freedom of speech in the United States, but like any other right, this one comes with responsibilities. While we are free to speak as we will, there is an accompanying responsibility to say what is true. We have libel, slander, and perjury laws to protect our freedom of speech from those who would destroy it with lies.

We also have a general responsibility as Americans not to offend others because society runs better when people do not go out of their way to stir up hatred and anger. While your neighbor may be both obese and homely, common courtesy dictates that this is no reason to call him a “fat, ugly slob” to his face or behind his back. There is enough strife in the world already without manufacturing more in your backyard.

So there are two competing ideas — we have the freedom of speech and can say whatever we want on the one hand, and we have the need to be courteous to those around us on the other hand. Some people have taken the second part to mean that we have a fundamental right not to be offended. But there is no way to say or do anything without potentially offending someone. To paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel offended without your consent.”

Recently my wife went to Chinatown in New York, and she picked up some paper money used in Chinese funerals. Paper objects are commonly burned at Chinese funerals, with the idea that the paper item being burned is carried to the dead as a real object to be enjoyed in the hereafter. So TPK picked up a bundle of fake bills marked at $1,000,000 each — a handsome sum for the departed. She explained the use of this money to her sister, a grade school teacher, and her sister thought some of the bills might be fun to use with her fifth grade students during Chinese New Year. My wife then pointed out some tiny print on the fake money which identified them as “Hell Notes,” the traditional name for this fake currency. While most people probably would not notice or care, it would only take a single offended parent to complain and ruin the students’ fun — not to mention endangering my sister-in-law’s job. Fear of possibly causing offense stopped her from sharing a teaching moment with her students.

Our society is becoming more concerned with not offending people, but also concerned with the way a tiny but vocal minority can change how everyone does things. All it takes is a single offended person to cause a traditional and beloved nativity scene to be pulled from the public square. People are reacting to these Offended-Americans by self-censoring what they say, for fear that someone will blow up and be offended over an innocent comment.

Akwana Walker is one of these Offended-Americans who made the news. She was horribly offended when her child’s teacher wrote “niggardly” on the board and explained that this word meant “stingy.” The fact that this word has absolutely nothing to do with race didn’t matter to Walker, who is African-American. She was offended, not because the teacher was racist nor because the word was offensive, but simply because it sounded like something Walker didn’t like, and that was enough for the teacher to receive a reprimand.

This reminds me of something Jesus told his disciples about the end times: “And then shall many be offended…” (Matt. 24:10) My wife had pointed the scripture out to me several years ago, and while I had never looked at that verse in this light, it certainly appears to apply to people today. Why, just quoting the Bible is guaranteed to offend at least one person who reads this article.

It seems silly to me to go ballistic over a word like “niggardly” when the offense is all in the offended person’s head. Words actually mean things. We don’t need to invent new meanings based on the way they sound. When Eason Jordan claimed that the U.S. military was specifically targeting members of the media, his words meant something. And the people who were present recognized exactly what he meant. This is a good example of having the freedom to say what you want, but needing to recognize that you may be called to account for your words.

A lady who made a bomb threat (I’m guessing as a joke, or possibly because she was frustrated by travel delays) was held for questioning in Phoenix while her luggage made it on the flight to San Diego. There the luggage faced the consequence of her words — it was taken out by the San Diego bomb squad and exploded. Next time you feel like mouthing off to the efficient and courteous airline people, remember the fate of this lady’s luggage because of what she said.

Recently Newsweek published an article claiming that a Koran supplied to terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay had been flushed down the toilet by a soldier. Because Newsweek chose to publish this unsupported accusation, riots broke out in Muslim nations, and several people died. To get to the bottom of this, the Pentagon launched an investigation over the flushing of a Koran and other allegations of Koranic abuse. It found that some soldiers had actually mistreated the Koran by *gasp* holding it with only one hand. Investigation did find some intentional and unintentional mishandling of the Koran, but 75% of these mishandlings came from the detainees themselves.

Newsweek has since retracted the story, but even if they were to trumpet this information and apologize into every Muslim’s ear, it would not bring back to life those who died in the riots. To twist a common Leftist slogan, “Newsweek lied, and people died.” Words mean something, and these words led to deaths.

We are free to say whatever we want, but there is a responsibility associated with that right — the responsibility to say what is true. Eason Jordan found that out. Dan Rather found that out. And now Newsweek has found that out.

In part 1 of this article, I discussed Professor Ward Churchill and Lt. Gen. James Mattis. In this section, I discuss someone who has lost his position because of his words.

In January of this year there was a gathering of peoples at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. One of the people in attendance was Eason Jordan, the executive vice president and chief news executive of CNN. Jordan made some disturbing comments at the forum. These were first reported by Rony Abovitz:

During one of the discussions about the number of journalists killed in the Iraq War, Eason Jordan asserted that he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by US troops in Iraq, but they had in fact been targeted. He repeated the assertion a few times, which seemed to win favor in parts of the audience (the anti-US crowd) and cause great strain on others.

Due to the nature of the forum, I was able to directly challenge Eason, asking if he had any objective and clear evidence to backup these claims, because if what he said was true, it would make Abu Ghraib look like a walk in the park. David Gergen was also clearly disturbed and shocked by the allegation that the U.S. would target journalists, foreign or U.S. He had always seen the U.S. military as the providers of safety and rescue for all reporters.

Eason seemed to backpedal quickly, but his initial statements were backed by other members of the audience (one in particular who represented a worldwide journalist group). The ensuing debate was (for lack of better words) a real “sh–storm”.

There has been some debate as to whether Jordan actually said what Abovitz claimed he did. The forum was video-recorded, but both CNN and the World Economic Forum have refused to release the transcript. It has been labeled an “off the record” event. How it is possible to call something witnessed by so many people and recorded for posterity as “off the record” is beyond me, but I’m not a professional journalist. Since that late January meeting, the Internet was set abuzz over Jordan’s comments, but the mainstream media wouldn’t touch the issue with a ten-foot pole. More and more bloggers demanded a full explanation from CNN and Eason Jordan and asked for proof to back up his claims, but explanations were not forthcoming. On February 11th, Eason Jordan abruptly resigned from CNN.

This Yahoo News article contains some interesting anomalies. In a memo to CNN, Jordan wrote, “I never meant to imply U.S. forces acted with ill intent when U.S. forces accidentally killed journalists, and I apologize to anyone who thought I said or believed otherwise.” But this statement is in direct contrast to what several witnesses say Jordan actually said. The article continues, “But the damage had been done, compounded by the fact that no transcript of his actual remarks has turned up.” This misleading sentence makes it sound like CNN had been digging to find a transcript and came up empty-handed, but that isn’t the case. The meeting was recorded, and CNN could have requested the tape. Instead, CNN and the World Economic Forum sat on the tape, claiming that the forum was “off the record” and that it couldn’t be released. I suspect “couldn’t” isn’t the right word — “wouldn’t” is probably more accurate.

One thing stands out — the major media dropped the ball on this news story. When Jordan resigned, many major papers were in the unenviable position of explaining to their readers why he had quit, and admitting that they hadn’t reported the story at all. The people who get their news exclusively from ABC/CBS/NBC and the national papers didn’t know anything about the controversy until Jordan left.

Since Rony Abovitz broke this story to the world and his comments led to the resignation of a major media player, I think it only fair to defer to his summary of this debacle:

The lesson to be learned here is not that speech or expression should be limited. The lesson is one of conviction and the power of words. If Eason Jordan held to his original assertions, even without data, but called out that he was in the midst of a deep news investigation which would soon yield ripe fruit, he would still have his job. But that is not what happened. He had no hard facts, no substance. He was caught, in some sense, doing his job. Not his job delivering objective news, but his job as a corporate executive, feeding his target audience what they want to believe, and maybe what he truly felt. He was in his element, his home turf, in an environment of palpable anti-American feelings and sentiment. He was building his brand, and never expected to be called hard on his own words, challenged intensely and publicly when among elite friends. That is not the Davos way. In the old Rome, he would have been safe, nestled in its walls. But in this decaying Rome, the Huns have entered Rome. What is Google, whose founders were the toast of Davos, if not a gateway to a vast new world? Civilized Huns, but Huns nonetheless. The persistence, speed, exponential growth, and unanticipated power of free information is beyond comprehension for most people. The speed of revolution is now linked to Moore’s Law, in some way we do not understand. No corrupt leader, politician, dictator, or despot can rest easy anymore. Eason Jordan was not really any of these – he was an executive doing his job, catering to his market, caught in what is becoming a massive change in the way the world functions. Caught in a grass roots demand for more honesty, more truth, more equity – and much less B.S. Caught in change itself.

Editorsweblog.org takes a different stance on the issue:

Sad conclusion in the Eason Jordan affair (see below the New York Times article), sad day for the freedom of expression in America and sad day again for the future of blogging: the defense of the US army honor seemed more important to some bloggers than the defense of reporters’ work (and sometimes life)! Nevertheless, there is one advantage in this story: masks are fallen! Within the honest community of bloggers, some of them claimed to be the “sons of the First Amendment,” they were just the sons of Senator McCarthy.

Pablo’s comment on this post:

What rubbish! The “citizen media” simply asked for clarification of the remarks, and the evidence that supports them, while legacy media did its best to ignore the situation despite the outrage expressed by the two American congressmen who were present.

It’s perfectly valid to demand an explanations for remarks like those Jordan made. His problem is that if they were true, he’d still be running CNN.

Calling out a liar is not McCarthyism.

We have freedom of speech here in the United States as guaranteed by the First Amendment. People like Eason Jordan are free to make whatever claims they wish. But with this freedom comes the responsibility of being held accountable for one’s words. You are free to call your neighbor a sheep pimp, but you are not free to avoid the slander lawsuit that is likely to result. You are free to break the law by making a bomb threat as you board your plane, but you will be held accountable for your words. Likewise, Eason Jordan was free to claim that the U.S. military actively targeted journalists, but he was also responsible for owning up to his words. Rather than allowing them to be published, he chose to quit his position.

Cox & Forkum have a great editorial cartoon, summing up the mainstream media response to bloggers:

To paraphrase Uncle Ben to a young Peter Parker: “With free speech comes great responsibility.”

In his January 6, 1941 address before Congress, nearly a year before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt outlined four freedoms: “freedom of speech,” “freedom of religion,” “freedom from want,” and “freedom from fear.” Based on Roosevelt’s address, it is possible to call free speech our first freedom. Free speech is also listed in the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights, but it comes after freedom of religion. Note that Americans are guaranteed freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. It has become clear to me that based on its actions, the ACLU believes more in the latter. But that’s not what I really want to focus on today.

We enjoy a freedom of speech that other nations don’t have. Here in the United States, we have the freedom to stand up and call someone a sheep pimp if we want to. There will usually be repercussions from such an act, including a probable lawsuit for slander, but in the United States, truth is the best defense. If you can show evidence that said someone is indeed a pimper of sheep, then you can successfully beat any slander lawsuits. But such is not the case in Canada. In the land to the north, calling someone a sheep pimp and then laying out documents, videotapes, and recorded sheep testimonies will not stop the pimp in question from suing you for defaming his character and hurting his feelings. And the pimp would win, regardless of his own actions defaming his own character. So much for freedom to speak the truth in the Great White North. While you may still say what you want, truth is no longer a defense in court. Apparently, Canadians value not being offended or having their feelings hurt over the bare, honest truth. And there are times when the truth hurts and offends.

Speaking of offense, a person is currently generating some controversy because of the way he chooses to exercise his freedom of speech. Professor Ward Churchill of the University of Colorado at Boulder is being condemned by numerous people for his defamatory comments about the victims of 9/11. Here is a fairly long excerpt from a longer article called “Some People Push Back:” On the Justice of Roosting Chickens which Professor Churchill wrote shortly after the September 11th attacks:

They [the September 11th terrorists] did not license themselves to “target innocent civilians.”

There is simply no argument to be made that the Pentagon personnel killed on September 11 fill that bill. The building and those inside comprised military targets, pure and simple. As to those in the World Trade Center . . .

Well, really. Let’s get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break. They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America’s global financial empire — the “mighty engine of profit” to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved — and they did so both willingly and knowingly. Recourse to “ignorance” — a derivative, after all, of the word “ignore” — counts as less than an excuse among this relatively well-educated elite. To the extent that any of them were unaware of the costs and consequences to others of what they were involved in — and in many cases excelling at — it was because of their absolute refusal to see. More likely, it was because they were too busy braying, incessantly and self-importantly, into their cell phones, arranging power lunches and stock transactions, each of which translated, conveniently out of sight, mind and smelling distance, into the starved and rotting flesh of infants. If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I’d really be interested in hearing about it.

Churchill’s comments gained more attention when he was invited to speak at Hamilton College in New York. After the powers that be at Hamilton found out about Churchill’s essay and his follow-up book, they cancelled the appearance. Both the Colorado State Senate and House have passed non-binding resolutions calling the words of Churchill “evil and inflammatory.” The Yahoo news article on the subject finished with the comment: “Democratic state Sen. Peter Groff cast the lone ‘no’ vote, saying he disagreed with Churchill but that the resolution provides him with undeserved attention and attacks free speech.” What Senator Groff seems to have missed is that these resolutions in no way attack free speech. The resolutions merely indicate the opinions of the Colorado Senate and House. People like Churchill are still free to say what they want, but what they say can certainly get them into trouble.

Speaking of trouble, Lieutenant General James Mattis has been ordered to watch his mouth by his commanding officer. This three-star Marine Corps general is in trouble for saying, among other things, the following:

Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up front with you, I like brawling, You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.

The Left recoiled in horror from this comment. Shock! Horror! Here was a general who wasn’t feeling conflicted and anguished over his job. Worse still, he actually enjoyed his job. Who promoted this troglodyte?

One comment came from General Mike Hagee, commandant of the Marine Corps. He said, “Lt. Gen. Mattis often speaks with a great deal of candor. I have counseled him concerning his remarks and he agrees he should have chosen his words more carefully.” Notice that Mattis was not reprimanded for killing Taliban fighters. Rather, he was counseled to choose his words better in the future. The unspoken comment from his superior officer is to stop saying things in public that make other people feel bad or uncomfortable.

While I believe that the taking of life is a somber and serious affair, I can’t condemn Lt. Gen. Mattis too much. I doubt that Mattis, as a three-star general, is directly engaged in any firefights with the enemy. Generals usually give strategic direction. When you are looking at the big picture, it is genuinely gratifying to see that the mission has been accomplished–and if that means killing the bad guys and breaking things, then that is part of the job. And when you get down to it, winning is fun.

If I were to speak for the general, assuming that I knew what he meant to say, I would not use the word “fun” to describe the feeling of a job well done. Instead, I would say that when faced with an enemy like the Taliban, successfully removing such reprobates is emotionally gratifying, particularly when you know how much better the lives of the women in Afghanistan will be.

Because of free speech, Lt. Gen. Mattis is free to say what he wants–but also because of free speech, people are free to call for his dismissal. It doesn’t appear that the military brass will listen to these calls, but people are still able to express a desire for Mattis’ removal.

Speaking of removal, I’ll continue this article next time.

Democrats are widely recognized as the party championing free speech. You can see this by how the Republicans react to bad press. When Richard Clark published Against All Enemies, Vice-President Dick Cheney condemned it and demanded that national bookstores not carry it. When Michael Moore’s anti-Bush film Fahrenheit 9/11 came out, President Bush sent his lawyers to several prominent theater chains and threatened them with lawsuits if they showed the movie.

Remember that? If you do, you are proof positive that alternate Earths exist. In this reality, it is the Democrats who have attempted to stifle the political speech of their conservative opponents. When Unfit for Command, the book by John E. O’Neill and Jerome R. Corsi, hit the presses, Senator Kerry sent his minions to tell the bookstores they should think of withdrawing the book from the shelves. When the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group started airing its first ad against Senator Kerry, the Democrats issued letters to TV stations in an attempt to stop the ads.

Senator Kerry is demanding that President Bush condemn the Swift Boat Veterans and force them to stop their ads. Kerry wants this for a good reason — the ads are proving to be extremely effective against his campaign. This coming from the candidate who proudly claimed, “Well, if [Bush] wants to have a debate about our service in Vietnam, here is my answer: ‘Bring it on.’” When the Swift Boat Veterans actually brought it on, Kerry’s response was to whine about how mean they are: “[The Swift Boat Veterans are] a front for the Bush campaign. And the fact that the president won’t denounce them tells you everything you need to know — he wants them to do his dirty work,” Senator Kerry said. Is it far-fetched to think Kerry and other Democrats would muzzle the Swift Boat Veterans and other political opponents if they believed they could get away with it?

Have you noticed the interesting shift in focus with Senator Kerry, President Bush, and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth? Despite what Kerry’s campaign has claimed, this organization isn’t a front for President Bush. The Swift Boat Veterans are a bunch of Democrats and Republicans who have come together to protect their collective reputation from a man who, thirty years ago, vilified their actions as war crimes before the Senate. The issue is between them and Senator Kerry, but Kerry is trying to bring President Bush into the fray. Kerry has even dispatched some Democrat veterans to President Bush to plead with him to stop the Swift Boat Veterans group. Free tip to Senator Kerry: men fight their own battles. You can stop all of this simply by releasing your records and telling the truth.

But the truth is far from what Senator Kerry wants. How can I say this? Precisely because Kerry refuses to release his full military record. President Bush has done so, but Senator Kerry won’t. Rather than dealing with the facts as they are, he and his liberal friends are calling for their political opponents to stop talking. They are all in favor of their own right to free speech, but when others try to exercise that same fundamental freedom, they call it “hate speech” and try to suppress it. You can sum this up as “free speech for me, but not for thee.”

The Swift Boat Veterans group is a 527, named after the legal code number permitting these third-party groups to exist. Thanks to the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform act to stop the spread of “soft money” in campaigns, we now have 527s spending more soft money on this presidential election than they ever did before. Behold Jim Quinn’s First Law in action: Liberalism always produces the exact opposite of its stated intent. Anyway, here’s Senator Kerry complaining to President Bush about the Swift Boat Veterans 527; odd, when the liberal 527s are far better funded. Let’s compare the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth against MoveOn.org, a liberal organization. This information is filed data from Aug. 23, 2004.

Swift Boat Veterans
for Truth
MoveOn.org
Contributions: $158,750 $9,086,102
Expenditures: $60,403 $17,435,782

It’s pretty sad to see Senator Kerry get all jittery over the Swift Boat Veterans, demanding that President Bush make them stop airing their ads, when the Swifties have spent barely 3/10 of 1% of the money that MoveOn.org has spent on its negative ads against President Bush. Granted, these numbers are a bit old and the Swifties have picked up more contributions since the first ad aired, but the disparity is still enormous. But that’s not a problem for the liberals. Spending money on their own viewpoints is OK, but heaven help the little guy who tries to speak out against liberals.

President Bush has spoken out against all 527s, saying “I hope my opponent joins me in condemning these activities of the 527 — I think they’re bad for the system.” So far Senator Kerry has refused to do so, and it is financially in his interest to remain mum. After all, the liberal 527s are waging his war for him, and “schlocumentaries” like Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 have provided over $100 million in attacks against President Bush. Don’t wait for the Democrat condemnation. It’s not coming.

The Left has made much of Benjamin Ginsberg, who was serving both as an election lawyer for President Bush and as an adviser for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group, and who has since resigned from the President’s service. But here’s a key sentence from the sixth paragraph: “Lawyers on the Democratic side are also representing both the campaign or party and outside groups running ads in the presidential race.” What? Democrats are doing the same thing?!? But did you hear any of this on the nightly news? Nope. Nor will you hear about these Democrat lawyers quitting due to conflict of interest. If you want to read about the ties between Senator Kerry’s campaign and liberal 527s, you will have to search outside the dominant liberal press, but the truth is available — regardless of how much Senator Kerry doesn’t want you to know about it.

And why doesn’t he want you to know about it? Because the truth is sinking his run for President, and the liberals can’t have that. So it is free speech all day and night for them, but when conservatives exercise the same right, the liberals cry foul. It’s free speech for me, but not for thee.

Addendum (8/28/2004): Captain Ed of Captain’s Quarters Blog sums up the whole 527 brouhaha nicely. You best be reading this fine work.