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Mocking corporate anti-reform lobbyists for making up stories about death panels and other frightening falsehoods is a good start, but only a start.  The lies Betsy McCaughey and her accomplices tell are not ends in themselves and not the big story.  As Rachel Maddow has shown repeatedly for weeks, their intent is not to win debates, but to retain the status quo by preventing rational debate.

Free speech arguably allows paid lobbyists to support the logically indefensible current corporate profiteering.  What crossed the line is the intentional, planned use of intimidation, not to influence the will of the People, but  to nullify it.  What is crucial is the combination of specific lies about the reforms Liberals propose and the depiction of us as similar in policy, character or intent to Pol Pot, Stalin, Hitler, etc., to intentionally predispose protesters to be violent and to intimidate with hate speech.  That is not legal.  That is a Civil Rights violation, and it should be prosecuted as such.

(the following was originally posted without above Intro on reedyoung.org)

Demonstrably untrue statements about health care, misrepresentation of their identities in letters to Congress opposing Waxman-Markey, and exhortations to disrupt health care town hall meetings using tactics up to and including violence are not only uncivilized, undemocratic and unfair, they are also illegal.  Taken together, the pattern of behavior of certain lobbyists clearly constitutes a conspiracy to deprive both climate and health care reformers of our Constitutional rights.  Such conspiracy is a felony punishable by 10 years in prison under Title 18, Section 241 of the United States Criminal Code, and as that statute protects the most fundamental rights of citizens from deliberate attack by groups of other citizens, violation of it should always be prosecuted.
 

TITLE 18, U.S.C., SECTION 241

  If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of having so exercised the same;...

  They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

Although the right to free political speech is expansive according to the laws of the United States, it has never been interpreted to be unlimited.  Lobbyists against proposed legislation -- legislation which is supported by strong majorities of citizens -- have abused their freedom of speech, violating the Civil Rights of their opponents in at least two distinct ways.

First, lying about representing Civil Rights groups and other advocacy groups has the effect of nullifying the will of each misrepresented group member who disagrees with the lobbyists' statements, depriving them of the practical value and purpose of their right to free speech.  Second, threatening violence to those who exercise this right, or who organize to peaceably assemble, to exercise their right to free speech as a member of a community is intended to deprive SEIU and other health care reform advocates of the right to free political speech altogether.  In at least one case, the conspiracy has successfully deprived a member of Congress and her constituents of their rights to peaceably assemble and to free political speech, in turn depriving each attending constituent of their right to petition our government.  "Rep. Kathy Castor eventually had to be escorted out by the police (another video from the event showed hundreds of angry, screaming protesters outside the meeting)."  It is in the interest of everybody, regardless of which opinion we honestly hold, to ensure that violence and intimidation do not become standard lobbying tools.  If those tactics work, and those who perpetrate them are not brought to justice, this and worse will become the norm.

Racketeering law is more complicated, but in short, I believe racketeering charges are also appropriate because the obscene 31% margin of profiteering in health insurance is so dependent on the absence of competition, which the Deparment of Justice has already been asked to investigate, and because coal and petroleum profits depend on economic forces peculiar to scarce commodities; therefore, all three industries, as currently organized, satisfy both the colloquial and the legal definitions of protection rackets and criminal efforts to preserve that status quo are by definition racketeering.

Corporations, and the contractors they hire to lobby Congress, do not have the right to lie, to incite violence or to threaten us.  We the People do have the right to petition our government for redress of grievances.  As a practical matter, it is also our responsibility to exercise this and other rights to defend and uphold the rights we have.  Please add your name to my petition to prosecute felony intimidation, racketeering and Conspiracy Against Rights committed by corporate lobbyists who are paid to oppose the will of the People on health care reform and carbon dioxide pollution legislation.

Originally posted to Reed Young on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 03:34 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (20+ / 0-)

    Invest in wind and solar power now. Either they will offer the greatest ROI within 20 years, or we will all be dead.

    by Reed Young on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 03:34:43 PM PDT

  •  IANAL (5+ / 0-)

    I am not a lawyer but I agree with you. If we can get a case, we should go after them!

    At some point we are going to have to admit the Blue Norwegian parrot isn't just resting or pinning for the fjords. It is a dead parrot.

    by lostmypassword on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 03:38:53 PM PDT

    •  I'll copy to DoJ when petition gets 1000th sig (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      snakelass

      One can always write to the government to petition for redress of perceived grievances, but when 1000 or more write with the same petition, I perceive a greater likelihood of responsiveness.  So I intend to write the Department of Justice, with the petition linked at the bottom, only when that petition has reached at least 1000 signatures.

      I also am an amateur.  I am fairly certain though, based on what I do know, that to "get a case" is entirely up to the professionals at Justice.  About all we citizens can do is request that they look into the matter.  Ultimately, it will be the discretion of a professional "government bureaucrat" (jest, at others' general contempt for government, which I do not share) prosecutor to decide which charges, if any, to prosecute.  I think we just elected the right team, to maximize our chances that reasonable requests of this sort will be honored.

      Invest in wind and solar power now. Either they will offer the greatest ROI within 20 years, or we will all be dead.

      by Reed Young on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 04:14:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you! This info is Rachel Ready (5+ / 0-)

    I often send links to Diaries to Rachel and/or KO and this one got a fast send.

    Excellent research.

    An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it. Mohandas Gandhi

    by msmacgyver on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 03:46:22 PM PDT

    •  I consider that the highest possible compliment. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      snakelass, msmacgyver

      Thank you!

      I e-mailed Rachel yesterday, in more general terms, saying I'd be interested in seeing her do an interview about these legal issues.  I suggested "somebody as interested and telegenic as Jonathan Turley, but a specialist in civil rights law rather than Constitutional law," but I couldn't think of anybody specific.  A couple hours later, I saw findlaw.com lawyer John Dean on Countdown and felt a little silly for not thinking of him for the segment.  He'd be great.  Anyway, if Rachel or Keith decide to visit this diary, they can see that suggestion here now.  :p

      Invest in wind and solar power now. Either they will offer the greatest ROI within 20 years, or we will all be dead.

      by Reed Young on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 04:29:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There 'ya go :) (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        snakelass, Miniaussiefan

        I also think John Dean would be up for this kind of discussion.

        This is one guy who rehabilitated himself all the way from Watergate and even though I thought he was a slime ball during his Nixon years (yes, I'm THAT old), I've come to appreciate his take on the inner workings of corrupted power.

        Thanks again and hopefully Rachel will pay a visit ;)

        An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it. Mohandas Gandhi

        by msmacgyver on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 04:41:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Maybe Jonathan Turley, after all? (0+ / 0-)

          Considering the gross confusion evident below about whether the Constitution permits the statute Title 18 Section 241 to fulfill the purpose and only justification of the existence of governments themselves -- the protection of (man) individuals against the tyranny of (other men) brute force of mob rule -- perhaps this is going nowhere without a Constitutional lawyer to assure people of good will that yes, in fact our rights are portected by law, not only against the federal government, but against all brutes, public and private.

          Invest in wind and solar power now. Either they will offer the greatest ROI within 20 years, or we will all be dead.

          by Reed Young on Fri Aug 28, 2009 at 07:59:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The key here is, as you say, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, snakelass, Zikar

    to realize they are just interested in stalling.

  •  Excellent points. A successul lawyer once (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, snakelass, Zikar, Reed Young

    told me if something doesn't make sense, then it's probably illegal. I'm not a lawyer either, but the lobbyists have crossed the rubicon with this latest campaign. Recommended.

  •  This is, thankfully, going nowhere (0+ / 0-)

    Sorry, but this is America, and you don't get to throw people in jail for not being as polite as you'd prefer, or for voicing contrary opinions to whatever government-approved "truth" you would like to see established.

    Under your law, just about anybody who ever had a good word to say about civil disobedience would be in jail, and anybody who went over the top in their rhetoric and were a little sloppy and imprecise with their language would be in the next cell over.

    Frankly, this is police state stuff.

    Sean Parnell
    President
    Center for Competitive Politics
    http://www.campaignfreedom.org

  •  One point (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snakelass, Reed Young

    Demonstrably untrue statements about health care, misrepresentation of their identities in letters to Congress opposing Waxman-Markey

    The Letters to which you refer were on the Climate bill, not Health care reform.  While I wouldn't be surprised if there Were such letters floating around the Hill on Healthcare, your link does not prove it.  I suggest an edit/rewrite of that bit.

    "We know the truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart." - Blaise Pascal

    by Dixie Liberal on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 05:40:40 PM PDT

    •  Same tactics, different lobbyists. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      snakelass, Dixie Liberal

      Some lobbyists are guilty of fewer or less serious crimes than others.  The actions of Bonner & Associates clearly do match one of the two ways in which I said lobbyists have deprived people of their rights; by dishonestly stating Bonner's corporate agenda as the view of Civil Rights organizations, they attempted to nullify the contrary opinions of any members of those organizations, which would deprive those individuals of the practical benefit of the rights to free speech and to petition the government for redress of grievances.  Bonner is not innocent and while the remainder of my post focused on health care, the statements I included about Bonner are true and no edit or rewrite is appropriate.

      Invest in wind and solar power now. Either they will offer the greatest ROI within 20 years, or we will all be dead.

      by Reed Young on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 07:22:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with your overall point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Reed Young

        It's just that the sentence I highlighted Specifically says the (Fabricated, or Forged would, IMO be a better description!) Letters were On Health Care...they are not and the link confirms they are not.  You have an Excellent Diary here, but I would have phrased it more like:

        Lobbyists have proven their willingness to indulge in Illegal Acts to sway public debate.  Just look at the Forged Letters which Bonner used to undermine Cap and Trade, and ask yourself what we may yet learn about HCR tactics

        Just a suggestion.

        "We know the truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart." - Blaise Pascal

        by Dixie Liberal on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 07:38:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But Waxman-Markey *is* the climate bill (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dixie Liberal

          From the same Huffington Post article as the quote we're discussing:

          ACCCE hired Bonner & Associates in an attempt to scuttle Democratic support for the Waxman-Markey climate and energy legislation approved earlier this summer by the House of Representatives.

          I don't believe there is also a Waxman-Markey health care bill, the one on climate is the only Waxman-Markey.  So although perhaps that could have been made clearer, I did not say that those "Letters were On Health Care."

          In fact, I intentionally left it to the reader to follow the link and learn about Waxman-Markey, the climate bill, because other lobbying firms are working on both issues and I plan to write more about the similarity in lobbying tactics, to defend status quos in two industries -- health insurance and energy from combustion of various substances -- which both depend on strategically manipulated legislation, which allow corporatists to control markets with the illusion of scarcity.

          These shortages are illusions.  The reality is that we have more than enough wind and sun for all our energy needs, and that single payer would more than make up for its cost in increased productivity.  But I'll have to get back to you on that.  I have an early day tomorrow!

          Invest in wind and solar power now. Either they will offer the greatest ROI within 20 years, or we will all be dead.

          by Reed Young on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 08:07:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sorry, (0+ / 0-)

            You're correct!  I was confusing Waxman-Markley with the HCR bill coming out of the Waxman Committee!   Sorry to make you take the time to explain simple English to me!

            "We know the truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart." - Blaise Pascal

            by Dixie Liberal on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 08:19:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's quite alright. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              snakelass, Dixie Liberal

              I'd rather be clear.  And as my favorite instructors say, if something is unclear to you, PLEASE ask; it is probably unclear to many others who are all just as shy and just as worried about asking a question that might seem like "simple English" once it's answered -- but only then.  Plus, if you put the question in your own terms, you get the answer that's most understandable to you (unless your instructor just sucks, which for some reason they always forget to mention ;).

              PS I agree, "forged" is a better word choice than "fabricated" for what Bonner & Associates did.

              Invest in wind and solar power now. Either they will offer the greatest ROI within 20 years, or we will all be dead.

              by Reed Young on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 08:48:46 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  First Amdmt guarantees freedom of truthful speech (0+ / 0-)

    It was never intended to protect liars nor to allow incitement and threats.

    "[The purpose of the speech-press clauses] has evidently been to protect parties in the free publication of matters of public concern, to secure their right to a free discussion of public events and public measures, and to enable every citizen at any time to bring the government and any person in authority to the bar of public opinion by any just criticism upon their conduct in the exercise of the authority which the people have conferred upon them. . . . The evils to be prevented were not the censorship of the press merely, but any action of the government by means of which it might prevent such free and general discussion of public matters as seems absolutely essential to prepare the people for an intelligent exercise of their rights as citizens."

    So preventing others from free speech and participation in government, the intent of those I accuse, as clearly expressed in their Recess Harassment Memo and other documents, is not protected by the First Amendment.  And Civil Rights Law (Title 18) obviously does extend the citizens' rights to freedom from government oppression, to freedom from any oppression and specifically to freedom from oppression by fellow citizens.

    A rule of law permitting criminal or civil liability to be imposed upon those who speak or write on public issues and their superintendence would lead to "self-censorship" by all which would not be relieved by permitting a defense of truth. "Under such a rule, would-be critics of official conduct may be deterred from voicing their criticism, even though it is believed to be true and even though it is in fact true, because of doubt whether it can be proved in court or fear of the expense of having to do so . . . . The rule thus dampens the vigor and limits the variety of public debate."

    Allowing and respecting "a defense of truth" does not require tolerating the defense of lies.

    "But, although the rights of free speech and assembly are fundamental, they are not in their nature absolute. Their exercise is subject to restriction, if the particular restriction proposed is required in order to protect the State from destruction or from serious injury, political, economic or moral." 74 The fixing of a standard is necessary, by which it can be determined what degree of evil is sufficiently substantial to justify resort to abridgment of speech and press and assembly as a means of protection and how clear and imminent and likely the danger is. 75 That standard has fluctuated over a period of some fifty years now and it cannot be asserted with a great degree of confidence that the Court has yet settled on any firm standard or any set of standards for differing forms of expression. 76  The cases are instructive of the difficulty.

    These will by no means be slam-dunk cases, but they will not be summarily dismissed either, and they should be brought to trial.

    Invest in wind and solar power now. Either they will offer the greatest ROI within 20 years, or we will all be dead.

    by Reed Young on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 03:28:13 PM PDT

  •  John Mackey's political speech exceeds his rights (0+ / 0-)

    According to a powerful alliance of Whole Foods shareholders, a recent op-ed by soon-to-be-former CEO John Mackey is grounds for immediate termination and not protected by the First Amendment because he did not pen the essay as a "private citizen" in which capacity his inalienable First Amendment rights are indeed much more expansive.  They have found, and legal precedent has established, that because he invoked his position with Whole Foods, he had no Constitutionally guaranteed freedom to express opinions detrimental to shareholders' interests.  But the opinions he expressed which are obviously very morally offensive to many customers, who are known to tend Liberal, not libertarian, were known to be detrimental to shareholders' interests, and thereby violated their trust and his claim to his generously financially compensated position.  

    The First Amendment protection of free speech is not absolute.  The threshold for accountability is significantly lower than threats and incitement to violence.

    Invest in wind and solar power now. Either they will offer the greatest ROI within 20 years, or we will all be dead.

    by Reed Young on Fri Aug 28, 2009 at 07:29:33 AM PDT

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