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First Amendment infringements.

The Washington Post editorial board opines on Middleborough, Massachusetts, where

they voted 183-50 in a town meeting last Monday to approve a proposal that would, among other things, impose a $20 fine on public profanity . . .
Whatever the law's noble intent, such a vague, over-broad assault on the First Amendment will no doubt be struck down as unconstitutional.

Then we have Michigan State Representative Lisa Brown being gagged from speaking because she dared to use the word "vagina" in protesting a bill that would limit abortion rights.

While the Twittersphere delights in the hashtag "#vagina" and we chortle over the puritanical tendencies of Middleborough, MA, these silly measures are symptomatic of a greater assault on the First Amendment, evidenced in the recent hysteria over "media leaks," which has already led to attacks on the free press, and, even more offensive the First Amendment, could lead to an over-broad "Official Secrets Act."

All of these attacks on the First Amendment quash the constitutionally-sacred "marketplace of ideas" and limit the public's right to know. The First Amendment is critical to a functioning democratic society, and if we continue to attack it, whether it be in small town halls, local State Houses or the halls of Congress, we weaken our country.

One more note on media leaks: despite the fact that, as Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have pointed out in the past weeks, classified information appears on the front pages of American newspapers every day, the Obama administration has only prosecuted low and mid-level officials, who are usually whistleblowers. Worse, the Obama administration has used the heavy-handed Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers, thereby threatening them with decades in prison and labeling them spies, a label that distances whistleblowers from their natural allies. The Obama administration has brought more Espionage Act prosecutions for alleged mishandling of classified information than all past presidents combined.

The First Amendment has been steadily eroded since 9/11. I'm glad that the ban on anatomically-correct words like "vagina," and words in the English dictionary like "crap," have finally caught the public's attention because of the sheer ridiculousness.  But the issues of censorship are much larger. The road to censorship is always incremental--ban some "bad" words, ban some "controversial" books, don't let government employees like Peter Van Buren link to WikiLeaks on their home computer during their personal time . . .
Then people are dumbstruck when their country has become a police state.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (25+ / 0-)

    My book, TRAITOR: THE WHISTLEBLOWER & THE "AMERICAN TALIBAN," is Amazon's #1 Best Seller in Human Rights Books for February 2012.

    by Jesselyn Radack on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 06:16:21 AM PDT

  •  You have a problem with the "Boy's Club?" (5+ / 0-)

    Why, they've positively gotten themselves worked up into a tizzy trying to not think about icky girl parts.  (While actually thinking a LOT about icky girl parts.)

    I see two possibilities:

    1) They're losing their grip (on a lot of things: reality, power, etc.)
    2) This is part of "HEY LOOK!  OVER THERE!" distract the people from what's really happening.  The media is even more distractible than the public.

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    —Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 06:46:35 AM PDT

    •  SOME of them think (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joe wobblie, Eric Blair, gerrilea

      quite a bit about sticky boy parts! While trying to convince everyone that they NEVER think about sticky boy parts.

      To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong. -Joseph Chilton Pearce

      by glitterscale on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 06:58:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Edwin Edwards vs. David Treen (1983) quote: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        glitterscale, gerrilea
        "The only way I can lose this election is if I'm caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy"
        Indeed, Edwards won that election having been caught with neither.  Icky or sticky.

        Later became inmate #03128-095 after being found guilty on 17 counts of  racketeering, extortion, money laundering, mail fraud and wire fraud.  He was released on January 13, 2011.

        Quite a "colorful" guy.  Perhaps he should have found a girl or boy to shack up with instead.

        Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
        I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
        —Spike Milligan

        by polecat on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 07:48:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  #2 makes more sense (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lujane, gerrilea

      Give the unwashed masses bread and circuses (blood and gore football, doping bicyclists, or other sports schlocks, titties, tushies, sex scandals - even if it's only a picture of a bulge of some sort and not an actual organ being shown - and reality TV) and they'll ignore things like which corporate lobbyi$t$ and banking executive$, $nake oil $ale$men and MIC/oil/war whore$ are visiting Congre$$ional offices while engaging in Free $peech, especially if Faux $nooze keeps 'em engaged in fake outrage over hints of $ex, potential $ex, and actual $ex.

      Really, the cost of fainting couches, clutching pearls and smelling salts must be at least double what it was five years ago.  Of course, if they are following the leads of insurance, medical, and pharmaceutical corporation$, inflation would make fainting couches alone cost ten times more than they did five years ago.


      I'd put a /snark tag here if I thought I was wrong about that first paragraph.

      Ooooooh..., $hiny Thing...!

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 01:15:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Cogent, as always, Jessalyn (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NonnyO, aliasalias, Lujane, gerrilea

    As of 02/22/2012 in Washington State pharmacists can exercise their "religious freedom" by denying women access to Plan B because the judge thinks there aren't any bigots in this state.

    by FlamingoGrrl on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 10:23:10 AM PDT

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