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Freedom of Speech and the Right to Criticize Criminal Bureaucrats

Glenn Greenwald has this response to the authoritarian calls to limit freedom of speech in the name of the faux war with ISIS. He cites Newt Gingrich and others who want to limit the free speech rights of “terrorists.” Of course, as is most often the case with people who don’t really think about what they’re saying, when the Gingriches of the world say “terrorists,” they really refer to accused terrorists. The authoritarian-minded ones don’t care about due process and presumption of innocence (that is, until President Hillary decides that they are “terrorists” without evidence presented and a chance for Mr. Gingrich et al. to defend themselves and Hillary then acts on her own idea of punishment — then these hysterical reactionaries will think twice about removing others’ freedom of speech and due process rights!).

And also, these authoritarian-minded ones are too narcissistic and arrogant to comprehend that many of these foreigners are merely responding to our government‘s criminal invasions against them for 25 years. But Greenwald specifically cites the freedom of speech right of the people to advocate retaliatory violence against government aggressors.

There are millions of people in the world who believe and argue that the U.S. has been supporting tyranny and bringing violence to predominantly Muslim countries for decades as a means of dominating that region, and that return violence is not only justifiable but necessary to stop it (just as there are millions of westerners who believe and argue that they must bring more violence to the countries of that region). In particular, it’s astonishing to watch Americans – whose favorite political debate is deciding which country should be bombed next or which individuals should be next assassinated – propose changes to the First Amendment to make it a crime for others to justify (not engage in, but merely justify) the use of violence in what they argue is valid self-defense.

Abusing the force of law to silence legitimately expressed views – by criminalizing the advocates of one side of that debate – is as direct an attack on core free speech rights as anything that can be imagined … Trying to dictate which views can and cannot be expressed on the internet, aside from being futile, is the modern-day hallmark of an authoritarian. Throughout its history, the U.S. has suffered far greater harm from overwrought authoritarians acting in the name of security than it has external threats; the tyrannical impulses that drove the Alien and Sedition Acts, World War I prosecutions of anti-war dissidents, the internment of Japanese-Americans and McCarthyism did at least as much damage to the U.S. as any foreign adversary.

… no human beings or human institutions should ever be trusted to promulgate lists of Prohibited Ideas and Viewpoints.

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