Newspaper column: Free speech is not violence

The leftists have yet to learn that the proper response to speech they don’t like is to counter with more speech, reasoned speech. No, their first and constant response is: Shut up!

This is what happened after President Trump criticized a maladroit comment made by Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat and Muslim, in a speech before the Council on American-Islamic Relations. She said, “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

Trump tweeted a video splicing together Omar’s tone-deaf “some people did something” with footage of the World Trade Towers collapsing. It was captioned, “WE WILL NEVER FORGET.”

A number of Democrats immediately demanded that the video be taken down because it might incite violence against Omar, and Omar herself said she had been subjected to numerous death threats. Never mind that CAIR has been accused of supporting terrorist organizations such as Hamas or that it actually was founded in 1994.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted, “It is wrong for the President, as Commander-in-Chief, to fan the flames to make anyone less safe.”

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote on Twitter, “The President is inciting violence against a sitting Congresswoman — and an entire group of Americans based on their religion. It’s disgusting. It’s shameful. And any elected leader who refuses to condemn it shares responsibility for it.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, another Democratic presidential candidate, joined in by tweeting, “Ilhan Omar is a leader with strength and courage. She won’t back down to Trump’s racism and hate, and neither will we. The disgusting and dangerous attacks against her must end.”

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, another Democratic presidential contender, criticized Trump during a speech, saying, “This is an incitement of violence against Congresswoman Omar — against our fellow Americans who happened to be Muslim.”

The always outspoken and equally maladroit New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called the video an “outright, dangerous targeting of a member of Congress.”

Fellow Democrat and Muslim Rep. Rashida Tlaib tweeted that Trump took “Ilhan’s words out of context to incite violence toward her …”

Inciting violence?

We don’t seem to recall Sanders being chastised thusly after a supporter of his candidacy shot up a Republican baseball practice, seriously wounding Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana. Nor do we recall anguish over the many political and media attacks against Trump, despite the number of threats the Secret Service fields.

As for the legal definition of inciting violence, the Supreme Court nailed that in the 1969 case of Brandenburg v. Ohio when it struck down an Ohio law making it illegal to advocate violence. The court held, “Freedoms of speech and press do not permit a State to forbid advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”

Of course some Democrats are hand wringing over the possibility that some crazy person might be incentivized to act out violently due to Trump’s remarks, which clearly did not advocate violence of any kind.. If the crazy person standard is all it takes to silence criticism, then no speech is safe.

As for condoning violence, it was Rep. Omar who wrote a letter to a judge in 2016 asking for leniency for nine men charged with planning to join ISIS.

“A long-term prison sentence for one who chose violence to combat direct marginalization is a statement that our justice system misunderstands the guilty. A restorative approach to justice assesses the lure of criminality and addresses it,” Omar wrote.

“The desire to commit violence is not inherent to people — it is the consequences of systematic alienation; people seek violent solutions when the process established for enacting change is inaccessible to them.”

The answer to solving social and political issues is open and free discussion resulting in actions to combat wrongs, not violence. Using the specter of violence to gag free speech is fundamentally against everything this country was founded on and stands for.

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

9 comments on “Newspaper column: Free speech is not violence

  1. Doug Bradford says:

    Tom: Great commentary on free speech. How quickly the left forgets that Congresswoman Maxine Waters called for someone to assassinate Trump, or when members of his cabinet went to dinner, to disrupt their evening with violence. The left’s rhetoric is getting tiresome. Time to govern this country and stop the divisive partisanship. Congress has wasted so much money, and time and energy trying to oust Trump. I don’t like a lot of the things Trump says or does, but he was duly elected and is trying to move this country forward. Respect the office and work for the benefit of American citizens. Democrats are shooting themselves in the proverbial foot and the 2020 elections will reflect that.

  2. A double standard? No!

  3. Anonymous says:
  4. Anonymous says:
  5. Anonymous says:
  6. Anonymous says:

    You guys man.

    It’s almost like you were just born or something. That you don’t remember the last near 70 years of “conservative” fights against free speech. That you just forgot that the current office holder told his minions to beat up people using their free speech and that he would pay all their legal bills. That your very own “originalist” Supreme Court “justice” says he and trump both want the libel laws in this country changed because the First Amendment doesn’t mean what it says.

    And boy I just cannot WAIT until 2020 because the absolute visceral HATE that this POS is creating in the American public is going to not only result in HIGE turnouts among the party with the most voters, but it’s going to wash out not only he president but so many of the other republicans that chose to hitch their wagons to him rather than do for the American public.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Course the putative president has not only been at the front line of both attempting to censor opposing views, and threatening those who dare utilize their rights to free speech, he also is, well, the chief executive in this country and his threats carry with them more than just bluster, because as he told us “everyone obeys my orders”.

    Now the companies most responsible for creating the best paid and most numerous jobs in the country, are being threatened by the Dotard because their conducting their businesses as they see fit.

    Donald J. Trump

    I am continuing to monitor the censorship of AMERICAN CITIZENS on social media platforms. This is the United States of America — and we have what’s known as FREEDOM OF SPEECH! We are monitoring and watching, closely!!

    3:55 PM – May 3, 2019″

    And lest we’re treated to a “it’s just the Dotard exercising his freedom of speech” dribble, conservatives aren’t standing by waiting. They’re acting legislatively to attack these companies who dare challenge the authority of the conservatives.

    “Conservatives have accused a number of tech companies in recent months of being biased against them. A growing number of GOP lawmakers, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) have weighed government action to curb big tech’s power.”

  8. Rincon says:

    Right you are, Anonymous, but I do have to say that Omar’s statement was tone deaf to say the least. She is a terrible representative of the Democratic Party, and makes a very easy target for Conservatives because she’s so unreasonable. Democrats are foolish to defend her for some of her statements That being said, it’s disappointing that the Conservative media, scream bloody murder when the most extreme member of Congress speaks her nonsense, but gave President Trump a complete pass when he, as one of many examples, retweeted 3 hate videos, remember?

    “Mr. Trump tweeted out three videos posted by Ms. Fransen: “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!” “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!” The tweets would have been reprehensible in any case. But Ms. Fransen’s posts were misleading. The assailant in the first video is not a migrant: Dutch authorities say he was “born and raised in the Netherlands.” And the last video shows the death of a teenager in Alexandria, Egypt, during unrest following the 2013 coup against then-President Mohamed Morsi.”

    And the Conservative media actually defended Trump’s comments about Charlottesville, when Trump said, several times in different ways, “…but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.” Seems like a pretty disgusting statement, if you believe Wikipedia’s description of the Charlottesville rally:

    “Protesters were members of the far-right and included self-identified members of the alt-right,[11] neo-Confederates,[12] neo-fascists,[13] white nationalists,[14] neo-Nazis,[15] Klansmen,[16] and various militias.[17] The marchers chanted racist and antisemitic slogans, carried semi-automatic rifles, Nazi and neo-Nazi symbols (such as the swastika, Odal rune, Black Sun, and Iron Cross), the Valknut, Confederate battle flags, Deus Vult crosses, flags and other symbols of various past and present anti-Muslim and antisemitic groups.”

    I don’t fault Conservatives for lambasting Omar (a junior member of the House) so much as I condemn their silence or support of equally (I’m being generous here) tasteless and divisive comments by our President, the standardbearer and leader of the Republican Party and the most powerful person in our government.

  9. […] which essentially overturned Schenck and established a much stricter free speech standard. The court held, “Freedoms of speech and press do not permit a State to forbid advocacy of the use of force or of […]

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