Donald Trump’s Attempt to Destroy Press Freedom Is Reminiscent of 1930’s Fascists


Robert Reich | Robert Reich’s Facebook Page | Reader Supported News | May 15, 2016

f Donald Trump’s many fascistic tendencies, his treatment of the media — “disgusting reporters” he calls them – replicates the tactics of demagogues since the 1930s:

1. Banning not just reporters but even publications that have covered him negatively from covering at his public events, while giving campaign credentials to extremist outlets like “Political Cesspool,” a radio show that labels itself “pro-white.”

2. Inciting crowds against the media.Trump regularly whips his crowds into an anti-media frenzy and urges his fans to boo the press pen. Hostile rhetoric toward the press is a staple of his events. “I would never kill them, but I do hate them,” he said of the press in December. “And some of them are such lying, disgusting people.”

3. Throwing reporters out of Trump rallies. Last weekend, Michael Mayo, a columnist for Florida’s Sun-Sentinel, was threatened with arrest if he didn’t leave a Trump rally in West Boca after he entered through the public line and tried to film protesters. The campaign has reportedly begun to intersperse plainclothes security officers amid the crowd to root out anyone who is not a true Trump fan.

4. Using violence against reporters. Two weeks ago, a Secret Service officer watching over the press section choked Time photographer Chris Morris and slammed him to the ground when he tried to venture out of the media pen.

5. Threatening the media with libel. Last month, Trump vowed to make libel laws more punitive against the media if he becomes president. “I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money,” Trump said during a campaign event in Texas.

A free society depends on a free press. Which is why demagogues and fascists like Trump seek to destroy press freedom.

What do you think?

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North Carolina legislators could soon be taking on campus hecklers in the battle over free speech at the state’s public colleges and universities


EMERY P. DALESIO | Associated Press | US News and World Report | April 27, 2016

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Hecklers who shout down speakers on North Carolina’s college campuses could be punished under a proposal being floated before lawmakers that would make this state the newest battleground over free speech at U.S. universities.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest is proposing that the state’s 17-campus public university system create a policy that includes punishments for “those who interrupt the free expression of others.” With their annual legislative session opening this week, North Carolina lawmakers are expected to join a half-dozen states that have taken up free-speech legislation for public campuses.

Freedom of speech has become contentious on campuses nationwide. Some students have complained against free expression they say is stoking racial tensions or glossing over sexual misconduct. Others say that amounts to suppressing speech.

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Supreme Court Rejects Appeal of Gay Conversion Therapy Ban


Supreme Court. (photo: Greg Nash/The Hill)
(Supreme Court. (photo: Greg Nash/The Hill)

Lydia Wheeler | The Hill | Reader Supported News | May 5, 2015

he Supreme Court has decided not to consider New Jersey’s ban on gay conversion therapy.

The high court rejected a case Monday challenging a law Gov. Chris Christie (R) passed in August 2013 prohibiting state-licensed counselors from offering therapy services that try to change a minor’s sexual orientation.

Licensed therapists Tara King and Ronald Newman appealed the New Jersey Circuit Court of Appeals decision to uphold the state ban. They argue New Jersey’s law violates their state and federal rights to free speech and freedom of religion under the First Amendment.

On behalf of their minor clients, King and Newman further argued that New Jersey’s law interferes with clients’ rights to determine their own sexual identity and parents’ fundamental right to direct the upbringing of their children.

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How the Decline of Southern White Evangelicals Fuels the Passage of ‘Religious Freedom’ Laws


(Map from Gallup)

Southern states still rate among the highest in the country for church attendance, as the map shows. But recent surveys suggest that once-dominant white evangelicals are in decline in the South.

Chris Kromm | The American Prospect | April 21, 2015

This article originally appeared at Facing South, the website published by the Institute for Southern Studies.

Last month, Indiana sparked a national debate over so-called “religious freedom” bills, a controversy that soon flared up in other states across the South and country.

A similar bill stalled in the Georgia House amidst the backlash. In Arkansas, Governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, signed that state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act only after substantial revisions, although civil rights advocates say it still doesn’t go far enough. North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory, who is also a Republican, said he won’t support his state’s proposed RFRA bill, which scholars and activists say would allow for a wider range of discriminatory practices based in religion.

As many quickly pointed out, these measures aren’t new: A federal “religious freedom” act passed in 1993. After the Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that it couldn’t be enforced at the state level, states moved to pass their own versions, with momentum building in the wake of court decisions legalizing same-sex marriage.

The newest batch of RFRA laws go further than their predecessors. As ThinkProgress and others have noted, while the federal and early state RFRA laws focused on blocking state actions that supposedly put a “substantial burden” on religious beliefs, measures like the one passed in Indiana are rare in extending the law’s purview to disputes between private parties, such as a business and a customer.

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Truth Wins Out Condemns Rogue DA’s Punishment For Child Convicted Of Blasphemy


Wayne Besen | Truth Wins Out | October 3, 2014

TWO Questions the Peculiar Relationship Between Bill Higgins and a Hooligan That Threatened Those Who Protested the DA

CHICAGO — Truth Wins Out today condemned the results of a juvenile court hearing in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, wherein rogue district attorney Bill Higgins prosecuted a fourteen year-old child for blasphemy after the child posted a picture of himself on Facebook desecration jesus statue Truth Wins Out Condemns Rogue DAs Punishment For Child Convicted Of Blasphemysimulating a sex act with a statue of Jesus. The child is on probation, banned from social media for six months, and must perform 350 hours of community service for offending the religious sensibilities of Bill Higgins. Further, the child is not allowed out of his home past 10 PM. The owners of the statue did not wish to prosecute the child, but Higgins, a big fish in a small pond who seems to value the right wing culture wars over the rights of his constituents, took up the charge on his own.

“This is an outrage and a blatant violation of the United States Constitution,” said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. “It’s pitiful that this man’s sense of his own responsibilities is so malformed that he felt the need to go after a minor child who apparently hurt his feelings. We do hope Higgins feels like a big man today.”

Higgins released a statement on the case, explaining his reasoning:

“I know that there are many groups that say this case is about religious rights, and quite frankly, they are right,” said Higgins in a written statement. “But it is the religious rights of the Christian organization that owns the statue and has placed it for display on their private property that have been implicated. They have every right to practice their faith unmolested. In American, we all enjoy the right to freedom of expression and the freedom to practice our religious beliefs without interference, but that right ends where those same rights of another begin.”

Higgins’ contention that outside groups said the case was about religious rights is incorrect, as Truth Wins Out has noted from the beginning that this case is about freedom of speech, which includes the right to criticize religion. Moreover, if the members of the religious organization which owns the statue felt that their religious freedom had been violated, they didn’t show it, as, again, they did not wish to prosecute the child. Perhaps they have a better understanding of religious freedom than their District Attorney, who seems to believe that the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution includes the freedom to never have one’s beliefs challenged or feelings hurt. For the record, it does not. Higgins is correct that religious freedom ends when it begins to infringe upon another’s First Amendment rights, whether freedom of religion or freedom of speech.

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Police Continue to Violate Press Freedom In Ferguson


TRANSCRIPT:

JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

Six more journalists have been arrested in Ferguson since Monday, bringing the total number to 11. Here are some of their faces. This includes journalists from The Washington Post, Huffington Post, and Sports Illustrated. Journalists are reporting being harassed by police, who say police are attempting to restrict their movement by corralling them into press zones.

Some examples of clashes involved in Al Jazeera America camera crew that could tear gassed. Look at this clip. You can actually see the reporters running away, and soon after, police officers come and smash their cameras.

Even CNN anchor Don Lemon got pushed by the police. Take a look at this clip.

~~~

POLICE OFFICER: Let’s go! Come on, let’s go!

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Do Corporations Have a First Amendment Right to Track You?


David Sirota | Salon | Reader Supported News | March 7, 2014

States are considering laws to prevent private companies from continuing to mass-photograph license plates

o corporations have a legal right to track your car? If you think that is a purely academic question, think again. Working with groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, states are considering laws to prevent private companies from continuing to mass-photograph license plates.

This is one of the backlashes to the news about mass surveillance. However, this backlash is now facing legal pushback from the corporations that take the photographs and then sell the data gleaned from the images.

In a lawsuit against the state of Utah, Digital Recognition Network Inc. and Vigilant Solutions are attempting to appropriate the ACLU’s own pro-free speech arguments for themselves. They argue that a recent Utah law banning them from using automated cameras to collect images, locations and times of license plates is a violation of their own free speech rights. Indeed, in an interview, DRN’s counsel Michael Carvin defends this practice by noting, “Everyone has a First Amendment right to take these photographs and disseminate this information.”

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On the Meaning of Journalistic Independence


Glenn Greenwald | The Intercept | Reader Supported News | March 1, 2014

his morning, I see that some people are quite abuzz about a new Pando article “revealing” that the foundation of Pierre Omidyar, the publisher of First Look Media which publishes The Intercept, gave several hundred thousand dollars to a Ukraininan “pro-democracy” organization opposed to the ruling regime. This, apparently, is some sort of scandal that must be immediately addressed not only by Omidyar, but also by every journalist who works at First Look. That several whole hours elapsed since the article was published on late Friday afternoon without my commenting is, for some, indicative of disturbing stonewalling.

I just learned of this article about 30 minutes ago, which is why I’m addressing it “only” now (I apologize for not continuously monitoring Twitter at all times, including the weekend). I have not spoken to Pierre or anyone at First Look – or, for that matter, anyone else in the world – about any of this, and am speaking only for myself here. To be honest, I barely know what it is that I’m supposed to boldly come forth and address, so I’ll do my best to make a few points about this specific article but also make some general points about journalistic independence that I do actually think are important:

(1) The Pando article adopts the tone of bold investigative journalism that intrepidly dug deep into secret materials and uncovered a “shocking” bombshell  (“Step out of the shadows…. Pierre Omidyar”). But as I just discovered with literally 5 minutes of Googling, the Omidyar Network’s support for the Ukrainian group in question, Centre UA, has long been publicly known: because the Omidyar Network announced the investment at the time in a press release and then explained it on its website.

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The Tyranny of the Brand


 

Charles Pierce | Esquire | December 20, 2013

 

What good is a Bill of Rights if it protects us (increasingly thinly) against government, but subcontracts the job of abridging those rights to every other institution that affects our lives and well-being?

 

s the day went on, I heard an unfortunate number of progressive friends address the issue of the suspension of the crackerfamilias with the flat assertion that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to corporations and that therefore, A&E was within its rights to suspend the guy. (Which, as Steve M. points out, isn’t really a suspension but rather that the crackerfamilias is sort of banned from A&E world HQ while his program is on hiatus, which many of the show’s fans likely believe is a form of hernia.) I do not deny the basic legal correctness of this point, but I do wonder if progressives should be quite so blithe about it.

 

The Bill Of Rights is supposed to be durable and universal. Now, though, in our schools and in our workplaces, it has taken a severe beating. Regularly scheduled drug testing without cause eviscerates the protections of the Fourth And Fifth Amendments. Just this week, Senator Professor Warren proposed a bill that would decouple credit checks from the application process, which at least is a step toward reasserting a right to privacy. To say that, well, Phil Robertson doesn’t have a First Amendment right to a TV show is only to make half an argument. What good is a Bill of Rights if it protects us (increasingly thinly) against government, but subcontracts the job of abridging those rights to every other institution that affects our lives and well-being? As it happens, I had disciplinary action taken against me at the last newspaper I worked for because of things I had written on the Esquire.com Politics blog prior to coming to work here full time. When I asked my immediate supervisor why this happened, he replied, “My primary obligation is to the company.” (I looked down to make sure I wasn’t wearing a nametag with the word Wal Mart on it.) If I showed you the official letter of reprimand, you wouldn’t believe that it actually was written by anyone who worked for a newspaper in any capacity except hawking it from a steam grate. They were within their rights to do what they did, but if you believe in civil liberties, you have to start wondering how truncated those liberties are in daily life.

 

And my favorite left-wing left-winger passes along another story from within this rapidly expanding gray area.

 

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