Ideologues Make Shallow Free-Speech Advocates—An Unwanted Addendum to the National Coalition Against Censorship’s “The State of the First Amendment: 2017’s Top Free Speech Offenders and Defenders”
It’s a sign [i.e., whenever she’s told her stance on Islam is “offensive”] that someone is trying to deprive me of my right to free speech and impose censorship on me. It’s a sign that they’ve given up their own right to freedom of expression because of a wish for comfort and a fear of being called racist. They’ve given up the common fight and gone over to the side of the Islamists. But the right to free speech is the most precious right, the foundation for all other freedoms. Blasphemy is a celebration of free speech. It’s a raw form of free speech, yes, but it shows that any ideas and values can be challenged.
—Inna Shevchenko, Femen’s leader
Perhaps the prime threat to free speech is the egregious ideological bias of so-called free-speech organizations like the ACLU, PEN, and NCAC. Free speech should not be left-wing, nor should it be right-wing. In 2015, Global Free Press published my essay critical of the National Coalition Against Censorship: “’15 Threats to Free Speech 2015’: An Egregious and Purposeful Omission.” I then sent it to the NCAC, which did not respond. In 2009, I sketched a cartoon, “Clique Crippled,” which featured, amongst others, Joan Bertin, now retired executive director of NCAC. I sent it to her, and she did not respond. I’d also written other essays critical of the apathetic apathy of purported free-speech advocates (see “Organizations et al Contacted Regarding Sturgis Library’s Removal of My Civil Rights,” “A PC-Peculiarity,” “The Banned Books Week Farce,” and “Review of a Review of Worst Instincts: Cowardice, Conformity, and the ACLU”). And now, as I check my files, I notice still other material regarding NCAC, including a cartoon featuring its former Communications Director Peter Hart, “NCAC: Ideologically Blinded,” which I just posted (with three emails) on The American Dissident blog site and is crucial because it highlights the prime concern regarding NCAC’s end of the year annual list of foes and friends of free speech.
Islam is once again mysteriously absent, this time from “The State of the First Amendment: 2017’s Top Free Speech Offenders and Defenders.” As a cartoonist, I have no doubt that drawing a cartoon critical of Islam and Muhammad is by far the most dangerous cartoon I could draw, considering the large mass of Islamic fanatics. The Charlie Hebdo massacre highlighted that reality in 2015. Today, the magazine is located in a secret “bunker” because of constant Islamic threats from those Muslims, who hate freedom of expression. One to two million dollars per year are spent on security and the magazine, not the government, has to pay. Left-wing Charlie Hebdo journalist, Fabrice Nicolino, noted at the third anniversary of the massacre that “At my house, where I am known, extreme left-wingers will no longer say hello to me, because they are certainly not Charlie.” As for Pamela Geller, Ayan Hirsi Ali, and perhaps other such individuals have oddly been listed on Southern Poverty Law Center’s website as hate groups for daring to criticize Islam and thus exercise their First Amendment rights. In America, they must have constant security or will simply be executed by enraged Muslims, one of whom was just sentenced to 28 years in prison. And how to forget the Muhammad cartoon event Garland, TX near-massacre? Well, NCAC forgot it immediately after it happened.
NCAC highlights Colin Kaepernick for “taking a knee to protest racial injustice” and “strengthened every citizen’s right to free expression and peaceful protest.” NCAC ought to avoid making such naive wishful-thinking generalizations! Racial injustice? How odd for the plethora of multimillionaire black privileged ballplayers, not to mention the plethora of blacks who have benefitted from Affirmative Action. Kaepernick doesn’t need armed guards for protection; Geller and Hirsi Ali do and yet courageously persist in exercising their right to freedom of expression. Moreover, what does “racial injustice” have to do with CENSORSHIP as in National Coalition Against Censorship? Also, my purported citizen’s right to “free expression” was certainly not “strengthened” by Kaepernick’s knee activity!
Why NCAC cannot or will not understand Islam as a real threat to freedom of speech can only be explained by NCAC’s ideological anchor… and perhaps funding. Why did it not even mention the Islamic terror attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando that took 49 lives… in 2017? Recall how the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of NCAC’s buddies, proclaimed it to be a right-wing plot, despite Muslim Omar Mateen’s having hollered, “Allahu Akbar,” and called 911 immediately prior to the attack to pledge allegiance not to the KKK, but to ISIS. The SPLC by demonizing people like Geller and Hirsi Ali as haters because they dare criticize Islam makes itself an enemy of free speech, worthy of NCAC mention as an OFFENDER. The ACLU, another of NCAC’s buddies, blamed the attack on the Christian Right. Recall that the nightclub was a homosexual hangout and that Muslims are not exactly fond of the idea of homosexuality, a freedom-of-expression concept. And for the mind numb, who still think it was a KKK attack, the Washington Post recently published Under Islam, the Orlando Shooter’s Wife Is also Guilty. In Europe and Canada today, free speech continues to be severely threatened by Islam and its useful idiot political hacks from Trudeau to Macron and Merkel. And what about on the southern border, where Mexican latino cartels are killing journalists and what about the MS-13 latino plague already in America? How might they affect free speech?
Besides Islam, the ideologically-biased media and the nation’s ideologically-biased colleges and universities ought to have figured on NCAC’s list, yet are conspicuously absent from it. The media severely affects freedom of expression by choosing which stories to cover and which ones to bury. Its choices have been increasingly biased and its stories, increasingly slanted. And for that, We, the People have become increasingly distrustful of it! “We note that many of the worst offenders this year are associated with the Trump administration,” notes NCAC in full ideological hate-Trump mode.
“NCAC joined dozens of cultural and civil liberties organizations in protesting the administration’s travel ban," it notes in full pro-Islam mode. No mention of the Obama administration several years ago when it was working side-by-side with CAIR and the UN to adopt anti-blasphemy Resolution 16/18 (Istanbul Process)! Partisan-politics should not play a role in free-speech advocation!
The worst offenders were not associated with Trump but rather with those who hate Trump, including left-wing ANTIFA and BLM, which have successfully shut down free speech via violent protests on college campuses across the country. NCAC did not even mention the Berkeley Antifa riot! Rutgers, William & Mary, NYU, Middlebury, and other institutions had right-wing speakers silenced. At what colleges did the KKK shut down free speech? The right to protest does not mean the right to shut down the speech of others, whom one does not like. That is called the heckler’s veto, which is against the law. NCAC ought to heed the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, yet another of its buddies: “We urge our readers to identify this pernicious form of censorship, speak out against it, and deny the heckler the power to veto speech. Take a stand for free speech over mob censorship by rejecting the heckler’s veto once and for all” (Zach Greenberg). NCAC ought to clearly list Antifa and BLM, as well as name their leaders, as Offenders, instead of simply mentioning the former in its introduction: “Alt-right provocateurs and antifa alike have attempted to silence their detractors with threats of physical violence, and it seems to be working.”
Antifa should not be conflated with White Supremacist movements because the former, by far, especially on college campuses, not the latter, is clearly an anti-free speech movement. Oddly, or perhaps not, editor Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, labels White Supremacist poster hanging or distributing leaflets on campuses as “incidents.” Well, if anything, they are incidents of freedom of speech! But that is not what Jaschik means. And yet clearly hanging a poster is not the same as beating people unconscious to shut them up, as effected by Antifa at Berkeley. Jaschik concludes his article, “Surge in Campus Propaganda From White Supremacists,” citing Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League: “White supremacists are targeting college campuses like never before. They see campuses as a fertile recruiting ground, as evident by the unprecedented volume of propagandist activity designed to recruit young people to support their vile ideology.” And what about Antifa? In fact, what about the “vile ideology” of anti-free-speech cultural Marxism, entrenched in so many college campuses today? Silence!
Jaschik and co-editor Doug Lederman refuse to address my criticisms and have even censored my comments on a number of occasions (see A, B, and C). In fact, I featured both of them with censorship-approving President Patricia McGuire of Trinity Washington University on the front cover of last issue of The American Dissident. Perhaps they ought to be highlighted by NCAC as Offenders! In fact, academe in general ought to have been listed as an Offender because clearly far too many colleges and universities and their Deans of Diversity have been pushing the mantra that hate speech somehow is not free speech. Why the silence with that regard, NCAC Executive Director Chris Finan?
NCAC lists the FCC (Ajit Pai) as an “Offender” because of its removal of “net neutrality,” which removed government controls initiated by Obama over the internet, thus somehow “threatening our ability to freely communicate on the internet and potentially restricting what we read, see, watch and write online. […] The FCC has given ISPs the right to control online content and create a tiered internet in which they determine who is and is not heard.” So, why the egregious silence regarding Twitter, Facebook, and Google, which have likely had far more censorial power as to “who is and is not heard” than Trump and Pai? Yes, Twitter has gone from bastion of free speech to global censor. But NCAC chooses not to mention that! And how about the interesting concept of “shadow banning” actualized by Twitter? Silence. And how about James Damore, fired by Google because of his revealing viewpoint diversity memo? Well, Damore is suing Google now. And so is Prager University, a conservative nonprofit that makes educational videos (see "Google has an actual secret speech police"). Others have had their accounts deleted by Twitter and YouTube, including Pamela Geller and Milo Yiannopoulos, usually for ideological non-conformity. Should not NCAC stick up for the free speech rights of those of the supposed alt-right? Or is a free and open internet meant only for those ideologically conformed to the alt-left?
The egregious lack of neutrality or even semblance thereof characterizes NCAC’s Offenders and Defenders list. Alt-left good/alt-right bad constitutes the general slant. Black victimization is highlighted over and again along with the white-supremacy-here-white-supremacy-everywhere mantra from Kaepernick to John Simms (his anti-white supremacy noose exhibit), Sam Durant (his scaffold exhibit noting people of color were hung more), Paul Rucker (his history of racism exhibit), Mark Harris (11 paintings depicting history of racial injustice), Dana Shultz (painting of Emmett Till in his casket), and David Pulphus (cops as pigs painting). The few other examples were certainly in line with the identity politics of the day, including mention of native establishment poet American Sherman Alexie. Clearly, identity politics, rife in the ranks of NCAC, determined who would be selected as Defenders and Offenders. Were there no banned white artists or writers in America in 2017? In fact, one must wonder if racism and identity politics were the only free speech concerns in 2017. Why didn’t NCAC at least attempt to be fair and balanced by including just one conservative voice that was censored in 2017. How about Charles Murray at Middlebury College, my alma mater? Silence. Well, how about the censoring of just one liberal voice by leftists? How about at public Evergreen State College’s “Day of Absence,” requesting whites to leave campus for a day, and where a “deeply progressive” professor, a Bernie Sanders supporter, Bret Weinstein dared protest the event and ended up fully demonized by ideologue students. His safety could no longer be guaranteed at the college, according to its president! He no longer teaches there and won a sizable legal settlement from the college! Silence. Or how about Evergreen’s censoring criticism of BLM via its Bias Response Team? Silence. Or how about liberal professor Michael Rectenwald, who dared challenge NYU’s PC-censorship culture and is now suing. Silence! What is wrong with NCAC, which did not even mention these highly public stories. Instead, it highlights Kaepernick and the private football industry, which can legally censor all it wants.
Aberrantly, NCAC praises Democrat (of course!) Governor John Bel Edwards who vetoed a bill that would have in fact simply echoed the heckler’s veto, which prohibits, as mentioned above, the shutting down of speech via protest, peaceful or other. It also praises another Democrat Governor Terry McAuliffe for vetoing a bill that would have forced schools to inform parents when reading material contained sexual content and, according to NCAC, would have “discouraged educators from choosing important texts because they might cause controversy.” The “important text” used to illustrate the bill was by (surprise!) black author Toni Morrison, which some people had wrongly attempted to ban. But what about books that were actually banned, not simply almost banned, or for that matter writers who were permanently banned from their neighborhood libraries… or might that upset the narrative of the American Library Association, another NCAC buddy, that all libraries are freedom-loving? It is not clear why Edwards and McAuliffe’s vetoes were far more praiseworthy than perhaps thousands of other unmentioned actions. A third Democrat, black Congressman William Clay, is also praised (for backing black artist Pulphus).
What should have been included on the NCAC list is the forcing of PC-vocabulary down the throats of citizens and how some of it definitely has the insidious intention of encouraging self-censorship, including terms like islamophobia, transphobia, racism, sexism and on and on. “He who controls the language controls the masses,” had argued Alinsky. Perhaps for the sake of truth, NCAC ought to rename itself National Coalition Against White Supremacy (and for that matter the SPLC, Southern Poverty Center Against White Supremacy). Its fixation on the race issue blinds it to other important, if not more important, issues of censorship, especially festering, as mentioned, in the nation’s colleges and universities.
“This year, our core values have been attacked by activists across the political spectrum,” notes the NCAC. Well, I for one do not share its core politically-correct ideological, pro-Islamic, BLM values. I for one will NOT self-censor in an effort to gain access. So, evidently, that must render this essay an “attack.” Imagine how many thousands of citizens are perhaps censored in any given year and simply ignored by NCAC. Why doesn’t NCAC mention that and perhaps even add a token to its lists of one of those faceless censored citizens, who cannot, for example, even get his or her story told in the local PC-newspaper, facilitator of community-pillar censors?
“All citizens must demand that our public officials and institutions support our right to free expression,” states NCAC. But it does not inform how citizens can make such demands against such brick walls. How to demand the NEA open its gates to free expression, for example? How to demand the Library of Congress, state cultural councils, and even local human rights commissions open their gates? In fact, how to demand a simple response from NCAC itself regarding its apparent ideological rigidity? Well, I’ve tried and tried and failed and failed. Finally, in America, likely thousands of local governments are either outwardly against free speech or apathetic to concerns of free speech, despite the First Amendment. Test those dubious waters of democracy and ineluctably you will discover a world of difference between de facto rights and de jura rights. NCAC fails to even contemplate this… perhaps because its staff has never contemplated actually testing those waters. It lists eight defenders and nine offenders in total. A few I did not mention, nor did I analyze each one in depth, for each one could probably form the basis for separate essays.