Tag Archives: free-speech rights

Brendan Eich(mann) got what he deserved

Outgoing Mozilla chief executive Brendan Eich

Former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich gave a hate group $1,000, paid a price for it, and this poetic justice is deemed to be a “violation” of “free speech” in the fascistic United States of America. (Yes, the fascistic Nazis persecuted non-heterosexuals, too.)

Most discussion of whether or not the “free-speech rights” of Mozilla co-founder and short-lived CEO Brendan Eich — who stepped down as CEO Thursday after a firestorm had raged over his having donated $1,000 to the 2008 Proposition Hate effort — have been trampled upon wholly ignores or glosses over one simple historical and legal fact: a federal court in 2010 found Prop H8 to be unconstitutional — and thus illegal.

As Wikipedia recounts it, “In August 2010,  [United States District Court for the Northern District of California] Chief Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that the [anti-same-sex-marriage California constitutional] amendment was unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, since it purported to re-remove rights from a disfavored class only, with no rational basis.”

So, before we blather ourselves into a lather about “free speech,” let’s take a good, long, hard look at exactly the kind of speech that we’re actually defending here — and in this case, it is hate speech.

Yes, it is.

To have supported Prop H8 was to have supported the continued mindless oppression of a minority group picked out for such continued mindless oppression. “Mindless” oppression because, as Vaughn Walker (whose original ruling still holds as the law of California, since the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legally upheld it) correctly ruled, there is no rational basis to prohibit same-sex marriage.

To have supported Prop H8 was to have supported something that was and that remains unconstitutional and thus illegal.

Whether or not hate speech should have First-Amendment protection — especially when hate speech (yes, even “just” giving $1,000 to a “cause” meant to continue to oppress a certain minority group) so often results in very real harm to many very real people — is another discussion, but for the time being, let’s not pretend that Brendan Eich was just trying to do something nice for someone and that he paid a price for it, that no good deed goes unpunished.

Let’s also not pretend that if Eich (whom I really want to call Eichmann) had a “free-speech right” to donate money to an unconstitutionally and thus illegally oppressive “cause,” that those who wanted his head on a silver platter for his donation didn’t also have a free-speech right to call for his head on a silver platter (so to speak [of course]). They did. They do. We do.

And let’s not pretend that Eich was fired for having given a $1K donation to a hate group. He was not fired. He resigned.

He resigned, apparently, because in his high-level job, his very apparently being a homophobe tarnished the public reputation of the entire organization. Most large organizations wouldn’t have well-known white supremacists as their CEOs, either.

Let’s not pretend that a CEO, a very public person, having given $1K to Prop H8 and then having been fairly forced, socioeconomicopolitically, to resign because of that donation is just like! you or I, a very private person, having given $1K to Prop H8 and actually having been terminated from our much-lower-level employment because of it. Let’s not do that, because context, including the level of the power of the players involved, is everything.

Brendan Eichmann — er, Eich — got what he deserved for having financially supported a hate group. If he believes that his constitutional (such as his First-Amendment) rights have been violated by anyone, then he may sue to his hating heart’s content. Presumably, he has plenty of cash with which to do so. (But he won’t sue, because he has no fucking case.)

There is nothing more to discuss.

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Repug thugs: Give us the head of William Cronon!



Hmmm… Commie University of Wisconsin history Professor William Cronon looks pretty John the Baptist-y to me

The Repugnican Tea Party long has has been on a jihad against university professors. It’s that these professors are anything from “liberal” to “Commie,” you see.

Actually, these professors’ “crime” is that they don’t support the political agenda of the far right. These professors, being professors, don’t embrace the utter ignorance and the outright lies — and the pro-corporate, pro-militaristic, misogynistic, white supremacist/racist, homophobic, xenophobic, nationalistic/jingoistic, pro-stupid-white-male propaganda — that the right wing expects them to.

The wingnuts scream that public dollars should not be spent on university professors who (allegedly) promote some political agenda. Of course, these very same wingnutty hypocrites don’t argue that right-wing professors also should go for the very same reason.

Nor do the wingnuts who scream against the alleged politicization of our public universities make a fucking peep about the blatant, illegal politicization of our tax-exempt churches, such as the Catholick Church and the Mormon cult, which blatantly participate in politics, even telling their members whom and what to vote for and whom and what not to vote for and more or less commanding them to give campaign contributions to specific candidates and ballot propositions and to volunteer in political campaigns.

Because that political activity, you see, benefits the right wing. Therefore, it’s perfectly acceptable.

What it comes down to when the wingnuts attack left-wing or perceived left-wing university professors — and such intellectual entities as National Public Radio — more often than not is not a case of left versus right; it usually comes down right (as in correct) versus not right (as in incorrect) and right versus wrong.

(The Nazi Party also hated, persecuted and even murdered intellectuals, but perhaps that’s a separate blog piece for another day.)

So far gone is the treasonous Repugnican Tea Party in Wisconsin that the party is attacking an individual university professor. Never mind that for a state’s party to attack an individual is a gross abuse of power and is a gross dereliction of duty — the Repugnican Tea Party in Wisconsin should be busy at work fulfilling its (bullshit) campaign promises to improve the lives of all Wisconsinites instead of engaging in vindictive political vendettas against certain individuals.

But the Repugnican Tea Party traitors in Wisconsin want the head of William Cronon, a University of Wisconsin history professor who has been publicly critical of Repugnican Tea Party Gov. Scott “Dead Man” Walker and his henchpeople’s attempts to destroy the state’s long-standing labor unions.

Cronon, you see, has a blog titled “Scholar as Citizen” and he wrote an op-ed piece not flattering of the Walkerites for The New York Times.

Therefore, the Repugnican Tea Party traitors in Wisconsin have demanded to see any and all e-mails in Cronon’s university e-mail account that contain certain words indicative that Cronon used his e-mail account for any political activity. Apparently their end game is that they want Cronon fired for alleged university ethics violations — so that they can claim the scalp of a liberal/“liberal”* university professor.

They can’t just murder Cronon (they would if they could), so they’ll do the next best thing, if they can: see to it that he loses his job. That’s one of the Repugnican Tea Party traitors’ favorite hobbies: to try to make people unemployed, even though they claim to care about our longstanding problem of unemployment.

Professor Cronon, correctly claiming academic freedom, has resisted the Repugnican Tea Party traitors’ public records request to see his e-mails. One Repugnican Tea Party traitor called Cronon’s resistance “chilling,” but what actually is quite chilling is that we have Joseph McCarthy-like thugs in public office anywhere in the nation who think that it’s perfectly acceptable to politically gang-bang a university professor whose political views diverge from theirs.

The New York Times yesterday ran an editorial on this issue titled “A Shabby Crusade in Wisconsin.” Here it is, in full:

The latest technique used by conservatives to silence liberal academics is to demand copies of e-mails and other documents. Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli of Virginia tried it last year with a climate-change scientist, and now the Wisconsin Republican Party is doing it to a distinguished historian who dared to criticize the state’s new union-busting law.

These demands not only abuse academic freedom, but make the instigators look like petty and medieval inquisitors.

The historian, William Cronon, is the Frederick Jackson Turner and Vilas research professor of history, geography and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin, and was recently elected president of the American Historical Association. Earlier this month, he was asked to write an op-ed article for The Times on the historical context of Gov. Scott Walker’s effort to strip public-employee unions of bargaining rights. While researching the subject, he posted on his blog several critical observations about the powerful network of conservatives working to undermine union rights and disenfranchise Democratic voters in many states.

In particular, he pointed to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group backed by business interests that circulates draft legislation in every state capital, much of it similar to the Wisconsin law, and all of it unmatched by the left.

Two days later, the state Republican Party filed a freedom-of-information request with the university, demanding all of his e-mails containing the words “Republican,” “Scott Walker,” “union,” “rally,” and other such incendiary [um, “incendiary”? Really?] terms. (The op-ed article appeared five days after that.)

The party refuses to say why it wants the messages; Mr. Cronon believes it is hoping to find that he is supporting the recall of Republican state senators, which would be against university policy and which he denies. This is a clear attempt to punish a critic and make other academics think twice before using the freedom of the American university to conduct legitimate research.

Professors are not just ordinary state employees. As J. Harvie Wilkinson III, a conservative federal judge on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, noted in a similar case, state university faculty members are “employed professionally to test ideas and propose solutions, to deepen knowledge and refresh perspectives.”

A political fishing expedition through a professor’s files would make it substantially harder to conduct research and communicate openly with colleagues. And it makes the Republican Party appear both vengeful and ridiculous.

Further, the effect of the Repugnican Tea Party traitors’ McCarthyesque attempt to make public university professors fear for their livelihoods is to deprive the professors of their First Amendment rights as citizens of the United States of America.

University professors are not some special class of individuals who don’t get First Amendment rights. As the name of Cronon’s blog states, public university professors are also citizens; they are not stripped of their citizenship rights because their paychecks are paid for by taxpayers — and they pay taxes, too, which so many fucking morons forget or ignore.

It’s bad enough that in the private sector, employees are treated like property with no First Amendment rights — or any other rights whatsofuckingever. (Property, after all, has no rights.) To extend this right-wing abuse of human rights to the public sector is illegal, immoral and unfuckingacceptable.

And for a political party to attack an individual is such a gross abuse of power that that party deserves to be voted out of office. The recall of Repugnican Tea Party traitor politicians in Wisconsin has my full support — and I’ve donated money towards it. Hopefully, the Repugnican Tea Party scum who have hijacked the great state of Wisconsin, most notably Scott “Dead Man” Walker, will be swept to sea by a political tsunami no later than in November 2014.

The good people of Germany did not nip fascism in the bud when they had the chance to do so. If we, the good people of the United States of America, don’t nip this fascistic shit in the bud in Wisconsin and in the other states where the Repugnican Tea Party traitors fervently are trying to plant the seeds of fascism, we will find ourselves as the Germans did: in a hellish nation in which evils abound — and in which it is too late, because we did not do enough when we had the chance.

I live in California, not in Wisconsin, and I do not know Professor William Cronon.

But I am not so stupid and so blind as to believe that what happens in Wisconsin never could become my problem in California, or that whatever happens to Professor Cronon never could have any bearing on my own life.

The states indeed are laboratories, and the mad scientists on the right are seeing just how far they can take their evil experiments.

We allow them to succeed at our own peril.

*Cronon describes himself as “a centrist and a lifelong independent,” but to the far right, a centrist is a left-winger. The far right’s motto, after all, is the McCarthyesque “You’re with us or you’re against us,” and if you’re against them, you are, by their definition, a left-winger.

Hopefully, this offensive wingnutty overreach will serve to turn more centrists into actual left-wingers.

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MSNBC caves in and throws Olbermann under the bus

I learned early on in my days of journalism that there’s no such fucking thing as free speech when you are the property of some corporation.

Oh, sure, you can say or write whatever you want when you are employed by a corporation — subject to termination or other adverse action, of course.

This is why I’d much rather be an unpaid blogger than a paid corporate whore: I can say whatever the fuck I want to say without having to worry about being fired or otherwise shit and pissed upon by my corporate overlords who care only about looking out for their own best plutocratic interests.

Is supporting a political campaign a form of free speech? At least for the corporations it is — the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court more or less ruled so this year; not only are corporations people, but they have free-speech rights, according to the right wing and their friends on the “high” court.

Yet MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, who apparently has no rights because he is an actual person and not a corporate “person,” has been suspended indefinitely from his job without pay for having donated to three different Democratic candidates.

Journalistic ethics, you see.

(Because I am not employed by a corporation) I say: Fuck. That. Shit.

If everyone were playing fairly, I might tend to agree that maybe Olbermann has compromised his “journalistic ethics,” but (1) Faux “News” not long ago gave $1 million to the Repugnican Party (to give just one example of how the right-wing media handle “ethics”) and (2) Olbermann makes his political leanings quite well known, so it’s dubious that we can call him a “journalist.” He’s much more of a commentator — that is, a man with an opinion who vocalizes his opinion — than he is a journalist.

Further, the rules have changed. Unbiased journalism is a thing of the past. In the mass media it’s left-vs.-right now, with most of what is called “news” being pro-right-wing. And mass-media journalism never was unbiased anyway. It’s always had a pro-corporate slant because it always has been the plutocrats and the corporatocrats who have owned and controlled the mass media, from William Randolph Hearst to Rupert Murdoch.

In my journalism days I never agreed with the “ethics” rule that a journalist covering politics never should give money to a political candidate or to a political cause. You don’t lose your citizenship and your civil rights because you’re a journalist. Journalists all have their own opinions anyway, so they should be able to participate fully as citizens in the sham that we call a “democracy.”

And it is foolish and dangerous for us serfs to continue to surrender our right to participate politically because some wingnut might cry “foul” while the corporations shamelessly claim “personhood” and participate fully in the political process, throwing millions and billions of dollars behind their right-wing, pro-plutocratic causes.

More rights for the corporations and fewer rights for us serfs — we serfs have to revolt against this kind of bullshit now.

And for the left to disarm unilaterally while the right continues its gross abuses of power will only propel the United States of Amnesia even more quickly into the fascism into which is already has been descending for some time now.

MSNBC is unbiased?

Good!

The nation needs a counterweight to the shameless right-wing excesses of Faux “News” — and to the general pro-corporate slant of the mass media in general.

You can sign the petition to MSNBC to show your disapproval of its suspension of Keith Olbermann by clicking here.

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