Saturday, May 3, 2014

More Limits on What You May Say or Hear

* Just one more example of the effort by the left and their allies to limit speech. The National September 11 Memorial Museum has one imam on its interfaith advisory group. However, he was unhappy with a seven minute video narrated by Brian Williams of NBC. Said the imam: "The screening of this film would greatly offend our local Muslim believers as well as any foreign Muslim visitor to the museum." So, if it offends Muslims can we consider it to be "hate speech?" The imam went on: "Unsophisticated visitors who do not understand the difference between al-Qaida and Muslims may come away with a prejudiced view of Islam, leading to antagonism and even confrontation toward Muslim believers near the site." Another example of how - somehow - Muslims became the victims after 9/11. (Quotes and info from the 4/28/14 Investor's Business Daily.)

* As for possible assaults on Muslims, the FBI's statistics on "hate crimes" tell quite a different story. Going back three years (although one could go back further) hate crime statistics for attacks on Jews vs. Muslims are as follows. In 2011, 62.2% of the attacks were against Jews, 13.3% against Muslims. 2012: 56.7% against Jews, 12.8% against Muslims. 2013: 62.4% against Jews, 11.6 against Muslims. So how does this tie into speech? Well, if you say anything against Islam you are "islamophobic" and a "hater." But Jews? Professors Walt and Mearsheimer published an anti-Israel screed on "The Israel Lobby." Former Democrat President Jimmy Carter published his anti-semitic "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid." And current Democrat Secretary of State John Kerry suggested Israel could end up as an apartheid state.

* All of these anti-Israel comments and publications might be responsible for the significantly higher "hate crime" attacks on Jews vs. Muslims. As the imam said, these comments present a "prejudiced" view of Israel and Jews, and may have lead to all or some of these hate crime attacks. Will the imam criticize these Israel haters? One thing many of my fellow Jews do not understand is that their fellow leftists will attack them and Israel without any consequences. Just do not try to say similar things about Islam or Muslims.

* The two founders of Pink Floyd have asked that the Rolling Stones cancel a planned concert trip to Israel. Said Roger Waters: "Playing Israel now is the moral equivalent of playing Sun City at the height of South African apartheid." So Pink Floyd wants to limit what Israelis may hear. As these types of comments have spread across the country and the globe, the speakers suffer no consequences. And, for the most part, Jews do not suggest any consequences. Rather, Jews fight back with their own speech in an effort to rebut the many lies put out by these anti-semites.

* As an aside, I suspect Pink Floyd would have no concerns about the recent comment by the head of Hamas: "Our path is resistance and the rifle, and our choice is jihad." Would these Pink Floyd members lose any sleep if Israel were wiped off the map?

* Perhaps to the surprise of some readers, a number of states have laws banning false political advertising. A case out of Ohio was recently heard by the US Supreme Court. An Ohio law allows complaints to be made with the state's election commission. In the current case, an anti-abortion group claimed that a democrat Congressman's vote for Obamacare was a vote to fund abortions. But the Congressman in question actually opposes abortion. So is it a simple question of a misleading ad? Or, is there an argument to be made that the Affordable Care Act provides some support for abortion? If it comes down to a legal technicality, do we want a perhaps ambiguous provision in a statute determining when a statement or political ad is truthful? Who decides? My fear is the result will overwhelmingly be against conservative candidates and causes.

* If, however, we are going down this path can we please start with a prosecution against Harry Reid for his patently false and obnoxious lies? Remember Reid said from the Senate floor during the last election that Romney had not paid any federal income taxes. A lie that Reid knew was a lie, especially since he had no legal way of knowing what Romney paid. And let's not forget Reid's more recent lie, again from the Senate floor, that all the allegations about Obamacare making people pay more for their health insurance, or being denied treatment, were lies. Every single claim a lie. So I vote we start with a prosecution against Harry; we couldn't start with a worthier candidate.

The Donald Sterling Controversy and Privacy

* World War III? You might think a story of that significance broke if you saw the front page headline in the April 30, 2014 LA Times. But the headline read: "BANNED FOR LIFE." All caps, across the entire page, with two subtitles also across the entire page. The story was about Donald Sterling, an 80 year old who made some private racist comments to his half-black girlfriend. Sterling told her not to bring blacks to Clipper games. He was one of the first NBA owners to hire a black general manager. He has a black coach and mostly black players - who get paid very well. And, of course, black fans do attend the games. For whatever reason, he did not want his girlfriend bringing blacks to the games. Racist comments? Sure. But meant to be private.

* Perhaps not surprisingly, our black President weighed in. After condemning Sterling's remarks (everyone did), Obama added this: "I will make just one larger comment about this. The United States continues to wrestle with the legacy of race, slavery and segregation." That's quite a generalization from a few words from a single individual. And where was the "wrestling?" Everyone condemned Sterling's remarks - not just blacks. I think Obama might consider wrestling with his own attitudes - "If I had a son he'd look like Trayvon." And what about his inappropriate criticism of the Cambridge Police with regards to the incident with Professor Gates? Obama makes racial issues even when none exist.

* I wonder what we might hear as a fly on the wall in some NBA locker rooms; or in the privacy of the players' homes. Comments about women maybe, or gays, or other races? Or does any reader believe all NBA players are pure in thought and deed? I am not making excuses for Sterling's comments. I am, however, disturbed by the immediate and widespread attacks on him. The media had no interest in privacy issues. It was a juicy story, and as my brother likes to say, it sells papers. The main issue here is not a single 80 year old making a few racist remarks; the main issue is privacy.

* The NSA has the capability of monitoring all electronic communications - cell phone calls, emails, what have you. But that is not enough for some on the left. Recall the proposal, subsequently dropped, that the FCC monitor every TV and radio station and even newspapers (over which the FCC has no authority) for content. The idea was to see what stories are developed and which ones are not; amounting to the monitoring of speech for content. The proposal by the Obama Administration was an outrageous assault on the First Amendment. Now along comes US Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass) with a proposal to "examine the prevalence of hate crime and hate speech on the Internet, television, and radio to better address such crimes." Hate speech? Are we now making speech a crime?

* Who will do the monitoring and determine what speech qualifies as "hate speech?" There are any number of liberals who believe that criticisms of Obama are racist and "hateful." Many believe those who do not support gay marriage are bigots and "hateful." If you do not support abortion on demand you "hate" women. If you oppose amnesty for illegal aliens (or even dare to use the phrase "illegal alien") you "hate" Hispanics and others. And don't even think about criticizing Islam or anything or anyone Muslim. This blog would not last very long under leftist standards. Should the blog be shut down and should I be arrested for "hate speech?"

* You see, these attacks on "hate speech" all tend to be one-sided. And that was the downfall for Donald Sterling. If he had only attacked Republicans, this would have been a non-story. After all, Democrat leaders and pundits can say anything they want about Republicans with no consequences. They will even have the mainstream media back them up. Congresswoman Maxine Waters: "As far as I'm concerned - the Tea Party can go straight to hell." Howard Dean, when head of the DNC, said: "Our moral values, in contradistinction to the Republicans, is we don't think kids ought to go to bed hungry at night." But let's not forget Bill Maher calling Sarah Palin the "C" word. How come he gets to keep his sponsors for his TV show? How come he gets to keep his ownership interest in the NY Mets?

* Have we arrived, a little belatedly, at "1984?" With today's technology, can we implant a chip into everyone's brain at birth to monitor their thoughts for "hate?" I could tell you who I hate...but I'd better not.