Category Archives: free speech

I’m Not Charlie, or, Why Does Everyone Have To Be So Mean?

I don’t believe in censorship. Nor am I calling for censorship. But I don’t understand why we, collectively, don’t ask people to show a little self-censorship when it comes to being offensive, intolerant and bigoted.

Lord knows we expect it of blowhards like Rush Limbaugh when they go on one their racist or sexist tirades.

Lord knows we expect it of all the homophobic preachers and NOM activists who have unleashed a torrent of anti-gay bigotry as marriage equality has spread from state to state.

Lord knows we expect it of ubiquitous purveyors of hate speech like Ann Coulter.

Lord knows we expected it of Bill Hobbs when he published that “Mohammed Blows” cartoon on his blog back in 2006.

But for some reason now that idle threats have turned into a despicable, vile, violent act of murder, suddenly it’s okay? Suddenly we have an obligation to spread the same offensive, anti-Muslim images because, freedom? Seriously?

You want to defend free speech? Then take up the cause of the Al Jazeera journalists jailed in Egypt.

You want to fight terrorism? Then condemn the bombing of the Colorado Springs office of the NAACP two days ago (something which the mainstream media has given little attention to, in light of their “if it bleeds, it leads” SOP.) Get to work fighting the poverty, inequality and injustice (yes, even in France) that breeds these diseases. Republishing cartoons that show Mohammed being sodomized is the lazy way out. Reprinting offensive materials to show you won’t be bullied doesn’t prove you’re free, it shows you haven’t evolved beyond the maturity of a kindergartener.

I don’t get it. I don’t get why we don’t expect better of ourselves and others. If lowering yourself to a level where offending people is your best show of support for victims of violence, if that’s the best way you can stand up for freedom, you’re doing it wrong.

The world needs to grow up and fast, because we’re not going to get many more chances to get it right.


Filed under Current Events, free speech, media, Media, terrorism

Limits To Freedom

We watched the Golden Globes last night and saw Jodie Foster … say whatever it was she was trying to say. Her speech was made all the more oblique due to the fact that a big chunk of it was bleeped out. I don’t know if it was a technical glitch or the network was protecting us from a cuss word or what. But it reminded me that our local NBC affiliate, WSMV, has a really bad habit of censoring GLBT topics in its programming, for example, this incident from 2010. And back in November I noticed WSMV gave us another Time-Life infomercial instead of this SVU episode about sexual abuse at a boy’s school.

Let me add: I never watch SVU, or any of the procedural dramas. Never. Which makes me think WSMV’s censorship must be pretty pervasive it would twice cross the radar of someone who doesn’t even watch the damn show.

So welcome to life in America today. A local affiliate can bleep out cusswords or even replace entire hours of programming if it’s deemed offensive to our delicate sensibilities. It happens all the time, especially as relates to sexy talk and teh gaiii. But apparently there are absolutely no limits to be placed on the Second Amendment. None. Zero. Mah rights, Founding Fathers, tricorn hats, arggle bargle.

Someone remind me, when was the last time a cuss word killed someone? Maybe someone missed the fainting couch and hit their head on the coffee table when Bono called U2’s 2003 Golden Globe award “fucking brilliant.” I dunno. Probably not.

How truly bizarre.

Recently this piece from July 2012 crossed my path; it takes a historical look at our country’s traditional restrictions on gun ownership — including the NRA’s own support of gun control. For example:

The founders barred large portions of the population from possessing guns, including slaves and free blacks, who might revolt if armed. The founders also restricted gun ownership by law-abiding white people, such as those who refused to swear allegiance to the Revolution. Those weren’t traitors fighting for the British. They were among the approximately 40 percent of the citizenry who, in exercise of their freedom of conscience, thought 13 disorganized colonies taking on the most powerful nation in the world was a bad idea.


The founders also imposed onerous restrictions on gun owners through militia laws. Men over the age of 18 were expected to serve in the citizen militia, armed and ready to defend the nation. They would be forced to appear, with guns in hand, at public musters where they and their guns would be inspected. The founders had an early form of gun registration: States conducted door-to-door surveys to identify where the guns were in case the government had need of them.

I did not know that. Can you imagine the outrage if government officials went door to door today to do a firearms inspection? OMG.

I did know that our image of the Wild West gunslinger strolling through the center of town with a gun on each hip was a Hollywood fabrication. Years ago I’d learned that famous Western towns like Dodge City and Deadwood had strict gun laws that would make modern gun loons scream “fascism.”

I also did not know that the NRA once pushed state gun control laws. Is anyone surprised to learn that this all changed when the Black Panthers started taking up guns in the ’70s? I’m not. As soon as the blah people started arming themselves the white folk got a little nervous, didn’t they? I keep waiting for the “gun conversation” to address the obvious racism so pervasive in the pro-gun movement. Maybe after the next white male nutball shoots up an elementary school.

So, now it looks like we’re going to have guns in our schools, for some bizarre reason that defies logic and common sense. As has been stated a hundred times already, Adam Lanza’s first victim was his mother: a gun loon who let her disturbed kid use guns to “teach him responsibility.” How’d that work out for everybody? If Nancy Lanza’s guns didn’t protect her, why would guns protect anyone else?

Our discourse in this country is so crazy. By all means, let’s make sure no one can watch an episode of a procedural drama which features a lesbian character, but if you want an arsenal in your basement? Go right ahead!

This country is big-time messed up.

I’m tired of talking about this. I’m sure you’re tired of reading about it. Really, what more is there to be said?


Filed under free speech, gun control, Media

Stupid Damn Kids

So, last night at around 11:45 pm some kids came through my neighborhood and stole all of the Obama signs out of everybody’s yard. I was actually fast asleep when it happened but my dog started barking like crazy and woke me up. The kids then turned down a side-street to collect those signs before heading back up my street to get the rest. So that gave me time to grab my glasses and car keys and follow them. I didn’t catch them — thank God, I was in my PJs and fuzzy slippers — but I did hear them shouting and hollering and having a good ol’ time, and I got enough of a look to see they were young kids, probably College Republicans from either Belmont or Lipscomb, but I really don’t know.

Frankly, I’m surprised it took them this long. My yard sign has been up since May; normally it would have been removed at least twice by now. Some of my neighbors have had their signs up since March, believe it or not. I took the fact that our signs have remained unmolested this long as evidence of a conservative enthusiasm gap. Also, I’ve seen very few Romney signs around town, and many of the ones I have seen have been in the public right-of-way. My rule of campaign signs is this: if most of your signs are in the public right-of-way (*cough*cough*RON PAUL*cough*cough), that tells me you can’t find enough real people willing to display support. And yes, Phillip North, I’m looking at you, too.

And now I’m sure one of my conservative readers will want to tell me about their neighbor/friend/relative who had a Republican yard sign stolen. Right, “both sides do it,” yada yada. I’m not going to say that someone, somewhere, who is not serial victim Phil Parlock, never had a Bush or Romney sign stolen. But let me just say, this is now my fourth presidential election in this house, in this neighborhood. And while most of my neighbors are Democrats, there are a handful Republicans who each election display their support of the GOP ticket with a yard sign. I have never, ever, in my 12 years of living in this neighborhood, ever seen their signs stolen or vandalized.


Which tells me that College Democrats are too busy doing stuff like trying to organize GOTV and registering voters, instead of wasting their time with stupid pranks like violating citizens’ property rights and free speech. Go figure.

I really don’t understand the point of doing this, either. It’s not like we’re not all going to go out and buy more signs. In fact, I buy mine in bulk because I’m just so used to having them stolen all of the time. One sign disappears? Two replace it. In 2008 I ended up with five signs in my yard, one nailed to a tree, out of reach of thieves. I mean, it’s not like we’re not going to be even more motivated to express ourselves.

So it seems the kids are up to their their stupid pranks. Last week they decided to clean out everyone in the Belmont University neighborhood, last night it was my neighborhood. One large sign on Belmont Boulevard was brutally vandalized, just slashed in half. Incidentally, that homeowner caught the culprit on video and has filed a police report. So you kids who think this is all fun and games had better watch out. Piss people off by denying them their free speech and you’ve poked a stick at a hornet’s nest. People do prosecute this stuff because of the larger principle at stake.

Some people even boobytrap their signs. I’ve been known to place dog poop strategically nearby. So, if anyone wants to steal my yard in the dark of night, you’ve been warned. Bwaahaaa.

Also, a final message, to be filed under awesome:


Filed under 2012 presidential election, free speech, Nashville, politics, Tennessee

Free Speech Or Free Hand?

I don’t know why conservatives are always confusing the two. Yet they do. Here’s Ben Stein, suing Kyocera for not signing him as a pitchman because they didn’t want to be represented by an idiot:

According to the complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Kyocera approached Stein in December 2010 to inquire as to his availability to appear in TV advertisements for Kyocera printers. Stein agreed and they began negotiating a contract. Three months later, before the contract was executed, Kyocera learned that Ben Stein is an idiot who denies the reality of global climate change. So they changed their mind and withdrew the offer, because they didn’t want to be represented by an idiot. That’s how capitalism works, right? Companies make decisions based on their interests, and contracts are the law of the land.

No! Capitalism works by suing people when you don’t get your way. To hear Stein tell it, even though they didn’t sign a contract, they still had a contract since Stein really, really, wanted the $300,000 Kyocera had offered contingent on signing the contract, which never happened.

Also, according to Stein, he has a right to the $300,000 under the Constitution, which guarantees him freedom of religion. See, Stein believes that global warming isn’t real because “God, and not man, control[s] the weather.” When Kyocera declined to pay Stein $300,000 to represent the corporation in part because it doesn’t want to be associated with that belief, it violated Stein’s constitutional right to $300,000. He also accuses Kyocera of violating his “freedom of speech” and “political freedom.” Stein has no political freedom, because Kyocera robbed him of the freedom when it refused to pay him $300,000.

No, you do not have a constitutional right to be a Kyocera pitchman.

News flash: Kyocera Corp. is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of solar panels and other PV systems. While Stein would not have been hawking its solar products, I can see how having a vocal climate change denier pitching any of the company’s product lines would be a little awkward, to put it mildly. So a big boo to whatever genius suggested Ben Stein for this gig in the first place: advertising agency Seiter & Miller, I’m going to assume. That was just a dumbass move all around.

And I’m sorry, but Ben Stein? Hello? Try reading your own damn columns and books about the free hand of the market. Also, I haven’t had a chance to dig into the memory hole, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t find something in there from him decrying the burden of frivolous lawsuits and advocating tort reform and all that.



Filed under advertising, Ben Stein, free hand of the market, free speech

Freedom Isn’t Free It’s $65 A Day

… and proof of $1 million in liability insurance.

That is the new rule for exercising your Constitutionally-protected right of free speech at Nashville’s Legislative Plaza. The Haslam Administration has unabashedly changed the rules at the 11th hour in an effort to crush the Occupy Nashville protest. And yes, it’s an astonishingly blatant government overreach from our so-called “small government” Republican governor. Wake up and smell the hypocrisy:

The state curfew bans anybody from being on the plaza from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Protests would be allowed by permit between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Those permits would cost $65 a day and groups would also be required to buy $1 million in liability insurance coverage.

An ACLU spokesperson said they are monitoring the situation and are drafting a lawsuit. Changing the rules in the middle of a protest to crush that protest “raises constitutional questions,” they say. Yes, I think so.

So at around 3 a.m. this morning the protestors were arrested. This morning a judge ruled there was no probable cause for the arrests and ordered everyone released.

I just wonder where all of those Teanuts so in love with our Constitution are? This isn’t the first time our baby-faced Republican governor has crushed a civil right. Back in June he signed a law making it a crime to display or transmit “distressing images” online. He’s blocked our access to the courts with his “tort reform.” We have our new Tennessee Voter ID law, which stands ready to disenfranchise thousands of people who don’t meet the state’s arbitrary Voter ID requirement (gun permit yes! Student ID, no!) Once again, these “small government” Republicans show themselves to be hypocrites, perfectly happy to let the government’s long arm reach in and silence a protest they don’t agree with, but calling it gross overreach when we try to protect our air and water.

These chickens will be coming home to roost for years to come. Tennessee will be paying for this in some unexpected ways, methinks.

And I want to raise some awareness about the people participating in Occupy Nashville. It’s not all DFH’s and college kids. Let’s give some mad props to 71-year-old Rip Patton:

“If you don’t hear from me, call the city jail,” 71-year-old Rip Patton told his friends. A veteran of the civil rights struggle, Patton was one of the students who braved arrest and worse to desegregate Nashville’s lunch counters and to bring voting rights to blacks in the Deep South as one of the Freedom Riders.

More on Rip Patton here. And thank you to The Tennessean for taking the time to interview this social justice veteran. It’s a great interview.


Occupy Nashville is baaaaaack….


You can’t possibly get more conservative than Bill Hobbs: he was, after all, once the spokesperson for the Tennessee Republican Party. And yet, I’m getting the warm fuzzies reading his Twitter stream.

When even Bill Hobbs agrees the Haslam Administration has overreached and is stifling dissent, you know you’re talking about an issue that is way beyond partisanship.


Filed under Bill Haslam, free speech, Nashville protest

Free Hand Of The Market Bitchslaps Islamophobes

Sorry, Tennessee Islamophobes: you’re going to have to take your little Muslim hate-fest somewhere else! Nashville’s Hutton Hotel has told the anti-Sharia Preserving Freedom Conference to take a hike, rather than be associated with a bunch of nutballs and bigots. Ouch.

Predictably, chief hater Lou Ann Zelenik has started whining about censorship, because the conservative mind is too narrow to grasp the difference between free speech and the free market:

Zelenik said her group is being censored for opposing radical Islam, and the hotel’s action shows Shariah law is a threat to free speech.

No, honey. You don’t have a “right” to hold your merry little hate-fest wherever the fuck you please. It’s called the FREE MARKET. Something your side always yammers on about when it suits you.

You know what people do have a right to do? Practice whatever religion they want, in whatever church/house of worship they want. And that includes Islam, in a mosque in Murfreesboro that you’ve been trying so desperately to stop.

Get lost.


Filed under free hand of the market, free speech, Islam, Nashville, religion

Free Speech Is Not Freedom From Criticism

Someday, maybe right wingers will learn the difference between free speech and the free market.

Someday, maybe they’ll stop demanding accountability from everyone but themselves.

Someday, maybe they’ll stop threatening to “go Galt,” and then calling for the whaambulance when they do just that.

Someday, maybe they’ll stop defending in fellow conservatives the very thing they criticized in liberals.

And someday, maybe, media outlets will stop poking colorful personalities with a stick in the hopes of provoking a ratings-boosting outburst. Or worse, indulging your man-crush on meaningless eye candy.

Then it will be a good day and we can have a grown-up conversation about what ails this nation.


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Filed under free speech, Media

An Artist’s Revenge

What have I been saying about the power of the arts? Here’s local artist Brandt Hardin, getting back at Gov. Goofball, er, Bill Haslam, who’s so in favor of small government he signed a law outlawing the display or transmission of “distressing images” online (I wrote about it here.)

Hardin’s picture may cause some distress to Mrs. Haslam — or not, who knows. Maybe the Haslams have a sense of humor? Aw who am I kidding, they’re Republicans. Those people still think Rich Little is funny.

Ironically, news of Haslam’s “distressing images over the internet” bill came in the middle of WeinerGate when, if you recall, Andrew Breitbart was spreading pictures Weiner’s weiner via his iPhone. As far as I know, Breitbart escaped prosecution in Tennessee, so perhaps Hardin’s little stick-at-the-hornet’s-nest stunt will go unremarked too. Then again, IOKIYAR.

(h/t, Pith In The Wind)


Filed under art, Bill Haslam, free speech, Tennessee

Does This Mean We Can Arrest Andrew Breitbart?

Gov. Haslam has signed a new law making it a crime to transmit or display “distressing images” online. Violators face jail time and fines up to $2,500.

Gosh I love Tennessee’s small government Republicans, don’t you? Aren’t they just swell? That whole freedom of speech, really it’s so not for the digital age!

I’m just curious how this is going to be enforced. Ah well, time will tell. You know, one thing Tennessee needs is more reasons to throw people in jail. That ought to take care of our nasty little unemployment problem, no?


Filed under free speech, Tennessee politics, TNGOP

>Free Speech Zones

>Why, when you try to access the Women Against Sarah Palin blog, does one get this warning:

Possible Blogger Terms of Service Violations

This blog is currently under review due to possible Blogger Terms of Service violations.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog and are confident that the content is appropriate, feel free to click “Proceed” to proceed to the blog. We apologize for the inconvenience.

If you’re an author of this blog, please follow the instructions on your dashboard for removing this warning page.

Very curious.

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Filed under free speech, Sarah Palin