STOP DANGEROUS SPEECH!
By J. Alexandra Tuttle
Just as I was beginning to feel the twinges of being “PC-free,” thanks in part to “the Donald,” it is only fitting that a “Stop Dangerous Speech” forum is going to be held at the Silver Spring Civic Center on Tuesday March 8, 2016., from 6:30-8:30 pm., presented by the Montgomery County Faith Community Advisory Council (FCAC), and paid for, courtesy of the taxpayer! One wonders, exactly what constitutes “dangerous speech,” given these “heady days” of being PC?
It is clear that this FCAC forum is part of a worldwide trend, using government intervention against free speech, which if left unchecked in this country, will threaten our free speech rights under the Constitution. One only needs to look at other countries to see the danger.
In early January, the British Parliament had a debate about banning Donald Trump from entering the country, in response to his remarks about the threat to European societies posed by massive Muslim immigration. He also proposed a temporary moratorium on Muslims entering the United States. While some people took offense at those remarks, others noted that he brought up legitimate points. But, apparently “hate” speech is banned in the United Kingdom (UK), and in fact, the UK government notes that “the Home Secretary has said that coming to the UK is a privilege, not a right and she will continue to use the powers available to prevent from entering the UK those “who seek to harm our society and do not share our basic values.”
Frankly, as I see it, Donald Trump is an equal opportunity “dangerous” speech offender and the vast majority of people he has offended lately are handling him just fine. We don’t need a “nanny” government to protect us. Moreover, it poses a threat to free speech in this country.
Canadian law also puts “reasonable” limits on freedom of expression. For example, in the eyes of the government, promoting “hate” speech against any identifiable group can, in fact, lead to criminal charges. A climate of intimidation has been created in Canada as a result of these types of laws, as columnist Ann Coulter discovered. In fact, she ended up canceling a speech, citing “safety concerns.” So much for the importance of diverse opinions and showing tolerance for those with whom one might disagree, which is supposedly championed by the Left.
Unfortunately, the growing trend in this country is to follow the lead of Europe and Canada. For example, “the Dangerous Speech Project,” founded by the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, sounds like the “Big Brother” villain right out of George Orwell’s 1984.The project has developed a set of guidelines for dangerous speech “based on the insight that is generally understood to mean speech that denigrates people on the basis of their membership in a group, such as an ethnic or religious group.”
The guidelines are based on the premise that the level of danger caused by particular speech depends on five variables: the speaker, the audience, the speech itself, the historical and social context, and the means of dissemination. Violence may be prevented by interfering with this process in any of several ways: inhibiting the speech, limiting its dissemination, undermining the credibility of the speaker, or ‘inoculating’ the audience against the speech so that it is less influential or dangerous.”
A deadly example of the threat to free speech in this country was the May 3, 2015 terrorist attack in Garland, Texas, at the “First Annual Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest, which was sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI and Jihad Watch. The event, which had prominently featured a “Draw the Prophet (Mohammed)” contest, was held over the objections of protesters. During the attack, a security officer was injured and two American attackers (Muslim) were killed.
And thus, the slow, insidious creep of stifling free speech continues, but to what end?
The long term threat to our country by attacks on free speech is two-fold. First there is the threat to national security and to the safety of our countrymen during the ongoing “War on Terror,” where our Commander-in-Chief, charged with protecting our country and defending the Constitution won’t even acknowledge the proverbial “elephant in the room” and admit to us and to the world who our true enemy is.
Secondly, as Orwell made explicitly clear, restricting speech is dangerous and leads to totalitarianism. The main purpose of the Bill of Rights to the Constitution (which includes our rights to freedom of speech, religion and assembly), is to protect the citizens from the government.
As far as the March 8th FCAC forum, as of press time, Reverend Mansfeld “Kasey” Kaserman could only tell this writer that a “list of experts” was being prepared. One can only hope that a well-balanced panel, paid for by Montgomery County taxpayers, will lead this discussion include true experts/historians on the First Amendment and someone from the ACLU.
As an aside, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has called Trump’s remarks about Muslims “divisive, stupid and wrong.” While Trump is not my choice for president, I do take great offense at Cameron, calling his views and by inference Trump, himself, “stupid.” Stupid he is not! I think that calling Trump stupid was an example of hate speech, at least in my opinion.
Now where is that 800 number I can call to report this Prime Minister?