71% Think Government Needs To Control Media
July 7, 2001
THE MAJORITY OF ONE NATION’S CITIZENS BELIEVES THEIR GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO CONTROL ITS MEDIA. According to the same survey, almost half think the press has too much freedom. Let’s test your awareness of what is going on in the world. Try to guess which nation has these attitudes toward freedom of the press.
If you guessed Russia, Latvia, The Ukraine, or any of the other former Soviet Republics, you were wrong. Wrong again if you guessed it was one of the more Socialist countries of Europe, like Italy or France. You lost if you thought it was Castro’s Cuba or a Latin American dictatorship. Those who correctly guessed it was the United States should not be happy because you were right. You should be terrified because of what this means for our country.
The First Amendment is in serious trouble. Freedom of speech is in danger. When Americans, the people who enjoy the most freedom of any country that ever existed, start to change their attitudes toward this most fundamental of freedoms, it scares me to death. Study the history of every free nation that was taken over by dictators or Communists. Freedom of speech was always the first freedom to be lost. After that, it was easy to destroy all other freedoms.
On the 225th anniversary of our nation’s independence, the New York-based First Amendment Center released the results of a chilling survey. It revealed that an amazing percentage of Americans are willing or eager to give the government more control over free speech and the press. This survey was conducted by telephone across the nation. Over 1100 adults were randomly sampled. Of course, this is a small sample, and I hope and pray it is not representative of our nation. But I think every freedom-loving American will be alarmed by the answers given by these 1100 citizens.
* 46% said the press in America has "too much freedom to do what it wants." By contrast, only 36% think there is "too much government censorship."
* 71% think it is somewhat or very important for the government "to hold the media in check."
* 39% believe "the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees." That’s almost DOUBLE the 22% who held that opinion last July when the same poll was taken.
*64% disagreed that "people should be allowed to say things in public that might be offensive to racial groups," with 36% saying there should be laws against such speech.
Please note the word "might" in the last survey question. We have traveled so far down this dangerous road that almost two thirds of Americans are willing to give up their most fundamental right, the right of free speech, if it "might" offend someone. Over one third think we need LAWS against such free speech. Problem: Who decides what is offensive? Does everyone get a little book to carry that lists all the politically incorrect words and phrases that could get them arrested?
Here’s a news flash for 64% of those who responded to this survey. There is NO Constitutional right that protects Americans from being offended! There IS a Constitutionally protected right to free speech, which almost 40% of these respondents think "goes too far." The First Amendment goes too far?!?! Who is teaching our children government and civics? Or are they teaching these subjects at all these days? Perhaps the teachers are afraid that teaching the Constitution might "offend" someone, or hurt their "self-esteem." (By the way, self-esteem is not Constitutionally guaranteed either, although I know several liberals that would support a Constitutional Amendment to that effect.)
I am offended, terribly offended, when I hear certain people say certain things. For instance, I have heard ignorant, perverted people claim that Jesus was a homosexual because he traveled with twelve male disciples. I know this is wrong, and I find such a statement offensive, but I would never do anything to deny these people the right to say it, publicly or otherwise. Why? Because by taking away their right to make such an outrageous statement, I would be depriving myself of the right to refute it.
As a nation, we have learned that we can’t treat one group differently than others. That’s why slavery was outlawed. And that’s why women and blacks have the right to vote. We can’t treat certain types of speech differently, either. If we allow some "Thought Police" to decide that we can express our opinions on one subject that they agree with, but not on another which they don’t like, we are no longer a free nation.
Steve Dasbach, the President of the Libertarian Party brought this survey to our attention. He stated, "Americans don’t seem to understand that free speech is not something you can share with the government. Either the people have free speech- and are willing to fervently defend it against all encroachments- or else politicians have the power to control what we hear, see, and read. There is no middle ground. Unfortunately, too many Americans appear willing to sacrifice their freedoms to protect themselves against speech they find offensive."
He went on to warn, "Don’t let the history books record that this was the generation that gave away its First Amendment rights. Remember: There’s only one thing more tragic than a government seizing the rights of its citizens, and that’s citizens willingly forfeiting their rights because they are too apathetic, indifferent, or lazy to keep them. There’s only one thing more tragic than letting power-hungry politicians murder the First Amendment, and that’s allowing it to die of criminal neglect. If you give away your rights, politicians will eagerly take them. And once they have that power, politicians won’t stop at simply censoring what you find offensive. Eventually, politicians will go after speech that you find indispensable. But by then, it will be too late."
(Thanks to subscriber Ken Butdorf for forwarding this survey and Mr. Dasbach’s comments to us.)
A NATION OF POLITICAL ILLITERATES. On Independence Day I watched, along with millions of other Americans, as TV news people questioned people on the street about their knowledge of the events that forged our nation. Some laughed at the answers many gave; I felt like crying.
I saw a dozen teens and adults attempt to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Only one came close. Only 60% knew that the nation we fought for our independence was England. Other guesses included France, Canada, and America. Less than half knew the name of the war that resulted in our freedom. A large percentage thought it was the Civil War. Others guessed World War I or the Spanish-American War. One young man was quite sure it was the Vietnam War (probably the only conflict he could name).
Last week I quoted one of our readers who thanked me for being "A voice crying in the wilderness." I feel that way sometimes. I know that most people in our country are not disturbed by the things that I have just described. And I wonder why...
FLORIDIANS BEWARE: JANET RENO WANTS TO "HELP" YOU. I watched with considerable amusement as Janet Reno was interviewed regarding her intention to run for the office of governor in Florida. She said she had no political aspirations after she left her previous position, but now she feels the need to "help Florida." I hope she doesn’t "help" us like she helped the people in Waco, Texas. Her over-reaction there killed 80 people, including 25 children. She could have waited them out. Eventually they would have run out of supplies and been forced to surrender. But her Justice Department was being embarrassed by the standoff, so she sent in the tanks. The result was people being burned alive.
I hope she doesn’t "help" Florida like she helped little Elian Gonzalez to be "reunited" with the Communist father who had abandoned him. Elian’s mother died trying to gain freedom for him. His father, who had had no contact with the boy for months before he and his mother fled Cuba, encouraged Miami relatives to take care of him. But then Castro gave both Elian’s father and Bill Clinton their instructions, and both followed his script to the letter. For her part, Janet Reno knew the family had no weapons, and had promised publicly that there would be no midnight raids. She sent in black-suited, machine-gun wielding government agents to snatch Elian at gunpoint from the family that loved him. At the very moment that they were breaking down the unlocked door, Reno was on the phone assuring the family that no such raid would take place.
Just who is this person who wants to be the Chief Executive of one of the key political states in the union? By all accounts, she was an effective, though liberal, state’s attorney in Miami, Florida. While she served in that position, we did not hear the constant questions of her integrity that we heard while she served Clinton. In fact, most people I spoke to that knew her during that time, conservatives and liberals alike, spoke of her as hard-working, honest, a "straight-shooter."
What changed her? Quite simply, her association with the Clintons. It seems that anyone who spends any time with the Clintons becomes like them. For the rest of her life, the public will associate Janet Reno with the most corrupt Administration ever to sully the White House. She will forever be haunted by her cover-ups of the unethical and illegal acts of Bill and Hillary Clinton and their minions. As the first woman Attorney General of the United States, she had an opportunity to make a difference. Instead, she became the first Attorney General to be held in Contempt of Congress by a full House Committee (a fact that the liberal media buried on their back pages).
The House Government Reform and Oversight Committee had subpoenaed documents relative to her failure to appoint an Independent Counsel to investigate 1996 campaign fund-raising abuses by Clinton and Gore. FBI Director Louis Freeh had strongly recommended such an appointment in a memo to Reno, citing clear violations of campaign law and the inability of the Justice Department to conduct an impartial investigation. Charles La Bella, brought in by Reno to conduct Justice’s investigation, stated that appointment of an independent counsel was required by law. She ignored her own expert’s advice in order to protect her boss. She not only refused to let an independent party investigate the Clintons and Gore, she refused the lawful request of Congress to see the memo and other related documents.
In her defense, I think Ms. Reno was thrust into an arena for which she was ill prepared. Judge Robert Bork has stated that her only qualifications for office were that she was a woman, and that she had been a prosecutor. The Clintons badly wanted the distinction of being the first to appoint a female Attorney General. Their first attempt failed because their nominee, Zoë Baird, was found to have broken immigration laws. Reno, their second choice, had never held a statewide or federal elective office, and was clearly out of her element from the start. Her experience as a prosecutor, even in a large jurisdiction like Dade County, Florida, was poor preparation for the big league of federal politics.
There was also inordinate pressure put on her by the White House to turn a blind eye to numerous violations of federal law. There was the case of the 900 FBI files on Republicans obtained by the White House which she refused to investigate. There was the firing of the entire White House Travel Office staff to divert business to Clinton cronies. Immediately upon taking office, Reno fired all 93 U.S. attorneys, something that has never been done before. She stated the decision had been made in conjunction with the White House. Translation: The President ordered it, so that he could appoint his own people.
On the night of Vincent Foster’s supposed suicide, his notes and files disappeared. Bill and Hillary’s attorney, Bernard Nussbaum had removed the documents, and refused to let Justice Department lawyers examine them. Reno’s deputy attorney general, Philip Heymann, asked Nussbaum if he was hiding something. Shortly thereafter Heymann resigned, apparently in reaction to Reno’s refusal to pursue the matter.
Janet Reno’s most odious, and possibly treasonous dereliction of duty involves her refusal to effectively investigate the millions of dollars funneled from the Communist Chinese government directly to Bill Clinton and Al Gore. The Communist Chinese are today our most determined enemy (their statement, not mine) and the gravest threat to out national security. In violation of federal law, Clinton approved the sale of super computers that could be used against our military, particularly in area of missile guidance systems. Even the hint that such serious policy decisions might be influenced by bribes required vigorous investigation. Reno chose to bury the embarrassing inquiry.
Former President Clinton had a constitutional duty to "...take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." He not only failed in that duty, but expended tremendous amounts of money and effort to ensure that the law was subverted. His failure as the chief law enforcement officer of the nation to uphold the Constitution placed a heavy responsibility on the second highest law enforcement officer of the land, Janet Reno. She failed to do her duty.
I hope the Democrats are foolish enough to nominate Reno. It was on her watch in Dade County that four Miami policemen bludgeoned black insurance salesman Arthur McDuffie to death with their flashlights on a routine traffic stop. Her failure to properly prosecute the officers touched off three days of rioting in downtown Miami with angry rioters shouting "Reno! Reno! Reno!" outside her office. There are so many people in Florida that can’t stand her, particularly the Cuban community, that Jeb Bush’s re-election would be assured.
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