Last week the Governor of Missouri, Matt Blunt, issued a statement on the Obama campaign’s “abusive use of Missouri law enforcement.” What was striking about the allegations Blunt made was the eerie parallel between the Obama camp’s activity and the Organization of the Islamic Conference’s efforts to stifle all criticism of Islam and destroy the freedom of speech — also by means of legal intimidation — at the UN and elsewhere.
Blunt charged that four Missouri state officials along with the leader of Obama’s campaign in Missouri “have attached the stench of police state tactics to the Obama-Biden campaign.” In declaring an intent to prosecute those who spread what they considered to be falsehoods about Obama, they were, said Blunt, “abusing the justice system and offices of public trust to silence political criticism with threats of prosecution and criminal punishment.”
Such behavior, said Blunt, was “scandalous beyond words.” Obama and his supporters, he said, were trying to “frighten people away from expressing themselves, to chill free and open debate, to suppress support and donations to conservative organizations targeted by this anti-civil rights, to strangle criticism of Mr. Obama, to suppress ads about his support of higher taxes, and to choke out criticism on television, radio, the Internet, blogs, e-mail and daily conversation about the election.”
“Barack Obama,” he declared, “needs to grow up.”
Maybe he does, but what is most disturbing about this Missouri incident is that it takes place just as defenders of free speech are fighting a United Nations resolution called “Combating the Defamation of Religion.” The non-binding resolution, introduced by the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference, “notes with deep concern the intensification of the campaign of defamation of religions and the ethnic and religious profiling of Muslim minorities in the aftermath of 11 September 2001” and “stresses the need to effectively combat defamation of all religions and incitement to religious hatred, against Islam and Muslims in particular.”
The U.S. government opposes the resolution, pointing out that “defamation-related laws have been abused by governments and used to restrict human rights.”
But how long will this American opposition last? If Barack Obama values free speech so little, as this Missouri episode suggests, it is not at all beyond the realm of possibility that if he becomes president, he will acquiesce to the OIC’s attempts to criminalize criticism of Islam, and pressure the Supreme Court (to which he will probably appoint several key members) to declare a “hate speech” exemption to First Amendment protections.
And what about the liberals’ favorite anti-free speech tool, the Fairness Doctrine? Nancy Pelosi has said she’d like to re-impose the Orwellian-named “doctrine” to make sure that conservative talk radio will be “balanced” — hour by hour, minute by minute — by liberal talk radio. Can anyone doubt that a President Obama would sign legislation reviving the Fairness Doctrine?
Obama’s campaign has said he doesn’t support return of the Fairness Doctrine because it’s supposedly a distraction. Last February Obama’s press secretary, Michael Ortiz, said, “He considers this debate to be a distraction from the conversation we should be having about opening up the airwaves and modern communications to as many diverse viewpoints as possible. That is why Sen. Obama supports media-ownership caps, network neutrality, public broadcasting, as well as increasing minority ownership of broadcasting and print outlets."
OK: so Obama doesn’t support the 1934 version of the Fairness Doctrine and wants to modernize it to suit modern liberal interests.
Will the modernized Obama Fairness Doctrine happen? I hope not. I pray not. But can it happen? After reading this story out of Missouri, I am beginning to wonder if maybe it can in an Obama Presidency. An attorney has recently assured me that precedents protecting free speech in American law are very thick on the ground and will be hard to overturn. In fact, he maintained that they would be impossible to overturn. Still — is this speculation, and that is certainly all that it is, really that far beyond reasonable possibility? Already those who discuss the jihad threat in its full dimensions honestly and openly are ostracized, marginalized and vilified.
If candidate Obama is willing to have people arrested when they say things about him that he doesn’t like, will President Obama have the vision or courage or understanding to stand up against the OIC when it demands restrictions on freedom of speech at precisely the same time that he wants to build bridges to the Islamic world and demonstrate his power to restore hope and bring change to old stalemated conflicts?
So maybe Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham and a few miserable “Islamophobes” get silenced, fined, arrested, imprisoned, whatever. What’s the big deal? Peace will then march on unimpeded. At least just as it did before 1776.
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