Has anybody else noticed the bad couple of days that the 1st Amendment right to Free Speech has been having? It’s been so bad that I’ve never really blogged about politics but I think it’s time to start.
Lets recap some of the things that have happened where the President of the United States is encouraging the suppression of Free Speech in order to make sure he does not suffer his first and most substantial legislative loss.
It started as members of congress returned to their district and began to encounter a rash of concerned citizens who are upset about ObamaCare. They are pressing hard and the Democrats are now acting desperately and foolishly as Peggy Noonan’s WSJ article mentioned today. Understandably so member of Congress are very frightened by this reality and in a pep talk at the White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina told Senators “If you get hit, we will punch back twice as hard” (story Here)
It was not long after that the AFL-CIO President John Sweeny announced “an intensive thirty day grassroots health care campaign calling on Congress to side with working families – not insurance companies” and Health Care for American Now (HCAN) teamed up to “combat right wing attacks” as covered here.
What is of particular concern to me and the 1st amendment is that when you read the memo from HCAN to the union members and other Acorn folks, it discusses intricately how to cutoff and marginalize people of opposing viewpoints. Including assiging 3-5 union members to seek out and speak to the media on their talking points and to escort them in and out of the events and as it says to “have a plan for the media”
“Have a real plan for the media. Remember, this is a communications strategy that the right wing is using and our goal is to stop them from hijacking and changing the message and tone of these events. Assign 3-5 people to speak with the reporters who attend and make sure the reporters understand the scope and message of the event. If you let the media just report on what they see, they will invariably focus on the mayhem. That is a far juicer story than affordability and the public health insurance option. Don’t wait for the reporter to approach you. You must approach the reporters and be assertive in shaping the narrative that they write. Have someone assigned to greeting the media or checking in media as they arrive. That way you will know who they are and be able to work with them both during the event and afterwards.
They also include gems about how to interrupt a “militant right wing activist” by using the following canned phrases:
• “Excuse me, I came today to listen to Representative XXX explain how this bill is going to make health care more affordable for me and my family. We’re being gouged by insurance companies that just want to make more profits while we struggle to keep up with premiums and co-pays. Representative, how areyou going to fix that?”
• “I’m retired and can’t afford my prescription drugs because I’m on a fixed income. Representative, how is this bill going to affect me?”
• “I want to hear the Representative speak. He’s the one voting on the bill. Representative, how will this bill help people who already have insurance at work?”
• “What I’m worried about is how we’re going to keep the insurance companies from continuing to charge people more for being sick and keep them from taking away coverage when we need it most. What’s the plan for that?”
That’s nothing short of making plans for stifling your first amendment right to Free Speech not to mention the fundamental principal that our representative works for you and should listen to what we have to say.
Then there was the St. Louis incident where the Unions dutifully carried out these marching orders and assaulted another man.
And also from the White House blog they ask their supporters to “report fishy web or emails” that undermine their message and email them to [email protected] This move has raised many peoples concerns some law analysts who say that may be illegal.
Finally wrapping up a awful week already for the First Amendment, the President of the United States said this.
“But I don’t want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess. I don’t mind cleaning up after them, but don’t do a lot of talking.”
While this may sound like a little partisan smack talk, when you watch the video you get the feeling Obama forgets he is The President of the United States, and thinks he is back to community organizing and basically telling people he things his opponents should shut up!
Here’s to hoping the next week will be a better week for the 1st Amendment.