A note on Mark Steyn

Mark Steyn features in a couple of the links which will appear soon in a 14th Anniversary post for this blog, but I’m not waiting for February 19th to post this bit.

This Just In!
A Cockwomble Reaches for The Hockey Stick

Steyn could use your help defending himself, and the First Amendment, against both Michael “Hokeystick” Mann and Cary “Crazy” Katz.

Punitive lawfare is a preferred weapon of the anti-freedom-of-speech elite, and Steyn is at the forefront of these fights because he wouldn’t abase himself.  Under the US justice system, the process has become the punishment.

The Mann case has dragged on for 8 years.  Katz, who definitively lost a suit he initiated against Steyn (and refuses to pay up), is a very rich guy who… well you’d have to read about what an evil looter he is, and we don’t have space here.

Support Mark Steyn.  Buy a book, a mug, a t-shirt, a CD, or, better yet join The Mark Steyn Club.

His fight is your fight.

The Great Loyalty Oath Campaign

I oppose BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions – of and against Israel). It is conducted on behalf of lawless, racist tyrants against the Middle East’s only democratic government. Nonetheless, this strikes me as unconstitutional.

A Texas Elementary School Speech Pathologist Refused to Sign a Pro-Israel Oath, Now Mandatory in Many States — so She Lost Her Job

It’s certainly repugnant.

I think the headline would be more accurate if it said “Refused to Abandon Her 1st Amendment Rights.”

A children’s speech pathologist who has worked for the last nine years with developmentally disabled, autistic, and speech-impaired elementary school students in Austin, Texas, has been told that she can no longer work with the public school district, after she refused to sign an oath vowing that she “does not” and “will not” engage in a boycott of Israel or “otherwise tak[e] any action that is intended to inflict economic harm” on that foreign nation…

[The oath] would bar Amawi not only from refraining from buying goods from companies located within Israel, but also from any Israeli companies operating in the occupied West Bank (“an Israeli-controlled territory”). The oath given to Amawi would also likely prohibit her even from advocating such a boycott given that such speech could be seen as “intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations with Israel.”…

The bill’s language is so sweeping that some victims of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Southwest Texas in late 2017, were told that they could only receive state disaster relief if they first signed a pledge never to boycott Israel…

This required certification about Israel was the only one in the contract sent to Amawi that pertained to political opinions and activism. There were no similar clauses relating to children (such as a vow not to advocate for pedophiles or child abusers)…

How is this different from legally compelling teachers to use made-up pronouns?

In order to obtain contracts in Texas, then, a citizen is free to denounce and work against the United States, to advocate for causes that directly harm American children, and even to support a boycott of particular U.S. states, such as was done in 2017 to North Carolina in protest of its anti-LGBT law. In order to continue to work, Amawi would be perfectly free to engage in any political activism against her own country, participate in an economic boycott of any state or city within the U.S., or work against the policies of any other government in the world — except Israel.

I’m reminded of Chapter 11 of Heller’s Catch-22. Captain Black conducts the Great Loyalty Oath campaign:

““The important thing is to keep them pledging,’ he explained to his cohorts. ‘It doesn’t matter whether they mean it or not. That’s why they make little kids pledge allegiance even before they know what “pledge” and “allegiance” mean.’ To Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren, the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was a glorious pain in the ass, since it complicated their task of organizing the crews for each combat mission. Men were tied up all over the squadron signing, pledging and singing, and the missions took hours longer to get under way. Effective emergency action became impossible, but Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren were both too timid to raise any outcry against Captain Black, who scrupulously enforced each day the doctrine of ‘Continual Reaffirmation’ that he had originated, a doctrine designed to trap all those men who had become disloyal since the last time they had signed a loyalty oath the day before. It was Captain Black who came with advice to Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren as they pitched about in their bewildering predicament. He came with a delegation and advised them bluntly to make each man sign a loyalty oath before allowing him to fly on a combat mission.””

The First Amendment especially applies to speech you don’t like. I would agree that a speech pathologist’s duties should exclude political advocacy; but that is an HR matter, and not in evidence here.  It is not something to be applied to her personal shopping decisions or off-duty speech by state law.

Thanksgiving advice

You’ll find all kinds of advice on the web about how to avoid political arguments around the Thanksgiving table.  In the time of Trump and Antifa, that seems like an aid to calm digestion.

TOC, of course, is here to do the opposite:

“It is necessary for the welfare of society that genius should be privileged to utter sedition, to blaspheme, to outrage good taste, to corrupt the youthful mind, and generally to scandalize one’s uncles.”
― George Bernard Shaw

“The attempt to boil down fascism to ‘anything I don’t like’ is simply idiotic. Which is more fascist: Christina Hoff Sommers coming to speak about the lies of the feminist movement, or the people who are suggesting that they should actually be able to shut down her lecture by use of force?
That seems a little more fascist to me.”
― Ben Shapiro

“If we conceive of free speech as promoting the search for truth—as the metaphor of “the marketplace of ideas” suggests—we should be troubled whether that search is hindered by public officials or private citizens. The same is true of democratic justifications for free speech. If the point of free speech is to facilitate the open debate that is essential for self-rule, any measure that impairs that debate should give us pause, regardless of its source.”
― Thomas Healy

“Those who claim to be hurt by words must be led to expect nothing as compensation. Otherwise, once they learn they can get something by claiming to be hurt, they will go into the business of being offended.”
― Jonathan Rauch

“First, if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility. Secondly, though the silenced opinion be an error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of the truth; and since the general or prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied.”
― John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

“And what doe they tell us vainly of new opinions, when this very opinion of theirs, that none must be heard but whom they like, is the worst and newest opinion of all others, and is the chief cause why sects and schisms doe so much abound and true knowledge is kept at distance from us ; besides yet a greater danger which is in it.”
― John Milton, Areopagitica

Free speech is not just another value. It’s the foundation of Western civilization.
― Jordan Peterson

You certainly don’t have to go out of your way to start a fight, and remember to listen, but don’t let your relatives get away with shaming you into silence, whatever their political views.  It’s not a good habit to get into, and it teaches the wrong lesson about freedom of speech.

Update 1:35PM.  Here’s Jim Treacher with an example.

Update 9:37AM, Nov 22
Turn on your sarcasm detector:
Stop pretending you don’t love Thanksgiving
Now, turn it off:
Media advice

The most consequential American free-speech case in half-a-century

That is not hyperbole.

A few of those few who visit The Other Club may do so because we talk a lot about free speech. As the post title suggests, some are doing much more than that.

Consider joining the Mark Steyn Club.

 

Codependency

Senator John McCain tells NBC’s Chuck Todd we need:

[A] free and sometimes adversarial press. Without it, I’m afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That’s how dictators get started… They get started by suppressing the free press… I’m not saying President Trump is trying to be a dictator, I’m just saying we need to learn the lessons of history.

Classic. “I’m not saying this thing I just said.”

Well, sometimes dictators get started by co-opting the press. Sometimes the press sycophants enlist themselves. The press is free to print what it wants; but if it becomes immune to criticism that’s when it becomes the enemy, and when it acts like a hive mind, that’s when the possibility of dictatorship emerges.

We all remember the fiery outrage Senator McCain expressed when former President Obama wiretapped the Associated Press in 2013. We can never forget his impassioned speech when Fox News’ James Rosen was on Obama’s DOJ enemies list.

Well… No. We can’t remember outrage that was never expressed, nor can we forget something that never happened. Donald Trump called the press “the enemy of the American people” in a tweet – that got Mr. Straight Talk Express to sit up and take notice.

Given Senator McCain’s estranged relationship with GOP Presidents, we shouldn’t be surprised he’s bashing Trump. You may remember some of Senator McCain’s collusion with Democrats against President George W. Bush. It’s worth a review to recall the full picture.

At best that was about policies. At worst, it was McCain building his own ego. It’s quite another thing to glibly toss about the word “dictator” in response to a question about POTUS criticizing the MSM. The answer to Todd’s question is, “Yes, the press is the enemy of the American people who elected this President, and anyone else who doesn’t agree with their Progressive agenda. Get a clue.”

Given Senator McCain’s estranged relationship with the First Amendment, we shouldn’t be surprised he’s selective in citing it. He is, after all, the co-author of the anti-First Amendment Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, eponymously known as McCain-Feingold. Don’t take my word for its unconstitutionality – the Supreme Court has overturned major portions of McCain-Feingold in FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc., Davis v. Federal Election Commission, and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

If John McCain understood that the First Amendment protects free speech (especially political speech) for all of us he would be too embarrassed to be currying MSM favor by implying Trump is suppressing the free press.

Powerline’s John Hinderaker sums it up nicely,

John, John, get a grip! Who is “suppressing” the press? Do you seriously not understand the difference between criticizing the press and suppressing it? The press is not above criticism. On the contrary, it deserves to be called out constantly for bias and inaccuracy. President Trump has taken a good step in that direction, but a great deal more press criticism is in order.

Also: not calling on CNN in a White House press conference does not constitute “suppressing” CNN.