Now that the government’s made toast of the others, it sticks a fork in the 1st Amendment, too
by Becky Akers
A film-maker recently revealed why he shot his movie abroad rather than at home: he fears his government. Can you identify the regime he escaped?
“We moved to Germany, because we did not feel comfortable in _____. We felt like we were at risk [in ____]. We didn’t know what [____‘s agents] might do, so we ended up in Munich…”
Was the producer referring to North Korea? China? Russia, perhaps?
Nope. Oliver Stone was speaking about the good ol’ USSA. He “didn’t know what the NSA might do,” given that his upcoming movie, “Snowden,” presents Heroic Ed as “a historical figure of great consequence.” So he moved production overseas. Even there, the feds’ long arm shook its fist at him: “Problems arose with companies that had connections to the U.S., he said: ‘… BMW couldn’t even help us in any way in Germany.’”
Funding also posed problems. “’No studio would support [the film,’ Stone] said. ‘It was extremely difficult to finance…’ Eventually, financing came through from France and Germany. … ‘It’s a very strange thing to do (a story about) an American man, and not be able to finance this movie in America. And that’s very disturbing, if you think about its implications on any subject that is not overtly pro-American. They say we have freedom of expression, but thought is financed, and thought is controlled, and the media is controlled. This country is very tight on that, and there’s no criticism allowed at a certain level.’”
Perhaps Stone’s feigning. After all, pretending paranoia over the NSA is brilliant publicity for a picture about the agency’s arch-enemy, Ed Snowden.
But what if he isn’t? How far we’ve fallen, that two-bit politicians and bureaucrats tyrannize powerful producers into seeking asylum!
Regardless of your opinion of Stone and Snowden, a government so hostile to dissidents, to freedom of thought and of expression, should not only shame but very much worry us. If the feds can intimidate a Hollywood honcho as influential as Stone, what chance do the rest of us stand against them?
Nor is Stone the only casualty of this war on the 1st Amendment. “Conservative radio host Glenn Beck is under investigation after a comment he made on his radio show when talking about GOP front-runner Donald Trump…” It seems that Beck and his producer, Stu Burguiere, were joking on-air; the latter mocked Beck’s comment about Trump, to which Beck replied, “‘If I was close enough and I had a knife. Really. I mean the stabbing just wouldn’t stop.” Both men insist that Beck was responding to Burguiere and in no way threatening to stab Trump. But that doesn’t matter to the Secret Service. It “will conduct an appropriate follow-up investigation.”
Seriously? Have these bullies nothing better to do on our taxes? Again, regardless of our opinion of Glenn Beck, the government’s surveillance and its stifling of his speech should terrify us.
And especially so because such censorship is moving from entertainment’s moguls to us: “Attorney General Loretta Lynch acknowledged … that there have been discussions within the Department of Justice about possibly pursuing civil action against so-called climate change deniers.”
Yep, our rulers aim to punish those who reject a discredited myth. Ergo, they are investigating “legal” theories that justify such abhorrent totalitarianism — and there is one, believe it or not, which may be even more tragic than this ham-fisted censorship: “Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) … [drew] a comparison between possible civil action against climate change deniers and civil action that the Clinton administration…”
The Clinton administration? This despotism is 25 years old?
“… pursued against the tobacco industry for claiming that the science behind the dangers of tobacco was unsettled.”
Actually, such despotism is far older than a quarter-century: it dates back a full one, to 1919 and the Supreme Court’s wickedness in Schenck v. United States.
When President Woodrow Wilson dragged reluctant Americans into World War I, he had to draft men for his army: sensible citizens refused to die in European trenches. Dissidents published pamphlets against such legalized kidnapping, urging its victims to resist. The government arrested two Socialists for distributing this literature; they protested that the 1st Amendment protected such speech.
Naturally, the judiciary defended the Feds’ warmongering: “…in many places and in ordinary times, the defendants, in saying all that was said in the circular, would have been within their constitutional rights. But the character of every act depends upon the circumstances in which it is done. The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.”
What a false analogy! Shouting “Fire!” in a theater is an issue of property rights, not of speech; it pertains to the 1st Amendment as much as robbing a gun shop does the 2nd Amendment (and in a free country, the theater’s owner, not rulers, would decide his response to the jerk threatening his business). Yet the modern state bases much of its infringing of the 1st Amendment on this deranged decision. No wonder we endure such travesties as prosecuting trespassers on trumped-up “civil-rights charges.”
Against all evidence, Americans insist that their country is “free.” We cannot build a shed on our property without buying a bureaucrat’s permission; ditto to owning guns and certain drugs. We board planes only after submitting to official sexual assault. We light our homes with the bulbs our rulers prefer, and we fill our cars with gas whose formula the EPA dictates at prices it artificially inflates. If a cop’s so inclined, he can murder us with impunity. Bureaucrats and politicians have invalidated de facto most of the Bill of Rights; they’ve curtailed and encroached on the few freedoms left until our liberties are too weak to do us any good or our rulers any harm.
But because we can still mildly criticize those who lord it over us, Americans cooperate with our masters in calling ourselves free.