Leftist Assault on Free Speech and Conscience
This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published June 1, 2012 on The Washington Times website.
Have you heard of SWATing? Someone calls 911 falsely claiming that a person has killed someone or is about to do so. It can bring down a world of hurt, complete with sirens and a SWAT team with drawn guns. In a radio interview on the Hugh Hewitt Show, conservative Web entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart began warning people about the tactic shortly before he collapsed and died on March 1. No, I’m not suggesting his death had anything to do with this, however convenient it was for the political left.
Over the past year, strong-arm tactics have been used against prominent conservative bloggers who have written about a left-wing activist named Brett Kimberlin.
Kimberlin was convicted in a series of 1978 bombings in Speedway, Ind., the last of which critically injured a Vietnam veteran, who later committed suicide. An accomplished jailhouse lawyer, Kimberlin was released on parole in 1993, re-jailed and finally released in 2001. He went on to found the Velvet Revolution website and the Justice Through Music Project, which receives money from heavy leftist hitters, including the George Soros-controlled Tides Foundation.
In October 2010, Los Angeles Assistant District Attorney Patrick Frey, who blogs as Patterico, began writing about “the Speedway Bomber’s” left-wing activities. On July 1, 2011, Mr. Frey was awakened at 12:35 a.m. by a SWAT team at his Los Angeles home.
“The call that sent deputies to my home was a hoax,” Mr. Frey writes. “Someone had pretended to be me. They called the police to say I had shot my wife. The sheriff’s deputies who arrived at my front door believed they were about to confront an armed man who had just shot his wife.” Mr. Frey was handcuffed, and his frightened wife and children were led outside by police.
On May 28, Red State blogger Eric Erickson reported similar treatment: “Last week we spent a lot of time writing about Brett Kimberlin and the incident involving blogger Patterico. … Tonight, my family was sitting around the kitchen table eating dinner when sheriff’s deputies pulled up in the driveway. Someone called 911 from my address claiming there had been an accidental shooting.”
On March 29, another blogger, Aaron Walker, was arrested in Maryland for blogging about Mr. Kimberlin, a violation of a “peace order.”
SWATing is just one of the nastier tricks played by the intolerant left, which increasingly employs smears and intimidation.
In early May, the Chronicle of Higher Education fired author and blogger Naomi Schaefer Riley for opining that some black studies dissertation topics were “a collection of left-wing victimization claptrap.” Thousands of liberal academics signed a petition demanding her firing, which the Chronicle dutifully did after holding out for a few days.
In April, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which represents conservative state legislators, was attacked by former White House “green jobs” czar Van Jones and his Color of Change movement. ALEC had posted on its website model voter photo ID legislation, which Mr. Jones’ group describes as an attempt to “disenfranchise over 5 million people in the upcoming elections.” ALEC soon caved and removed the post after losing corporate sponsors, including Coca-Cola, Mars, Wendy’s and Kraft.
A union front group, Change to Win, then began bullying health insurer Wellpoint over, among other things, its support of ALEC.
The Center for Political Accountability, run by Democratic operative Bruce Freed, is promoting “transparency” so that businesses contributing to conservative causes can be hounded and boycotted, as Target was over its support for a Republican gubernatorial candidate who favored traditional marriage. This is the corporate version of the smear campaign against people who donated to California’s Proposition 8 marriage amendment in 2008. Left-wing activists posted a Google map with donors’ names and addresses, inviting harassment. Vandalism, firings and some terror incidents conducted against the Mormon Church followed.
Jackboot leftist tactics have reached even the therapist’s couch.
In California, the State Legislature is weighing a bill (S.B. 1172) making it a crime for concerned parents to take a confused child younger than 18 to a therapist to reinforce the child’s gender identity. There also is a nationwide movement to criminalize pro-straight counseling. Dr. Robert Spitzer, an architect of the 1993 removal of homosexuality as a disorder in the psychiatric diagnostic manual, did his own study of ex-gays in 2003, in which he concluded that some people could change their orientation. A former hero of the left, he was terrorized, ostracized and hounded until he did a partial mea culpa a few weeks ago.
“He had been attacked so violently on account of his study that he had nearly broken down emotionally.” writes Gerard van den Aardweg, author of many books on homosexuality. “I understood hell had broken loose against him. I thought: And this is ‘free’ America, where a good-intentioned, humane psychiatrist is stoned for having the courage to publish a careful study with a very careful conclusion that merely calls into question the gay dogma of irreversibly programmed homosexuality?”
In March, the Obama administration threatened to bankrupt Catholic hospitals if they wouldn’t violate their beliefs regarding contraceptives, abortifacients and sterilization. To some people’s surprise, the Catholic hierarchy hit back with multiple lawsuits, a spectacular story ignored by the “mainstream” media.
Massachusetts Democrat Rep. James P. McGovern is going for the gold medal of left-wing censorship. He is sponsoring the Orwellian-named People’s Rights Amendment, which would undo the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and strip “all corporate entities – for profit and nonprofit alike”- of freedom of speech. The First Amendment? As co-sponsor and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would say, “Are you serious?”
As the political left faces a bruising comeuppance in November, leftist bullies are going for outright control of what’s said, written and done.
SWATing is only the ugly tip of very large iceberg. The cure for the left’s bullying is to expose, confront and throw the scoundrels out.