I have about 80,000 things to say about the First Amendment & Free Speech right now. My fingers cannot keep up with the flow of words in my head. I’ve started several posts about Free Speech & Freedom of the Press because of the crap #45 is doing, but just as I get into the meat of the writing, he does something else that requires revision or scrapping it and starting all over again.
I am determined to get this one out!
Is Hate Speech Protected?
There is a pervasive belief that Hate Speech is not included under the Free Speech umbrella. It actually, absolutely, is.
What is not included are words that incite violence… a thin, often controversial, court-examined difference.
“But while the Constitution gives latitude to hate speech and offensive rhetoric, court decisions in the last century have carved out notable — though narrow — exceptions to free speech guarantees and authorized prosecution for language deemed to fall out of bounds.
“Comments intended as specific and immediate threats brush up against those protections, regardless of a person’s race or religion. So do personal, face-to-face comments meant to incite imminent lawlessness, such as a riot.”
I don’t even need to say his last name, this person has been in the news enough times in the last few days that you know exactly who I mean.
Milo created a great deal of controversy regarding his hateful words hurled at Jews, the LGBTQ community (especially transgender folks), Muslims, liberals, Blacks, women… pretty much anyone that isn’t a straight American White Republican male.
Despite so many finding his beliefs repulsive, a significant number of others clearly find him entertaining, welcoming (and embracing) his vitriol.
But even this vile caricature stumbled over the line of common decency (and you know it had to be really bad if the alt-right kicked him to the curb!). His book deal and his speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference were cancelled, followed by his making the decision to quit the Fake News organization Breitbart. If you need more information, Google his name and “Free Speech” and a bazillion sites will come up for you.
Even in our politically-correct, ultra-sensitive-to-verbiage times, folks have every right to express their feelings and beliefs about others, even the nasty ones, but only if they don’t trigger violence. Absolutely a paper-thin difference at times, right?
We are, most assuredly, in for a lot more hate speech as the president uses his pen to limit the abundance of rights and privileges we had gotten used to with President Obama.
The ultimate question is: Which side has the most anger?
And now I move on to #45 trying to strangle our First Amendment freedoms.
(For some amazingly strange reason, this post cannot be formatted correctly, no matter if I work in WYSIWYG or HTML; I have tried for 2 days to fix it, to no avail. I apologize for the bizarre lack of paragraph breaks/doubling of paragraph breaks.)
I have a theory (that has surely already been discussed in other places) that the new administration has an entire strategy to create as much turmoil as possible, knowing there would be protests (because the Women’s March on Washington was planned well in advance of the Inauguration), then seeing even more protests with each Executive Order, their idea took on greater and greater maniacal glee.
You learn activism by doing it, they said. One of the main obstacles to activism is the idea that you have to be an expert to do it —
Because there are so many causes to fight, it can be challenging to protest everything one feels strongly about. Surely, the administration is having a field day cheering that fact.
I see people in my own life swirling around, grasping at causes willy-nilly, protesting 1 one day and another, 2 days later. This frenetic energy cannot possibly be maintained. Speaking up, living in crisis mode, changing one’s life patterns, even for a short time can exhaust someone, causing Outrage Fatigue.
Every morning, we wake up to a fresh Trumpian outrage, as the orange one’s fat little thumbs have tapped out the latest vitriol via Twitter before we lift our weary heads off of the keyboards we fell asleep on because we were up past midnight planning how to block his Cabinet, or save ACA, or get to Burr and Tillis, or, respond to Russian hacking. Is it any wonder that some of us are experiencing outrage fatigue?
As the Day of His Ascendence (formerly known as Inauguration Day) approaches, the more the sense of impending doom and inevitability grows. After the election, outrage and disbelief propelled many into passionate, but ultimately quixotic pursuits. Flipping the electors. The Jill Stein recount. As those prospects faded away, and the names and hideous bios of Trump’s Cabinet appointees came out, many geared up to protest and block that odious pack of cronies, capitalists, and cranks from running the country. Lists of committees were drawn up, scripts written, action plans mobilized. The GOP then ganged up on ACA, as Trump fanned the flames. No, no, protest that! many online cried. Russian allegations exploded; Trump kept tweeting. Crooked media! Overrated Streep! All-talk John Lewis!
As sure as I am sitting here, the White House and even much of Congress are devising ways to wreak havoc on America and betting “libtards” will be out en masse protesting within a couple of hours. They are counting on it. So far, we are not disappointing them.
But with the passage of time, people become numb and mute, collapsing with exhaustion, creating an open, wide and clear, path for the “president’s” coup to complete itself. (AndI do believe we are in the middle of a coup!)
Long-time protesters each speak about outrage fatigue, previously called burnout, in their stories. ACT UP(AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) movement and even the LGBT(QAI+) (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Asexual, Intersex, etc.) all find themselves teaching younger generations how to avoid the outrage fatigue that comes with long battles, ones we are surely just beginning with this “president.”
What I Can Do!
I have Bipolar Disorder and struggle with depression and must be hyper-vigilant to not become overwhelmed with sadness and pain, something that’s been quite a challenge the last 6 months or so, increasing each day. I’m also physically disabled, unable to go out into the streets to protest.
But I can write.
Since the Inauguration, I have been sitting back and pondering… considering what cause resonated most with me, which one I would be most effective battling.
What bubbled to the top was Censorship.
As a writer/blogger, I’ve been censored several times, from Blogger slamming my blog shut for having nude women (giving birth and breastfeeding!) to my midwifery licensing organization strong-arming me to “edit” one of the most important blog posts I’ve ever written. (I did and deleted the original, something that still brings tears 9 years later.)
Government censorship has always made me crazy, but it’s been over there… you know, in other countries.
Until this “president” brought it front and center in the United States.
I could enumerate so many examples, but the loudest and most obnoxious recently came from “president steve bannon” when, on January 26, 2017, in the New York Times, he said:
“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while….”
You can imagine the response.
From shock to hysterical laughter, CNN’s Jake Tapper gave the best answer of all; an emphatic, “NO.”
My Strategy to Avoid Outrage Fatigue
I have chosen to focus on that one strength of mine… writing… and the topic that most resonates… Censorship.
This way, I will be able to pace myself. During the couple of weeks with this new strategy, I’m finding myself able to see-and-toss the non-censorship posts, news pieces and videos, but am seeing, quickly and clearly, the pieces that relate to me specifically. This prevents news overload, which pulls me down towards depression. It is, sometimes, challenging to ignore the information on the periphery, but as I do, I find myself more and more at peace.
By focusing on my life-long writing skills as my major protesting mechanism, I am able to keep my interest level high and will have long-term focus on the censorship issue.
One last strategy is for me to connect with other writers, especially those who focus on censorship. Companionship fosters support and support can manifest in many ways including encouragement, reminders of the mission at hand and backing each other up when conflict gets nasty.
I’m hoping that as I send this out over the airwaves, it will find other like-minded people, but especially writers. I could use the support and suspect you could, too.
Yesterday was the magnificent Women’s March on Washington as well as the other Marches all over the world. It was magical seeing so many people coming together.
How could the White House ignore these massive protests that clearly out-attended the Inauguration the day before?
Finally, in the late afternoon, that #NotMyPresident did tweet a sarcastic comment, but he eventually sent Sean Spicer to the Press Room in the evening to, not so nicely, counter the Press’ reports of how much larger the Protests were compared to the Inauguration the day before. He was quite nasty about it.
Of course, Spicer was freakin’ wrong on the numbers attending the two events. Really, really wrong. So when that Kellyanne Conway, counselor to #NotMyPresident, went on Meet the Presstoday, Chuck Todd pressed her about the clear lies Spicer had said the night before.
Gaslighting From On High
Asked on “Meet the Press” why Spicer used his first appearance before the press to dispute a minimal issue like the inauguration crowd size, and why he used falsehoods to do so, Conway pushed back.
“You’re saying it’s a falsehood and Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that,” she told NBC’s Chuck Todd.
“Alternative facts.” Um, untruths? LIES!?
The people at the top of our government and their support folks think we are stupid fools who cannot tell the difference between the truths and lies.
(And they get that belief because their supportive base IS that stupid and bought every bullshit remark they made during the campaign. I swear they are sleepwalking.)
The behavior being exhibited is called Gaslighting, “a form of manipulation through persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying in an attempt to destabilize and delegitimize a target. Its intent is to sow seeds of doubt in the targets, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity.”
So, Spicer speaking emphatically and not allowing questions after the Press Conference was supposed to shut down any doubt in everyone’s minds.
It’s baffling they think we are going to join in their delusional reality. And what is really hilarious/sad is they believe these “alternative” realities themselves! Is there no source that is to be believed that counters their belief system?
I have many stories about me and censorship. They will unfold in time.
Yesterday, in my Facebook Memories, came this amazing post I wrote on August 2, 2010. It begs to be shared here.
Open Season: you have been warned
The Internet has no walls.
It pays to remember that. While I am meticulously careful to not talk about clients on-line or in articles/posts without their permission, there is a whole different set of rules when reading through the Internet’s public domain.
Therefore, I am serving notice: If you write something publicly, whether in a blog, in a comment in a blog, in a comment to a newspaper or magazine article, in a comment to someone’s post… my spring boarding off of it is fair game. IF YOU DO NOT WANT ME OR ANYONE ELSE TO WRITE SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR WORDS, MAKE YOUR BLOG PRIVATE.
If you are in Facebook with me, I might just use the context of what you are saying, without using your name, when I write something to be seen publicly. I will not quote or reveal discussions in private chats, Skype sessions (without okay) or in private emails. If you have friends that comment to something said in Facebook, their context is also fair game. IF YOU DO NOT AGREE TO THIS, UNFRIEND ME NOW.
Note to public figures (and you know who you are): You and your words, wherever they are, are fair game. I grudgingly agreed to ignore one very important comment made in Facebook a couple of weeks ago. I WILL NOT DO SO AGAIN. If your words come over my Newsfeed, you and your words may very well be written about. If I find them randomly over the Internet, they are also fair game.
Netiquette continues evolving and I do try to keep up on the legalities and ethics of writing on the Internet. There seems to be confusion lately about a writer’s boundaries, some thinking it should be here and others agreeing it can be way over there. I am laying out my boundaries so there is no longer any confusion when it comes to my writing.
The Washington Post relayed the information from a CDC & Trump Administration meeting Thursday night, December 14, 2017 that when the CDC presents their upcoming budget paperwork, they are forbidden to use the above 7 words.
I thought this was fake, ran to Snopes… nope. It is real. Checked Twitter. Real. Checked valid news agencies. Real.
I’m shaking I’m so angry… and even scared… of what this administration is doing to our democracy. By forbidding words, it is no longer a democracy.
Democracy has been dying since Trump took office.
“Treating science as a matter of opinion rather than an objective, evidence-based reality appears to have become a hallmark of the Trump administration, particularly when it comes to climate change. So, too, is scrubbing certain words and information from discussions, documents and websites that don’t fit with Donald Trump’s vision. The Department of Health and Human Services has dropped information on its website about LGBTQ individuals.”
This edict is one of the most terrifying things that have happened and are surely not the last we will see.
We cannot sit quietly and let this happen. I know many many people have been out protesting, but we have to find another way to be heard.
I have been on the Internet since 1995, although I am hardly a geek or adept at the goings on behind the scenes. However, listening to these lawyers (surely, quite well-paid) not explain what happened with the “Russian propaganda group called Internet Research Agency that created a conflict….” within the Americans reading their content, terrified me.
I loved Facebook. For 9 years. People left during the election and I was flabbergasted how anyone could leave, especially during such an important time. At times I pulled back from the more political groups I followed, but generally, I was present throughout the election experience.
Until now, I’d never considered leaving Facebook, but as the information has begun unfolding about how Russia infiltrated Facebook, some of which it seems they even knew about, I began getting uncomfortable there. I closed my Navelgazing Midwife FB Page, seeing small seeds of political discontent there, whittled my Facebook Friends down to 50 from over 400 at one point, but still, these past weeks, I began squirming more.
As a writer, the Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech are enormously important to me. I’ve had a hard time watching as far-right speakers (that have not incited violence) refused a place to speak and share their thoughts. Do I wish they would shut up and go away? Absolutely. But, they are Americans, too, and deserve to add their voices to the discourse.
But that isn’t the same as having to endure propaganda from inside or outside our country.
I can be pretty discerning, especially when it comes to medical or scientific data. But, I have always been easily swayed with some arguments. I’ll lean one way hearing one side, feeling sure that is the right path. Then, I’ll hear the other side and re-think my whole belief system based on that information.
I am really vulnerable to slick talkers and those with psychological skills I cannot recognize or counter. I try to stay away from these arguments, but during the election (and especially now), it is impossible to do. I have said several times recently: I love my Echo Chamber. I simply cannot process the other side’s views without a near breakdown of my values and beliefs.
I’m not sure if it’s a mental illness in me that makes me so vulnerable or if others are like that, too. Knowing it, though, whatever the cause, I had to make a move to protect my mind and heart.
Stepping Away from Facebook
So, I deactivated my Facebook account with a message to them stating my concern about their lack of Internet safety. Not sure if I will ever go back, but certainly not before massive changes have occurred to protect my spaces there from the propaganda that lured so many of my former friends.
I will write instead of perusing the Trending topics, saving that for Twitter, which I am still debating about leaving. I need to write. I have so many things I want to say.
Hopefully, without Facebook, I will find the time to do just that.
One book about the Qur’an, pictured above, said “bullsh*t hatred cover to cover” with a swastika drawn below it written on the title page of the book. Neal said other books in the same library section were also defaced. She wrote in her post to urge readers to speak out against hatred and intolerance.
“Evanstonians like to think we are safe in a bubble of tolerance, but none of us can afford to pretend that we are not affected by the hatred that surrounds us now,” she said. “None of us can afford to sit this out, to hope it goes away, and leaves us untouched. Whatever your politics, if this kind of hatred and intolerance disgusts you, speak out today.”
It might seem a stretch, if not ridiculously impossible, for this one defacing act to have anything to do with Censorship and the end of the Free Press, but I promise, it absolutely is just the beginning of the encroachment of the boot heels of those-soon-to-be-in-power onto the fingers of the writers of, not only books, newspapers and magazines, but also on the keyboards of little blogs like this one… all because we/I dare to question the status quo.
Their goal of erasure of conflicting opinions has begun.