Saturday, March 18, 2017

Scrubbing the Mind of “Thought Crime”

American politicians – particularly those with an appetite for controlling and regulating human behavior – get their “best” statist ideas from Europe. Trending now is the desire to shut up people who say unwanted things about the things they hold dear, such as homosexuality, transgenders, pedophiles, lesbians, ad nauseam. The list of subjects about which one may not say offensive things is long and arduous.  They want to establish a secular Vatican-style Index Librorum Prohibitorum.

Who elected two New York
politicians Vatican Cardinals?

The first catalog of forbidden books to include in its title the word index, however, was published in 1559 by the Sacred Congregation of the Roman Inquisition (a precursor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith).

The notion of enforcing the deletion and/or punishment of “forbidden” texts or statements in order to implement the “right to be forgotten” amounts to a revival of the Inquisition. New York State assemblyman David I. Weprin and his colleague State Senator Tony Avella, have an appetite for  censorship. Here is their idea. ZeroHedge reported it on March 17th:

In a bill aimed at securing a “right to be forgotten,” introduced by Assemblyman David I. Weprin and (as Senate Bill 4561 by state Sen. Tony Avella), liberal New York politicians would require people to remove ‘inaccurate,’ ‘irrelevant,’ ‘inadequate’ or ‘excessive’ statements about others

….Within 30 days of a ”request from an individual,”
….“all search engines and online speakers] shall remove … content about such individual, and links or indexes to any of the same, that is ‘inaccurate’, ‘irrelevant’, ‘inadequate’ or ‘excessive,’ ”
….“and without replacing such removed … content with any disclaimer [or]takedown notice.”
….“inaccurate’, ‘irrelevant’, ‘inadequate’, or ‘excessive’ shall mean content,”
….“which after a significant lapse in time from its first publication,”
….“is no longer material to current public debate or discourse,”
…“especially when considered in light of the financial, reputational and/or demonstrable other harm that the information … is causing to the requester’s professional, financial, reputational or other interest,”
….“with the exception of content related to convicted felonies, legal matters relating to violence, or a matter that is of significant current public interest, and as to which the requester’s role with regard to the matter is central and substantial.”
….Failure to comply would make the search engines or speakers [or authors] liable for, at least, statutory damages of $250/day plus attorney fees.

Both Weprin and Avella are Democrats.  Democrats have always had a hankering to regulate or control what individuals may or may not say or do. But what, you may ask, is “the right to be forgotten”?

It is a European Union device originally conceived as a kind of American-style “don’t call” rule by which individuals would request that their names and telephone and/or /Internet addresses be excised from commercial firms’ databases so the individuals are not bothered by “junk” calls, solicitations, or “spam.” But Weprin and Avella have absorbed the notion and expanded it to mean the censoring information.

For example, if Assemblyman Weprin and Senator Tony Avella wished that their names no longer appeared in print or elsewhere in association with the concept of censorship, an enacted law would allow them to bring suit against me or Google for justly linking them with such an association, at least if my remarks wound up in New York under the aegis of New York State law. They could initiate legal action in order that the association be “forgotten” by a public that may not wish to live under censorship.


Further, the law would stipulate that I could not replace their names with avatars, or apologize for citing their names or pen a “disclaimer,” or even mention that I had been compelled under duress  and  the threat of legal action and financial ruin to “take down” the posting. The posting would simply vanish without explanation.

But Weprin and Avella carried that concept to actions to stifle or suppress any mention of them, misinterpreting or ignoring the EU’s own ruling on the “right to be forgotten.”

The Court in its judgement did not elevate the right to be forgotten to a “super right” trumping other fundamental rights, such as the freedom of expression or the freedom of the media.

This is not what Weprin and Avella have in mind. They want to censor what they, or their bureaucratic lictors, decide is or is not inappropriate or “forgettable.” Tyler Durden of ZeroHedge quotes Washington Post journalist Eugene Volokh as he elaborates on the significance of the Weprin/Avella bill:

As The Washington Post's Eugene Volokh rages, under this bill, newspapers, scholarly works, copies of books on Google Books and Amazon, online encyclopedias (Wikipedia and others) — all would have to be censored whenever a judge and jury found (or the author expected them to find) that the speech was “no longer material to current public debate or discourse” (except when it was “related to convicted felonies” or “legal matters relating to violence” in which the subject played a “central and substantial” role).

Eugene Volokh “Eugene Volokh teaches free speech law, religious freedom law, church-state relations law, a First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic, and tort law, at UCLA School of Law, where he has also often taught copyright law, criminal law, and a seminar on firearms regulation policy…”

Volokh in his Washington Post article continued:

And of course the bill contains no exception even for material of genuine historical interest; after all, such speech would have to be removed if it was “no longer material to current public debate.” Nor is there an exception for autobiographic material, whether in a book, on a blog or anywhere else. Nor is there an exception for political figures, prominent businesspeople and others.

But the deeper problem with the bill is simply that it aims to censor what people say, under a broad, vague test based on what the government thinks the public should or shouldn’t be discussing. It is clearly unconstitutional under current First Amendment law, and I hope First Amendment law will stay that way (no matter what rules other countries might have adopted).

Remember: There is no “right to be forgotten” in the abstract; no law can ensure that, and no law can be limited to that. Instead, the “right” this aims to protect is the power to suppress speech — the power to force people (on pain of financial ruin) to stop talking about other people, when some government body decides that they should stop.

Who is to determine what is “inaccurate’, ‘irrelevant’, ‘inadequate’, or ‘excessive’ …. content”? Faceless bureaucrats charged with managing any information you may encounter. You are not to decide for yourself what is ….“inaccurate’, ‘irrelevant’, ‘inadequate’, or ‘excessive’ … content.”

You can imagine what Islamic “civil rights” organizations, such as the Council on American Islamic Relations ( CAIR) would do with such a law. They would run amok with lawsuits against anyone who seemed to offend or defame Islam or Mohammad or Muslims and demand that someone’s book, column, or remark be removed from print or from online publication. However, as Volokh reminds us, there is no “right to be forgotten.” By the same token, there is no “right not be offended.” Which is not the same thing as having a “right” not to be libeled, slandered, or defamed (that is, if you are a living person and not some mystical deity or over a century deceased).

Weprin and Avella wish to insulate their favorite protected classes from ridicule, defamation, and demonization because they are of the Left, and, not coincidentally, in alliance with Islam. The Left and Islam are partners in the task of chipping away at freedom of speech.

Weprin and Avella would like to issue secular fatwa against speech they disapprove of. Islam Watch has this advisory:

…There are many scholars confirming the consensus on this ruling. For example, Imaam Is'haaq Ibn Raahawayh stated that Muslim scholars unanimously agreed that anyone who insults Allaah The Almighty or His Messenger or rejects anything that Allaah The Almighty sent or killed any of the prophets of Allaah The Almighty would  be considered a disbeliever. This is so even if he acknowledged all that Allaah The Almighty revealed. Muhammad Ibn Sahnoon mentioned that scholars have unanimously agreed that whoever insults or discredits the Prophet is a disbeliever who is promised a severe punishment from Allaah The Almighty. The ruling on such a person, according to the Muslim Ummah (nation), is death. Additionally, anyone who doubts his disbelief or punishment is also a disbeliever.

In terms of forbiding certain kinds of speech or threatening dire punishment for uttering or expressing it, there isn’t much difference  between an Islamic fatwa and the New York Assembly and Senate bills. Both entities want to shut up criticisms of their preferred icons: the Left wants to squelch the

Smash Fascism with Antifa, our brand of Fascism,
which is just a clueless derivative of Communism.
"defamation" of their favorite classes: homosexuals, lesbians, transgenders, obesity, Muslims, and a long, long checklist of other legislatively "protected" classes;  Islam's list of protected classes is much shorter, reserved almost exclusively by Islam, Mohammad and Allah. Both entities wish to have the power to punish offenders financially or physically or in one's profession. It is an alliance of power-lusters that the "hard" left and "Islamists" have actually hammered out over a decade.

Pamela Geller lives and works in New York City. Doubtless her blog, the Geller Report, would be subjected to scrutiny by the “forgotten” speech police. She has inveighed against the proposed Weprin/Avella legislation. In her March 18th column “Democrat Unveils CRUSHING Bill To Suppress Non-Government-Approved Free Speech,” she writes:

The liberals are on a death march. The death of freedom. The death of individual rights. The death of America.

First off, let me say that such a bill would personally benefit me enormously. There is so much hate, lies, defamation directed at me online, it is staggering. But I endure the smears and lies because that is what is required under the First Amendment. That said, I vehemently oppose this bill. We will wage war against this bill. This bill would be the club to silence those who oppose the left. This bill would scrub the information superhighway of their crimes.

Freedom of speech is the foundation of a free society. Without it, a tyrant can wreak havoc unopposed, while his opponents are silenced. Putting up with being offended is essential in a pluralistic society in which people differ on basic truths. If a group will not bear being offended without resorting to violence, that group will rule unopposed while everyone else lives in fear, while other groups curtail their activities to appease the violent group. This results in the violent group being able to tyrannize the others.

Let me just say here that Weprin and Avella are the legislative auxiliaries of Antifa and CAIR and every other liberal/Left gang that has arisen over the decades to outlaw and punish freedom of speech. As Antifa relies on physical force and physical intimidation to suppress or extinguish freedom of speech, so do the proposed New York censorship laws rely on threats and intimidation.

Come and get it Mr. Weprin and Mr. Avella!

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