(image found at Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
The above quote pretty well sums up the age old disagreement over the First Amendment which is in high gear these days. As defenders of free speech vent their endless litany of warnings against governmental infringement, right-wing extremists are trampling the rights of others to live free of fear and intimidation.
Calling for violence and murder, extremists have taken to the internet and the airwaves to exercise their "freedoms" and as they are being pulled from the throats of their victims they are crying foul. Cloaking themselves in the Constitution, they engage in the irresponsible acts of intimidation and incitement while claiming no responsibility for any possible end result of their indiscretion.
In 1999, Benjamin Nathaniel Smith went on a shooting spree killing two and wounding nine others. Smith was acting upon the "suggestion" that a racial holy war must be initiated because of a Jew-ridden, and unjust government. That "suggestion" came from Matthew Hale, the leader of the then named World Church of the Creator.
One month later Buford F. Furrow shot up a Jewish day care center injuring three children and a receptionist. He then shot and killed a postal worker. Buford Furrow was a member of Aryan Nations, and an adherent of Richard Kelly Hoskins, a Christian Identity author and member of the Phineas Priesthood which admits extremists only after they have committed an act of violence against a non-white individual.
Less than a year later, Richard Baumhammers, an immigration lawyer, went on an ethnically motivated violent killing rampage leaving five dead in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was a frequent reader of materials published by the Council of Conservative Citizens, a racist and anti-immigration group.
The list of violence and acts of domestic terrorism is a long and well-documented one over the last ten years. In virtually every case, racist, anti-Semitic, or anti-government group literature, or hate-speech is directly involved.
Now, certainly, violent speech, much like violent music, doesn't "make" someone commit acts of violence. And this argument is often wielded by those on the radical, extremist right. Yet, such music and speech often foments an atmosphere of hate and antagonism that is conducive to violent acts, especially by those unstable and often criminal in nature. On that, most would agree.
Whether or not such speech should be legally curtailed is a horse of a different color. Not allowing dissenting or unpopular opinions would, most assuredly, spell the death of the First Amendment and I would dare say that few, if any, would ever want to see that happen. Yet, it is those who are the most vehement protectors of free speech who might very well hasten its demise.
An example might very well be found within some of our public school districts. As the gang culture crept into the halls of education and began to make public schools, especially in urban settings, more and more unsafe, officials met the challenge with more and more rules and regulations. Children who had been free and encouraged to express their individuality and differences have been finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their own distinctions.
Metal detectors line the entrances. Certain colors of clothing are often prohibited. Jewelry, insignias, sports logos, etc. are banned in some areas. Certain topics of discussion are discouraged and dress codes (including uniforms) are more strictly enforced. All of these things have transpired because the behaviors being engaged in result in disruption, violence, and sometimes death - because the behaviors are over-the-top and dangerous.
Speaking of extremes, the rhetoric of the right-wing extremists has been ramped up to almost full volume since last year and recent events suggest that freedom of speech may very well go the way of the individual liberties previously enjoyed by students in the public school system.
While, you might think "these are children," it is not so far-fetched to think that when you act like a child, you'll be treated like a child and to foreshadow a future in which the majority will, once more, fall victim to the antics of a minority.
Exercising what he believed to be his right to say anything he wanted, William A. White ran a toxic website and published a racist magazine. The operative word here is "ran," past-tense.
In early 2007, Eric Hunt, a follower of Bill White, attacked and dragged famed Holocaust survivor, Elie Weisel, from a hotel elevator. Last year, Bill White, who had long been threatening public officials, journalists, and other activists with whom he was at odds, published his magazine with a picture of Barack Obama in the crosshairs of a rifle and with the caption, "Kill This Nigger."
Later, White went on a rant over what he considered to be the unjust verdict against Matt Hale from three years prior. He then located the former head of the jury that convicted Hale and published his personal information on his website. It was that which gave law-enforcement the impetus to arrest White who is currently awaiting trial.
The publication of personal information with the intent that harm come to that person cannot be misinterpreted as anything other than intimidation - an act which seeks to stifle the speech, expression, or opinion of another. That is the point of such an act. Whether or not violence follows is not at issue. What is at issue is the violation of another's rights - the very rights so cherished by the aggressor.
Keith Luke of Brockton, Massachusetts liked to watch videos and surf the net. He particularly liked racist websites and videos shown on Podblanc - run by long-time white supremacist Craig Cobb. As a matter of fact, he credits those places with his "awakening."
On January 21st of this year, the day after the Obama inauguration, Luke decided the time had come to begin the fight for his "dying race." He shot three black immigrants on that day, killing two. That night, he planned to attend a local synagogue for the purpose of "killing as many Jews as possible." Fortunately, he was arrested first.
Less than three months later, Andrew Poplawski, a frequent visitor to the Stormfront website, and heavily influenced by anti-government sentiments, opened fire on the police who had answered a domestic disturbance call, killing three and wounding a fourth. Believing that an Obama administration spelled death for the Second Amendment, Poplawski had learned that America was run by a "cabal of Jews."
Over the next couple of months more blood was shed. Scott Roeder, an anti-abortion activist shot and killed abortion doctor George Tiller. Roeder ascribed to dictates of the Freemen, a Christian militia group who reject the authority of the federal government and had close ties to Cheryl Sullenger who had been convicted in the 1980's of bombing abortion clinics in the San Diego area.
Eighty-eight-year-old James von Brunn opened fire on a security guard who was merely holding the door open for the octogenarian at the Holocaust Museum.
Shawna Forde, director of the Minutemen American Defense, an anti-immigration vigilante group, joined by two others, entered the home of a Latino couple, killed the husband and nine-year-old child, and wounded the wife. Forde and one of her accomplices have close ties to Aryan Nations.
Brothers Dennis and Danny Mahon were arrested for the 2004, mail-bombing of a diversity office in Arizona. Robert Joos was also arrested at a white supremacist compound and training ground in rural Missouri. Both the Mahons are members of White Aryan Resistance and good friends with neo-Nazi Tom Metzger. As a matter of fact, Dennis Mahon was the long time head of the Tulsa unit of WAR.
As one can readily see, the power of words - spoken or written - cannot be denied. The influence that an ideology built on a premise of violence cannot be diminished, simply because those spewing the rhetoric believe they have the right to do so and that they are Constitutionally protected.
Case in point - a right-wing extremist shock-jock was arrested a couple of weeks ago and currently awaits trial after posting what authorities believe to be threats against three federal circuit court judges. Hal Turner has infected the airwaves with threats of violence and vomited anti-government and racist sentiment for years with no consequences to his actions.
Speculation that Turner was operating as a federal operant has run rampant throughout both white supremacist and anti-racist circles largely because of the inconceivability of the lack of governmental intervention given the nature and severity of many of his exhortations.
One would be hard-pressed to find anyone as virulently vicious as Hal Turner has been over the years. He has called for assassinations and mass murders and shamelessly claims that the murder of the family of federal judge can be attributed to him. Yet, no arrest was ever forthcoming. Until now.
The right-wing extremist element is rallying around Turner as are some who simply believe that freedom of speech means the total and unabridged liberty to speak as one sees fit. That has never been the case with the First Amendment. While political dissent is one thing, total disregard for the damage that can be done through such freedom is not the intent. There are laws against libel and slander. There are laws against inciting others to violence. And with the signing of the Patriot Act even more infringements upon our liberties have been sanctioned.
Climates change. And the current climate in the United States has taken on an onerous and pernicious condition of danger and intolerance and one that may threaten the liberties of us all.
Climates don't change all on their own, however. Just as the ozone layer of our treasured planet has fallen prey to the very care-givers who have been entrusted with its protection, so has the First Amendment.
Hal Turner thought himself invincible. After all, he had been doing much the same for years without interference. Those who fancy themselves as constitutional purists and who blindly support free speech regardless of the possible ramifications, have been busily attempting to justify Turner's right - not just to speak, but to threaten. They seem to be oblivious to certain facts put into evidence by the government.
Those who are in support of Turner would have us believe that he said nothing more than the three judges in question "deserve to die," when, in truth, there was much more to his internet posting. According to the criminal complaint filed at time of his arrest, Turner made the following statements:
Government lies, cheats, manipulates, twists and outright disobeys the supreme law and founding documents of this land because they have not, in our lifetime, faced REAL free men willing to walk up to them and kill them for their defiance and disobedience.
Thomas Jefferson, one of our Founding Fathers, told us "The tree of liberty must be replenished from time to time with the blood of tyrants and patriots." It is time to replenish the tree!
Let me be the first to say this plainly: These Judges deserve to be killed. Their blood will replenish the tree of liberty. A small price to pay to assure freedom for millions.
This is not the first politically-motivated trash to come out of the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In fact, it was the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that decided in the Matt Hale Case, that a group which fraudulently trademarked the name the Trademark "World Church of the Creator" despite the fact they knew that name had been used by a Church for 30 years, could KEEP the name because the church who had used it for 30 years didn't challenge filing!
By not challenging the Trademark registration, the people who had used the name for years LOST IT. That decision lead to an order by a lower court for the Church to "surrender its Bibles for destruction because they infringed on the trademark" given to the fraudsters.
Shortly thereafter, a gunman entered the home of that lower court Judge and slaughtered the Judge's mother and husband. Apparently, the 7th U.S. Circuit court didn't get the hint after those killings. It appears another lesson is needed.
These Judges are traitors to the United States of America. They have intentionally violated the Constitution. They have now also intentionally ignored a major ruling by the US Supreme Court.
If they are allowed to get away with this by surviving, other Judges will act the same way.
These Judges deserve to be made such an example of as to send a message to the entire judiciary: Obey the Constitution or die. (Emphasis added)
Now, if I were to be placed on a jury trying Mr. Turner, the emphasized portions of his statement would be the ones I would be looking at. Clearly, there is rage and clearly there is the intent to enrage others.
But, if there was any doubt about his intention for harm to be brought down on the judges, there should be none left after what followed.
From the Complaint...
Below the above text, it read: “Judges official public work addresses and a map of the area are below. Their home addresses and maps will follow soon. Behold these devils."
Below this headline, the entry listed a name, photograph, phone number, and the work address and room number of the three Seventh Circuit judges involved in the decision. Following this information about the judges, the entry displayed a picture of the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago, Illinois, the location of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, along with a map depicting the location of the Dirksen Federal Building. The picture of the Dirksen Federal Building contained the label, “Anti-truck bomb barriers,” from which arrows pointed to three different parts of the building.
However, the federal government must still build their case against Turner - and build it, they very well might. Included in the complaint is yet even more evidence of threat and intimidation and they didn't have to go back too far into the archives to unearth the the following:
From the Complaint...
Posted on halturnershow.blogspot.com was an entry dated January
25, 2009, and titled, “A Tyrant in Garrison, NY.” Below this heading was a post about a judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The entry included the following statements:
If Judge [Name] fails to start obeying the Constitution, she would do well to
remember what happened to another federal Judge that I chose to heap scorn upon:
US District Court Judge [Name] in Chicago. After I heaped scorn upon her, someone
went to her house and gunned down her family.
...Oh and if you dare try to do anything at all about MY freedom of speech in undertaking these activities, be warned: I will enforce my First Amendment freedom by making swift and
effective use of my Second Amendment freedom. The only thing you have to ask yourselves is whether or not you're willing to be on the wrong end of the Second Amendment when my finger is on the trigger. Be assured that I will not hesitate for even a fraction of a second to defend my freedom.
FBI Agents searched the archived history of the website
Turnerradionetwork.blogspot.com. Within the archived history of
Turnerradionetwork.blogspot.com was an entry dated February 20, 2009, titled, "Fucking Federal Judges Never Learn - but I hereby WARN one of them." The entry addressed a Judge of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey concerning a temporary restraining order issued against a company in a lawsuit for discriminatory hiring practices:
Well, I've got news for the latest federal Judge, [Name] and the NAACP concerning
this latest hiring freeze spawned by the latest lawsuit: if your actions kill more people, don't expect to walk away unscathed this time. I don't give a shit about sovereign immunity or the US Marshal Service that protects
federal judges. I don't give a shit about laws preventing retaliation against parties to a judicial proceeding. I don't give a shit about US Attorneys bringing Indictments against me or securing court orders against me, because they won't be worth the paper they're written on.
Know now: the days of politically-correct Judges and race-hustling, poverty pimps
in the NAACP causing people's deaths without consequence, are over.
The course of action taken by the Judge and the NAACP will, at some point, endanger
my life, the lives of my family and the lives of tens-of-thousands of other Hudson
County residents. We have an absolute right to defend ourselves -- and this time, we
will. This time, if people die, the people responsible will either be brought to justice or justice will be brought to them.
Also within the archived history of Turnerradionetowrk.blogspot.com
was a post dated January 4, 2009, titled, “Add 2 More Judges to the ‘Rope List.’” In
reference to a January 4, 2009, decision by the Indiana Court of Appeals that attempted sexual misconduct with a minor requires that the victim actually be a minor, the entry states, “You folks in Indiana who have been planning with me for our national cleansing of
government filth - scheduled for the not-to-distant future - had better go out and buy more rope. It appears we have to add two more Judges to a list of filth that needs to ‘swing.'"
This begs several questions, does Free Speech give carte blanche to terrorize, menace, and intimidate other citizens? Are there any limits? Is there such a thing as First Amendment abuse? At what point does stepping on the rights of others negate your rights?
Constitutional scholars and others debate while the victims of the unscrupulous pile up. As we, as a nation, grow and mature, so must our laws. Children who bully others on the schoolyard playground usually grow up and cease their childhood ways. Those who don't, generally end up on the wrong side of the law or very isolated. Just as we have seen in other areas, when a population does not control itself, liberties are stripped and rights no longer exist.
The threat to Free Speech does not lie in the delineation of that which is acceptable but in the abuses by those too selfish or too self-absorbed to act in an acceptable manner. To those I would say that your rights are no more important or valuable than my rights. Respect that and don't tread on me.