Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Outer Limits of Censorship

We want to control what you read, see, and hear, so very much.

I couldn't have asked for a better lead-in for this column than Hillary "I Wannabe Prez and Order You All About and Make You Eat Your Veggies" Clinton's complaints about three anti-Clinton books that are making her Hard Choices eat their dust in sales. Clearly, the pseudo-autobiography of all her non-accomplishments is destined overload the remainder tables of bookstores and the shelves of book warehouses, because its sales are so dismal.

I do not know the quality of the three books critical of the Clanton Gang – excuse me, the Clinton Clan – but even a book of Clinton caricatures or of political cartoons without text would be preferable to reading the ghost-written mush of Hard Choices. (I have read excerpts of it – yawners.)

Or perhaps she deserves a book in which Hillary moderates a panel of would-be mentors in the acquisition of political power: Darth Vader, Josef Stalin, Vladimir Lenin, Pol Pot, FDR, Otto von Bismarck, Adolf Hitler, and Hubby, with her fielding leading questions from an audience of one. As for her potential for censorship, see my article, "The OIC Organizes for Censorship" from December 2013.

Clinton spared us her spittle and let a spokesman express his anger over the anti-Clinton books. Alexander Marlow, writing for Breitbart, reported on July 25th :

The First Family Detail by Ronald Kessler, set for release next month, will join Clinton, Inc. by the Weekly Standard’s Daniel Halper and Blood Feud by Ed Klein on bookshelves. Yesterday we reported that Clinton, Inc. has shot up the charts and now both Halper and Klein’s books are outselling Hillary Clinton’s recent memoir Hard Choices.

“With Klein, Halper and Kessler, we now have a Hat Trick of despicable actors concocting trashy nonsense,” Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said in an interview with the Washington Examiner. “Their behavior should neither be allowed nor enabled, and legitimate media outlets who know with every fiber of their beings that it is completely made up should not get down in the gutter with them.”

What does he mean “not allowed”? The interview doesn’t detail any specific behavior that drew Team Hillary's ire beyond the simple act of writing a book. Without the benefit of full context, it appears as though Hillary's flack is suggesting the books be banned. At a minimum he is imploring the overwhelmingly pro-Clinton mainstream press to freeze out these authors and prevent their ideas and findings from being discussed on the media stage. 

That's the lead-in, and an appropriate one, because if we're going to discuss censorship, this news is of vastly more importance. It's news that Hillary the Harridan would welcome because it would help her books sales.

It's nothing less than a stealthy move by the government to regulate book publishing. Thank you, Hillary, for the overture. Fox News ran a story on July 23rd by Judson Berger, "FEC Chairman warns book publishers at risk of regulation at heated meeting."

The Republican chairman of the Federal Election Commission warned Wednesday that his agency colleagues could try to regulate book publishers, during a heated session over a forthcoming book by GOP Rep. Paul Ryan. 

During the meeting, the FEC declined to definitively spare book publishers from the reach of campaign finance rules. 

This triggered a clash between Republican and Democratic members, with Chairman Lee Goodman warning that the deadlock could represent a "chill" for constitutional free-press rights. 

Paul Ryan's book, The Way Forward, by the way, is not about the virtues of capitalism, freedom, and freedom of speech. It is about a Republican plan to perpetuate the welfare state. See The Patriot Post's revealing review of it here. This makes the proposed squashing of the book all the more ironic.

Ryan was doing booksignings in Wisconsin and other states during an election cycle. That's an FEC prohibition, because Ryan's book questions the policies of his opponents.

At issue during the meeting was a book by Rep. Ryan, R-Wis., being published by Grand Central Publishing. Goodman and other GOP members of the commission wanted the FEC to affirm that the book and its publisher are exempt from FEC regulation under what's known as the "media exemption" -- the same exemption that typically lets newspaper editorials, television channels and other outlets say what they want about political figures without worrying about campaign finance laws.  Goodman argues that book publishers are entitled to the same rights. 

The commission did clear the Ryan book under a separate, more limited exemption. But they could not muster the four votes necessary to do what Goodman and other Republican members wanted. [Italics mine]

"I think that's unfortunate," Goodman said during the meeting, even raising the specter of book-banning. "We have effectively asserted regulatory jurisdiction over a book publisher." 

What were the Democrats' objections to the exemption?

Democratic members of the committee, though, were quick to downplay Goodman's complaints as a technical quibble. Commissioner Ellen Weintraub noted that the Ryan book was still going forward unencumbered by FEC regulations. She said the public probably doesn't care "which exemption we use," and accused Goodman of using "overheated language." 

"That doesn't mean that we're banning books, that doesn't mean that we're regulating books," she said. 

Yes,, darling, it does. If a burglar is using a lock-pick to break into your home, it means that he intends to rob you but hasn't quite jimmied the pins and tumblers. That he hasn't yet broken in is irrelevant. The intent is obvious. He's not there practicing how to break into his own home should he ever lose his keys. The FEC is in partnership with the MSM in an unholy alliance.

And no one, neither Republican nor Democrat, questioned the existence of the FEC, a harpy of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA). Goodman and Weintraub sit on the FEC. Clearly, they believe that it's a legitimate vehicle for policing speech.

Remember that the BCRA is indeed bipartisan, sponsored and lobbied for by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Russell Feingold (D-WI).  Chairman Goodman of the FEC ought to have said, "It's a shame this organization exists at all. It doesn't and hasn't boded well for the First Amendment. We can only go downhill from here" – to selective censorship of books and ads that may appear during political campaigns, regardless of the state or other venue, political activism on the part of individuals donating to candidates' campaigns, and of spoken speech itself.

Which, of course, is the slide to full-scale censorship, whenever the government wishes to impose it and thinks it can get away with it without anyone noticing.

But the government isn't the only entity complicit in the trend to suppressing or regulating information speech in any form. There is our Left-dominated news media. Scott Whitlock, in his July 24th Media Research Center article, "Amid Deluge of Foreign Crises, Network News Shuts Out Obama Critics."

Over the last 15 days, the world has been rocked by two troubling and growing international crises: the shootdown of a civilian airliner over the Ukraine; and the intense fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. While the three evening newscasts have offered considerable coverage of the unfolding events, CBS, NBC and ABC have made almost no attempt to evaluate the performance of Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry or the administration generally, and critics of the administration have been ignored….

It's not as though Americans were unified in appreciation and approval of Obama's reaction to the attack on the Malaysian jet or the violence in Gaza. The President received a considerable amount of criticism from Republicans and conservatives for attending Democratic fundraisers just hours after almost 300 airline passengers were killed in a missile strike. 

Yet, viewers wouldn't know it from the July 17 NBC Nightly News, ABC's World News or the CBS Evening News. NBC reporter Chris Jansing blandly parroted, "I asked if there was any consideration of not attending fund-raisers tonight. A senior White House official said, simply, 'we are sticking with the schedule.'" 

No, if Obama broke his schedule of appearances at fundraisers and golf courses and during a Martha's Vineyard and visits to pool halls and burger joints to attend to international crises, never mind his invasion by invitation by Mexico's and Central America's Third World castoffs, criminals, and illiterates, people might think he's inconsistent and unreliable. What would that do to his spotless image of integrity? The MSM must not contribute to any sullying of his reputation, however disgraceful that reputation may be. So, we won’t discuss his policy failures at home and abroad.

And when Hillary makes up her mind to run for the Democratic nomination after her disastrous showing in the book marketplace, they'll do her the same favor. After all, documenting her growth from a skinny, geeky-looking coed to a grasping, distaff version of Jabba the Hutt will only dispel the image of her as a benevolent despot who only wants to "do good." Just like her soul-mate, Bill.

Cue "Outer Limits" theme and narrator:

"There is nothing wrong with your newspaper, book, television set, or news report. Do not question what you see and hear. Do not attempt to find the truth. We are controlling the information flow. We determine the truth.  If we wish to make it louder, we will raise the volume and numb your brain. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper, or not transmit anything at all and you will not know that anything important happened.

We will regulate the content and when it appears. We can bias the information, make it flutter, and cause your eyes to cross. We can change the focus to a soft blur, or sharpen it to crystal clarity, or simply blank out the information if it is not fit to print or broadcast or otherwise does not comply with our vetted information standards.

From now on, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: There is nothing wrong with the evidence of your senses. You have been inducted into a great social experiment. Participation is mandatory. Resistance is futile. And punishable.

You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from our inner minds to the Outer Limits of veracity and credibility, to your conditioned docility and gullibility.

"Criticisms of our policy will incur severe financial and criminal penalties. Financial ruin and ostracism are guaranteed. Furthermore, criticisms and infractions of our penalty policies, as well, will earn additional targeting for legal action against any and all perpetrators. We cannot over-emphasize these dire and punitive consequences."

Let us be thankful that we have the Internet as an antidote to the government and the news media – while we still have a relatively free Internet.

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