Category Archives: First Amendment

Student senators under fire for bill abolishing safe spaces

safe-space

From Campus Reform: Student senators at Texas State University recently introduced a bill that would place a permanent ban on “safe spaces,” but are facing predictably intense criticism over the “detrimental” legislation.

According to a copy of the bill obtained by Campus Reform, its passage would result in a ban on “all safe spaces and equivalent spaces,” and promote a campus where students can “be open to other concepts without ‘trigger warnings.’”

“It has become a nationwide trend for colleges to allow students to escape from views and concepts that might be deemed controversial, dangerous, or offensive,” the resolution argues, explaining that “upon graduating, students will experience views that differ from their own and will not be able to retreat to safe spaces.”

The bill, set to be voted on Monday night, is facing strident opposition from left-leaning organizations and students, including a candidate for the school’s Student Body President, who shamed the sponsors of the resolution for their “detrimental piece of legislation.”

“Not only is this detrimental to the social safety of many groups here at Texas State, but a clear obstruction of our core values as a university,” Russell Boyd wrote in a statement. “As representatives of the student body, it is imperative that the student government take into account the many students that will be greatly impacted by this detrimental piece of legislation.”

Meanwhile, the school’s Pan African Action Committee also rebuked the controversial bill, publicly reprimanding one of its four cosponsors, Student Senator Alex Sherman.

“Underdeveloped and undefined, this senator has administered a relatively weak challenge to the diverse student body of Texas State,” the group protested in a statement on its Facebook page, arguing that “a school with such a diverse population deserves not fewer but more ‘safe spaces’ to facilitate dialogue and education about the communities Alex Sherman is clearly detached from.”

Another group of students, identifying themselves simply as “the student organizers” who recently circulated a sanctuary campus petition, have now drafted a letter that urges students to “testify in opposition to the bill” Monday evening, and vote for candidates who support their movement.

“Our student government has many members that scoff at the idea of helping minorities and the [sanctuary campus] petition itself,” the letter contends, noting that “allies to the petition feel like they have a target on their backs,” and once again singling out Sherman for his support of abolishing safe spaces.

While Sherman has been repeatedly, and almost exclusively, called out by his peers, the primary author of the resolution is actually Student Senator Mason McKie, who told Campus Reform that he was not “surprised by the negative reactions” to his bill, since “colleges across the country have been experiencing similar reactions when conservative views are brought to the table.”

“This piece of legislation isn’t just important for my campus, but it could be a cornerstone for many more things to come,” he continued. “Students have the right to freely express themselves. College is a time to be open to new ideas and learn from others that might not necessarily agree with you.”

DCG

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Failure of American Journalism: Pizzagate and the muzzling of Ben Swann

“Pizzagate” is the term given to speculations and assertions that there is a pedophile network connecting Democratic Party élites and two Washington, D.C. pizzerias, Besta Pizza and Comet Ping Pong. The latter is a Disneyish pizzeria owned by a homosexual named James Alefantis, who is a former boyfriend of David Brock, a powerful Democratic Party operative and Clinton loyalist.

The word “pizza” in Pizzagate isn’t just a reference to Comet Ping Pong pizzeria but stems from the many cryptic references to “pizza” and other food items (“hotdogs”; “pasta”; “tempting” “cheeses”; “yummy” “sauces”) in a collection of curious emails sent by and to John Podesta, a longtime Democratic Party operative who was White House chief of staff in Bill Clinton’s administration, White House counselor in the Obama administration and, most recently, chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. This is the same John Podesta whose emails, published by WikiLeaks, reveal his and his brother Tony’s enthrallment with a cannibalism painting and their involvement with satanic performance-artist Marina Abramovic’s occult “spirit cooking” dinners.

Some say the references to “pizza” and “hotdog” are code words used by pedophiles; others dismiss the claim and would have us instead believe that powerful and very busy D. C. élites spend their time incessantly chatting about pizzas in emails. One of the parties in those Podesta emails is James Alefantis who, though the “lowly” owner of a D.C. pizza joint, is considered the 49th most powerful person in Washington, DC.

That there are pedophiles in Washington, D.C. is not farfetched given the Franklin child sex-ring scandal of 1988-1991 which involved GOP élites in Washington, D.C., and Nebraska’s Boys Town and assorted prominent citizens. The scandal is documented in two books:

Then there is the more recent case of former Congressman and House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) who, in April 2016 at his sentencing hearing, admitted under pressure from the judge that he had sexually abused boys. The judge in the case called Hastert a “serial child molester” and imposed a sentence of 15 months in prison, two years’ supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.

You would think that claims as incendiary as Pizzagate would warrant investigation by the D.C. police and the supposed “investigative” journalists of the MSM. Certainly, if the allegations were about Donald Trump or Republican élites, you can be sure WashingtonPost/NewYorkTimes/CNN/ABC/CBS/NBC would have reporters crawling over this story ad nauseum.

Even more curious is the fact that some big names in the Alternative Media treat Pizzagate like it’s a leprous contagion.

Wayne-madsen

Wayne Madsen, who touts himself as America’s premier “independent investigative journalist,” not only has not investigated and continues to refuse to look into Pizzagate, when asked by a reader why, responded with Alinskyite ridicule and insults, calling pizzagate “fake news” and those who blog and YouTube about it “crazy conspiracists” who do “a great disservice to those reporters” like the great Wayne Madsen “who have been investigating actual criminal conspiracies involving pedophiles.”

In his post of December 5, 2016, available only to his subscribers, Madsen airily dismisses Pizzagate:

“The so-called ‘Pizzagate’ story had problems from the outset of its genesis on a few dubious websites. The vacuous story falsely claimed that the pizzeria was engaged in a pedophile operation with John Podesta, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager and former White House chief of staff for Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.”

In the chat forum with his subscribers about his post, Madsen redoubles his mockery, calling Pizzagate a “phony” “100% bullcrap” “fake story” concocted by “fallacious conspiracy-mongering” “malicious” and “libelous” “fabulists”. To a faithful reader Will Shanley who doggedly asked Madsen why he’s avoiding Pizzagate, Madsen replied with more derision:

“This story is so fake the tabloids won’t even touch it. Concentrate on something more authentic, like Elvis’s three-headed alien baby.”

Even Alex Jones and his InfoWars shied away from Pizzagate. As Oscar Platt, who says the Pizzagate story has “definitely something to it,” recounts for Russia Insider, January 19, 2017:

Alex Jones publicly dropped his coverage of it. He has the resources and the audience to break the story wide open. Jones even created a special video explaining to his audience his logic for dropping his investigation, and then another one to explain why Infowars team member Joe Biggs, who was very active investigating Pizzagate, left the company.

Given the reluctance of both the MSM and AltMedia big shots like Jones and Madsen to investigate and report on Pizzagate, it was a breath of fresh air when a member of the MSM produced a TV report on the subject.

ben-swann

He is Ben Swann, an award-winning reporter and anchorman of CBS affiliate WGCL (CBS46) in Atlanta, Georgia, on which he had a regular investigative segment called “Reality Check”. Swann joined CBS46 as an anchor for its early evening and late newscasts in June 2015.

On January 18, 2017, CBS46 broadcasted Swann’s “Reality Check” report on Pizzagate, which Swann published to YouTube that same day:

As you can see, that video is no longer available, scrubbed from YouTube.

Fortunately, citizen journalists had saved Swann’s report, which you can see/hear for yourself in this video that, no doubt, will also be removed from YouTube:

The media drones immediately went on the attack:

  • Within hours, The Washington Post‘s Eric Wemple called Swann’s report “a gem of video slime”.
  • The Daily Beast‘s Ben Collins ran a denigrating profile of Benn Swann, calling him a “truther”.
  •  Gizmodo‘s Bryan Menegus published an article calling Swann a “CBS imbecile” who “just fanned the Pizzagate flames for no reason”.
  • Swann’s own station, CBS46, scrubbed his Pizzagate report. You won’t find it listed on the station’s page on Swann, which shows that Swann’s last “Reality Check” on “Why reports on Trump are fake news” was aired on January 12, 2o17, 6 days before the one on Pizzagate.

Even more troubling is the fact that, after his Pizzagate report was aired, Ben Swann disappeared and was not seen on CBS46 since.

Writing for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s AJC.com on January 27, 2017, Rodney Ho archly observes:

Ben Swann, the evening anchor on CBS46 who created a social media firestorm last week after reviving the “Pizzagate” story, has been off the air since late last week.

UPDATE on Friday, January 27: He will be back Monday, January 30 after being off air since January 19. But his social media accounts will be deleted, he said. 

There has been no explanation for his absence on air. His co-anchor Sharon Reed has been solo anchoring at times. Sometimes, Tracye Hutchins joins in, as she did Wednesday night. Internally, staffers don’t even know what’s going on.

He does remain on the CBS46 website so he has not been fired.

Neither news director Frank Volpicella nor his boss and GM Mark Pimental have responded to requests for comment. A spokesman from Meredith Corp., which owns CBS46, has not returned email queries or phone call requests either.

It’s very possible the two sides are quietly negotiating an exit settlement agreement with Swann, who joined the station in mid-2015 and is clearly still under contract. And given that the story was cleared by his bosses, their futures are questionable as well.

Swann did one of his “Reality Checks” last Tuesday bringing back the frequently debunked story of a pizza place in D.C. linked to a Hillary Clinton senior aide that was supposedly running a child prostitution ring there. He noted that there is no clear evidence such a ring exists but threw out a lot of online speculation and innuendo, then wondered why the authorities had not done a thorough investigation….

He has not posted anything on Instagram since the brouhaha hit. Ditto on Facebook.

As the Daily Beast noted, he’s a bit of a conspiracy buff and his website Truth in Media is tied to a Republican PAC. Plus, he did some work for the Russian-government supported Russia Today before coming to Atlanta.

Ho calls Pizzagate a “frequently debunked story”.

Really?

As Ben Swann, with eminent common sense, pointed out in his “Reality Check” report, how can Pizzagate be dismissed as “fake news” or “debunked” when there hasn’t been an official investigation — not one — into the many troubling claims?

On January 27, 2017, Ben Swann posted an announcement on Facebook and Twitter that “things are OK,” but that he will “go dark” on social media beginning “Tzuday, Feb. 1”.

ben-swann-go-dark-announcement

Note that in his “go dark” announcement, Swann bizarrely spelled Tuesday as “Tzuday,” and identified Feb. 1 as Tuesday when February 1, 2017 falls on a Wednesday. Was this Swann’s way of sending out an S.O.S.?

On January 31, 2017, AJC.com’s Rodney Ho reported that “Swann returned on air Monday [January 30], as announced. I saw him at 5:30 p.m. Oddly, his mic was not working properly during an intro about ‘construction fatigue’.”

Below is a screenshot from Swann’s January 30 newscast.

ben-swann-returns-to-anchor-cbs46-newscast-1-30-2017

But as Swann had warned, his social media accounts have “gone dark,” which you can see for yourself. If you go on:

  • Swann’s Facebook page, you will get this message: “This content isn’t available right now”.
  • Swann’s Twitter account, you’ll get this message” “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!”.
  • Swann’s TruthInMedia.com website, you’ll get a “401 Authorization Required” message, asking you to give your username and password, which you can’t provide because you don’t have one since TruthInMedia.com had never required your username and password before.

Sure looks like Ben Swann, the only MSM journalist who reported about Pizzagate, is being muzzled. So much for the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment declaration of a free press . . . .

H/t AllNewsPipeline

~Eowyn

As violent rioters take over U.C. Berkeley, comedienne Sarah Silverman calls for military coup to overthrow President Trump

The Left in America are enemies of free speech.

Last night, Berkeley, CA was enveloped in a violent riot, ostensibly to protest Milo Yiannopoulos, an openly gay Alt-Right Breitbart news editor who was an invited speaker at the University of California, Berkeley, where the free speech movement was born in 1964.

berkeley-free-speech

Berkeley was Yiannopoulos’ last stop of a tour aimed at defying what he calls an epidemic of political correctness on college campuses.

Protesters, estimated by the Berkeley Police Department to number a thousand people, including masked professional activists armed with bricks and fireworks, mounted an assault on the campus building hosting Yiannopoulos’ speech, which forced the university to cancel the event.

As night fell, masked “black bloc” activists joined the already large group of protesters gathered in the area between Sather Gate and the north end of Telegraph Avenue. As the gathered crowd got more agitated, the activists began hurling projectiles including bricks, lit fireworks and rocks at the building and police. Some used police barriers as battering rams to attack the doors of the venue, breaching at least one of the doors and entering the venue on the first floor. fireworks were thrown up onto the second-floor balcony; fires were lit outside the venue, including one that engulfed a gas-powered portable floodlight.

At about 6:20 p.m., UC campus police ordered the crowd to disperse, calling it an unlawful assembly. The area on Upper Sproul Plaza grew thick with smoke, and later tear gas, as the protest intensified. Vehicles were burned, several injuries were reported, and at least four banks were vandalized.

So who organized the masked, armed professional activists?

Someone tweeted this reminder — that George Soros’ son, Alexander Soros, is a Ph.D. candidate at U.C. Berkeley.

son-of-soros-behind-ucberkeley-riots

While the mayhem was going on in Berkeley, so-called comedienne Sarah Silverman went on Twitter, calling for a military coup d’état against duly elected President Trump.

sarah-silverman-military-coup-tweet

This is the same Sarah Silverman who:

~Eowyn

Fear of Trump Triggers Deep Spending Cuts by SEIU

seiu-obama

SEIU: Say goodbye to your best buddy…

Imagine my distress…

From Bloomberg: In a clear sign that labor unions are bracing for lean times under Donald Trump, the massive Service Employees International Union is planning for a 30 percent budget cut over the next year, according to an internal memo reviewed by Bloomberg Businessweek.

“Because the far right will control all three branches of the federal government, we will face serious threats to the ability of working people to join together in unions,” SEIU President Mary Kay Henry wrote in an internal memo dated Dec. 14. “These threats require us to make tough decisions that allow us to resist these attacks and to fight forward despite dramatically reduced resources.” After citing the need to “dramatically re-think” how to implement the union’s strategy, Henry’s all-staff letter announces that SEIU “must plan for a 30% reduction” in the international union’s budget by Jan. 1, 2018, including a 10 percent cut effective at the start of 2017.

SEIU, which represents nearly 2 million government, health-care, and building-services workers and wields an annual budget of $300 million, is the nation’s second-largest union and arguably the most politically significant. In the past few years, SEIU has mounted organized labor’s most effective political intervention with the “Fight for $15,” a campaign that’s dragged Democrats—from city council members to presidential candidates—further left on the minimum wage. At the same time, it cultivated close ties with President Obama, played a key role in passing Obamacare, and worked hard to elect Hillary Clinton.

Asked about what the memo could mean for its current campaigns, SEIU didn’t offer specifics. “As we prepare to fight-back against the forthcoming attacks on working people and our communities under an extremist-run government, we know we must realign our resources and streamline our investments to buttress and broaden our movement to restore economic and democratic opportunity for all families,” said spokeswoman Sahar Wali. “As part of this process, we are currently looking at possible ways to improve our budgets.”

SEIU, like most of its peers, was already in a state of slow-motion crisis before Trump’s victory. Things will only get worse after inauguration, when organized labor will find itself without a friend in the White House. Unions will instead be up against unified Republican control of the federal government and of half the nation’s state governments, where labor organizers have already suffered some severe blows.

In Michigan, for example, Republicans in 2012 passed a private sector “Right to Work” law that let workers decline to fund the unions representing them, a public sector law doing the same for government employees, and a third law stripping University of Michigan graduate student researchers and home-health aides of their collective-bargaining rights. Afterwards, SEIU’s Michigan health-care local lost most of its membership.

With Republican dominance in Washington, the threats to SEIU will get more grave: Everything from slashing health-care spending to passing a federal law extending “Right to Work” to all private-sector employees could be on the table. One of the most widely expected scenarios is that a Trump appointee will provide the decisive fifth vote on the Supreme Court’s labor cases. The court already ruled in 2014 that making government-funded home health aides pay union fees violated the First Amendment, and a future case could apply the same logic to all government employees, effectively making the whole public sector “Right to Work.” SEIU was bracing for such a ruling earlier this year, in a case called Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, but got an unexpected reprieve when Justice Antonin Scalia’s death left the court tied, four to four. With several similar cases brought by union opponents already making their way through lower courts, it may not last for long.

The Dec. 14 internal memo from SEIU’s president doesn’t specify which threats necessitate planning for a 30 percent cut or how particular programs could be affected. It does reference the next congressional and presidential election cycles, saying the union needs to “focus our resources and energy on the fights that position us to retake power in 2018, 2020 and beyond,” as well as position itself “to take on the forthcoming attacks, absorb the short-term losses and strengthen ourselves to win big in the future.”

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

Drexel professor draws ire after posting ‘White Genocide’ tweet on Christmas

It was just satire folks, satire.

george-ciccariello-maher

From Fox News: A professor from Drexel University in Philadelphia is likely in hot water after professing on twitter that all he wanted for Christmas was “white genocide.”

The school was forced to issue a statement on Christmas day after George Ciccariello-Maher, an associate professor of politics and global studies, tweeted on his account, “all I want for Christmas is white genocide,” according to blog Inside Higher Ed.

drexel-prof-tweetThe tweet quickly went viral after many conservative websites and individuals spoke out against it. Drexel was forced to issue condemnation as well. Drexel officials were forced to issue a statement on Christmas Day after Ciccariello-Maher sent out this tweet.

“Drexel became aware today of Associate Professor George Ciccariello-Maher’s inflammatory tweet, which was posted on his personal Twitter account on Dec. 24, 2016,” reads the statement from Drexel University officials. “While the university recognizes the right of its faculty to freely express their thoughts and opinions in public debate, Professor Ciccariello-Maher’s comments are utterly reprehensible, deeply disturbing, and do not in any way reflect the values of the university. The university is taking this situation very seriously. We contacted Ciccariello-Maher today to arrange a meeting to discuss this matter in detail.”

Ciccariello-Maher followed up with another tweet on Christmas Day before being contacted by Drexel officials according to Philly.com. The professor’s twitter account has since been set to private. “To clarify: when the whites were massacre during the Haitian revolution, that was a good thing indeed,” he tweeted.

A bio on Drexel’s website says that Ciccariello-Maher is, “an expert and frequent media commentator on social movements, particularly in Latin America… “Ciccariello-Maher also teaches, researches and writes about race, racism, prisons and policing in the U.S. and internationally, including how race is associated with suspicion and guilt.”

It was not immediately clear what actions would be taken against the professor by the university.

In an email exchange with Inside Higher Ed, the professor said the tweet was “satirical,” but added that he has received hundreds of death threats over it.

“On Christmas Eve, I sent a satirical tweet about an imaginary concept, ‘white genocide,'” he said. “For those who haven’t bothered to do their research, ‘white genocide’ is an idea invented by white supremacists and used to denounce everything from interracial relationships to multicultural policies.”

Ciccariello-Maher also said Drexler’s statement about the situation was “chilling.”

“While upholding my right to free expression, the statement refers to my (satirical) tweets as ‘utterly reprehensible,” he said.” On the university level, moreover, this statement — despite a tepid defense of free speech — sends a chilling message and sets a frightening precedent. It exposes untenured and temporary faculty not only to internal disciplinary scrutiny, but equally importantly, it encourages harassment as an effective means to impact university policies.”

Judge Judy shakes head rolls eyes

DCG

Did Obama sign a law to criminalize Alternative Media?

Humiliated by Hillary Clinton’s loss in the 2016 election, despite all the rigged polls and voting by illegals and the dead, the Obama administration and the mainstream media created boogeymen to blame: It’s the Russian government, the Alternative Media, and “fake news”!

All the more important that we in the Alternative Media are scrupulous in what we report and write.

On December 24, 2016, Investment Watch Blog (IWB) published a very alarming article by Sean Adl-Tabatabai titled “Obama Signs Christmas Bill Making Alternative Media Illegal“. Adl-Tabatabai writes (I supplied the red bold emphasis):

“President Obama has just quietly signed into law a bill that makes it illegal to run an alternative media website in the U.S.

On Friday, just two days before Christmas, Obama signed the ‘Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017′ bill into law.

Adl-Tabatabai then quotes an article by Aaron Kesel of Wearechange.org, complete with odd capitalized letters (I supplied the bold and red color for certain words for emphasis):

“This bill, as we reported previously, will ‘Criminalize ‘Fake News, Propaganda’ on the Web,’ a key piece of legislation meant to crack down on free speech and independent media. In Layman’s terms, the act will allow the government to crack down with impunity against any media outlet it deems ‘propaganda.’ […]

What does that mean for you if you are an independent journalist or blogger? You can read more here, but it means that for simply writing this and asking questions and pointing out that Obama always signs these bills around the holidays like I did in this poemif I am accused of ‘fake news’ or propaganda, I could face criminal charges.

In other words the stage is now set for the U.S. government to legally crack down on every media outlet that the they deem to be ‘foreign propaganda.’ The ministry of truth is setup. Welcome to 1984.”

Note that the embedded link in the words “Criminalize ‘Fake News, Propaganda’ on the Web” refers to the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.

The problem is neither Investment Watch Blog nor Wearechange.org provides a link to the legislation in question, Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, nor do they provide the actual words, sentences and paragraphs from the bill which “criminalize fake news, propaganda on the web” and “make it illegal to run an alternative media website in the U.S.”.

So I went on the web to find the text of H.R. 6393: Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, which was passed by the House of Representatives on November 30, 2016. Here’s the link to H.R. 6393, so you can read it for yourself. To read H.R. 6393 in PDF format, go here.

Below is the summary of H.R. 6393: Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017:

“To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2017 for intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the United States Government, the Community Management Account, and the Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability System, and for other purposes.”

This is what I did:

  • I searched for these specific words: “criminalize”, “fake news”, “alternative media” and “propaganda”. I can’t find them in H.R. 6393.
  • I read the entire text of H.R. 6393: Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.

The closest to what Investment Watch Blog and Wearechange.org claim is Section 501 (I supplied the bold red color):

Section 501. Committee to counter active measures by the Russian Federation to exert covert influence over peoples and governments(a) Definitions.–

In this section:

(1) Active measures by Russia to exert covert influence.–
The term active measures by Russia to exert covert influence means activities intended to influence a person or government that are carried out in coordination with, or at the behest of, political leaders or the security services of the Russian Federation and the role of the Russian Federation has been hidden or not acknowledged publicly, including the following:

(A) Establishment or funding of a front group.
(B) Covert broadcasting.
(C) Media manipulation.
(D) Disinformation and forgeries.
(E) Funding agents of influence.
(F) Incitement and offensive counterintelligence.
(G) Assassinations.
(H) Terrorist acts.

(b) Establishment.–
There is established within the executive branch an interagency committee to counter active measures by the Russian Federation to exert covert influence.

(c) Membership.–

(1) In general.–

(A) Appointment.–
Each head of an agency or department of the United States Government set out under subparagraph (B) shall appoint one member of the committee established by subsection (b) from among officials of such agency or department who occupy a position that is required to be appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate.

(B) Head of an agency or department.–
The head of an agency or department of the United States Government set out under this subparagraph are the following:

(i) The Director of National Intelligence.
(ii) The Secretary of State.
(iii) The Secretary of Defense.
(iv) The Secretary of the Treasury.
(v) The Attorney General.
(vi) The Secretary of Energy.
(vii) The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
(viii) The head of any other agency or department of the United States Government designated by the President for purposes of this section.

(d) Meetings.–
The committee shall meet on a regular basis.

(e) Duties.–

The duties of the committee established by subsection (b) shall be as follows:

(1) To counter active measures by Russia to exert covert influence, including by exposing falsehoods, agents of influence, corruption, human rights abuses, terrorism, and assassinations carried out by the security services or political elites of the Russian Federation or their proxies.

(2) Such other duties as the President may designate for purposes of this section.”

Some in the Alternative Media see Section 501 — specifically the allusion to “agents of influence” — as reminiscent of a November 24, 2016 article in The Washington Post which cited “experts” who claim the Russian government had helped Donald Trump get elected, as well as a newly-founded and anonymous website, Is It Propaganda or Not? (PropOrNot), that posted a hit list of 200 alternative media websites that are alleged to be either witting or unwitting agents of Russia in spreading disinformation (“fake news”) and propaganda. The list includes WikiLeaks, Drudge Report, Zero Hedge, and small potatoes like Fellowship of the Minds. (See “FOTM made the List of 200 secret-Russian-agents websites!”)

That being said, it is one thing for the Washington Post to accuse bloggers of being Russian agents, it’s another thing entirely for the U.S. government to do so.

Nothing in the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 “criminalizes fake news, propaganda on the web” and “makes it illegal to run an alternative media website in the U.S.”. To do that, the U.S. government will have to:

  • Give evidence that an alternative media website is an “agent of influence” of and has a connection with the Russian government.
  • Criminalize, i.e., make it against the law to have a blog or website on the Internet. To do so would mean the government would have to violate the Constitution’s First Amendment provision of freedom of speech and of the press.

The same claim — that a newly passed law “criminalizes fake news, propaganda on the web” and “makes it illegal to run an alternative media website in the U.S.” — is also made about another law, S. 2943: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, which was passed by Congress (both houses) on Dec. 13, 2016. See TrailDust’s post of today, “While you celebrated Christmas – Obama stole the 1st Amendment“.

I’ll address S. 2943 tomorrow.

~Eowyn

North Kitsap school district blasts teacher’s Facebook comments

First Amendment applies here. Yet we also have the same right to offer opinions of those who disparage the men and women who put their lives on the line for the public. They would be the ones rushing to any school if a deranged shooter was present.

Fallen Officer Jake Gutierrez

Fallen Officer Jake Gutierrez

From Kitsap Sun: A Kingston High School teacher’s Facebook comments on a thread about a fallen police officer have been denounced by North Kitsap School District.

Kim Smith weighed in on a Dec. 9 post by the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office honoring Tacoma Officer Reginald “Jake” Gutierrez, who was fatally shot Nov. 30 while responding to a domestic dispute. A video on the post showed a long line of law enforcement vehicles ready for a procession before the memorial for Gutierrez, who was a Kitsap County resident.

“I hate this stupid display of the police,” Smith wrote. “If we’re going to do this for cops, we should do it for those they murder. It’s obscene.”

Smith’s comment unleashed a backlash of livid responses. Although Smith did not initially identify herself as a teacher, others did. “This was the wrong time and place … to post such disrespect for those who might save your life someday … as a teacher? Shame on you,” wrote one commenter.

“How do you sleep at night? This is a heartbreaking comment,” wrote another commenter. “How would you feel if someone said something like this after Sandy Hook?” Others piled on to shame Smith, some calling for her dismissal.

Superintendent Patty Page

Superintendent Patty Page

On Thursday, Superintendent Patty Page posted a statement distancing the district from Smith —without naming her  — and from the rampant, two-way vitriol that persisted through the week. “On behalf of the North Kitsap School District, please be advised that the district strongly disagrees with and condemns the personal comments posted by a district teacher regarding the tragic death of Tacoma Police Officer Jake Gutierrez,” Page said. “The district has not authorized, approved or encouraged the teacher’s comments.”

Page said North Kitsap had received complaints and is reviewing them under the school board’s policy on “complaints concerning staff or programs.” The policy cites state law outlining a teacher’s right to due process and appeal before any “adverse change in contract status.” Page would not say what actions if any the district is considering. “At this point I am not commenting on action, as I am considering it a personal matter,” Page said. “I believe my post reflects my position.”

School districts don’t typically jump into the fray on social media, even when they are directly or indirectly the subject of discussion. Page said North Kitsap has had social media issues in the past, but every situation is different. She acknowledged this situation is a first. “We have not publicly weighed in as a district other than to correct misinformation in the past,” Page said.

Teachers union president Mike McCorkle said he met with Smith Friday morning to discuss the issue. McCorkle said there is nothing in the contract that speaks to statements or public positions teachers take outside the classroom. “We want to protect our teachers’ due process to have a private life and have private opinions,” he said.

McCorkle had no comment on the district’s statement but said he understood its position. “We want a balanced approach, and we can understand why the district has to do it’s due diligence in looking into the matter,” McCorkle said.

Some commenters expressed concern that Smith would present a one-sided viewpoint in the classroom. The contract does speak to “academic freedom” within which teachers are called on to present a “balanced point of view,” McCorkle said.

McCorkle said Smith teaches a class on “ancient civilizations” and he understood from her “this is not something she would talk about in her classroom.”

Sheriff Gary Simpson

Sheriff Gary Simpson

Sheriff Gary Simpson on Thursday stepped in on the Facebook post and ensuing comments. Simpson encourages dialog and constructive criticism, “but I’m not interested in the continuation of bantering and personal agendas associated with those who use this venue for such matters.

“A personal perspective is one thing, while petty character and opinion exchanges are another… and they’re not appropriate for this page,” he said. “If readers want to talk about specific issues with a goal of improving public safety and the quality of life in Kitsap County, then let’s get together and do just that. However arguing on a social media site gets nowhere and is unproductive.”

Simpson told readers to take the debate elsewhere, and he said further postings on the thread would be removed. “People have said their piece… it’s time to move on,” he said.

Smith has been a teacher for 15 years, 10 at Kingston High, according to her webpage on the school’s site.

DCG