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Linda LeTendre's Waging Peace
by Linda LeTendre

Waging Peace

A Daily Gazette community blog
Linda LeTendre fights for a peaceful world.

Free speech and Phil Robertson

My joy on Judge Leon's recent decision upholding of the Fourth Amendment was shortlived when Friday, Dec. 27, US District (Manhattan) Judge William Pauley ruled in the ACLU's suit against National Intelligence Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, saying that the government does indeed have the right to collect all of our phone calls. “There is no evidence that the government has used any of the bulk telephone metadata it collected for any purpose other than investigating and disrupting terrorist attacks,” he wrote in his decision.

Funny, my understanding of the Fourth Amendment is not how information is being used but that is it being collected at all.

Think any pressure was put on him by any of the interested parties -– like the government? I dated a lawyer once and if you think that sort of thing doesn't happen you're wrong. He had a couple of really scary stories to tell about local judges rendering decisions after some “finessing,” shall we say? And recall Dick Cheney going duck hunting with Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia just before a big SCOTUS decision that ultimately favored Cheney and his chums. What do you think they talked about on that little outing?

I was left wondering where were the people who were so fired up about "Duck Dynasty's" Phil Robertson's right to free speech when this decision was made public? I think the government collecting every word you utter and/or text electronically would be a real damper on on this whole idea of free speech. Like you would not criticize the government, or these days a corporation. (Disclosure statement: I have never seen an episode of this program and frankly do not plan to.)

My Facebook page was humming with some friends and relatives lamenting what they perceived as Robertson's “loss of free speech” and one of the things I learned was some days the best thing I do to create peace is keep my mouth shut. Or my fingers off of my keyboard.

Thoughts that I chose not to express on Facebook:

A little civics lesson here folks: The constitutional right to free speech means that the government will not persecute you or put you in jail for your opinions (at least that was the initial understanding. It does not mean that you do not have to accept responsibility for your words or that other citizens cannot challenge you on your opinions. Like when you denigrate an entire group of people based on a specific characteristic and your sponsors decide to pull their funds. Or when you hold a sign on court house steps and you end up in jail.

Two words: Dixie. Chicks. Remember when they spoke their minds on “President W” and it was not too flattering. Where were these people then. Oh wait -- they were supporting the boycott of the Dixie Chicks and their music. Methinks they protested too much.

One person proudly said that if she had a choice between her children hanging out with Phil Robertson or Miley Cyrus, she would choose Miley Cryus. My initial reaction was, “Whoa girl, you need widen your social circle.” Me, I'd keep my kids home.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that homosexuality leads to bestiality. Jesus never once mentioned homosexuality. Jesus did say that we should love our neighbors as our selves. I am no theologian but I am pretty sure that means you do not denigrate your neighbors for any reason. Especially in a public forum.

You mean that family that has all of their merchandise made in China and then sells it here? It is amazing the profit you can make if you don't have to pay very much for the labor. Not to mention the tax advantages. You can save a bundle and still use the roads and other publicly funded amenities that make the sale of those imported goods, and by extension, your incredible wealth possible.

While this debate was in full swing our elected representatives once again passed the 2014 version of the NDAA which gives the government the power to detain anyone they deem a “terrorist” indefinitely, without charge. In other words our government has the right to make you disappear if it does not like what you have to say or what you do to make it accountable to the people. Many thanks to senators Schumer and Gilibrand for their “yea” votes. Talk about a wet blanket for free speech.

And the Phil Robertson fans were missing on the 2014 NDAA issue too.

Anyway, the ACLU will appeal the decision as Obama is doing with Judge Leon's decision. This will ultimately end up before the Supreme Court where I fear we are dead in the water.

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