Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sit Down, Shut up, and Pay up.

Rather than attacking the Tea Party directly, Yesterday Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick took a swipe at anyone who might disagree with the current administration.

Patrick reaches back to decry Obama foes
“It seems like child’s play compared to what’s going on in Washington, where it is almost at the level of sedition, it feels like to me,’’ the governor told students and faculty at a candidate’s forum at Suffolk Law School’s Rappaport Center. “People who have just resolved: If the president says, ‘Up,’ we will say, ‘Down.’ If the president says, ‘Go that way,’ we will say, ‘Go the other way.’ ’’
Wow! Along the same lines as the derision of the Tea Party, rather than debate the accusations merely state that there is no thought, and absolutely zero room for opposition

" I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration somehow you're not patriotic and we should stand up and say we are americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration!"
One Man's sedition is another man's free speech. The level of "hate Bush" rhetoric was like nothing else I have seen in my lifetime, and won't soon be forgotten. Although I was not a huge Bush fan and disagreed with him on many issues, I always thought the hate speech and hate imagery was over the top. And now, this thin skinned president is sending his friends out to set the stage for squelching the voice of opposition.

Obama uses drama to get his legislation through. You saw it in health care with the Wellpoint attacks. You saw it on financial reform in the Goldman Sachs attacks. Neither law addresses the issue's used as ammunition to get the bill passed, but that doesn't matter. Rhetoric is reality in the state-run-media era. And now, we set the stage for the next drama to unfold. The war on talk radio terrorism and the continued fear mongering of Tea Party activities.


  [si-dish-uhn]  Show IPA
incitement of discontent or rebellion against a government.
any action, esp. in speech or writing, promoting such discontent or rebellion.
Archaicrebellious disorder.

Declaring speech as rebellious is lazy and stupid. It has happened in the past:

Sedition Act of 1798

The most important provision of the act codified the English common law of seditious libel and made it a crime punishable by fine or imprisonment to speak disparagingly of the national government or government officials in a manner intending to hold them up to public ridicule and erode their authority. Still, the act liberalized the English common law insofar as it allowed evidence of the truth of a charge against the government to be entered into the defense at a trial and insofar as it allowed the jury to be the judge not only of the fact of publication, but also of the allegedly seditious character of the published matter. Both of these reforms were also part of the roughly contemporaneous English Fox's Libel Act of 1792, widely viewed as a triumph for English liberals. 
The act resulted in several important trials for seditious libel in the late 1790s, most notably those of Matthew Lyon, Thomas Cooper, and James Thompson Callender. Lyon was a feisty Irish Vermont congressman who had made intemperate remarks about the unnecessary pomp displayed by President Adams. An unsympathetic Federalist judge, William Paterson, presided over his trial (United States v. Matthew Lyon, 1798), and although Paterson instructed the jury that they must find Lyon guilty of having made his seditiously libelous statements beyond a reasonable doubt, he was still convicted, fined one thousand dollars and costs, and sentenced to imprisonment for four months. 
Thomas Cooper was a transplanted British social critic who allied himself with Thomas Jefferson against John Adams in the presidential election of 1800. Cooper had published remarks critical of Adams, notably that he had borrowed money at too high a rate during peacetime, that he had maintained a standing army and navy, and that he had interfered with the independence of the judiciary in a matter involving extradition of a British murder suspect. Cooper's statements were probably matters of opinion rather than fact, and though they were arguably more false than true, the presiding justice, Samuel Chase, in his jury instructions, required Cooper to prove the truth of his assertions “beyond a marrow” before he could be acquitted (United States v. Thomas Cooper, 1800). This was in stark contrast to Paterson's standards in the Lyon trial, and probably flowed from some understandable confusion in Chase's mind over whether he should apply the standards from English private libel law (which he did), or liberalize the standards in keeping with emerging American ideas about the value of free speech (which he did not). Cooper was found guilty and sentenced to pay a fine of four hundred dollars and to be imprisoned for six months. Like the other seditious libel defendants he was later pardoned by Thomas Jefferson, but he refused his pardon, with what one historian later called “commendable perversity,” and insisted on serving out his sentence. 

Look for similar legislation coming soon to a medium near you.

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