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Before A&E censored Phil Robertson, Murray and Pringle exploited hate speech to silence political opponents

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Free speech is as fundamental to democracy as the right to vote because it preserves the free flow of ideas necessary for wide-spread political participation. To this end, it is not enough to reject censorship. The principles behind freedom of speech require us to support an environment that encourages all Americans to openly voice their opinions.

When A&E suspended Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson for expressing his sincere beliefs about sex and marriage, it undermined the free flow of ideas and chilled the right to free speech. Seeing someone come under attack for merely voicing an opinion puts pressure on the like-minded to stay quiet; and silencing a group of people, whatever their inclination, is never good for a democratic government.

If you are reading this, you may be wondering what drove me to begin writing on Anaheim. In fact, it was the assault on free speech perpetrated by Councilwoman Kris Murray and the former mayor/mega-lobbyist Curt Pringle. The two purported Republicans teamed-up with OC’s Democrat leadership to exploit hate speech in a combined effort to dirty the image of Mayor Tom Tait. The left was motivated by Mayor Tait’s embrace of pension reform, while Pringle and Murray threw the Constitution under the bus in order to score political points and distract public attention away from the Angles Stadium lease negotiation.

The incident arose when Mayor Tait started asking questions about the City’s surprise move to change the terms of an agreement whereby Angels owner, Arte Moreno, leases Angels Stadium and the surrounding land. The Council Majority retaliated by stripping the mayor of his power to place items on the council meeting agenda. Councilwoman Lucille Kring maintains that the power was removed so as to prevent Mayor Tait from repeatedly placing the controversial lease on the council agenda. Shortly thereafter, Kris Murray was asked to explain the callous, purely political, rule change. She opted to change the topic and attack the mayor with the accusation that he was complicit in hate speech against the Jewish and LGBT communities.

The coordinated attack on the Mayor was based on insincere criticism of how he handled a speaker during the public comment period of the previous week’s council meeting. William Denis Fitzgerald, a City Hall gadfly long known to be outrageous and offensive, went on a rant and declared that “evil Jews” were responsible for anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. Fitzgerald then ended his speech with a homophobic slur. At that time, Mayor Tait responded by saying that while the speaker has free speech rights, the comments “crossed the line.” Contrary to Murray’s telling of the event, no council member made a statement condemning the offensive remarks. Despite the fabricated outrage, Mayor Tait has been completely vindicated in how he handled the sensitive issue.

The night of Fitzgerald’s rant, Todd Priest of the lobbying firm Curt Pringle & Associates contacted Irvine Councilwoman Beth Krom, who is Jewish, and told her of the incident. The next day, he contacted the Orange County Human Relations Commission and blamed Tait for allowing hate speech at the council meeting. On the same day, Murray also wrote to the Commission urging the director to “review the matter and provide guidance on this very important issue.” She explained:

“While I would be the first to defend freedom of speech. . . . I also believe that the Mayor’s inaction was shameful, and, frankly, untruthful. He could have taken proactive action as the presiding officer to gavel the statements disrespectful and out of order, use the dais mute button, or request access to stop this hate speech.”

Shortly thereafter, Murray appeared alongside Mayor Tait on SoCal Insider to discuss the Angels Stadium lease and the removal of the mayor’s power to set the agenda. Deflecting the issue, Murray brought up Fitzgerald’s rant and said Mayor Tait should have used his authority to stop Fitzgerald’s tirade. She also insinuated that Fitzgerald and Mayor Tait are political allies. In turn, Henry Vandermeir, chairman of the Democratic Party of Orange County, condemned Mayor Tait and demanded an apology.

Curt Pringle, Kris Murray and Todd Ament

Curt Pringle, Kris Murray and Todd Ament

Observing all this from the sidelines, I was disgusted. Not only did Kris Murray and Curt Pringle aim to silence dissent and undermine free speech, but they did so solely to score political points. If the lack of sincerity is not obvious, consider Murray and Pringle’s response, or lack there of, to the Cunningham Blog Controversy, where Latinos were the victims of hate speech at the behest of their ally, Todd Ament and the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce. The conflicting responses highlights the problem in censoring “hate speech.” What is hateful is in the eye of beholder and politicians will find it too easy to exploit the issue for their own purposes.

Ultimately, the ginned up controversy had a chilling effect on free speech. Seeing Mayor Tait come under attack, will elected officials in a similar position feel pressure to remove speakers during public comments when their rhetoric could be interpreted as hateful?  Public comments may not always have substantive value, but they are critical to the democratic process. Giving the public at-large a forum to sound off allows people to voice concerns and vent frustrations, even if the speaker does not articulate their grievance in a manner that is intelligible or politically correct.

It is very troubling that Kris Murray and Curt Pringle failed to appreciate the serious consequences of their bi-partisan conspiracy. As purported Republicans, they should possess a better understanding of our Constitution and the principles of limited government. Of course, that is assuming that they are interested in governing with principles.

 
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11 Comments  comments 

11 Responses

  1. Free speech is as fundamental to democracy as the right to vote because it preserves the free flow of ideas necessary for wide-spread political participation. To this end, it is not enough to reject censorship. The principles behind freedom of speech require us to support an environment that encourages all Americans to openly voice their opinions.

    When A&E suspended Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson for expressing his sincere beliefs about sex and marriage, it undermined the free flow of ideas and chilled the right to free speech.

    Seriously, it is tragic to see such an abysmal lack in understanding the 1A. I presume the haste to support the content of Phil’s rant under the guise of “free speech” got the better of you. Or you would have at least mentioned Justine Sacco (yeah, who?)

    Here, you will not regret this: http://www.popehat.com/2013/12/21/ten-points-about-speech-ducks-and-flights-to-africa/

    Happy New Year.

    • Daniel Lamb

      I purposefully avoided citing the First Amendment as I was trying invoke the wider principles underpinning it… to say nothing of basic dignity.

      • Without 1A you have no free speech to gripe about.

        Because, and think for a second, without 1A, you are asking for protected speech in the private sector.

        That is a lot worse, if you are a libertarian-leaner. Ask Art, he’ll explain that to you. He is a conservative outcast from the GOP, but he understands, if he’ll not admit to it, what libertarianism means.

        • A&E is a company. They can choose who they want to speak, and how they want that person to speak. If that person doesn’t speak as they want, they can tell him to STFU or even fire him. MSNBC did it to Olberman. It has been done to many others who express their beliefs in public when their employers decide that they don’t like what they represent, they have the right to terminate them.

          When I worked in defense / aerospace I was asked to sign a petition. I agreed with the petition but chose not to sign it as I felt doing so would jeopardize my job at the time. No one quashed my right to free speech, I did. I weighed the consequences of signing a petition I agreed with with the potential cost of my employment and choose to not exercise MY right to free speech.

          We all make decisions every day on what we choose to express and what we don’t. We don’t sit in an Middle Eastern restaurant run by someone originally from Lebanon and start a loud debate on the rights of Israel because, well, it’s just not the right thing to do. We make those personal judgment calls, not chilling our right, but deciding when it is appropriate to express them

          These have nothing to do with the First Amendment, which has everything to do with the government taking the right for you to express your opinion away. I may not agree with the Nazi’s, but I agreed with the ACLU, that the government didn’t have the right to deny them a permit to parade through a Jewish neighborhood because the Government didn’t like what they were saying. And I don’t agree with Duck what-ever-his-name-is, but if the Government was attempting to shut him down, I would have fought for his right to speak.

          But no one in the government was attempting to silence Duck Moron. He evoked outrage from a segment of the people, who have the same rights that he does, and they spoke. His boss at the time felt that his words were poorly chosen and not appropriate and suspended his butt. Then they reversed that decision, and I’m sure some people will be very upset and work to boycott the sponsors that pay A&E to put the Duck Moron show on the air, and over time A&E will let his contract expire and not renew it.

          But none of Duck Moron had a damn thing to do with “chilling free speech”.

          Tait represented the Government when he held the gravel. If this was open comments then Fitzgerald had every right to rant as long as he wanted to (as long as allowed by law). He had the right to say anything he wanted and make a massive moron of himself to the world. If Tait had graveled him to silence, then the ACLU would have had a very good case. By allowing the idiot to rant Tait was doing the right thing. But that is a totally different set of circumstances that the Duck moron and his employer, who can be silenced (by his own filters) or terminated at will by his employer for NOT doing what the employer wanted.

          Yes, the “incidents” are both fruits (issues dealing with free speech), but one is apples and the other oranges. Mixing the two makes the case weaker, not stronger.

          • “But none of Duck Moron had a damn thing to do with chilling free speech’”………….. Hmmmmmmmm

            I think that you are the moron mongoloid here, met00, who does not understand a spirit of the Americanism.

            Read my opinion below so you will learn something what your bran can’t interpret on its own.

            • a spirit of the Americanism

              WTF?

              Is this like “A New Day In America”(tm) (c) R. Reagan?

              Really. We have a wonderful document that defines what America is. Every elected official swears to uphold it, every American serviceman/woman promises to defend it. It’s called the Constitution. That IS America. It is the spirit of America. It is the document that we rest our entire foundation upon. The Declaration of Independence, for all of it’s flowery language is NOT the document that defines us. And a spirit of Americanism is a non-sequitur at best, as it is non-definable except as your opinion, and if my opinion differs, well you’ll just say it’s a wrong opinion or a bad interpretation of what Americanism is (to you).

              Rather than build a mythology and live in a world of imagination, I prefer to play in the real world. Duck Dimwit is free to say things that the people that gave him his 15 minutes of fame don’t like, and they are still free to can his ass if enough people in the media demographic that they try to sell airtime to advertisers to appeal to don’t like it.. That isn’t chilling his “free speech”, it saying that they don’t want to air a show that they can’t sell ads on after he screws it up by being a real life moron, not just one on TV.

              We could all laugh at Archie Bunker, the bigot. But what a difference it would have been had Carol O’Conner made those statements as himself, and not as a fictional character.

              Tait did the right thing. Not the popular thing. He may have agreed or disagreed, but as the function of government for which he was the representative he didn’t have the right to not allow it. The private corporation that uses Duck Dimwit to sell ad time can elect to drop his ass any time it wants and for any reason it wants. It has nothing to do with chilling his free speech and everything to do with their financial position. They are Doctor Frankenstein. They can create a monster, and when it goes out of their control and hurts their revenue source they can choose to kill it.

  2. Same as democracy the “free speech” is totally misunderstood, perhaps intentionally stigmatized, by the groups whose power is gravely limited by it.

    We know that people can democratically elect evil as they did Adolf Hitler and Mohamed Morsi.

    Many believe that the First Amendment applies only to the government and not to the people which is totally wrong believe, massaged for decades by the iLeft school system, which is failing to properly apply the USA constitution.

    I am sure that everyone here believes that we have a government “for the people by the people”……… any objection?

    I am sure that everyone here knows that “America is a Constitutional Republic . . . NOT a Democracy“……… any objection?

    A Constitutional Republic has some similarities to democracy in that it uses democratic processes to elect representatives and pass new laws, etc. The critical difference lies in the fact that a Constitutional Republic has a Constitution that limits the powers of the government. It also spells out how the government is structured, creating checks on its power and balancing power between the different branches.

    So when the First Amendment provides: Congress shall make no law (…) it refers directly to the people represented by their representatives aka proxy.

    Therefore, we all are the government and we all should [NOT] make rules and policies in violation of the first amendment.

    Currently we have president who is stupid as a door knob, who is violating constitution left and right, based on advise of his Jewish handlers.

    Seventy-eight percent of American Jews voted for Obama and there are now a record 46 Jews in Congress (nearly six times their proportion to Jews in the American population). As never before, Americans can expect Jewish influence in government. During the Clinton and Bush administrations, Jews attained saturation-level presence in government and cabinet positions.1 Undoubtedly Obama will be surrounded by powerful Jews; he already appointed an Orthodox Jew as his chief of staff. Will these powerful Jews legislate and judge justly? Will they reflect what is regarded as a common Judeo-Christian tradition of high moral values?

    This is dangerous trend for Americanism and obviously Jews do not want you to know that, therefore, they will stigmatize everyone who speaks truth by calling him antisemitic as is done by Jewish Esq. Greg Diamond #256598 the most hated bloger in the blog sphere who is polishing his Jewish, constitutionally protected, hate speech in the OrangeJuiceBlog.

    Obviously Jews are using domestic terrorist groups like Homosexuals, ACLU and JDL to destroy the constitution which is also protecting them.

    Ironical, every 100 years, or so, for last 5000 years there is a pogrom against Jews and when it will come this time there will be no one to help because Jews destroyed the free speech so no one will know — and no one will care.

  3. Cynthia Ward

    Nicely said Daniel, may I offer an opinion on a few minor points? The right to free speech also comes with the right to not have to entertain or condone the speech, and it certainly does not obligate anyone to pay for the speech. If we wish to offend others we may do it on our own dime. This is why the outrage against Cunningham and his blog seems to be building behind the scenes rather than dying down, because it is clear that so much of his income is from taxpayer funding, and we do not wish to be compelled to pay for his brand of empathy-free online presence. This is also why whether you agree with or oppose the Duck Dynasty guys, the underlying reality is they are using air time provided (at great expense) by a corporate sponsor, and the corporate sponsor purchased that airtime with the intent to sell a product or service at a profit. The corporate sponsor does not owe a duty to provide their spokespeople with an unfettered venue for their opinions,especially not if those opinions alienate and offend the viewers the corporate sponsor is trying to sell goods and services to. The flip side of this is that those same viewers may use the power of their wallets to insist that they DO agree with the Duck Dynasty guys, and will refuse to purchase the goods and services offered by those cancelling the show, unless it is returned to the air. Welcome to America, where we are entitled to speak freely, but nobody owes you a microphone and camera.

    However, Daniel, I do appreciate you calling attention to the attacks on Mayor Tait, they were fictionalized diversions by those so intent on getting what they want from the public coffers that they stopped caring what methods they must employ, or who gets hurt in their Machiavellian game. I was there that morning, and Mayor Tait was the ONLY one of the leaders on the dais to address the hate speech, while those seated in the audience (which were indeed there to support Tait, the Masters of the Universe got THAT part right) let loose with howls and groans of disgust at Fitzgerald and his hateful messages. For the record, Fitzgerald has NEVER been a supporter of Tait, to this day he makes statements showing he is convinced Tait’s “tough stand” against crony capitalism in Anaheim is a ruse to keep us from figuring out he is really a Disney drone and he will betray us when the time comes for Disney to get something so big that it is worth Tait’s outing himself as one of “them”…stupidly the Masters of the Universe have misinterpreted someone calling bullshit on their behavior as support for the only guy up there who also calls bullshit on them.

    Those of us who spoke against the attacks on the Mayor did try to keep the messaging focused on the actions being taken, not personal attack, although honestly it is HARD to not ascribe motive to actions so blatant in their retaliation. But NOBODY in that room condoned the ugly words of Fitzgerald, and in the ultimate of ironies, the ONLY people who did not react in some way were the four people flanking the Mayor’s seat, who either sat silently or addressed each other, not the speaker. The argument that they would be ruled out of turn by the Chair if they spoke has never stopped them from their incessant interruptions in past meetings “Point of Order!” and “Point of Personal Privilege” and the always popular “I would like to address that last speaker if I may, there seems to be a great deal of misinformation in the community…natter, natter, natter…” they are quick to defend themselves, but where were these people demanding Mayor Curt Pringle use his power as the meeting Chair to stop the hateful attacks on Latinos that took place for YEARS through the ghoulish presence of James Robert Reade under a Pringle administration?

    Anyway, thank you Daniel, for bringing this up because it should not be forgotten, especially not when the new year brings us the return of so many special projects to City Hall, with so many of the roads leading back to Curt Pringle’s offices, and clients..And of course there is the election, with two polar opposites talked into challenging the Mayor, both miraculously appearing to collect money from Pringle’s friends and clients (in some cases for the first time) giving credence to the idea that both opposition races are merely a distraction. Pringle is rumored to have brilliantly sent longtime enemies he sees as expendable into simple suicide missions against a solid incumbent, perhaps in an effort to get the citizens so busy defending the Mayor that Pringle’s pre-programmed “yes” votes sail back into reelection, with, as the former Mayor Pro Tem might say, “no shots fired.” Look for ANY mechanism possible to be used to keep the Mayor or common-sense focused citizens from sharing information with the public. Stripping the Mayor of his staff and his agenda power I fear may be only the beginning.

    That may seem like a negative view with which to start the New Year, but those of us who call it like we see it do so because ultimately we are optimists, we believe that perhaps by speaking out and alerting others of like mind we can CHANGE what is taking place. We are all Ebeneezer Scrooge on Christmas morning, excited to discover that what might have been does not HAVE to be in the future, if we will only work to fix it. Good luck to the Masters of the Universe in silencing those passionate voices, including the very observant voice of one Daniel Lamb.

    Happy New Year. Here is to a 2014 when we all find our voices…and perhaps a bucket of tar and a bag of feathers.

    • Cynthia, do you realize that you have used more words skirting around the First Amendment issue than the founders used to write entire constitution?

      The concept of the free speech is very simple one and it is a last resort (including profanity and so called hate speech) before the people will start throwing punches.

  4. “Really. We have a wonderful document that defines what America is. Every elected official swears to uphold it, every American serviceman/woman promises to defend it. It’s called the Constitution. That IS America. It is the spirit of America. It is the document that we rest our entire foundation upon. The Declaration of Independence, for all of it’s flowery language is NOT the document that defines us. And a spirit of Americanism is a non-sequitur at best, as it is non-definable except as your opinion, and if my opinion differs, well you’ll just say it’s a wrong opinion or a bad interpretation of what Americanism is (to you).”………. Hmmmmmmm

    Except for: Obama, who is educated as constitutional professor of the law, and every politician and virtually every one who has any power to censure everyone else speech including blog owners who are violating constitution every day.

    [It is, Sir, the people’s government, made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people. The people of the United States have declared that this Constitution shall be the supreme law.] Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

    [We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.] President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

    That is how the constitution was interpreted by the people who enacted it before the iLeft misrepresented and polluted its spirit by the gun, homosexual and race laws. [emphases added]

    Therefore, the First Amendment is by the people not excluding private sector.

    FYI, the Americanism is an ideology which was born in conception of the constitution because there is no parallel ideological system (-ism) anywhere in the world….. it stands alone!

    I doubt that your iLeft brain can comprehend that but someone else’s here may.

  5. I should add that the Americanism is only (-ism) which defines individual’s rights to be unalienable which come from a third person, i.e creator which is not necessarily a God.

    In contrast, in other (-isms) the rights of and an individual come from a person, i.e. king, a government, a leader who is empowered to do so by way of coronation (swearing) to the creator/ God.

    So under the Americanism we all are coronated at birth by a creator, therefore, we all are Kings. [emphases added]

    That is why the iLeft (left-liberal-progressive-socialists) are destroying the constitution so you become their subject…….. I mast say that reading your opinion, met00, they succeeded.