Tag Archives: free press

Best Quotes of the Week – April 30, 2022

“When billionaires talk about freedom, watch your wallets.  Behind Elon Musk’s blather about free markets, free speech, and free choice is his goal to be free from accountability.”

Robert Reich, regarding Elon Musk’s recent takeover of Twitter

Reich went on to say: “The “free market” increasingly reflects the demands of big money. Unfriendly takeovers, such as Musk threatens to mount at Twitter, weren’t part of the “free market” until the late 1970s and early 1980s. Before then, laws and regulations constrained them. Then came corporate raiders like Carl Icahn and Michael Milken. Their MO was to find corporations whose assets were worth more than their stock value, borrow against them, acquire enough shares to force them to cut costs (such as laying off workers, abandoning their communities, busting unions, and taking on crushing debt), and cash in. But the raiders’ antics often imposed huge social costs. They pushed America from stakeholder capitalism (where workers and communities had a say in what corporations did) to shareholder capitalism (where the sole corporate goal is to maximize shareholder value). Inequality skyrocketed, insecurity soared, vast swaths of America were abandoned, and millions of good jobs vanished.”

“In the end, if Jimmy and Susie are curious about any of the above, they can do what everyone else does – get a room at the Motel Six and grab the Gideons.”

Chaz Stevens, a Florida resident who has asked the state to remove the Christian Bible from schools and public libraries because its content is inappropriate for children

He took issue with the many Biblical references to rape, bestiality, cannibalism and infanticide and proceeded to question whether the Bible is age-appropriate, pointing to its “casual” references to murder, adultery, sexual immorality, and fornication.  “Do we really want to teach our youth about drunken orgies?”

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Tweet of the Week – January 29, 2022

Rep. Jim Banks

You know what, Banks, YES I HAVE!

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Imprisoned for Writing: Pham Doan Trang

Independent journalist and human rights defender Pham Doan Trang was sentenced to nine years by The People’s Court of Hanoi on December, 14 2021. She was arrested in Ho Chi Minh City on October 7, 2020, and charged under Article 88 of the 1999 Criminal Code which criminalizes “making, storing, distributing or disseminating information, documents and items against the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam.”

Trang is the author of several books that address women’s rights, LGBT issues, environmental concerns and land rights.  In 2019, Reporters Without Borders awarded her a Press Freedom Prize in recognition of her impact.  Her work on the Liberal Publishing House helped it receive the prestigious Prix Voltaire award in 2020 for its continued coverage in spite of risks and dangers of reprisals.

Trang was held in isolation from the time of her arrest until October 19, 2021, when she was finally allowed to meet with one of her lawyers after having been denied access to her family and legal representation for over a year.

Foreseeing her own arrest, she gave instructions ahead of time for fellow activists to take advantage of her imprisonment to negotiate for more freedom in Viet Nam, and to “advocate for the others first, then me.”

In The Vietnamese, a journalists’ magazine Trang founded, her “final statement” from her trial has appeared today reads, in part:

“In a democratic society, if a citizen writes something or responds to interview questions from foreign journalists regarding matters the government doesn’t want to hear, what would be the civilized response? The most civilized response would be for the government to do nothing because a civilized person knows how to respect the opinions and interests of others.

“In a less fortunate situation, if a government has authoritarian tendencies and finds what the citizen says unacceptable, then it could simply write books or articles to rebut that citizen, or even boldly reach out to the foreign press to arrange an interview in which a government representative expresses his/her viewpoint or responds to the citizen in-kind.

“But the Socialist Republic of Vietnam does none of this. Instead, it chooses to respond in a more vile, foolish, and heinous manner, imprisoning its citizens simply because they write works or respond to interviews with foreign journalists.”

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Political Cartoon of the Week – February 13, 2021

Khalil Bendib

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Worst Quotes of the Week – January 16, 2021

“There’s no comparison.  The disgusting events of January 6 do not threaten this country nearly as much as the suppression of free speech does.”

Dennis Prager, columnist and radio talk show host, on the January 6 riots

“What we have here is a classic collusive oligopoly, a kind of new wine in an old bottle.  What we saw with this attack on Parler was chilling to me. It’s one thing to de-platform everybody for free speech. But, this was a pincer move where Google and Apple, [the] first part of the pincer, was to not allow Parler apps to be down.”

Peter Navarro, Director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing, on the move by various media firms to remove Parler from its platforms

Parler is a conservative alternative to Facebook and other social media venues.  Apple and Google removed Parler in the wake of the January 6 Capitol Hill riots.

“We have an executive order – not from Congress or D.C., but from the desk of the CEO of heaven, the boss of the planet.  He said from his desk in heaven, this is my will; Trump will be in for eight years.”

Brandon Burden, pastor of Kingdom Life in Frisco, Texas, in a sermon on Sunday, January 10

Burden had insisted that God told him Donald Trump – a serial husband, tax cheat and draft dodger who once grabbed about grabbing women by their genitalia – was destined to serve 8 years as President of the United States.  The FBI has been in contact with Burden.

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Tweet of the Week – September 12, 2020

“New York Times” reporter Kathy Gray was in Freeland, Michigan, on September 10, when President Trump arrived to a cheering crowd – most without masks and none social-distancing.  This is actually the first of many tweets Gray transmitted before the Trump campaign forced her to leave. As usual, Trump and his gang just don’t understand the concept of a free press.

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Retro Quote – Arundhati Roy

“Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds… Pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice while communal killers, mass murderers, corporate scamsters, looters, rapists and those who prey on the poorest of the poor, roam free.”

Arundhati Roy

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Worst Quote of the Week – November 8, 2019

“Just read the Transcript.  The Justice Department already ruled that the call was good.  We don’t have freedom of the press!”

– Faux-President Donald Trump, regarding his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the source of his current impeachment inquiry.

Here’s a much-needed refresher for Trump and other right-wing extremists.  The First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees:

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PEN America in Dallas

Dallas author and co-founder of PEN Dallas/Fort Worth Sanderia Faye.

I’m excited to announce that a global literary and free speech organization, PEN International, has established a new chapter in Dallas, Texas.  Founded in London in 1921, PEN International has a very simple mission: preserve literature in all its forms and ensure everyone can engage in free speech and freedom of expression.  These are core elements in any truly democratic society, but they are constantly being challenged and even threatened by self-appointed guardians of writing, journalism and speech; people who seem to think they have the right and the power to determine what the rest of us can say and read.  It’s a never-ending battle and, sadly, it never will be won.  Those of us who advocate for a free press and free speech will always have to confront the oligarchical bullies who feel they – and only they – are blessed with inalienable rights to speech and literature.

Pen International felt the need to establish the Dallas / Fort Worth chapter in the wake of the fraudulent 2016 U.S. presidential election, which has given us an arrogant, foul-mouthed, womanizing, reality TV star in the White House.

“At a time of exceptional threats to free expression and open discourse, our chapters will bring years of mobilization, activism and organizing among writing communities across the country to the next level,” PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement.  The Dallas/Fort Worth chapter, as well as others around the U.S. will be vehicles for “pushing back against the breakdown of civil discourse, the marginalization of vital voices, and encroachments on press freedom.”

This shouldn’t be a surprised to anyone familiar with U.S. politics.  I’ve noticed over the years that, any time a conservative Republican lands in the White House, free speech and freedom of the press come under attack.  They have no problems loosening gun laws and sending our military to fight stupid wars (as if there’s such a thing as a “smart” war).  But, when it comes to education, health care and even voting, conservatives suddenly feel the need to debate the matter.

Regardless of how hard we have to fight to ensure the rights to free speech and freedom of the press, we will always take up the torch of liberty and justice.

Everyone has a story and everyone needs to be heard.

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Banned Books Week 2018

Many social movements begin with the simplest of acts.  In the fall of 1975, a group of parents called Parents of New York United complained to a local school board that school policies on library books were too “permissive.”  Among the offensive tomes were Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five” and Langston Hughes’ “Best Short Stories by Negro Writers,” which, the parents moaned, were “anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic and just plain filthy.”  In response, the school district removed the books in February of 1976.  But a senior high school student, Steven Pico, and four classmates challenged the board’s decision; claiming the books were removed simply because “passages in the books offended [the group’s] social, political, and moral tastes and not because the books, taken as a whole, were lacking in educational value.”  Other libraries and free speech organizations filed briefs on the students’ behalf, and the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1982 as Island Trees School District v. Pico.

While many parents surely were upset that a group of high school kids had the audacity to circumvent their authority, the more significant issue was the school board’s actions.  And, on a grander scale, who has the right to determine what is acceptable and unacceptable?

As the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once declared, “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so.  But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.”

Shortly after the SCOTUS reversal of the aforementioned school board’s decision, “Banned Books Week” was founded.  Since then it has grown into an international event with the goal of ensuring that true freedom begins with our ability and the right to read and see pretty much whatever we want.  There’s a reason, after all, why the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is first.

Like any legitimate scribe, I strongly support the right to free speech and free expression.  We in these democratic societies don’t often appreciate the importance of it.  But speak with anyone who grew up in a totalitarian state – where people are told what to read and how to think – and you’ll realize the value of it.

Sadly this battle will never be won.  We will ALWAYS have to combat those who feel that, since they’re offended by something, no else should have access to it either.  In the current chaos of extreme political correctness and assaults on the media by a deranged American president, none of us should have to tolerate the narrow-minded choices of others.

Keep writing and keep fighting!

Banned Books Week runs this year from September 23 – 29.

Frequently Challenged Books

Ten Most Challenged Books Lists

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