Tag Archives: free speech

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 – June 12, 2021

Ruben Bolling

Sen. Joe Manchin

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Best Announcement of the Week – June 5, 2021

Last month, Facebook’s Oversight Board upheld a two-year suspension of former President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts following his praise for people engaged in violence at the Capitol on January 6.

“We are suspending his accounts for two years, effective from the date of the initial suspension on January 7 this year,” Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs for Facebook, said in a blog post.

The announcement read, in part:

“We are today announcing new enforcement protocols to be applied in exceptional cases such as this, and we are confirming the time-bound penalty consistent with those protocols which we are applying to Mr. Trump’s accounts. Given the gravity of the circumstances that led to Mr. Trump’s suspension, we believe his actions constituted a severe violation of our rules which merit the highest penalty available under the new enforcement protocols. We are suspending his accounts for two years, effective from the date of the initial suspension on January 7 this year.”

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Political Cartoon of the Week – February 13, 2021

Khalil Bendib

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Video of the Week – January 30, 2021

Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Green stalked and verbally assailed David Hogg, a survivor of the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, earlier this week.  The alphamore congresswoman from Georgia ran and apparently won on her far-right extremist views, including that recent school shootings were hoaxes designed to restrict gun.  Like most right-wing idiots, Taylor-Green puts guns above the value of human lives.  For his part, young Mr. Hogg showed true character by ignoring the screeching banshee following him.

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Worst Quotes of the Week – January 30, 2021

“This is what happens when you govern by pen and phone.  The jobs of hard working Americans are sacrificed in the name of environmental activism.”

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), criticizing the number of executive orders President Joe Biden has signed, including cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline

“Sadly, free speech is a notion that is increasingly radical to the liberal left.  I do not plan on leaving, and I need your help to fight back against this attack on free speech.”

Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX), on being removed from the Board of Trustees for Texas Christian University (TCU) because he voted against certifying Joe Biden as president

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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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Worst Quotes of the Week – September 19, 2020

“It will start getting cooler.  Just you watch. . . . I don’t think science knows.”

President Donald Trump, in response to a reporter’s question about climate change causing wildfires in the Western U.S.

“You know, putting a national lockdown, stay at home orders, is like house arrest.  Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history.”

U.S. Attorney General William Barr, addressing a Constitution Day celebration hosted by Hillsdale College.

The event’s host asked Barr to explain the “constitutional hurdles for forbidding a church from meeting during Covid-19.”  Barr had recently suggested that Sedition Act charges should be carried out against some protestors – even peaceful ones – to maintain the traditional “law and order” status quo conservatives demand every time civil unrest breaks out over civil injustice.  It’s ironic he made his comments during Constitution Day, since the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution covers free speech.

“The blue states had tremendous death rates.  If you take the blue states deaths out, we are at a level I don’t think anybody in the world would be at.”

Donald Trump, noting the slow decline of positivity case rates and hospitalizations while touting the overall federal response to the outbreak at a White House press briefing.

The pandemic has taken nearly 200,000 American lives so far.  Aside from claiming that “blue states” (those with Democratic governors) are insignificant, I’m equally appalled he ended his sentence with a preposition – more proof he’s an idiot.

“I think he made a mistake when he said that.  It’s just incorrect information and I called him and he didn’t tell me that and I think he got the message maybe confused, maybe it was stated incorrectly.  We’re ready to go immediately as the vaccine is announced and it could be announced in October, it could be announced a little bit after October but once we go we’re ready.”

Donald Trump, referring to Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the importance of wearing masks and the timing for a vaccine.

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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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Worst Quote of the Week – June 12, 2020

“This may be a lot of things, this moment we are living through, but it is definitely not about Black lives – and remember that when they come for you, and at this rate, they will.”

Tucker Carlson, railing against the Black Lives Matter movement.

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