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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Right-wing to Dissenters: Shut Up

If there is one thing that the right wing conservative nutballs hate, it is dissent. Bush and his cabinet, and even more so their television and radio spokespeople that dominate the airwaves, have been telling us repeatedly since the Sept. 11 attacks that it is unpatriotic to criticize the government during war.

Rather than engage and debate the issues raised by those opposed to war or even just opposed to invading Iraq (while still supporting other wars and invasions), the right waves the flag and calls its opposition traitors and such. The goal is to associate opposing views with criminal acts and to frighten/bully dissenters into silence.

Michael Moore, whose Fahrenheit 911 movie exposed how Bush ignored the threats from Osama bin Laden and then exploited the Sept. 11 attacks to invade a country not involved in the attacks, is of course the left-wing commie pinko poster child for all of the Archie Bunkeresque commentators and politicians.

Enter David T. Hardy, a lawyer who filed a complaint against UF and several other universities last year after they booked Moore to speak. He claims the universities broke federal campaign laws because Moore was trying to influence the outcome of the 2004 presidential election.

On Monday, the university answered the complaint, and unless sanity is on holiday, the case will be handily dismissed. Not withstanding the fact that UF (and I imagine the other schools involved in the case) bring speakers from all political ideologies, there are no laws governing such speech, except of course the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which specifically protect our freedom of speech.

I am sure that Hardy's intent is not to win the case or set some precedent, unless he is one to wear tin foil hats and paper his walls with magazine cutouts of Moore, which would not surprise me. His intent more likely is to make UF and other schools think twice about booking someone like Moore because it might lead to the type of hassle right-wing lawyers like to create – namely a lawsuit or government complaint.

If you are one of my conservative readers (I have millions, I am sure of it), then just think of it this way. If a Democrat lawyer filed the same complaint about New York Gov. George Patatki's speech last fall, in which he urged people to vote for President Bush, how would you react?

I will say this. If somehow Hardy wins this, I am immediately going to file the same type of complaint against Fox News, MSNBC, CNN and every media outlet I can find for doing the same exact type of thing for Bush.

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