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Newt Gingrich Says Free Speech May Be Forfeit 894

Posted by kdawson
from the cain't-let-the-terrists-use-the-internets dept.
At a dinner honoring those who stand up for freedom of speech, former House speaker Newt Gingrich issued his opinion that the idea of free speech in the U.S. needs to be re-examined in the interest of fighting terrorism. Gingrich said a "different set of rules" may be needed to reduce terrorists' ability to use the Internet and free speech to recruit and get out their message. The article has few details of what Gingrich actually said beyond the summary above, and no analysis pointing out how utterly clueless the suggestion is given the Internet's nature and trans-national reach.
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Newt Gingrich Says Free Speech May Be Forfeit

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  • Their America? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by blanks (108019) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @02:38PM (#17020674) Homepage Journal
    Why is it people like this are in charge of running America?
  • Thank God (Score:2, Interesting)

    by otacon (445694) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @02:40PM (#17020726)
    Thank God he isn't the speaker of the House anymore. It's scary when someone in power has an opinion about technology that they know nothing about.
  • Re:Their America? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by avronius (689343) * on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @02:52PM (#17021038) Homepage Journal
    It's uncanny how recent law changes and the subsequent cries for more control and less freedom in the US mimic the changes that take place in "Animal Farm"...

    It appears that Newt is just another pig, and the American constituency are the remainder of the barnyard animals. You need to find some mules with voices to nip this in the bud before it goes any further.
  • Relevant Quote (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MrCopilot (871878) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @03:02PM (#17021284) Homepage Journal
    Democracy... while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.
    John Adams

    I nominate Newt as democracy's first victim.

  • Re:Their America? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dan828 (753380) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @03:05PM (#17021346)
    He's politically radioactive after shutting down the government in budget battles with Clinton.

    Which I've never understood. Shutting down the government showed people some things-- the biggest was that much of the government is superfluous, and that having a good amount of the government not working didn't effect much. The press was all in a titter looking for the horrible effects of the government shutdown, and the most the were able to find was that a few people couldn't get passports and government workers weren't getting paid. That more than anything else is what got the politicians to hammer out a deal. It wasn't that the government had ground to a hault, it was that it had ground to a hault and it wasn't effecting much. They had to get it started up again before voters realized that much of the bureaucracy isn't needed. It must have scared the hell out of the politicians and the bureaucraticic drones.
  • Re:Their America? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @03:15PM (#17021542) Homepage Journal
    Shutting down the government showed people some things-- the biggest was that much of the government is superfluous, and that having a good amount of the government not working didn't effect much.
    Actually, that's an insanely revisionist view. The reason shutting down the government was an unmitigated disaster for the Republicans (and killed the "Contract With^H^H^H^HOn America" stone dead, was that people did miss it.

    They missed libraries, and museums, and all the tiny little things. If it was such a success, why did the Republicans back down so quickly, and how come Clinton was re-elected (the very thing it was designed to prevent?)
  • Re:Their America? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by coaxial (28297) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @03:31PM (#17021958) Homepage
    No. It pissed everyone off because:

    1. It was done out of spite and stubornness. Things don't get that bad without a complete failure of compromise and statemenship.
    2. It should people just how much they depended on the government.

    People get pissed when things don't work. Not when everything is going fine. And in the end, Gingrich's stunt backfired. His, and the rest of GOP's, popular support fell like a rock, and he ended up getting nothing more than what was originally offered. It was a spectacular failure, and led to him being him being voted in several polls "the most hated man in politics."
  • Re:Their America? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @03:38PM (#17022138) Journal
    I am not surprised. The sad part about all this is that many in America will accept this. Hopefully, it remains a minority. But as 9/11 showed, all it takes is for an attack to take place on our soil. And all that requires is for the right (or wrong) ppl to ignore some evidence again.

    Many have shown that we value their lives more than they value their rights or others lives and their rights. We must get rid of the "They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong." or "I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace." and return to the days of "I regret that I have one life to give for my country" or "We have nothing to fear, but fear itself" or "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."
  • by advocate_one (662832) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @03:49PM (#17022356)
    and basically their answer is... tough shit... we've got the power little guy...
  • by GreyyGuy (91753) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @03:50PM (#17022374)
    I had to laugh at that, given that his party was in charge when we DID lose a city. Too bad no one could figure out how to tie Mother Nature to terrorists.

    I read the rest of the article and it is all him setting himself up for a presidential campaign. The part about getting rid of the separation of church and state, and stating that Bush has failed in Iraq after the entire rest of the world finally came around to admitting it are hardly impressive.

    I know a lot of intelligent people with paper to show it. It doesn't make 'em smart or worthy of listening to on any topic other then what they are papered in. In this case, I would be glad to hear his opinions on Western European History which is what his PhD is in.
  • Re:doesnt get it... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by yankpop (931224) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @04:10PM (#17022808)

    This is a bit of American civic theory that I've never understood. You claim that free speech and the right to bear arms are necessary to enable you to violently overthrow your government. But doesn't violently overthrowing your government also fall under the definition of treason and/or terrorism? How do you tell the difference?

    It's an honest question. I'm not American, and this has never made sense to me. That may also be partly due to the fact that it often seems that the people most vocal in defense of their right to bear arms are also very vocal about support for the president, at least the one currently in office.

    yp.

  • Re:doesnt get it... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Coryoth (254751) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @04:24PM (#17023084) Homepage Journal
    I think maybe you don't get it. Small arms are effective for a civil war. It's not like the government can nuke cities within its own borders without creating even more rebels elsewhere. Also, in most civil conflicts a significant portion of the military sides with each faction. So the guns they have are also the guns we have, in some proportion.

    I believe the point is this: if you have a small scale uprising then small arms won't help, you'll get branded as terrorists, get little sympathy from the general populace, and at best provide a nuisance; if you have a large scale uprising then you can be just as effective without small arms in the hands of ordinary citizens - just having mass protests with people standing up nd saying "No" will do the job as well as anything else.

    Let's analyse this more closely to see what I'm getting at. If you don't have general widespread support then at best you can run a rolling guerilla campaign like, say, the insurgents in Iraq or Afghanistan (though much of the violence in Iraq is sectarian violence attacking civilians). You might like to point out that the insurgents in Iraq are doing well - except they are not threatening to overthrow Iraq, not while the US military remains there. The threat is that the attrition will affect the attitudes of the US populace and result in a withdrawal of forces. You're not going to get that when you're fighting a war in the US with US civilians as the collateral damage of the conflict. Either you have the support of the general populace, or you don't. If you don't then you'll quickly acquire the ire of the general populace, and their support for the government to use stronger and harsher methods to eliminate you. The more violent you get, the less likely you are to gain support from the general populace.

    Now let's presume you have much more widespread consensus that the government needs to be overthrown - say a significant percentage of the total population. If all those people, instead of arming themselves, simply take to the streets in coordinated mass protest calling for a change in government and or refusing to follow government directives then what is the government to do? If we presume an authoritarian government which wishes to suppress such protest or dissent, or that needs to enforce its directives then they can send in troops - but what are the troops to do? The more harshly you try to suppress the protestors the less likely the military are to follow the orders given. The military is unlikely to fire on unarmed peaceful protestors. In the few cases where that does happen then that will do far more to win the general populace to your cause than having armed violent protestors shot. As you point out, the government using violence is only going to create more rebels. In the end you will have the military refusing to follow the orders of the government, and that is victory for the revolution - the government no longer has any power.

    All of this, of course, presumes freedom of speech. If there is no freedom of speech and free press then the government can violently suppress protest with little concern for any repurcussion: think Tiananmen square. Thus certainly the right to free speech is worth defending. The right to bear arms, however, is no longer terribly significant in doing that - not while there is a well equipped permanently standing army in the US.
  • by Scudsucker (17617) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @04:30PM (#17023202) Homepage Journal
    There is no #1 without #2.

    As Olberman makes clear [youtube.com], the Bill of Rights is pretty much worthless without habeas corpus. And as far as standing up to the Feds goes, why don't you ask Randy Weaver how well his guns worked for him.

    Of all the things that the ACLU stands for, this is one I have NEVER seen them stand for.

    I'm sorry, but this one is quite obvious. Why should the ACLU, an organization concerned with civil liberties, spend precious recourses on 2nd Amendment cases when the NRA, one of the largest and most powerful organizations in the country, is ONLY concerned with gun rights? Except when they aren't. [theagitator.com] It's been five years since cops broke into the man's home w/o a warrant, and I have yet to hear a peep out of the NRA on his behalf. Nor have I heard any "gun nuts" complain about the NRA not supporting this guy, but I still see complaints about the ACLU. Hmmm....
  • Re:doesnt get it... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @05:04PM (#17023850)

    I believe the point is this: if you have a small scale uprising then small arms won't help, you'll get branded as terrorists, get little sympathy from the general populace, and at best provide a nuisance; if you have a large scale uprising then you can be just as effective without small arms in the hands of ordinary citizens - just having mass protests with people standing up nd saying "No" will do the job as well as anything else.

    First, who is to say what is small and what is large? What if you have a medium sized uprising? Second, no a large scale uprising without firearms won't work just as well. If you are no danger to the people in charge and the people enforcing their wished (police or military) then they can just round up and shoot you. Take a look at Nazi Germany for an example.

    You might like to point out that the insurgents in Iraq are doing well - except they are not threatening to overthrow Iraq, not while the US military remains there.

    While it is not their main goal, they are threatening to force the US out of Iraq, not through sheer force of arms but through a combination of attrition and the political response to that attrition.

    You're not going to get that when you're fighting a war in the US with US civilians as the collateral damage of the conflict. Either you have the support of the general populace, or you don't.

    Not so. The more people that are killed or imprisoned the more people will disapprove of your actions and you lose that approval.

    The more violent you get, the less likely you are to gain support from the general populace.

    This doesn't matter if your goal is not to gain power for yourself but to remove those in power. The people can simultaneously disapprove of the resistance and the existing regime that causes the resistance and cannot effectively suppress it. And if they do effectively suppress it, the means will likely lose them even more support.

    If all those people, instead of arming themselves, simply take to the streets in coordinated mass protest calling for a change in government and or refusing to follow government directives then what is the government to do?

    So far, building one of the largest police forces and prison systems in the world and locking them all up in prison has worked. It's called "the war on drugs" remember?

    The more harshly you try to suppress the protestors the less likely the military are to follow the orders given.

    So here are two things you're missing. An armed resistance can present more resistance for the same number of people. An unarmed people can be pacified without resorting to shooting them, which is what is most likely to cause the military to stop. The threat to the soldiers is also a factor. A soldier does not want to go onto the streets and shoot it out with some 16 year old kid, endangering his own life in the process in order to promote something they do not believe in. That same soldier might be willing to go use CS gas to pacify the teenager without killing them and ship them to a detention facility.

    All of this, of course, presumes freedom of speech. If there is no freedom of speech and free press then the government can violently suppress protest with little concern for any repurcussion: think Tiananmen square.

    But if the government does effectively suppress free speech, you probably won't know. An armed resistance is a necessary check in our system of checks and balances both as a deterrent and as an indication of when other rights may have been silently lost.

    We'll have to agree to disagree on this one. But keep in mind, the right to bear arms has already been used to overthrow local government oppression.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @06:46PM (#17025786) Homepage
    Barbaric bastards that are killing innocent people?

    You've probably only lived on this block of land [the USA]... well, so have I. But even I have been able to see things from a different perspective. We are *NOT* the white-hat-wearing heros we always thought we were. Right now, the general populace seems to feel that freedom is terrific as long as you are doing what 'they' think you should be doing. You can say anything you want, as long as it's 'appropriate.' As for killing innocents?

    The U.S., by having started the blood bath that is Iraq, is responsible for more innocent lives being lost both directly and indirectly, than has been seen for quite a long time. Our "Christian" ('thou shalt not kill' and 'turn the other cheek') hypocrisy knows no bounds as we send off thousands to kill and be killed. What should we have been doing all this time?

    Minding our own damned business!!! We're great at being oil customers. They love us over there otherwise... if we weren't supporting Israel, meddling with all their governments, toppling leaders and putting new ones in their place and on and on and on. Frankly, we're a bunch of jackasses stirring up trouble in the world all because we have money and political interests in places where we don't have any business being.

    No, it doesn't help that so many people are trying to make a war about money into a war about religious ideals, but from where I sit, we in the US started it and we perpetuate it. And if we and other nations didn't sell weapons to them, they wouldn't be nearly the dangerous folk that they are today. It's ALL our doing.
  • by diablovision (83618) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @06:59PM (#17026018)
    Perhaps you could ask the hundreds of millions of people caught behind the Iron Curtain. You know--Poland, East Germany, Hungary, Romania. You remember that, right? When the Soviets claimed all of Eastern Europe as their own, their empire, after WWII? When they installed puppet communist governments, nationalized everything, starved millions, tortured, killed, imprisoned, and disappeareed thousands? Is that why they built the Berlin wall? To keep all those filthy Westerners from flowing into the opulent east?
  • by edbarbar (234498) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @12:18AM (#17029100)

    Except when it comes to insensitive language at our places of learning.

    Except in the workplace, where even facts might cause a hostile working environment (have a frank chat about the Koran and see if that is hostile, for instance).

    Except by the use of the race card to silence ideas and opinions in politics.

    Even /. readers will mark this down as flamebait because the truth hurts, and trying to silence opposition is the /. way.

    Meanwhile, all the man said was that the world has changed and we may need to revisit freedom of speech. Since he hasn't said anything about how to restructure the freedom of speech, how can anyone fault what he said? He didn't say "eliminate it," you know. Given the article didn't delve much into his reasoning, nor any way in which he might want to restructure freedom of speech, it seems silly to be in opposition.

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