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Old 02-19-2018, 08:21 AM   #1
sundialsvcs
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[Politics] Meddling with the First Amendment, and the Internet


The long-awaited criminal indictments have now been handed down, and it is my opinion that this should be of profound concern to the Internet community both within the USA and beyond. Allow me to explain.

One of the linchpin principles of American law, set forth in the First Amendment to the US Constitution, is the principle of "freedom of expression," set forth both in terms of the Press and of personal speech. As the Internet developed, with participants around the world and in every country, it was implicitly understood and expected that this principle would hold.

But more specifically – and, more ominous in what I consider to be an express challenge to it – is the freedom from repression. You are free to express an unpopular opinion. You are entitled to "speak (truth) to power." You are entitled to challenge the ruling regime without fear of imprisonment for so doing.

And yet, these Russian citizens are now being threatened with exactly that (possible outcome).

The "crimes" of which these people are accused appear to me to be the following:
  • They made (Facebook) social-media posts, either personally or through the use of mass-mailing/mass-broadcast bots.
  • They bought (Facebook) social-media advertisements. (It remains to be seen whether Facebook will face prosecution for publishing them?)
  • They did not support the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. Instead, they supported the opposition candidate.
I believe that the final bullet-point is quite important. I consider the probability of any action – or even, of any notice – being taken to be zero had Hillary Clinton won the election, and/or if the advertisements and posts in question had been in favor of her. The message is clear: "Better watch what you say ... you're not free to speak ... say the 'wrong' thing and you might go to prison."

The words they casually throw down should be familiar to any student of tyranny: your message is "'dis'information," and you are "sowing 'discord.'" Simply stated, you're saying something that we don't want to have said, and you're going to go to Federal Prison for it.

It astonishes me that there seems to be no outcry, from every corner of the Internet universe and the American homeland, on this fundamental frontal assault on the "First" American freedom.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Queen Amadala (Star Wars):
"So that is how liberty dies – to thunderous applause."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Neimölller:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

Last edited by sundialsvcs; 02-19-2018 at 08:27 AM.
 
Old 02-19-2018, 08:43 AM   #2
jsbjsb001
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I don't think it takes much to know that Russia wanted Trump to win the election. I don't think it would have mattered in terms of the outcome of it, if the Russians didn't meddle in it. I think Trump still would have won it anyway, given the mood of particularly the working class. Which is why he won it.

I don't think it's right anywhere for any country to accept meddling in their elections by anybody. (or any other country) "foreign donations" are a another matter again.

The question is to my way of thinking, should people (foreign agents) who meddle, be charged?

From my stand point, yes they should face to same as anyone else in meddling in another country's affairs.

I don't see how it impacts on "Internet freedom" much, if at all.
 
Old 02-19-2018, 10:30 AM   #3
sundialsvcs
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But more to the point – exactly what is this thing they're calling, "meddling?" They're not declaring that someone tampered with millions of ballot boxes, because they full well know that most elections are still done by paper. Instead, and ominously (to me), what they seem to be objecting to is ... speaking your mind.

If you're an American, living in America, who wrote on a British blog that you think (say) that Charles should be the new King, aren't you "meddling," by this definition? Shouldn't British Intelligence come over here and arrest you for "meddling?" What if you feel so strongly that you buy an advertisement in a British newspaper? Certainly you have now committed a crime and should be locked-up in the Tower of London, along with the sales agent who sold the advertisement to you. (But on the other hand, if you'd written something that was favorable to the preferences of the ruling elite ...)

If you worked for an advertising agency, it would be infinitely worse because now you might be labeled an "American foreign-agent."

And you simply cannot say, "don't be silly, we're talking about Russians, not Britons!" The principle is exactly the same. These people, if they cannot shut down the Internet outright, would certainly prefer to muzzle it – especially the "world-wide" aspect of it. And this is the first, innocent-looking step in that direction.

One of the fundamental lessons to be learned in a study of historic tyranny is that "they always start small," and that "they always say that the country is somehow being threatened." (Hence my first quote from the fictional Queen.) Don't look too closely at what we're saying or attempting to do because these are Trade Unionists "foreign nationals agents," and Russian!™ But then, little by little, they begin to expand their grip, hoping that you will continue to look the other way until – "and then, they came for me."

If you are a student of history, it is extremely informative to study just how the Nazis seized complete control of Germany. They didn't do it overnight. And some of them, particularly Hermann Göering, were quite forthright in their debriefings, even on the eve of their deaths. To severely paraphrase the well-known quote:
Quote:
But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along. [...] Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked [...]. It works the same way in any country.”
Yes, there are people in this country who are very angry at the outcome of the last election and who are extremely aware of the influence that The Internet in particular had upon both it and in many other things that they now fear losing control over. These people are well-schooled in history and in the science of persuasion and mass psychology. In America, they're also determined to find enemies and to start wars wherever they can find them – having just spent $3 Trillion dollars in which "much more than you realize of it" is headed straight to the war-machine ... and to themselves. Their budget is bottomless, and their influence on policy in Washington DC is right now absolute. "History repeats itself." Never be fool enough to think that "your country" is immune to it or has risen above it.

- - -
Now, if you'll please pardon me, someone's knocking on the door ...

Last edited by sundialsvcs; 02-19-2018 at 10:36 AM.
 
Old 02-19-2018, 11:16 AM   #4
rob.rice
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I'm of 2 minds on this one
on one hand yes people should be able to say what thay want
on the other hand supporting trump should be considered a crime ageist humanity

Last edited by rob.rice; 02-19-2018 at 11:17 AM.
 
Old 02-19-2018, 11:51 AM   #5
DavidMcCann
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No doubt some USians will resent my interference, but what do I care?

Nobody has ever interpreted the First Amendment as allowing you to say anything you like. As Holmes said, it doesn't give you the right to make a false call of "fire" in a crowded theatre. Nor is it a licence to commit slander or libel. Of course it does give you the right to shout racist or homophobic abuse in the street — lucky you!

Actually, I doubt that the Russian actions achieved much. The sort of people who believe what they read on Facebook are the sort of deplorables who'd vote for The Donald anyway. As for him, he should be disqualified from the human race.
 
Old 02-19-2018, 12:33 PM   #6
dugan
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I thought the First Amendment only applied to U.S. citizens?

The Russians being indicted are not (AFAIK) U.S. citizens.

Last edited by dugan; 02-19-2018 at 06:44 PM. Reason: grammar
 
Old 02-19-2018, 06:32 PM   #7
sundialsvcs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dugan View Post
I thought the First Amendment only applied to U.S. citizens?
The Russians being indicted are not (AFAIK) not U.S. citizens.
... but, "this is only the first step." (And it may well be that non-citizens were specifically chosen for this first test.)

The "crime" of which these people are accused is to have made Internet posts – and to have purchased Internet advertisements – in support of a particular political candidate in a particular country. Furthermore, (IMHO) the odds are extremely good that no one would have paid attention to them if "the other candidate" had won. And, certainly, no one would have paid attention to "the other party" if they, having lost the election, had voiced any similar complaints.

No, I think that the essence of this entire thing is "the first, innocent-sounding stages ..." of classical tyranny. The squelching of expression that is contrary to the then-established political order by means of throwing the outspoken people into prison.

But also – the shutting-down of the world-wide aspect of "WWW." We're going to impose a blanket of censorship around the boundaries of the USA, in order to "protect" everyone inside of it from "disinformation."

This is how it begins. Open your history-books and start reading, before those books encounter "Fahrenheit 451." There isn't too much that is actually new in those history-books, and "America is not immune."
 
Old 02-19-2018, 07:24 PM   #8
scasey
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sundialsvcs: I had not considered the concerns you’ve brought up. Thank you for doing so.

I thought the indictments were a good thing. Maybe not.

If any ever result in a trial (doubtful) we can only hope [expect] that the points you’ve made will come out.

Meantime, we all need to be aware (beware)!!
Thanks again.

Last edited by scasey; 02-19-2018 at 07:26 PM.
 
Old 02-19-2018, 07:40 PM   #9
ChuangTzu
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This is political theatrics at its best (or worst depending on your persuasion).

A few caveats to add:

* the indictments will go nowhere
* the so called meddling began around 2014, two years before Trump announced his campaign, so this was not designed to benefit him (at least not at first)
* the so called Russian collusion involved a company that had deep ties to the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign
* Clinton Foundation was knee deep in all types of collusion and corruption
* Obama regime actually did meddle with elections starting around 2012 via IRS and FBI
* Remember when the DNC was caught rigging the primaries against Bernie Sanders (Is that not election fraud and collusion?)
* Trump was asked many times during primaries and during election if he would accept the results of the election if he were to lose....Interesting that Hillary was not asked this and the left wing as well as some on the right both cannot accept the results.
* Democracy is not about only respecting the process when "our or my" person wins, its respecting the process regardless, actually rights become even more important when we ensure that they apply equally even to those we do not like or agree with, ie: free speech etc...

The list is alot longer, and no I am not a Trump supporter, I do not identify with any political party, if I did it would be more libertarian, but who they choose to run for higher offices tends to be a joke.

PS: You are living under a rock or delusional if you honestly think the US, UK governments etc... do not actively meddle in the elections and free will of other countries...happens all the time.

Last edited by ChuangTzu; 02-19-2018 at 07:42 PM.
 
Old 02-20-2018, 06:04 AM   #10
jsbjsb001
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sundialsvcs View Post
But more to the point – exactly what is this thing they're calling, "meddling?" They're not declaring that someone tampered with millions of ballot boxes, because they full well know that most elections are still done by paper. Instead, and ominously (to me), what they seem to be objecting to is ... speaking your mind.
Well, that's the question. I think a better question would be... what's the legal definition for it?

I don't know BTW.

Quote:
If you're an American, living in America, who wrote on a British blog that you think (say) that Charles should be the new King, aren't you "meddling," by this definition? Shouldn't British Intelligence come over here and arrest you for "meddling?" What if you feel so strongly that you buy an advertisement in a British newspaper? Certainly you have now committed a crime and should be locked-up in the Tower of London, along with the sales agent who sold the advertisement to you. (But on the other hand, if you'd written something that was favorable to the preferences of the ruling elite ...)

If you worked for an advertising agency, it would be infinitely worse because now you might be labeled an "American foreign-agent."
I think that's called "commentating", not "meddling". But sure, probably is a fine line somewhere there - once again, without knowing what the legal basis is there, hard for me to say where the fine line is.

Quote:
And you simply cannot say, "don't be silly, we're talking about Russians, not Britons!" The principle is exactly the same. These people, if they cannot shut down the Internet outright, would certainly prefer to muzzle it – especially the "world-wide" aspect of it. And this is the first, innocent-looking step in that direction.
I don't think they have taken the blue pill yet.

...
Quote:
Now, if you'll please pardon me, someone's knocking on the door ...
Don't tell me they were THAT quick... ...only kidding sundial.
 
Old 02-20-2018, 08:12 AM   #11
sundialsvcs
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Another principle of this kind of tyranny – and I use the word carefully and purposely – is: "When taking your first shot, do not aim directly at the target that you intend to hit." First you must establish the rot, so subtly that the public doesn't notice. Then, you can grow it.

These people fully understand that "Russians" will never come to trial. But, that's not their purpose here. Their purpose is to establish precedent.
  • To chip away at the edges of the First Amendment by declaring that certain "freedom of speech," by certain individuals, "is a Federal crime."
  • Likewise to say that certain forms of "freedom of the Press" are a crime.
  • To muzzle Internet forums, blogs, and social-media sites – and to exert pressure upon them to muzzle themselves for fear of prosecution. (Facebook is now talking about "postcards.") What would you think if the owners of LQ started taking-down posts that appeared to be in support of one candidate, but felt no such pressure for posts in support of the other? What would you think if they did that to avoid going to prison?
  • To establish the means by which those who want to (once again) "control the message" can do so. Backers of Hillary Clinton spent more than $3 billion dollars on media but did not manage to own the message. They have not forgotten that.
  • To build up, in every way possible, that "the Russians" (etc) are evil enemies of Mom and Apple Pie The American Way,™ such that we should continue to spend trillions of dollars on the military-industrial complex "defense" and not a dime on making it possible for Americans to go to the hospital without risking personal bankruptcy.

It has not escaped my attention that the word they've always used is, "meddling," and that no one has yet uttered "First Amendment" or even voiced any apparent opposition to it. (I know that this is not really the case.) People seem to be content to ignore it or to laugh at it, waiting for it to blow over, but this is no laughing matter. There is abundant historical precedent for this very, very dangerous but very familiar road.
 
  


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