Patterico's Pontifications


As Far As Phil Knows, Patterico Is a Hypocrite

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:41 am

Phil, a commenter, former journalist, and current liberal, says in a comment to my post about Howard Dean’s thuggish threat to ABC’s broadcast license:

On one hand, I agree that the very idea of censorship is anti-democratic.

On the other hand, I have to laugh at anyone who claims that Dean’s antics, or the yammering of any of the individuals speaking out against this film are a “democrat” phenominon. This is politics as usual in America.

Just look at the reaction to F/911, the successful effort to get CBS to quash “The Reagans,” and the current efforts to make the FBI the nation’s morality police by bringing obscenity prosecutions against porn producers. All the efforts of factions of the Republican party to control speech. As far as I know, none have been met with outrage on this blog.

(My emphasis.)

Phil’s “as far as I know” formulation is another way of saying: “I have no idea whether this is true, but I really want to suggest that it is.”

Let’s look at his examples.

Phil assumes, without researching the issue or asking me about it, that I never expressed any outrage at government efforts relating to “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Well, I am familiar with only one, and I vigorously opposed it. Phil, let me acquaint you with a post of mine from June 2004 titled “Wherein I Defend Michael Moore’s Right to Speak, and Other Topics Raised by Kevin Murphy.” In that post, I linked to a post by Kevin Murphy, who had noted that

the advisory counsel for the FEC has advised the Commission that, in his opinion, the McCain-Feingold law prevents Michael Moore from advertising his film “Fahrenheit 9/11″ after July 30, 2004.

(All emphasis in original.)

I was appalled by this, and said so in the post:

I am not joking.

I’ll bet a lot of you thought I was being hysterical when I equated McCain-Feingold with the repeal of the First Amendment. How do you feel now? — now that there is a serious possibility that a filmmaker cannot advertise his film because it contains speech calculated to encourage people to oppose a sitting president?

I despise Michael Moore. But people like Kevin Murphy and me believe that jerks like Michael Moore have the right to make whatever ridiculous arguments they wish to make. And if those arguments are made in a film, and Moore or the distributor of his film wish to promote that film, they have that right under the First Amendment.

But as far as Phil knows, I never wrote that post at all!

By the way, there is zero evidence that the FEC’s opinion was promoted or shared by Bush. It appears to have been nothing more than an FEC lawyer’s analysis of the unconstitutional McCain/Feingold law. Indeed, as I noted in my earlier post:

The irony is that, if the FEC adopts this position, it will be seen as a partisan move by “The Bush Administration” rather than as a logical application of a clearly unconstitutional law passed mainly by Democrats. (By the way, the phrase “it will be seen as” means “it will be portrayed by our eminently objective national media as.”)

On Phil’s example of the government fighting porn: I don’t really get terribly upset about First Amendment principles in this area; I think the right to publish genuinely obscene material is somewhat less important than the right to name specific candidates within 60 days of an election. What does offend me is the government spending resources fighting porn when there is terrorism to fight.

This is why, in September 2005, I wrote a post titled “Lucky for Us We Already Won the War on Terror . . . Now Onto the War on Porn!” in which I said:

Ace explains better than anyone else could why providing federal agents to fight porn is not a terribly high priority. What with the terrorism, and the thing.

As far as Phil knows, I never wrote this post — because he didn’t research to see what my position was, and he didn’t ask me. He just made an assumption about me and proceeded forward based on that assumption.

As to the “Reagans”: I am unfamiliar with any government coercion used to shut down the “Reagans” program, which I didn’t plan to watch and didn’t care about. Do you have evidence of such government coercion, Phil? If so, I’ll be happy to condemn it — but somehow, I don’t think you do.

I say all of this not to pick on Phil. He’s a relatively new commenter and I welcome him (though not his incorrect assumptions). It’s tempting to make a snarky comment about journalists making assumptions, but that might not be entirely fair.

I say this not to pick on Phil, but rather to make three points.

First, for those of you who are not long-time readers of this blog, you should know that I am a staunch defender of free speech, and I condemn attacks on it from all quarters.

Second, while I am sure that there are examples of similar behavior from Republicans, I believe that these thuggish attacks tend to come more often from Democrats than Republicans. Where was the Bush threat to CBS’s broadcast license after Rathergate? I see a pattern on the part of Democrats to threaten people with government action when they don’t like the content of their speech. I believe that this is because rabid Democrats tend to be more self-righteous about their beliefs, and the allegedly evil and heartless character of those who disagree with them — and can therefore rationalize thuggish tactics as being for the greater good.

Third — to new readers: please don’t stereotype me. If you want to know what my position is on something, don’t simply make assumptions and proceed on them. I have been blogging since February 2003 and my position on a number of issues is on the record. Research the archives — or just ask me. You might be surprised by what I tell you.

12 Responses to “As Far As Phil Knows, Patterico Is a Hypocrite”

  1. Patrick,

    It doesn’t matter what you say – leftists’ minds are already made up. Why bother with facts?

    steve miller (134156)

  2. Well written post, P. If Phil is open minded, and he might be, otherwise where is the true in the half-truism that, “If you’re under 30 and are not a liberal you have no heart; if you’re over 30 and still a liberal you have no brain”?

    Cheek, tongue and all that so chill, dawg.

    Chris from Victoria, BC (9824e6)

  3. Scholastic, Inc. has now distanced itself from The Path to 9/11, but the chief of Scholastic, Richard Robinson, has donated lots of money to Democrats in the last three election cycles–including Senator Byron Dorgan, one of the five Democrats who signed the letter inplying that they’d review broadcast licenses. See all the public records here.

    Giuseppe (8343dc)

  4. Richard Robinson, chief of Scholastic, Inc., appears to have also given at least $40,000 to the DNC during the Bill Clinton re-election year of 1996 and $1,000 to another one of the signees of that outraged letter to ABC from five Democratic Senators–Senator Chuck Schumer, (D–NY). See public records here.

    Giuseppe (8343dc)

  5. But wait–there’s more.

    In the 1998 and 2000 election cycles, Richard Robinson of Scholastic, Inc., donated a total of almost $68,000 to various Democratic political recipients, including $2,000 to Schumer, and $2,000 to Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), and what appears to be at least $2,000 on behalf of the Democrat who ran for the US Senate from New York in 2000, Hillary Rodham Clinton. (The only Republican who got any of the $68,000 was Congressman Henry Hyde, R-ILL, who got $500.) See the public records here.

    Giuseppe (8343dc)

  6. Patrick,
    While you are occasionally prickly,I’m surprised by your willingness to consider facts that impinge on your opinions.I wish I could do it as well as you.And perhaps I could,if I were as honest with myself as you.Since i don’t want to have you accused of sock puppetry,I’ll sign my name.
    Colin Elliott

    Lincoln (c990a7)

  7. Hugh Hewitt has more examples of what he calls “seminar callers” who know nothing about the facts but who have gotten talking points from left wing organizations to use when calling “right wing talk shows.” His examples with two callers are hilarious.

    Mike K (f78551)

  8. Not that it matters, Mike, but didn’t Rush Limbaugh coin the term “seminar callers”?

    JVW (d667c9)

  9. But, see, the Democrats are the bearers of Truth and the Republicans mere spewers of Propaganda, so it’s really not the same thing! How can you seriously argue for “moral equivalence” when it comes to such basic issues of Good versus Evil?

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  10. Patterico:

    I suspect your full quotient of tact was insufficient; Phil seems to have departed in a Huff (a little known German minivan).

    However, if I had to guess, I would have been correct on each of your positions enunciated here. As a matter of fact, I share them (with the exception that I believe the FBI should continue to enforce all federal laws, even in a time of war, even with the terrorism thing — even laws that I personally oppose… such as those banning ordinary obscenity.

    What we see here is simple projection:

    Today’s mainstream Democrats literally have no principles: they don’t share those of the Democratic hawks of the 50s, such as Humphrey, Truman, Jackson, Gore sr.; nor are they comfortable with the radical principles of the New Left, exemplified by the SDS, the earlier Jane Fonda, the earlier Tom Hayden, Jerry Rubin, the earlier David Horowitz — and carried through into the “now” by Feingold, Sanders, Mfume, Pelosi, and suchlike.

    The mainstream Democrat is adrift on a sea of special pleading, with no moral compass to guide him and only a sunken ship of state (the Clinton presidency) beneath his feet. Thus, he seizes the first floating spar that passes by: the “Partei über Alles” plank.

    And by simple projection, they assume that Republicans must do the same. After all, nobody wants to think of himself as uniquely driven by momentary expedience and crass interest.

    But Republicans tend to believe more in eternal verities than do Democrats.

    (Why? Because if you believe in verities, then you necessarily must believe in an absolute right and absolute wrong, even if you believe fallible humans often misunderstand them; right and wrong implies rules that all must obey; and Democrats and rules of decorum and probity don’t work and play well together.)

    Thus, when Republicans violate those verities (or what we believe them to be), we squawk. Loudly. Witness the conservative hyperventilating about the Bush doctrine on immigration, affirmative action, the BCRA, the Dubai Ports deal, and Harriet Miers. (The current squirmishness of some Republicans about Iraq isn’t an example of this dynamic; that’s simple cowardice.)

    All of which means that today’s Republican is more principled than today’s Democrat, on average (individual exceptions abound, but that’s the way to bet). GOPers are more consistent; Democrats more hypocritical.


    Dafydd (6e94cd)

  11. […] Patterico’s Pontifications posts a response to a reader claiming he (Patterico) is only in favor of free speech when it benefits Republicans. This is soundly refuted by Patterico’s own post history, which he quotes in the blog entry. […]

    What the Heck was I Thinking!? :: More Thoughts on Suppression of Free Speech by Democrats :: September :: 2006 (2f634e)

  12. Thanks for addressing my comment, Patterico. And I do appreciate the opinions you pointed out. In fact, now that you mention it, I do remember the post you made on the McCain-Feingold law . . . I think I found it through another blog. I remember it becuase it did impress me as non-partisan. Sorry I forgot about it. In my defense, you are an extremely prolific blogger (I’ve been offline for two days, and this post is already a half-dozen articles down from the top). It’s hard to keep track of all your points of view.

    I still think this whole idea that ABC’s broadcast license was threatened is completely made up by conservatives to give them something to grouse about. On top of all the reasons I’ve stated before, it would be impossible to take away ABC’s license, as others have pointed out in this blogs comments.

    But nothing as silly as reality will stop blogger outrage when theres a juicy partisan meme to be chewed on. After all, if there wasn’t outrage, most political blogs would either cease to exist, or drastically reduce their publication frequency.

    Phil (4a2c26)

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