The Price We Pay For Free Speech …

In the immediate aftermath of Sunday night’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, many, including White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, told the nation that it would be disrespectful to open the conversation on gun regulation.  Most of us with any sense disagreed, and knew the motive for these statements, saw it for what it was, and we are actively calling for this to finally be the wake-up call this nation needs to realize that it is past time to make some changes.  But apparently there is no call for the conspiracy theorists to show respect, to wait a decent amount of time to spew their lies.  Take, for example, televangelist Pat Robertson (Idiot of the Week 07/29/2016)

Mr. Robertson has decided, presumably via some telekinetic message, that it is We The People, not gunman Stephen Paddock, who is to blame for the deaths of 59 people and the injuries of some 500+ others.  How can that be, you ask?  I was finishing up an email, some 1,959.8 miles from Las Vegas.  Most of you were probably asleep in your beds.  No matter … it was, according to the sighted Mr. Robertson, our fault.  Because … wait for it … we do not like Donald Trump!

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Pat Robertson

“Why is it happening? . . . The fact that we have disrespect for authority. There is profound disrespect of our president. All across this nation, they say terrible things about him. It’s in the news. It’s in other places. There is disrespect now for our national anthem, disrespect for our veterans, disrespect for the institutions of our government, disrespect for the court system. All the way up and down the line: disrespect. … Until there is Biblical authority, there has to be some controlling authority in our society and there is none. … When there is no vision of God, the people run amok. We have taken from the American people the vision of God.”

And there you have it, folks … it is our fault for saying ‘terrible things’ about Trump!  This means yours truly must also share in the blame, for I have said my share of ‘terrible (though true) things’ about that person, haven’t I?  I suppose I better get out of my jammies now, for they will be coming to arrest me at any time, and I would hate to be taken to jail in my Eeyore jammies!

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Wayne Allen Root

Robertson, of course, is not alone in his stupidity.  One who is joining him is columnist Wayne Allen Root (Idiot of the Week 05/31/2017) who quickly jumped to the conclusion … “This is real thing. Clearly coordinated Muslim terror attack. PRAY for our Vegas police. PRAY for victims. VERY bad. Awful.”  Even later, after it was widely reported that there is absolutely zero evidence of any connection to Islamic terrorism, Root did not back down, arguing that … “liberals assuming not Islamic terror attack in Vegas. No one knows motivation of killer or ‘Asian companion.’ On day of lone wolf terror.” And as recently as this morning, he tweeted, “Just like before 9/11. planned it…made a fortune on it. Killer no lone wolf. This was planned terror attack.”

And then there is YouTube whose ‘algorithm’ is more inclined to lead searchers to conspiracy theory videos of the shooting than to legitimate videos.  When questioned why such videos were promoted, YouTube simply stated that it did not violate their standards.  The videos number in the hundreds and include some that claim the shooting was a hoax perpetrated by a) the government, b) democrats, c) gun regulation supporters.  The videos are offensive to us all, but especially to the families of victims of the tragedy.  Yet they do not ‘violate the standards’?  In that case, there apparently are no standards.

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Alex Jones

And of course America’s favourite conspiracy theorist, the inventor of Pizzagate, Alex Jones had to weigh in, as we knew he would.  “The whole thing has the hallmarks of being scripted by Deep-State Democrats and their Islamic allies using mental-patient cutouts.”  He attempted to tie the tragedy to the 100-year anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution and also to the release from prison of O.J. Simpson the previous day.

Make no mistake … one person, Stephen Paddock, was responsible for the shootings in Las Vegas last Sunday night.  ONE PERSON.

The disturbing thing, as I have said many times before, is not that these fools spout their garbage, but that people actually buy into it, turning a tragedy into a feeding frenzy of idiocy.  For instance, one of the more ludicrous YouTube videos purporting that the shooting was a hoax staged by the government, received more than 250,000 views within the first 24 hours.  A quarter of a million people had nothing better to do than watch a doctored video clip of lies. Who are these people?  Do they not have jobs to go to, families to spend time with, friends and lives to live?  It makes a sad statement about humanity that so many are so bored with their lives.

And, of course, there is always the danger that somebody who is living in this fantasy world will feel obligated to take matters into their own hands, just as Edgar Maddison Welch did last December when he went on a shooting spree in Washington’s Comet Ping Pong pizzeria.

We cannot shut down the voices of conspiracy, for to do so would put us on the slippery slope toward losing our right to freedom of speech.  However, we must find ways to educate, to enlighten, so that people will seek real answers rather than accepting the most wildly concocted story.  And we must hold accountable those who perpetuate the theories for the end result of their words.  Aforementioned Edgar Welch received his sentence in June:  48 months in prison, an additional 36 months’ probation, and restitution of $5,744.33.  This is right and just, though mandatory psychiatric counseling should have, in my opinion, been added.  But what of Alex Jones, whose rhetoric inspired the delusional Mr. Welch?  Should not he, also, be held accountable?  Until there are consequences for the acts they inspire, people like Alex Jones, Pat Robertson and Wayne Root will continue raking in mass amounts of money and planting seeds of evil in the minds of the public.

 

39 thoughts on “The Price We Pay For Free Speech …

  1. So….if he is our fearless leader, we should emulate his actions, right? He talks smack and untruths about other people daily. So, in my estimation, those folks saying ‘bad things’ about him are just being good followers. Only they are speaking the truth. Give me a friggin break. There hasn’t been a sane word slip through Pat Robertson’s mouth in over 20 years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like the way you spun that one! And agreed … Pat Robertson is as big a crook as any and why people still follow him and, worse yet, give him their hard-earned money, is way beyond my comprehension. But then the same can be said of all these wealthy ‘televangalists’ … they should have lost their tax-exempt status years ago, for they are profiting in a major way … all one has to do is look at their lavish lifestyle, their houses …

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  2. Dear Jill,
    Folks like Pat Robertson do become rich by selling non-truths that have nothing to do with what his God would do.

    They sell fear and blaming those sinners. Well guess what we all are sinners including Mr. Robertson. In addition, his God created each and every one of us and loves each and every one of us.

    How do you treat his creation which includes the environment? Somehow, I am not impressed by the likes of a Pat Robertson.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that he tells the people, primarily the bigots and white supremacists, what they want to hear, and thus they not only applaud him, but also send him money! He, Osteen, Graham … in my book they are abominations. But, sigh, they have the same rights to spout their hate-filled message as you and I have to try to talk sense into people. And no, I am not in the least bit impressed with any of them. Hugs!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It would seem poor ancient Pat Robertson needs to retire and rest his brain. I wonder if he’s the best man of God Fox can hire? They need all the help they can get if that’s so. Of course, he might be related to someone from the network. That would help to explain it. There seems to be no lack of stupidity in the U.S.A. I’m not surprised at anything I see on YouTube these days. 😀 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

    • At the end of the day, it all boils down to 💵 💰. Fox hires Robertson because he already has a large following, though God knows why. And his followers are part of Trump’s base. They can deliver both money and votes. Sigh. I am not, as you know, religious, but I nonetheless find it sad that when all is said and done, religion is all about money … and power over people. Sigh.

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      • I’m religious but don’t think much of televangelists. I don’t trust any man of God who lives in luxury and keeps joyfully raking in the money while not going to be with the poor, spending time with them or helping them. I also don’t understand anyone who thinks DT is a great president. They’ve taken the wrong fork in the road somewhere. Going back to Jesus, he died for us. Enough said. —- Suzanne

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        • Yes, I thought the whole purpose of donating to a church or other religious organization was to help those less fortunate. That is the justification for their tax-exempt status. But rarely do I hear about any of these televangalists giving to victims of disaster, feeing the poor, setting up soup kitchens or homeless shelters. And I am sickened when I see the homes they live in and find their net worth. Somehow the donations they collect seem to be feeding the already-wealthy.

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  4. I am sorry, but in the interest of staying a balanced, caring, tolerant person, I refuse to listen to evangelists who spout their own form of hatreds and spiteful condemnations in the name of ‘God.’ Likewise, I take everything I see and hear with a certain amount of questionability. We should question everything for only then can we dig through the falsehoods to find something that resembles a ‘truth.’
    I am truly saddened that people jump to a variety of silly conclusions based on obvious biased thinking. I am angered that they inflict their views on impressionable masses!

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  5. Ugh…I’ve been having a version of the free speech debate on the Passive Guy website for a couple of days.
    As an Australian, I was not culturally raised to venerate the concept of ‘free speech’.
    I believe that, just as there are no free lunches, there is no such thing as free speech. Our speech has consequences. It has a /cost/ to those who are harmed by it. Sometimes those consequences are obvious, as in the case of Kenneth Weishuhn who was bullied to death via ‘free speech’.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_Weishuhn
    Sometimes the consequences are subtle and more indirect, but they still happen. My own industry is rife with examples of authors who have been fleeced by unscrupulous business operators promising the earth and delivering nothing. The facts are not quite fraud, but the distinction would be hard to see without an electron microscope.
    Sometimes, the motivation for the lies has no financial motivation and is simply malicious. But again, the victim faces the consequences, not the perpetrator.
    Way back when, society used to regulate ‘free speech’ by attaching a heavy stigma to hateful and nasty speech. Speech that defamed someone was called libel and had legal and financial consequences. Speech that deliberately tried to deceive for financial gain was called fraud and had legal and financial consequences.
    The laws are still the same but spin has become so much an accepted part of our cultural conversation that proving libel or fraud has become very hard. As for the stigma against ‘bad behaviour’…that went out the window a long time ago.
    We now have a world in which people can, and do lie without any consequences whatsoever. All in the name of free speech.
    To me, the concept of free speech only has meaning if it’s freedom to speak the /truth/. Imho, claiming the freedom of speech to lie without consequences is a travesty of the original intent of your constitution.
    Apologies for the long rant, and apologies if my words offend. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • My dear friend … there are no apologies needed, for your words do not offend me, and for the most part, I am in full agreement with you. You make very valid points, ones that I myself have given much thought to. I don’t know the laws in Australia, so I cannot comment on those, but I can speak about those of the U.S. While I have said before that I believe there need to be some constraints on freedom of speech, the problem with that is … where does it begin and end. What if, in limiting free speech, I am no longer allowed to opine about what I believe Trump’s ulterior motive for certain of his actions to be? Or what if it is determined that public protests against unfair policies is dangerous and cannot be allowed. It is such a slippery slope and carries the potential to completely shut down our rights to speak openly against policies and actions by our government. So,every time I have this debate with myself, I conclude that I would rather allow the idiots their right to speak also, than to risk the citizens losing their rights to speak openly and without fear of reprisal.

      And then, of course, the other thing is the criteria for truth. We all get things wrong sometimes, the government does its best to create smokescreens such that we can never know the full truth, and the end result is that untruths may not always be intentional lies, but conclusions drawn that do not hold true. If libel laws were strictly enforced, they would tie up the court system, and the end result would be, again, we would lose.

      This is one of those things for which there are no easy answers, as we live in an imperfect world populated by imperfect people. But again, I agree with you, but I don’t see how we can have limits on freedom of speech without risking unacceptable limits to free and open debate. I appreciate your thoughtful and thought-provoking comment, and you never need to apologize here. We are friends.

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        • Never hesitate to speak here. I like open debate and wish there were more of it. My only criteria is respect, mostly for my readers, but I never worry about that much, for my readers are all good people, respectful and thoughtful. I occasionally get an antagonist, and I simply delete their comments if they cross a line. But you are fine … please do comment, for I love to read your comments! And yes, I am glad we are friends … I cherish so many of the friendships I have made here on my blog … some of you are closer to me than many of the friends I have known for years! This is like a little neighborhood in and of itself! Love and hugs, dear Andrea! ❤

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    • Yes, and he is joined by others, such as Joel Osteen, Franklin Graham, Jim Bakker … none of whom seem to be much more than snake oil salesmen, and all of whom have profited immensely from their “flock” and live very lavish lifestyles. The word hypocrite comes to mind, but again … I do try to be respectful. Sometimes I fail.

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  6. As a Christian one could ask what would Christ say? Its not like they had guns when they wrote the bible. Only thing I can find is Matthew 26:52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.

    Hmmm looks like this nation is dying by the gun in large numbers.

    Also many of the same people who are crying rivers about the disrespect of trump are the same who never respected Obama, who was a better man and President than trump will ever be.

    Liked by 4 people

    • As a non-Christian, I try to respect all religions and keep religion out of the argument. But to your point about President Obama … yes, these are the very same ones who spent fully 8 years finding fault with every decision Obama made, every word he uttered. And I am 100% in agreement with you … he was 1,000 times the president that this idiot is or could ever be. Sigh. I wish we could turn the clock back!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Jill, as you know, this is not the first time that Pat Robetson has blamed tragic events on illogical connections. He blamed Katrina on the collective debauchery of the City of New Orleans, which is asinine. He has made similar accusations for other hurricanes and earthquakes. As an aside, if God is punishing people with hurricanes, ask Robertson why the 2008 and 2012 GOP conventions were each delayed a day by hurricanes – the Tampa one was understandable, but one was in Minneapolis.

    Switching to Alex Jones, the man is con artist as well as conspiracy perpetuators. He is bilking his viewers with high margin products he sells throughout his four hour broadcast – my personal favorite is his selling a water filtration system that allegedly eliminates chemicals to make men more effeminate that he said for the previous several days were being placed in the water system. The fact the MITWH listens to Jones is a scary thought. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that neither Robertson, Root nor Jones believe 1% of the garbage they spew … it is all about money for them. But you get to the heart of the matter with your last sentence … “The fact the MITWH listens to Jones is a scary thought.” It IS a scary thought, for while the likes of Robertson and Jones are playing a game of profit, the MITWH is not smart enough to understand that and … lets face it, these guys are delivering votes to him and his. And the other thing that is frightening is that Bannon is still, I would bet my bottom dollar, closely advising Trump, though no longer in an official capacity. In fact, I would almost bet that his leaving the WH was part of his plan so that he wouldn’t come under such close scrutiny. And now, I sound like the conspiracy theorist, yes? Sigh. Can we just turn the clocks back a year or so?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wish we could turn the clock back to when Joe Biden was still considering running. He would have waxed Trump, as would have Elizabeth Warren. Clinton still should have won, but many more would have voted for Biden or Warren.

        Liked by 1 person

        • PS – Someone needs to tell Pat Robertson that Trump’s own staff is showing him disrespect, as well. I bought some BBQ from a Boy Scouts fundraiser today and was thinking Tillerson was considering resigning following Trump’s awful speech in front of the BSA.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Agreed. Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton had too much baggage and was an easy target for the controversy, even though most of it was manufactured. I agree that Biden could have easily beat Trump, not sure about Warren though, for I think the nation, unfairly, still balks at the thought of a woman for president. But I also think Bernie could have beat Trump. Ah well, water over the dam and time to start thinking forward to 2020.

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  8. Dear Heaven, I’ve heard the lot now. Disrespect is a word Pat Robertson bounces around a lot isn’t it. I wonder if anyone ever asks him why he thinks people make disrespectful remarks about your joke of a President and your standing in the world thanks to him. He’s being disrespectful of your founding fathers if he’s trying to introduce a little Old Time Religion into your Government. They wouldn’t approve.
    I won’t even waste my time on the other two fools
    xxx Cwtch xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh I know. How many times have you heard me say that religion has no place in government? But … there is a ‘mutual admiration society’ between Trump and the evangelicals like Robertson … they each have something to offer the other, though I’m not sure which has the other by the proverbial ‘short hairs’. I would bet money that Robertson does not believe half of what he spouts, but … he has a purpose, and people listen to him … translate that into … they send him lots of lovely money. Like everything else, my friend, this is all about money. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Free speech doesn’t give conspiracy theory nuts like Alex Jones the right to spew lies. What happened to the not being able to yell “fire” in a movie theater ruling that says dangerous speech is not protected by our First Amendment? Time to hold these assholes accountable for sure.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I fully agree. But … the thing is, where exactly is the line? Some things are obvious, like yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre, or ‘bomb’ on a commercial airliner. But others, while perhaps obvious to you and I, open a can of worms. I would advocate for the media being held accountable by being able to produce factual evidence, BUT … what about anoymous sources and the press’ ability to protect those sources? There are many facets to be considered these days, and unfortunately there are no clear-cut lines as to which speech is protected and which is not. So, rather than risk putting the freedom of our press into a straight-jacket, I have to err on the side of caution and support the jackasses like Robertson, Root and Jones, while at the same time advocating that we find a way ensure that their rhetoric is not profitable, at which time they will shut up and go back under the rocks from which they slithered.

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