Monday, June 6, 2011


Let me say first of all that this comment is more speculation than declaration on my part. I'm not really in favor of any kind of censorship, and think Freedom of Speech is one of our most treasured bastions of liberty and justice for all. That being said, however, I am getting more and more concerned at the coarseness and scurrilous nature of attacks against the policies, especially the economic policies of the current U.S. administration. At this point in time, I am not certain whether Obama will be considered a good President or a bad one. Too many results of his policies are still to be played out. But the non-stop attacks from the opposition sometimes make me cringe.

Just this past weekend, on Fox News Sunday, Maybe/Maybe Not Republican candidate Sarah Palin used so many sinking ship analogies in her interview that it could have been a promotion trailer for Titanic. Not exactly words to inspire confidence in our foreign allies and creditors. When does appropriate criticism of a president by the opposition party cross the line into sedition? Well, the dictionary definition of sedition is speech or writing that incites discontent or rebellion. Does constant reference to the U.S. economy as being bankrupt, in collapse, or a sinking ship incite discontent? I certainly think there are fair criticisms of Obama's policies, and room for some alternative proposals, but the continuing avalanche of attacks that create lack of confidence in the markets and the world are hardly productive.

Check out this item from Wikipedia:

The Sedition Act of 1918 was an Act of the United States Congress signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson on May 16, 1918.[1] It forbade the use of "disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language" about the United States government, its flag, or its armed forces or that caused others to view the American government or its institutions with contempt.

Disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language. If you have any doubts that political discourse has descended to these levels, check out Fox or talk radio or the blogosphere. The temporary Sedition Acts of 1798 put it this way:
That if any person shall write, print, utter. Or publish, or shall cause or procure to be written, printed, uttered or published, or shall knowingly and willingly assist or aid in writing, printing, uttering or publishing any false, scandalous and malicious writing or writings against the government of the United States, or either house of the Congress of the United States, or the President of the United States, with intent to defame the said government, or either house of the said Congress, or the said President, or to bring them. or either of them, into contempt or disrepute; or to excite against them, or either or any of them, the hatred of the good people of the United States, or to excite any unlawful combinations therein, for opposing or resisting any law of the United States, or any act of the President of the United States, done in pursuance of any such law, or of the powers in him vested by the constitution of the United States, or to resist, oppose, or defeat any such law or act, or to aid, encourage or abet any hostile designs of any foreign nation against the United States, their people or government, then such person, being thereof convicted before any court of the United States having jurisdiction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars, and by imprisonment not exceeding two years
One man arrested under the 1918 act was one of the richest men in America, who held a patent on a new way of manufacturing barbed wire and held 75% of the barbed wire market, as well as being head of the Louisiana Railroad. William Edenborn was a German-born naturalized U.S. citizen who was accused of trying to calm American fears about the threat of Germany. The statement that got him in trouble seems pretty mild compared to some of the outrageous commentary from the right today:
There has been much talk about Germany coming over here and attacking the United States. We need have no fear that Germany will ever attack the United States. It would take a maritime nation to do that, because America is surrounded by water. America can look to other countries for any attacks in the future.
When does some of the current language rise to the level of the time-honored exception to Freedom of Speech, yelling "Fire" in a crowded theatre? I don't claim to have the answer, but I do think we need to ask the question.

For a good news approach to matters financial, check out my prosperity blog:

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