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More on Gingrich speech
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2006 11:57:44 -0500
Begin forwarded message:
From: Lauren Weinstein <lauren () vortex com>
Date: November 29, 2006 11:48:45 AM EST
To: brian.dunbar () liftport com, rlrevell () joe-job com
Cc: dave () farber net, lauren () vortex com
Subject: More on Gingrich speech
Here's an MSNBC article that has related direct quotes. It appears
that his remarks related to free speech and the Internet were
accurately characterized by the original article.
MSN Tracking Image
Gingrich wants to restrict freedom of speech?
Legal expert looks at constitutionality of former House Speaker's
By Keith Olbermann
Updated: 8:06 a.m. PT Nov 29, 2006
Newt Gingrich called for a reexamination of free speech at the Loeb
First Amendment Award Dinner in New Hampshire this week, saying a
"different set of rules to prevent terrorism" are necessary.
Gingrich's call to restrict free speech is mainly focused on the
Keith Olbermann discussed the constitutionality of this with George
Washington University law professor and constitutional law expert
This is a transcript from the show.
It's in the quintessential movie about this city, "Chinatown." Morty
the Mortician turns to Jack Nicholson's character and says, "Middle
of the drought, and the water commissioner drowns. Only in L.A."
Tonight, a real-life equivalent. Middle of a dinner honoring the
sanctity of the First Amendment, and the former speaker of the House
talks about restricting freedom of speech. Only in the Republican
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, it might have been his first
attempt to fire up his base for a possible presidential run, or it
might have been something more ominous. But Newt Gingrich has
actually proposed a different set of rules and invoked the bogeyman
Gingrich was the featured speaker at the annual Nackey S. Loeb First
Amendment Award Dinner in Manchester, New Hampshire, Monday night,
where he not only argued that campaign finance reform and the
separation of church and state should be rethought, because they
allegedly hurt the First Amendment, but he also suggested that new
rules might be necessary to stop terrorists using freedom of speech
to get out their message.
Here is his rationalization:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: My view is that either before
we lose a city, or if we are truly stupid after we lose a city, we
will adopt rules of engagement that we use every technology we can
find to break up their capacity to use the Internet, to break up
their capacity to use free speech, and to go after people who want to
kill us, to stop them from recruiting people before they get to reach
out and convince young people to destroy their lives while destroying
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: If you're going to destroy freedom of speech, bub, you've
already lost all the cities.
To paraphrase Pastor Martin Noemuller's poem about Germany in the
'30s and '40s: First they came for the Fourth Amendment, then they
came for habeas corpus, then came for free speech, and there was no
one allowed to speak up.
The politics in a moment.
JONATHAN TURLEY, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW EXPERT, GEORGE WASHINGTON
UNIVERSITY: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So the conventional wisdom on this is, he's to breathe
life into the same scare tactics that worked so well for the
president and the vice president until four weeks ago. But could
this be more nefarious than just politics? Could any president
really gut free speech in the name of counterterrorism?
TURLEY: They could. I mean, it's bizarre it would occur in a First
Amendment speech. God knows what he'd say at a Mother's Day speech.
But, you know, this really could happen. I mean, the fact is that
the First Amendment is an abstraction, and when you put up against it
the idea of incinerating millions of people, there will be millions
of citizens that respond, like some Pavlovian response, and deliver
up rights. We've already seen that.
People don't seem to appreciate that you really can't save a
Constitution by destroying it.
OLBERMANN: We asked Mr. Gingrich's office for the full speech. To
their credit, they provided most of it to us, late relative to our
deadline. But let me read you a little bit more of this that we've
just gotten, Jonathan.
"I want to suggest to you that we right now should be impaneling
people to look seriously at a level of supervision that we would
never dream of, if it were not for the scale of this threat." That's
"This is a serious, long-term war," Gingrich added, "and it will
inevitably lead us to want to know what is said in every suspect
place in the country. It will lead us to learn how to close down
every Web site that is dangerous."
Jonathan, are there not legal methods already in place to deal with
such sites that do not require what Mr. Gingrich has here called
"supervision that we would never dream of?"
TURLEY: Well, there are plenty of powers and authorities that could
be used to monitor truly dangerous people. But what you see here, I
think, is the insatiable appetite that has developed among certain
leaders for controlling American society.
We saw that with John Ashcroft not long after 9/11, when he said the
critics were aiding and abetting the terrorists. There is this
insatiable appetite that develops when you feed absolute power to
people like Gingrich.
And people should not assume that these are just going to be fringe
candidates, and this could never happen. Fear does amazing things to
people, and it could a sort of self-mutilation in a democracy, where
we give up the very things, the very rights that define us, and
theoretically, the very things that we are defending.
OLBERMANN: Also, when you talk about closing down Internet sites,
who is the one who's going to decide which those are? I mean, it
could be the Daily Kos, it could be Citizens for Legitimate
Government, it could be the sports Web site Dead Spin, for all we
know, if he doesn't like any one of them in particular.
TURLEY: Well, what these guys don't understand is that the best
defense against bad ideas, like extremism and terrorism, is free
speech. That's what we've proven. That's why they don't like us, is
that we're remarkably successful as a democracy, because we've shown
that really bad ideas don't survive in the marketplace, unless you
try to suppress them, unless you try to keep people from speaking.
Then it becomes a form of martyrdom. Then you give credence to what
OLBERMANN: Last question, the specific idea about the Internet.
There was a story just today out of Toronto that researchers at a
Canadian university developed some software that will let users in
places like China that have Internet restrictions, the phrase they
used were, "hop over government's Internet firewalls." Might it be
that the technology will be our best defense against the Newt
Gingriches of this country?
TURLEY: It may be. We may have to rely on our own creativity to
overcome the inclinations of people like Newt Gingrich.
OLBERMANN: George Washington University law professor and
constitutional law expert, and, I think it's fair to say, friend of
the Constitution, Jonathan Turley. Great thanks, Jon.
TURLEY: Thanks, Keith.
2006 MSNBC Interactive 2006 MSNBC Interactive
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- More on Gingrich speech David Farber (Nov 29)