Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Donna Lieberman

Andrew Cuomo and Other Democrats Launch Severe Attack on Free Speech to Protect Israel

Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman. June 6, 2016

One of the greatest free speech threats in the West is the growing, multi-nation campaign literally to outlaw advocacy of boycotting Israel.

People get arrested in Paris — the site of the 2015 “free speech” (for Muslim critics) rally — for wearing pro-boycott T-shirts.

Pro-boycott students on U.S. campuses — where the 1980s boycott of apartheid South Africa flourished — are routinely sanctioned for violating anti-discrimination policies.

Canadian officials have threatened to criminally prosecute boycott advocates.

British government bodies have legally barred certain types of boycott advocacy.

Israel itself has outright criminalized advocacy of such boycotts.

Notably, all of this has been undertaken with barely a peep from those who styled themselves free speech crusaders when it came time to defend anti-Muslim cartoons.

But now, New York’s Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo (above, in the 2016 Celebrate Israel Parade) has significantly escalated this free speech attack on U.S. soil, aimed at U.S. citizens.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

“Even more disturbing, Cuomo’s executive order requires that one of his commissioners compile “a list of institutions and companies” that — “either directly or through “Whenever the government creates a blacklist based on political views it raises serious First Amendment concerns and this is no exception.”

One of the greatest free speech threats in the west is now spreading on U.S. soil.
theintercept.com|By Glenn Greenwald

The prince of the New York political dynasty yesterday issued an executive order directing all agencies under his control to terminate any and all business with companies or organizations that support a boycott of Israel.

It ensures that citizens who hold and express a particular view are punished through the denial of benefits that other citizens enjoy: a classic free speech violation (imagine if Cuomo issued an order stating that “anyone who expresses conservative viewpoints shall have all state benefits immediately terminated”).

Even more disturbing, Cuomo’s executive order requires that one of his commissioners compile “a list of institutions and companies” that — “either directly or through a parent or subsidiary” — support a boycott. (McCarthite era of compiling names?)

That government list is then posted publicly, and the burden falls on them to prove to the state that they do not, in fact, support such a boycott.

Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, told The Intercept: “Whenever the government creates a blacklist based on political views it raises serious First Amendment concerns and this is no exception.” Reason’s Robby Soave denounced it today as “brazenly autocratic.”

To read the relevant provisions of Cuomo’s order is to confront the mentality of petty censoring tyranny, flavored with McCarthyite public shaming, in its purest form. See for yourself:

Making matters worse still is the imperious nature of Cuomo’s order.

As Salon’s Ben Norton noted, “The New York legislature has unsuccessfully tried to push through anti-boycott legislation for months.” So instead, Cuomo just unilaterally decreed this punishment of boycott advocates.

New York’s Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer wasted no time, now demanding a federal statute that tracks Cuomo’s order.

Hillary Clinton, last July, wrote a public letter to her (and the Democratic Party’s) billionaire supporter, self-described Israel fanatic Haim Saban, endorsing the core principle of this censorship effort — that boycotting Israel is a form of anti-Semitism — and did so again in her March speech before AIPAC. Numerous Republicans support similar measures.

Beyond the McCarthyism and profound free speech threat, the stench of hypocrisy of Cuomo and Democrats is suffocating. Just over two months ago, Cuomo banned state officials from traveling to North Carolina in order to support the boycott against that American state in protest over its anti-transgender law.

That pro-boycott executive order from Cuomo began by proclaiming that “New York state is a national leader in protecting the civil rights and liberties of all of its citizens” and thus barred “publicly funded travel” to North Carolina.

But in justifying this punishment for Israel critics, Cuomo’s counsel told the New York Times: “It’s one thing to say I want to engage in political speech. It’s another thing to say I’m going to sanction you or penalize you for engaging in commercial activity.”

But that — “I’m going to sanction you or penalize you for engaging in commercial activity” — is exactly what Cuomo did just two months ago by boycotting North Carolina.

Think about how warped that is: To the governor of New York, it’s not only permissible but noble to boycott an American state, but it’s immoral and worthy of punishment to boycott Israel, a foreign country guilty of a decadeslong brutal and illegal occupation.

Questions submitted by The Intercept to Cuomo were not answered as of publication.

More ironic still is that Cuomo, in imposing a boycott of North Carolina, said he was doing so because in “a free society the equal rights of all citizens … must be protected and cherished” — exactly the principle that the boycott of Israel is seeking to fulfill by ending oppression and discrimination against Palestinians.

But even if you disagree with the Israel boycott itself, no rational person should want Andrew Cuomo and other elected officials to have the power to dictate which political views are acceptable and which ones result in denial of state benefits.

The free speech hypocrisy on the part of all sorts of people here is obvious.

In 2012, conservatives were furious when Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that he would block the restaurant chain Chick-fil-A from expanding in the city as punishment for its owner’s anti-gay activism, depicting this move as a grave threat to free speech (a position we shared).

Throughout 2015, pundits such as New York’s Jonathan Chait wrapped themselves in the free speech flag when it came time to defend racist and anti-gay speech on campus, insisting that all forms of speech, even “hate speech,” should be protected (positions we also share).

Yet now, a systematic, international campaign — fully bipartisan in the U.S. — is being implemented to abuse state resources and the force of law for a full-frontal assault on free speech and free assembly rights, and virtually none of them is objecting because it’s all in service of protecting Israel from criticism.

It’s bizarre enough that someone gets elected as governor of New York and then believes it’s part of his job to shield Israel from criticism.

That he does so by assaulting the free speech rights of citizens of his own country — just weeks after imposing a boycott on another American state — tells you all you need to know about the role Israel continues to play in American discourse and the willingness of people to stomp on free speech principles the moment doing so benefits their political goals.

Lawsuits over free speech: Cities that broke up Occupy camps face lawsuits

For the time being, most major Occupy Wall Street encampments in the U.S. have been dispersed, but regrouping around the corners. City governments are facing a flurry of lawsuits in which protesters are asserting their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly and challenging authorities’ use of force to break up tent cities.

In this photo from Nov.18,  Davis Police Lt. John Pike uses pepper spray to move Occupy UC Davis protesters while blocking their exit from the school’s quad in Davis, Calif. (The Enterprise, Wayne Tilcock, File / Associated Press )

  • ( The Enterprise, Wayne Tilcock, File / Associated Press ) - FILE - In this Nov. 18, 2011 file photo, University of California, Davis Police Lt. John Pike uses pepper spray to move Occupy UC Davis protesters while blocking their exit from the school’s quad in Davis, Calif. Most major Occupy Wall Street encampments in the U.S. have been dispersed, but they live on in a flurry of lawsuits in which protesters are asserting their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly and challenging authorities’ use of force to break up tent cities.
  • ( The Tribune, Jane Tyska / Associated Press ) - FILE - In this Oct. 25, 2011 file photo, debris is strewn throughout the Oakland Occupy encampment at Frank Ogawa Plaza after Oakland Police disbanded the tent community in Oakland, Calif. Most major Occupy encampments have been dispersed, but they live on in a flurry of lawsuits in which protesters are asserting their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly and challenging authorities’ mass arrests and use of force to break up tent cities.
  • ( Darryl Bush, File / Associated Press ) - FILE - In this Oct. 25, 2011 file photo, Occupy Oakland protesters run from tear gas deployed by police at 14th Street and Broadway in Oakland, Calif. The National Lawyers Guild and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California sued the Oakland Police Department in federal court in November, saying police and other agencies violated demonstrators’ Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive force _ including “flash-bang” grenades _ against demonstrators who posed no safety threat. The suit says officials also violated their First Amendment rights to assemble and demonstrate.
Yvette Felarca is among those suing campus police and administration officials at the University of California, Berkeley, after officers forcefully dispersed a group of Occupy protesters and others rallying for public education last month. Felarca, a middle school teacher and organizer with the civil rights organization “By Any Means Necessary” filed the suit. Felacra said: “I was standing, arms linked with other demonstrators’, before a line of police officers. The police moved in after some tents were set up on a lawn. I was chanting and yelling when a police officer hit me in the throat, in the ribs, abdomen and back with his baton, and I watched others bear repeated blows”.  She resumed: “The brutality was absolutely designed to chill the speech of students in the movement and literally try to beat and terrorize our right to criticize, to think critically and to act on that criticism.” The university has called it “disconcerting” that the suit contains “so many inaccuracies.”
Sobel, of the National Lawyers Guild, is planning a lawsuit in the case of the pepper-spraying by campus police of peaceful protesters at the University of California, Davis, video footage of which went viral.Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, called the lawsuits an important check on police power. She noted that authorities haven’t been uniformly excessive around the country, but pointed in New York City to mass arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge — which are under litigation — as well as the pepper-spraying of several women and the dark-of-night breakup of Zuccotti Park.

Donna Lieberman said that her group has been concerned for years about police tactics, but that the response to the Occupy movement shines a light on them in a way that “engages and offends a new sector of the public.” She predicted there will be other lawsuits about excessive force, civil rights violations and mostly likely people’s rights to get back into Zuccotti, which she said police have blocked from public usage with their pens.

Donna  said: “I think what’s been happening with Occupy is so reminiscent of what happened during the Republican National Convention in 2008, as people get together to engage in that most American of pastimes — protest — it almost always generates a defensive and repressive response from law enforcement. Occupy is no exception.”

Gene Policinski, executive director of the First Amendment Center in Nashville, Tenn., said police overreacted to the Occupy movement in some cities, which probably earned protesters some new support. Still, he noted, protesters’ First Amendment rights are not without limitation.  Gene said: “We’ve always had to balance our rights. No one can really claim you have an unfettered unlimited First Amendment rights. The courts are there to say, wait a minute, that goes too far, or that’s OK. It is part of that give and take. Of course we all wish our rights were never intruded upon.”

Note 1: You may read https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/one-sided-non-violent-revolution-even-in-democratic-systems/

Note 2: Article reported by Niedowski from Providence, R.I. Associated Press writer Deepti Hajela in New York contributed.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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