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Using the force of the state to silence dissent

By Scott Tibbs, August 10, 2009

-------- Original Message --------
Subject:Using the force of the state to silence dissent
Date:Fri, 7 Aug 2009 09:58:54 -0700 (PDT)
From:Scott Tibbs <tibbs1973@yahoo.com>
CC:Rush Limbaugh <ElRushbo@eibnet.com>, WriteMalkin@gmail.com

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. -- The First Amendment

To the Honorable President Barack Obama,

I am very disappointed in the words and actions of you and your supporters the last few weeks. Your Democratic Party released an advertisement categorizing citizens showing up to townhall meetings as "angry mobs." The term "angry mob" brings forth images of lawlessness, and this categorization is intentional. President Obama, these people are simply exercising their First Amendment right to "petition the government for a redress of grievances." Is there emotion? Is there irritation and anger? People are concerned about the state of the economy and their health care. You must realize that a massive overhaul of the nation's health care system such as the one that you are proposing will generate an emotional response.

I am also disappointed at the advertisement's gloating that Republicans "lost" the election and so forth. This attitude that Republicans should just step out of the way and let you do whatever you want is directly opposed to the rhetoric you used during the campaign about bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle to find the best solutions and compromises. This is also an attack on dissent. Blaming the Republicans is dishonest as well, Mr. President. The Republicans do not have the power to stop anything you want to do. Any difficulty you have getting your agenda through Congress is because members of your party are not following your lead.

But the worst aspect of your attack on dissent, President Obama, is the email address you set up for people to report "falsehoods" about health care. You are actually asking people to tattle to the federal government for saying things that you disapprove of. If this were done by the Democratic National Committee, we could have a discussion about whether this is an appropriate means of gathering information about policy-based arguments and addressing those arguments. But encouraging people to tattle to the White House? That is just scary, President Obama. The federal government has no business collecting e-mails and accounts of private conversations of American citizens, simply because you disagree with or disapprove of the things that are said. This is "big brother" at its worst.

If President George W. Bush had done this, both you and your supporters would be screeching bloody murder, and you know it. It is shocking that the President of the United States is encouraging people to report other American citizens to the federal government for saying things the President does not like. President Obama, your policy is clearly intended to have a chilling effect on freedom of speech. This is not about Republicans and Democrats, President Obama. This is about basic American values such as the free exchange of ideas without fear of interference or retaliation from the federal government, or any unit of government.

President Obama, your party spent the previous eight years talking about how dissent is patriotic. That statement was right then and it is right now. President Bush took us into an ill-advised war in Iraq and implemented a number of counter-terrorism measures that went too far in restricting civil liberties in the name of combating Islamic terrorism. President Bush signed a horrific "campaign finance reform" act that actually regulates the content of political speech, an un-American law that raises serious questions about President Bush's patriotism. But your administration and your supporters have reversed course on that admirable principle, classifying those who oppose your policies as people who "want to see America fail" or are in some other way unpatriotic. This Flag@WhiteHouse.gov program is simply beyond the pale and represents a new low in American politics.

I respectfully ask you to quickly eliminate this program and apologize for your administration's efforts to silence and discourage dissent. Only then can your promises to pursue a "post-partisan" or bipartisan spirit in governance be taken seriously. I will be mailing a copy of this email to my representatives in Congress.


Scott Tibbs
Bloomington, IN