Saturday, April 08, 2023

Did You Hear the One About Democrats Endangering Speech?

There is bad timing, and then there is bad timing. They were there ostensibly to talk about the Twitter Files. However, at the tail end of his Peacock show in which host Mehdi Hasan debated journalist Matt Taibbi on Thursday afternoon, this exchange took place (Taibbi's words in bold, Hasan's in asterisk, beginning at 28:14 of the video below):

This is the point, Matt, the context. We're out of time,sadly,but the context is that the Republicans- the Republicans are banning books and threatening the press. Ron DeSantis is trying to get rid of anonymous sources.

Again, you're mentioning something that I didn't write about.

Well, exactly, that's the problem, that you seem to think the Democrats, not the Republicans, are a big threat to speech and I just don't see it. I wish we had more time to get. We spent a lot of time-

Are you crazy? I mean, you don't think Democrats are a threat to speech? Have you been paying attention?

Yes. I think all politicians are a threat to speech but in this country, if you think the Republican Party is not the biggest threat to speech, then I don't know what to say to you. Maybe you should logoff.

We have to disagree.

I think the black voter who was arrested in Florida or the woman arrested for taking an abortion pill might not say that.

A mere few hours after Taibbi chose to disagree with Hasan, two black male Democrats were expelled from the Tennessee House of Representatives. The vote was 72-25 to throw out Justin Jones and 69-26 to toss Justin Pearson while ally Gloria Johnson survived the expulsion effort by one vote.

The saga began when on March 30, hundreds of Tennesseans protested at the Capitol in Nashville to urge their legislators to pass gun safety legislation. After, they maintain, Republicans turned off their microphones during debate, Jones and Pearson led chants with a bullhorn from the floor of the House of Representatives.  Johnson stood by them in the front of the chamber and joined in the chorus. The New York Times reports that in response

Within days of the protest, (Speaker Cameron) Sexton stripped two of the lawmakers — Ms. Johnson and Mr. Jones — of their committee assignments and revoked their legislative access. Mr. Pearson, who won a special election in late January to represent his Memphis district, had not yet received committee assignments.

Were he asked, even Matt Taibbi probably would acknowledge that this is a very serious threat to freedom of speech. Constituents in the urban districts represented by Jones and Pearson have had their votes neutered and their voices silenced. The two Representatives could be reinstated by the county commissions in their respective districts. However

A Shelby County commissioner told FOX13 on Friday that state leaders in Nashville are threatening to take away funding from Memphis and other Shelby County projects if the county commission decides to reinstate expelled state Rep. Justin J. Pearson....

According to Shelby County Commissioner Erika Sugarmon, leaders in Nashville threatened to without millions of dollars in state funding for projects in the Memphis area if commissioners were to reappoint Pearson.

"We are also being threatened by the state to take away funding, needed funding to run our schools, to run our municipalities," Sugarmon told FOX13. "You know, and so, for example, FedExForum, the promised $350 million, they're talking about snatching that away. So, again, you know this about bullying people into submission. And enough is enough. You know, we've got to stand for something or fall for everything. And we've been bullied by the state for too long now."

This is not coming from Democrats or liberals. This suppression of free speech by Republicans- which, as of this moment, no prominent Republican has criticized- is far more important than anything conservatives deride as "woke." Toe the line or we take you out politically and economically.  It takes a narrow or biased mind to look at Tennessee- or Florida, or elsewhere- and to conclude that it is Democrats who are the significant threat to free speech.


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