The Obama administration has on numerous occasions shown its distaste for the First Amendment. Now, in Idaho, an Obama-appointed federal prosecutor has gone to war against it, behaving as if it doesn’t exist.
The occasion for this latest Obama salvo against the freedom of speech took place in early June. Residents of Twin Falls, Idaho, dissatisfied with the response they received from government and law enforcement after a brutal assault, began a petition that contended:
The little girl was at the FAWNBROOK apartment buildings where both her parents and grandmother reside. She was playing in between those two apartment units when 3 boys (from 2 Syrian refugee families, ages 8, 10, 13) pulled a knife on her, held it to her throat, forced her into the laundry unit, stripped her naked, raped, and urinated on her. The 13 year old “coached” the younger boys as he videoed. Due to age restraint the boys could not ejaculate but did urinate on her.
Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs almost immediately disputed this scenario on numerous particulars:
There was no gang rape, there was no Syrian involvement, there were no Syrian refugees involved, there was no knife used, there was no inactivity by the police. I’m looking at the Drudge Report headline: “Syrian Refugees Rape Little Girl at Knifepoint in Idaho” — all false.
A couple details were incorrect, but Loebs’ string of denials did not challenge the essentials of the story. Loebs obviously knew this, yet he made his statement anyway.
The perps were not Syrian, but they were Muslim migrants. There was no rape — but there was sexual assault.
The Twin Falls residents’ petition was revised:
This little girl, as stated in the news, was assaulted, and urinated on by three boys under the age of 18. The boys took her into a laundry room and proceeded to take part on the previous stated actions which was videotaped by the eldest boy. The incident as well as the video was submitted to the police department.
However, due to the ages of the children involved, this case is being sealed. Many people in this community are in awe, and outraged that minimal consequences will be served to these boys and their parents for this vile incident.
An eyewitness to the incident, Jolene Payne, recounted:
This happened three weeks ago around 3:30. I was sitting on my porch patio and I looked over and saw this boy taking pictures with a camera. He was from Africa or somewhere overseas, standing outside the laundry room taking pictures of kids in the laundry room. I found them in there. I knew there was something going on because the boy (with the phone camera) was acting funny, he was taking pictures but he was telling the two younger boys what to do.
The door was cracked enough for him to see the pictures he was taking. I opened that door and I almost fainted when I saw what was going on and here I’m a nurse. What a pitiful thing for a poor little girl to go through.
The worst thing was the way they peed all over her clothes and on her too, and I thought that was one of the meanest things I’ve ever saw done. … The little girl had no clothes on. The boys took them off.
This horrifying story involved Muslim migrants. So the mainstream media went into full cover-up mode. They focused on the inaccuracies in the initial complaints to portray the whole thing as racist, right-wing, anti-immigrant hysteria. That became the dominant theme of media coverage of the story.
Ultimately, the Obama administration adopted that theme as well. Wendy J. Olson, U.S. attorney for Idaho, warned Twin Falls residents (and others interested in the case):
The spread of false information or inflammatory or threatening statements about the perpetrators or the crime itself reduces public safety and may violate federal law.
She made clear that her primary concern was protecting the Muslim migrants:
We have seen time and again that the spread of falsehoods about refugees divides our communities.
Eugene Volokh, a professor of free speech law, noted in the Washington Post:
[T]here is no First Amendment exception for “inflammatory” statements; and even false statements about matters of public concern, the Supreme Court has repeatedly held, are an inevitable part of free debate. … [Olson’s warning] looks like an attempt to chill constitutionally protected speech through the threat of federal prosecution.
That’s exactly what it is.
Olson’s statement fits with the Obama administration signing on to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Resolution 16/18, which called on UN member states to work to criminalize “defamation of religion.”
This subjective term grants enormous power to the person given the authority to determine what it constitutes. The administration noted that nations with protections on the freedom of speech would have to find creative ways to implement the resolution.
Out in Idaho, Wendy J. Olson has found what may be the most creative way of all: simply pretending that the First Amendment doesn’t exist.
This will work fine for her, unless there is a strong enough pushback from free citizens who value the First Amendment and aren’t willing to consent to its steady erosion and ultimate destruction. Whether those citizens will materialize in sufficient numbers before it’s too late is an open question.