June 22, 2015

“THIS WAS THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE TARGETING SPEECH BECAUSE IT COULD”:  DoJ’s Gag Order On Reason Has Been Lifted — But The Real Story Is More Outrageous Than We Thought. Virginia posted on this earlier but it deserves a second link. Plus this reaction by Reason’s editor Nick Gillespie.

This episode invites pessimism. But Nick Gillespie suggests that it should encourage us, because it showed how difficult it has become for the government to get away with silencing us. “We’re in a better place in terms of free speech than we’ve ever been as a country,” he says, citing both culture and technology. “It’s harder and harder for the government to shut down the conversation.” Certainly things didn’t go the way the government hoped here.

The challenge is to use Reason’s fifteen days of enforced silence as a catalyst, not a deterrent. Technology is only as effective as the people who wield it. We need to be committed to watch for, examine, and report on abuses of power like these. More people need to tell their stories of encounters with it. “No one knows how often this happens, or who is the target,” said Gillespie, who emphasized that we ought to be worried about anyone getting a gag order, not just a professional journalist.

“Unless people speak up, and unless people repeat the story, we won’t have a good sense of how this power is abused.” We also need to resist the temptation to filter our vigilance through partisanship. Many people have responded to this story with comments about the Obama Administration, a purely fatuous reaction, as though Obama has time between his golf outings and Steve Wonder concerts to censor a small magazine — but the danger will remain no matter what flavor of politician is in charge. “Power is nonpartisan,” says Gillespie.

Yes, but the difference is that if a Republican administration did this, Reason would not be standing alone among its media brothers and sisters.

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