Our leader and his right to free speech

When Patrick Henry said "Give me liberty or give me death," it was more than a rhetorical flourish.

He was urging his fellow Virginians to form a militia and confront British rule, an act that would literally result in liberty or death for the leaders of the American revolution.

In comparison, it is worth considering how detached some of our governor's political rhetoric has become from reality.

In the Hall of Flags last week, Gov. Paul LePage was complaining about losing his First Amendment right to free speech.

Two weeks ago, the governor was not allowed time to speak at an emergency work session of the Legislature's Appropriations Committee.

This was, in hindsight, an opportunity missed for the Democrats. If they had allowed LePage to speak, he would have been obligated to answer questions.

And, as we have seen, this is a governor who does not suffer questions gladly. When contradicted in public or asked difficult questions, the governor often explodes, walks out of rooms and slams doors. Polite persuasion is not part of his political tool box.

The governor told reporters last week that it is a "dangerous precedent when we can't let Americans speak."

He added, "The minute we start stifling our speech, we might as well go home, roll up our sleeves and get our guns out."

Get our guns! Where did that come from?

When you think about this realistically, the governor has more free speech at his disposal than anyone in Maine.

If he calls a press conference, which he rarely does, he would have newspaper reporters and TV cameras available on command.

He gets to address, uninterrupted and without question, the entire Legislature and the state's citizenry once a year during the State of the State address.

He has two full-time press people to help get his opinion out and re-state things for him when he misspeaks.

He even has his own radio show each weekend to carry his thoughts to all corners of the state, and he speaks constantly to groups large and small all around Maine.

Still feeling he was denied an opportunity to speak, the governor set up a TV set in a hallway outside his office, a TV programmed to promote his favorite idea, repaying hospitals money they are owed.

But there is a long-standing State House rule that has been observed by generations of governors and legislators — political signs should not clutter the halls without permission of the Legislative Council.

Either the governor was unaware of the rule, or decided to ignore it. When forced to remove the TV he had another hissy fit about being "censored," even though he never even sought permission.

This all makes good theater, but people should be smart enough to see through this sort of hyperbole from politicians.

All of our constitutional rights are have limits and constraints. The right to free speech doesn't give the governor the right to be heard at a presidential inauguration or to speak at the Super Bowl.

The Second Amendment is similarly tempered by rules, like the one forbidding civilians from carrying a weapon on a military base, or those forbidding us from carrying them into workplaces or schools.

These issues are important and our arguments may be passionate, but it is ludicrous to raise every disagreement to a Patrick Henry moment.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

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Comments

Paul LePage in Public?

Once again his handlers failed in protecting Paul LePage from himself; allowing him to go unattended into public without supervision. Could it be LePage is frustrated because he has nothing to show for his first 2 ½ years as governor despite a legislative majority the first year? Could it be the ALEC cookbook of recipes is missing a few ingredients or the governor is unable to properly follow directions?

Paul LePage continually strives to convey a certain impression without being concerned about whether anything at all is true. He often abrasively changes the rules governing the end of the conversation so that claims about truth and falsity are irrelevant. This behavioral trait can eventually undermine one’s capacity to tell the truth in a way that lying does not. Liars at least acknowledge that it matters what is true. Paul LePage is a greater enemy of the truth in a manner worse than lies.

Once again the true character of a man was on display that is impulsive, behaves as if he is all-powerful, all-knowing, and entitled to every wish, a predator who views anyone with a sign of weakness as a domestic animal for the slaughter.

He was procedurally silenced, emasculated publicly by a young woman; experiencing a level of political impotency which may be the only antidote to his lack of leadership skills.

This should be a watershed moment; the first step where the people of Maine began to turn their backs on the man who has discredited the office of Governor and embarrassed the state of Maine.

The people of Maine may take a cue from their fellow citizens in Pennsylvania, where Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Corbett (R) received a cool reception as speaker at the Millersville University graduation from faculty and graduates. Maybe it’s time what happened becomes the norm when dealing with LePage.

http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/05/millersville_universi...

Andrew Jones's picture

If that TV had been

If that TV had been broadcasting positive messages, praising the legislature for "a job well done", do you think they would have tried so hard to get it removed?

I don't think so. Yes it is against the rules, but they used the rules to censor a message they didn't like. I think the TV is unprofessional, but there appears to be a lot of that in the state house these days.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Our leader and his right to free speech

Rex , 13.06.02 17:30 hst Sunday
Good editorial ?
It's a fine line you walk well and libel , spurious and empty threats remain uncalled for . It's very unprofessional on his part •
Here's an interesting recent take on things from your Mayor of Lewiston
" But Governor, you must learn to control your temper or it will become your downfall. " and how about , " While you fiddle, local hospitals continue with layoffs.  "
ref : http://www.twincitytimes.com/politics/enough-is-enough-while-politicians...
. . ...like rats on a sinking ship . ..of state . As you well know , politics is from the Latin , Mayor , " poly " meaning " many " and " tics " meaning " blood sucking creatures ." This is not news to anyone here
Congratulations to all recents graduatess and your Hon. Sen. King for securing B I W contracts
Do be careful of tornados this summer
hth ? Steve :D

 's picture

You say...

...the Dems missed an opportunity if the governor had been allowed to speak because he would be required to answer questions. How dare you make that kind of assumption. What ever gave you that idea? I'M THE GOVERNOR and don't have to do anything I don't want to do. He would have just walked out if he didn't like a question. Remember, I'M THE GOVERNOR! And he has forbidden his department heads to testify before committees, usurping their First Amendment rights because I'M THE GOVERNOR!

ERNEST LABBE's picture

Perhaps

some of your readers find it refreshing that we have a state leader that says what he thinks, not what he thinks people want to hear. This politically correct B/S has gone on for way to long. If I don''t like what someone is saying I move along. The First Admendment gives you and I the right to say what we think. Nothing requires you nor I to listen to what is being said. I for one am tired of the mealy mouth politicians that are afraid to speak their mind in fear of being fired by those that disagree with them.

Jason Theriault's picture

There is a difference

There is a difference between PC run amuck and speaking in a professional manner. This isn't political correctness run amuck, this is just hostility.

Republican's see Democrats as the enemy, as evil.

It is well and good to speak

It is well and good to speak your mind. He certainly has that right. The real question: is it wise to? Here's the problem. Every time he speaks his mind, he displays his utter ignorance. How does this make him better for "speaking his mind"? Has nothing to do political correctness. It has everything with maintaining the respect of the office. And by now, over two years later, he has destroyed respect for his office. He would do well to heel Lincoln. That thing about staying quiet and thought a fool rather than speaking up and removing all doubt.

It's not that he speaks his mind. One of his role models, Chris Cristie does the same. The difference is, Christie knows what he's talking about. Even if you disagree with what he's saying, you can't really argue that he doesn't know what he's talking about. (He also make serving New Jersey his first priority, and I have never heard him make any statements that indicated contempt for his State. LePage does it all the time for Maine. I have never seen a Governor so eager to put down his own state.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Parliamentary procedures

There are things called 'parliamentary procedures'. Did we not learn this in civics classes --- I have used the same in running meetings. This watanabe Guv is not being "prevented", he is simply out of order (and out of his mind, too).

He's got the T (yrannical) Party nervous condition which is usually called paranoia.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

finding it refreshing

find it refreshing .....He added, "The minute we start stifling our speech, we might as well go home, roll up our sleeves and get our guns out."

ADVOCATING OVERTHROWING THE GOVERNMENT IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL AND TREASONOUS, BUT ITS OK IF YOU ARE GOP/TEA SOMEHOW? ADVOCATING VIOLENCE IS GROUNDS FOR IMPEACHMENT!

Sedition is against the law, being that oh, right he is a Governor?

 's picture

Does Maine have an impeachment provision in the

Maine Constitution?
I would hope sedition is not against the law. I thought we learned that in 1798.
Advocating overthrowing the government is not unconstitutional nor treason. Treason requires two witnesses to the same act of treason (armed rebellion against the government) or giving (material) aid and comfort to an enemy.
Buuuut! With the growing risk of domestic terrorism motivated by religious fanaticism, an elected official promoting rebellion is is behaving with such irresponsibility that it justifies removal from office.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Off the table and back on again...

The High Court has protected the speech of racial supremacists and separatists, labor organizers, advocates of racial Integration, and opponents of the draft for the Vietnam War. However, it has refused to declare unconstitutional all sedition statutes and prosecutions. In 1940, to silence radicals and quell Nazi or communist subversion during the burgeoning Second World War, Congress enacted the Smith Act (18 U.S.C.A. §§ 2385, 2387), which outlawed sedition and seditious conspiracy. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the act in Dennis v. United States, 341 U.S. 494, 71 S. Ct. 857, 95 L. Ed. 1137 (1951).

Sedition prosecutions are extremely rare, but they do occur. Shortly after the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City, the federal government prosecuted Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, a blind Egyptian cleric living in New Jersey, and nine co defendants on charges of seditious conspiracy. Rahman and the other defendants were convicted of violating the seditious conspiracy statute by engaging in an extensive plot to wage a war of Terrorism against the United States. With the exception of Rahman, they all were arrested while mixing explosives in a garage in Queens, New York, on June 24, 1993.

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/sedition

 's picture

I wrote "would hope sedition is not agains the law"

I still hope. That the Supreme Court has left a few stragglers according to your comment isn't surprising. Doesn't make it right although those decisions would weigh heavily with me. Any law passed in anticipation of war or during a war should be seriously challenged especially the Smith Act passed in 1940 which the courts has found unconstitutonal a number of times.
1993 was early in the development of Islamic terrorism. Rahman's convict shows how weak our law was in dealing with it. Seditious conspiracy was probably all the prosecutors had to work with. I hope the legal situation is much clearer now.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Roberts Rules and so much more

People really have no idea what the First Amendment means. It's especially horrifying when a TP governor hasn't the foggiest.

Freedom of Speech has no bearing on who gets to talk a what meeting or in whose house or anything like that. It's strictly a limitation on government regulating what one can say.

When I chair a meeting and rule someone "out of order" that's not a violation of "Free Speech". I can tell you to be quiet in my house, to tone down the profanity, to stop making threats -- none of that violates the 1st Amendment. It's just common courtesy.

The rules of the State Legislature are set by the members and they have the right to meet without the Governor's presence. Not a violation of anyone's rights.
The TP has proven to be a bunch of loud-mouthed crybabies without a whiff of any knowledge or intelligence and LePage is a prime example.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I think actions taken by the

I think actions taken by the federal government, such as using the IRS to target political opponents, puts this country closer to a Patrick Henry moment than any political contention in Augusta.

Jason Theriault's picture

Save the drama for yo mama

Not everything is the end of the world. Was the IRS scandal BS? Yes.
Should someone get fired? Yes
Should Congress investigate? Yes
Is not getting tax exempt statusand being asked to submit extra paperwork on the same level as what our forefathers faced? NO NO NO.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

In many cases, the questions

In many cases, the questions were excessive and in appropriate. That said, some of the organizations applying for tax exempt status did suffer financial loses in the form of loss donations and legal fees.

To that end, the IRS needs to make those organizations whole. Some of the impacted organizations have already filed legal action, which is good because we’ll get more facts - facts that this administration is hiding - as these legal proceeding progress.

Lastly, it is just on one event but an accumulation of many things that should spur people to demanding smaller government that has less power over our lives.

Jason Theriault's picture

Credibility Hole

That's a heck a precedent you want to set - anytime the Government drags it's feet, you can sue for damages? You think we have a deficit now, just wait...

And can all the nominees for the federal bench sue republicans for dragging their feet? I'm sure they can justify some financial harm.

But here's the real problem - you guys have a serious credibility issue. Look at Obama's approval rating. A CNN/ORC poll puts it steady at 51%. (You can show me the Rasmussen poll that shows it's slightly down, and I'll just show you the Rasmussen poll that says Romney was going to win the election). And the reason is that you have burned your credibility with moderates. Be it the crap about Obama's birth certificate, that he was some sort of secret muslim, that he wasn't a secret muslim, but his preacher was a super racist against whites, to him being more of a socialist than Marx to Benghazi to now. To us, it looks like you'll jump on any anti Obama bandwagon, which then makes when there is a real issue, like fast an furious or the IRS scandal, just more of the same. Background noise.

If everything is an impeachable scandal, then nothing is.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Replace conservative group

Replace conservative group with people of color. Now would you take the same position?

Allegedly, to Jewish group was denied 501 3c status because their views differed from the current administration. Assuming this allegation is true for the moment, that is more than just delaying.

Jason Theriault's picture

Yes

Replace conservative group with people of color. Now would you take the same position?

Yes I would.

Not everything is the end of the world. Was the IRS scandal BS? Yes.
Should someone get fired? Yes
Should Congress investigate? Yes
Is not getting tax exempt status and being asked to submit extra paperwork on the same level as what our forefathers faced? NO NO NO.

Secondly, the Jewish group is full of it. Z Street is a political organization advocating support of Jewish settlements, and they want 501(3)(c) so donations are tax deductible. If they went 501(c)(4), they would be fine.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Really and of course you have proof of that, MR ISSA

"That said, some of the organizations applying for tax exempt status did suffer financial losses in the form of loss donations and legal fees."

"facts that this administration is hiding" - what facts Mark, because you and they say the word FACT, so, we are to believe a guy like the car thief ISSA, whose track record is nil.

Issa today made allegations AGAIN with no proof but just conjecture and allegations..

Issa's committee provided CNN partial transcripts of its interviews with Cincinnati IRS agents. Crowley read from one transcript in which an investigator asked an agent if directions for extra Tea Party scrutiny had emanated from Washington. "I believe so," the agent said.

Crowley was not impressed. "It's totally not definitive," she said of the excerpt.

If it don't fit you must acquit....

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Let’s get these people in

Let’s get these people in front of a jury where they are under oath to tell the truth or suffer perjury charges.
Like anything else, person A says there was abuse, person B says no. Let’s have a trail and see who a jury believes.

A lawsuit seeking loses due to IRS behavior will in fact force a jury trial.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

A lawsuit seeking loses due to IRS behavior

What losses? Was those donors rejected funds? Was the Tparty groups not allowed their PACs? Was the inquiry of asking questions in regards to those request of 501 (c) status make them not being able to collect donors monies?

Oh, but had IRS had prevented and caught violators, that would have no merit in them doing a service of catching liars, thieves and mostly tax evaders.

You and other T-whack jobs are concerned about PAC's not receiving millions with unknown donors say from China and elsewhere, but more concerned just about the whigs T Party being looked into for the thousands of applications requesting the ability of FREE NONTAXABLE FUNDING.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Don’t forget all those

Don’t forget all those organization that paid legal and accountant fees to deal with the IRS.

Yes process delays due to abuse does cost those organizations money. I’ll leave it up to the jury to determine damages.

Lastly, the fact you have to resort to personal attack is proof my statements have teeth.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

is proof my statements have teeth.

Yep, False teeth, that is how much of a fabricated bite you think you have..

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Time will tell.

Time will tell.

ANTHONY NAZAR's picture

It plays well

with those who have no clue what free speech and the First Amendment really mean.

And, that is the Guvernator's base - the misinformed, uniformed and really don't want to be informed. So LePage will continue to shoot from the lip and get hearty guffaws around the coffee urns in a corner store.

I just wish the national media would pick up on it before he turns into Rand Paul's running mate and they act surprised - Maine? You mean that's in the United States? Do we have any network outlets in Maine who can give us some video of LePage in meltdown?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Take your meds......you're

Take your meds......you're hallucinating.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Perhaps it is you that is

Perhaps it is you that is absent minded as to what the First Amendment is all about.

It is simple. LePage has the right to say things you don’t agree with , like, or want to hear – period.

RONALD RIML's picture

As he hides Murals......

Hippo-Critter!!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

They were offensive to the

They were offensive to the conservative psyche.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Do you mean offensive as in

Do you mean offensive as in the stench of urine one sometimes smells from old, white haired men as you walk past.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I think it comes from mostly

I think it comes from mostly the bald ones. Prostate problems,. ya know?

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

To a degree

He has that right in his own environment, but not when he wants to take the bully pulpit at a Committee meeting he has no chair in.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Where's the beef!

Certainly, the 1st Amendment places no such restrictions on that behavior. That said, if you cannot reference State law that prohibits said behavior, then there is nothing wrong – like it or not.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Committee Rules

Like if at the State of the Union Address or at Committee hearings, could any person haphazardly just request or take the mic at their leisure if the rules prohibit so, or the Chairman who rules the chair says so. It stands.

It is Roberts Rules, that is how Committee and hearings are held. By-laws and Constitutions of many nature of organizations use and many are stated and are quoted and used.

State law that prohibits, BS...

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Robert’s rules and bylaws are

Robert’s rules and bylaws are recommendations, not laws you get prosecuted for if violated. Not that I'm in support of breaking procedure.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Wrong again

By-laws are Rules--regulations that have consequential violations that can be charged and prosecuted, as ethics and fines that are written to sections of those Constitutional by-laws, utilized by Committees.

If that was the case By-Laws would have never be written or followed.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Show proof of prosecution!

Show proof of prosecution!

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Newt the twit...Delay the crook

Ethics charges and reprimand

Vice President Al Gore, House Speaker Newt Gingrich and President Bill Clinton at the 1997 State of the Union Address
Eighty-four ethics charges were filed against Gingrich during his term as Speaker. All were eventually dropped except for one: claiming tax-exempt status for a college course run for political purposes.[75]

The House officially reprimanded Gingrich (in a vote of 395 in favor, 28 opposed) and "ordered [him] to reimburse the House for some of the costs of the investigation in the amount of $300,000".[76][77] It was the first time a Speaker was disciplined for an ethics violation.[78][79]

On October 3, 2005 a third Grand Jury indicted DeLay on money laundering charges.
On October 20, 2005, Tom DeLay turned himself in to the Harris County Sheriff Office, the day after an arrest warrant was issued.[25] He was released after posting a $10,000 bond.[26] On November 24, 2010, DeLay was found guilty by a jury in Austin (Travis County), Texas, of conspiracy to commit money laundering and making an illegal contribution.[27] He was subsequently sentenced to three years in prison and 10 years probation on January 10, 2011

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Not paying your taxes

Not paying your taxes properly is criminal law. Bylaws are a contract that one must sign and enter into agreement. Bylaws are contract law and adjudicated in civil court. One will never go to jail over violating bylaws.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

OSHA Regulations Corporate Deaths/Prosecutions

Corporation may have responsibility to pay for counsel if matter is:

Within company policy;

Contractual agreement between corporation and employee;

Local law;

By-laws.

http://www.hilderlaw.com/Appearances/CRIMINAL-PROSECUTION-FOR-SAFETY-VIO...

By-Laws was the path to the violation of OSHA Regulations to Prosecutions for many deaths investigated...

THOMAS FALLON 's picture

And the S-J gave Gov. LePage...

more press coverage for his outspoken behavior. He has shown he doesn't care what the press writes about it.

And, there are some citizens who like this in the governor and think the legislators and other government officials deserve him.

Sometimes wisdom counsels us to be quiet about an issue we disagree with and let it die rather than continue to pour gasoline on it.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Tom ? Discretion is always

Tom ? Discretion is always the better part of valor . ./s Steve

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