He’s Back…

Insufferable gasbag “Marcus Brutus” is once again plaguing NewsReal with his presence.  Just like before, he’s whining about “slander” against the object of his most-unhealthy affection, Ron & Rand Paul, and just like before, his hubris is making him look like the lying buffoon, not me.

Bias & Censorship at the Fond du Lac Reporter

Groups and websites like NewsReal and the Media Research Center do great work holding the big dogs of the mainstream media—the New York Times, CNN, the networks, NPR, etc.—accountable for lies and sleaze, but there is another manifestation of media bias that gets far too little attention: local media.  My mother, Peg Freiburger, recently wrote an editorial to our local paper, the Fond du Lac Reporter, about legislation giving Planned Parenthood greater influence in Wisconsin public schools.  The letter’s path to publication raises serious questions about the objectivity of America’s most influential newspapers.

It responds to a February 12 news report, yet wasn’t published until April 2.  That’s because Mom originally submitted it on Feb. 14 (the original version of the letter appears below the fold).  She waited until March 1 for it to be published or for reaction from the Reporter, which she never received, then emailed an inquiry about the letter’s status to Managing Editor Michael Mentzer.  No response.  She waited some more, then sent a second email to Mentzer on March 10.

Mentzer finally responded a couple days later via phone.  Incredibly, he claimed the editorial staff felt “uncomfortable” printing the allegations in her latest editorial, that she needed to provide more evidence, and that the line, “It is pathetic that in Fond du Lac we have a county health officer and a county board…” cut too close to slander and libel.

At Mentzer’s request, Mom resubmitted the letter on March 16, this time with a link for her every claim.  She did not hear back for the next several days, and resubmitted it on March 22.  On March 23, Mentzer responded, stating he hoped to run it in the next several days, though election letters had priority.  On April 2, it finally appeared—under the title, “Planned Parenthood makes money on birth control,” a name that conveniently downplays the letter’s main objections to Planned Parenthood, and the organization’s connection to Wisconsin public schools.

This is perhaps unsurprising, given that Mentzer has in the past advocated greater government power to punish those who “distort information” in public.  But since when do local newspapers in general, and the Fond du Lac Reporter in particular, vet or take responsibility for the content of independent opinions?

Answer: they don’t.  Personal attacks on private citizens, slanderous mischaracterizations of opponents’ beliefs and actions, and factual claims that range from demonstrably false to at least debatable have always run rampant in the Reporter.  This is to be expected—the very point of an opinion page is to represent all the points of view in a community, to let the readers duke it out amongst themselves.

Click here for many examples of what the Reporter has traditionally published; here are some of the most blatant rhetoric that goes far beyond the content of Mom’s letter, which the powers that be initially thought too objectionable to print:

Rea Dunca, 6/14/06“How are these people [opponents of same-sex marriage] different then from Muslims who blow up hundreds of people in the name of Allah?”

Leah Woodruff, 7/7/06“Just when it seems that Fond du Lac is accepting its growing diversity, people start writing racist letters directed toward hard-working, law-abiding citizens.” [In response to a 7/5/06 letter by Elizabeth Van Bommel, which argued not for racism, but against illegal immigration.]

Brent Schmitz, 8/8/06“Why then, does Mr. Fountain use the quote to try to force his religion on suffering and dying Americans who need the cures this research can provide?” [In response to Steve Fountain’s 8/4/06 letter, which argued against embryonic stem cell research using this quote, and making no reference to religion.]

Julie Labomascus, 9/10/06“I wish to thank the two ladies who wrote the letters about 1950s morals and the male/female union. Both of you probably intended these letters to be serious, but they were so full of inaccuracies that they were the funniest things I’ve read in a few weeks. Thank you again for the laughs.” [This is the letter in its entirety. The author makes no effort to demonstrate what inaccuracies she’s referring to.]

Peter Cloyes, 11/28/06“I have nothing but contempt for the parents who are trying to have the book [I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou] removed from the [Fond du Lac High School] curriculum. They are clearly moronic bigots.” [The parents objected to the book’s explicit rape scene, not its racial aspects.]

Call the opinions of local officials “pathetic,” and the editor gets cold feet.  But calling your fellow citizens bigots?  Accusing them of factual inaccuracies you don’t even list?  Comparing them to terrorists?  No problemo!

Mentzer’s “concerns” about this letter’s conduct seem like cheap excuses not to publish a strong conservative opinion about a serious local controversy, not a real, consistently-applied quality control policy.  Does he really mean to suggest that the Reporter fact-checks every single opinion piece it prints?  If this was the norm, very little would ever be published on newspaper opinion pages across the country!

It’s safe to say that many people who don’t read the New York Times, USA Today, or the Washington Post do read their local papers.  And who keeps an eye on them?  How often does bull like this go on nationwide?  If Mom hadn’t pestered Mentzer with follow-up emails, would her letter ever have seen the light of day?  How many conservative views are snuffed out because their authors are less persistent, or because newspaper editors are more bold in their censorship?

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”  Likewise, the apathy of the people is the Left’s best friend.  Media bias, educational indoctrination, corruption in local government, or leaders who disregard the interests and values of their community—it all happens and continues because inattentive, unconcerned populaces let the powerful get away with it.  And if all politics is local, then we can’t expect real, lasting change at the national level if we don’t open our eyes and demand standards in our own communities.

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Flashback: The FdL Reporter’s Double Standards

Let’s take a trip down memory lane to see what evidently doesn’t violate the Fond du Lac Reporter editorial board’s sensibilities:

Kristopher Purzycki, 6/2/06—“The law has no place for ‘logic’ that promotes the removal of freedom from the private lives of citizens!”

David E. Beaster, 6/6/06“I suspect that Mrs. [Anita] Anderegg would have all of us to believe that we would be better off under a feudal system where the concentration of power would be in the hands of a group of elitists.” [In response to a proposal to reduce the size of the Fond du Lac County Board from 36 members to 18.]

Rea Dunca, 6/14/06“How are these people [opponents of same-sex marriage] different then from Muslims who blow up hundreds of people in the name of Allah?”

Leah Woodruff, 7/7/06“Just when it seems that Fond du Lac is accepting its growing diversity, people start writing racist letters directed toward hard-working, law-abiding citizens.” [In response to a 7/5/06 letter by Elizabeth Van Bommel, which argued not for racism, but against illegal immigration.]

Maria Kohlman, 7/13/06“I felt the Reporter did a wonderful job with the story, then someone like you had to come along and rip it apart with your racist comments.” [In response to the same letter.  The Reporter reprinted this letter on 7/18/06.]

Brent Schmitz, 8/8/06“Why then, does Mr. Fountain use the quote to try to force his religion on suffering and dying Americans who need the cures this research can provide?” [In response to Steve Fountain’s 8/4/06 letter, which argued against embryonic stem cell research using this quote, and making no reference to religion.]

A.G. Keberlein, 8/14/06“This march to war was orchestrated by an inept Republican administration that lied to all of America about the need for such a war.”

John P. Stoltenberg, 8/21/06“The definition of fascism in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language is as follows: Fascism, a philosophy or system of government that advocates or exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with an ideology of belligerent nationalism…The Bush Administration perfectly fits the definition of fascism.”

Julie Labomascus, 9/10/06“I wish to thank the two ladies who wrote the letters about 1950s morals and the male/female union. Both of you probably intended these letters to be serious, but they were so full of inaccuracies that they were the funniest things I’ve read in a few weeks. Thank you again for the laughs.” [This is the letter in its entirety. The author makes no effort to demonstrate what inaccuracies she’s referring to.]

Jan Starks, 10/4/06“Yet it is groups such as this that seek to dishonor the memory of the fallen for a political advantage.” [Objecting to local pro-lifers who held a pro-life rally at Veterans Park.]

Ryan Long, 10/17/06“There is no logical reason for this ban [on same-sex marriage]. Its supporters will come to the polls simply because gay people make them sick.”

Steve Fero, 10/30/06“I’ll vote ‘no’ on the gay marriage ban amendment. It seems to me improper to use the Constitution to codify petty bigotries.”

Joseph E. Malson, 11/14/06“By voting ‘yes’ [on Wisconsin’s Marriage Protection Amendment], you are saying it’s OK to discriminate against someone because you don’t like who they are. Plain and simple. That’s who you are as a people.”

On 11/26/06, the Reporter published a letter by Adam Kempf, arguing that not recognizing same-sex marriage is equivalent to banning interracial marriage. The letter was heavily plagiarized from a 2/12/05 Washington Post editorial by Colbert I. King.

Peter Cloyes, 11/28/06“I have nothing but contempt for the parents who are trying to have the book [I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou] removed from the [Fond du Lac High School] curriculum. They are clearly moronic bigots.” [The parents objected to the book’s explicit rape scene, not its racial aspects.]

Kenneth Bounds, 11/28/06“Nazis didn’t allow the Germans to read books, either. Way to go, Fond du Lac!”

Samuel McIntosh, 3/8/07“It seems to me the only reason we are in Iraq is the oil, and to take out a puppet leader gone awry, but that’s only because he has oil.”

Ted & Hedy Eischeid, 4/1/07“Mrs. [Linda] Clifford has an outstanding legal record, one of integrity and intelligence. Unfortunately, her opponent, Annette Ziegler, has clearly violated the Judicial Code of Conduct multiple times.”

Harold Gudex, 4/9/07“Seventy percent of us want out of this illegal war. It is based on lies.”

Brent Schmitz, 12/14/07“Mr. Freiburger seems to devalue debate and disagreement within the American political sphere. Evidently, only conservative teachers are worthy of community support and funding, as per the veiled threat he makes at the end of the letter.” [In response to my editorial here; my rebuttal is here.]

Rave Reviews 3!

Hey, kids!  It’s time for another installment of Rave Reviews!

“Calvin, you’d better take a course in logic while you’re there at Hillsdale, because this piece is full of logical fallacies. Oh, and a course in journalism mightn’t go amiss either…you’re a very silly boy, Calvin.”Peggy

“what a fool you are… drowned by politcal propaganda when you claim to be a student of the very institution you bastardise. you are subversley guised into behaving like a perfect pawn.”king james

“Look kid I’ve met many of your kind before, you have Dick Cheney written all over you. You’re willing to watch other people shed blood and make the sacrifice, but to chicken shit to put your own ass on the line. Why don’t you put your education on hold and join the fight instead of being some little bitch cheering from the sidelines. But of course we know you won’t, because you rather see other young men and women die for your twisted un-constitutional agenda.”Justin

“…afgan cave of a mind.”Rhys

“The problem with you Calvin is that you’ve been listening to Sean Hannity your entire life. If that’s your perspective, if that’s all you know, how do you know any better? You shut off your mind to any opposing views…But I know you won’t change and luckily not everyone is as arrogant as you in their beliefs thinking that they know everything”Mike

“You seem to have an absolute block in your mind about questioning anything that involves the military…I think it’s sad that you are unable to engage in an intelligent discussion of these topics.”Aaron

“You Neo-Cons are definitely in denial. Who the hell told you that being Pro-War is Pro-American? […] you definitely need much more education than I thought.”Branden

“…an Israel Firster.”William R

“Perhaps you’re not evil, just coldhearted.”GrrrlRomeo

“I am troubled that my alma mater Hillsdale is producing students of political science with such poor reading comprehension and listening capacities…an unprincipled young man who wishes to maintain present American global dominance without consideration of the damage it will do to our republic in the long run…my name is on plaques at Hillsdale, and yours isn’t.”Marcus Brutus

“You are such a little drama queen…You are despicable…Calvin, the Defender of Pedophiles. Hey, NAMBLA just advocates ‘free speech.’ They don’t really do anything wrong. Calvin, go join, quick, you little punk.”John Doe

“So, just labeling someone as crazy without challenging the points they brought up passes as political discourse at the mighty poli sci department of Hillsdale these days?”infocyde

“Scores of those ‘fringy’ Birchers , whose biggest crime is sticking up for the Constitution, have something on the chicken-hawk college student writing this silly blog entry – they’ve served their country admirably in the military.”Howling Hurricane

“Ad hominum attacks much?”spinnikerca

“I am not a 9-11 truther but I don’t have a big problem with those who question government and demand more answers from government. As Glenn Beck would say, question with boldness. Just not 9-11! That’s because, unlike you and him, I am for liberty and freedom in all instances…The elitism card can only work for so long and at some point you neoconservatives will have to articulate where and why I’m wrong or else people will start to suspect you can’t.”fatlibertarian

“Basically, gays can ride the bus, they just cant sit in the front. As you might say, “gotcha”. Try and twist yourself out of that pretzel, you thoughtless hypocritical carrier pigeon for hate.”Joshua from NJ

“If ever I needed proof positive that you are motivated by contempt for gay persons, you have just provided me with that proof — without as much as a hint of a fig-leaf of covering rhetoric.”Phillip Chandler

“Almost embarrassed??? That’s funny Cal, after the stuff you buy into and attemp to defend , I would say you’re not capable of embarrassment . Do all Repu….er ..uh …conservatives share your views ?”badaboo

“It’s self evident Calvin , take off your political blinders , and if you still can’t see this for what it is …well , that’s not my fault . That’s on you pal.”eyes wide open

“Love to see the Euphrates run red with Muslim blood don’t ya? Everything you guys spew is anti-Palestinian.”Jacob

“If you don’t ever encounter difficulty articulating or defending your views, then that may mean that your views are predictable and derivative: They apparently present no challenge to you.”CK MacLeod

“How sad that Calvin didn’t learn even the tiniest bit of logic and critical thinking allegedly taught at Hillsdale.”Debbie Schlussel

Start your day right with hateful, ignorant analysis from your favorite knuckle-dragging, pro-gay/anti-gay war monger!  Calvin Freiburger Online: shouldn’t you be reading?

(For more fun, check out Part 1 and Part 2!)

Who Is the Right’s Charles Johnson?

Looks like others are starting to notice that John Doe debates like a foul-mouthed twelve-year-old. For the record, I think Dan Riehl’s original criticism of Glenn Beck, while valid, was over the top, but it’s hilarious to hear Doe equate him with Charles Johnson, because it seems to me that Doe is the Johnson wannabe, not Riehl.  While Charles Johnson smears decent conservatives as too “extreme,” John Doe smears decent conservatives as not extreme enough.

A Special Message to My Special Friend Marcus

I made a new friend recently!  He goes by the screen name “Marcus Brutus,” and attended my school, Hillsdale College, some time ago.  Unfortunately, thanks to our disagreements about Ron Paul and the War on Terror, we didn’t exactly hit it off.

“Marcus” wants me to know that he fared much better academically than he supposes I did: “I’ll ask [Hillsdale President] Dr. [Larry P.] Arnn at the next fundraiser if you’ve had a chance to examine that desk of his yetmy name is on plaques at Hillsdale, and yours isn’t.” He doesn’t think I have much “intellectual cultivation,” or that I’d make it “as a secretary for any office in any level of the federalist society in [his] chapter.”  Why, my heart positively shatters! (I don’t presume to be some great scholar, and I confess that I haven’t a single plaque to my name, but in my defense, I’m not exactly dead weight.)

His intellect, by contrast, is highly cultivated, and it’s very, very important for him that his readers know just how much, via seemingly-endless references to Scripture, English history, ancient Athens, and such.  Since graduating, he professes to have had quite the accomplished career—Marine Corps, Iraq, application to the bar, even some time spent in Israel.

Unfortunately, I don’t think “Marcus’s” way of going about things is doing him any favors.  In the spirit of friendship, allow me to humbly offer my fellow Hillsdalian some helpful advice.

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Attention Righty Bloggers: Time to Edit Your Blogrolls

It’ll come as little surprise that John Doe of Smash Mouth Politics ain’t exactly the sharpest knife in the rack.  But, it turns out, he’s also a lying demagogue.  Nobody who would equate same-sex marriage support with PEDOPHILIA deserves the respect of anybody who claims to be a conservative or a Christian.  The crap he spews is neither.

UPDATE: A new standard in discourse: “do you wear a skirt when you whine like that?” Truly, my friends, we are witnessing a master of his craft at work.  Never before has such compelling logic and piercing insight been so succinctly packaged in such clarity!

Stay classy.

Charles Johnson’s Character Problem, Exhibit #6,174

Andrew Breitbart recently got into a fight with WorldNetDaily’s Joseph Farah over WND’s idiotic obsession with Barack Obama’s birth certificate.  Now, one would imagine this would be reassuring to those who devote considerable attention to the problem of “extremism” and “bad craziness” on the Right, and that perhaps someone like that would give credit to Breitbart for standing up to Farah.

Unless, of course, that someone happens to be slanderous knuckle-dragger Charles Johnson.

To him, the story is – despite having quoted absolutely nothing to imply anything of the sort – that Breitbart somehow “want[s] us to think [he] didn’t see it coming” that Birtherism would come up at the Tea Party Convention.

There’s no reasoning with you.  The only real flaw with Dennis Prager’s takedown of your lies is that he seems to think you still have a modicum of conscience to which he could appeal.

An Open Letter to the Family Research Council

To Whom It May Concern,

I have always been an admirer of the Family Research Council’s work in support of the right to life, true marriage, religious liberty, and other traditional American values.  For years, I have also worked towards those goals in my community and on my weblog.  I fought fiercely for Wisconsin’s Marriage Protection Amendment in 2006.  Like most conservatives, I have often been slandered as a bigot because I oppose same-sex marriage, civil unions, and gay adoption.

I say this so that, when I express how shocked, offended and betrayed I felt upon seeing the conduct of one of your spokesmen recently, you understand my full meaning.

FRC Senior Fellow for Policy Studies Peter Sprigg recently appeared on MSNBC to discuss the issue of gay soldiers serving openly in the US military with Chris Matthews.  The segment ended with the following exchange:

MATTHEWS: Do you think we should outlaw gay behavior?

SPRIGG: Well, I – I think certainly it’s defensible.

MATTHEWS: I’m just asking you, should we outlaw gay behavior?

SPRIGG: I think the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned the sodomy laws in this country, was wrongly decided.  I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior.

MATTHEWS: So we should outlaw gay behavior.

SPRIGG: Uh, yes.

When I saw the headlines announcing, “Family Research Council Spokesman Advocates Criminalizing Homosexuality,” I was certain they had to be lies, more out-of-context distortions of honorable conservative beliefs.  But for once, the Left appears to be correct.

Both as a matter of moral principle and of political common sense, Mr. Sprigg’s comments are indefensible.  Our Founding Fathers clearly wanted American to be guided by a firm sense of morality, and believed that Judeo-Christian religious values were essential to the continued survival of a republic.  But they also established the principle of limited government, authorized only to do a certain number of things and dedicated to preserving individual liberty.

The question of whether society should formally endorse homosexual behavior via civil marriage is fundamentally different from the question of whether or not homosexuals are human beings equally entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, or whether or not it is just for any level of government to criminalize sexual activity between consenting adults.  Indeed, one can even recognize that Lawrence was an instance of judicial overreach without supporting the merits of the statute in dispute.

As a Christian, an American, and a conservative, I am appalled that it would ever cross any of my leaders’ minds to advocate such an un-American policy as criminalizing gay behavior.  Not only would such beliefs constitute genuine persecution of American citizens, but they would set the stage for a dangerous expansion of governmental power over individual liberty.

Regarding political common sense, it is baffling to me that, given the Left’s long-standing history of demonizing believers in traditional values, a prominent, experienced conservative spokesman such as Mr. Sprigg would not instantly recognize Matthews’ question as a trap and know enough not to take the bait.  Liberals and gay activists have wasted no time in seizing upon his comments not just to condemn Peter Sprigg, but to condemn all of us.  It is bad enough that defenders of true marriage routinely have to deal with false charges of bigotry and extremism; the last thing any of us needs is a true one.

Naturally, I would appreciate an explanation from Mr. Sprigg as to just what he meant, if he misspoke, but his comments seem clear enough that I have a hard time imagining that he did not understand the question, or that he meant something other than what he said.  Mr. Sprigg’s reckless and un-conservative remarks have harmed the battle for true marriage, and they threaten to tarnish all of the good work the Family Research Council has done in the past, and will continue to do in the future.  It pains me to say it, but I see only one way for the FRC to preserve—and, indeed, to deserve—its credibility: Peter Sprigg should be relieved of his duties with the organization, effective immediately.  Thank you for your time.

Calvin Freiburger

(Update: cross-posted at NewsReal.)