This past month, a private unnamed foundation bought advertising on 145 billboards in Ohio and Wisconsin from a billboard company called Clear Channel. The billboard (an example seen below) pictured a wooden gavel & stated “Voter fraud is a felony! Up to 3 ½ yrs & $10,000 Fine.”
The billboards were up for a little while until liberal activists went into hysterics and demanded the billboards be removed. At first, Clear Channel stood strong accurately stating it did not have the right to censor free speech. But the liberal frenzy continued. Clear Channel then apologized for signing the contract without requiring the private foundation to identify itself. But the liberal witch-hunt continued. Journalist John Fund reports in his National Review article that Cleveland City Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland called the billboards “intimidating and threatening,” Ohio Columnist Connie Schultz called the messages “the ghosts of Jim Crow,” and an organization called Color of Change called the billboards “one of the nastiest suppression schemes we’ve seen.” Refusing to stand strong, Clear Channel buckled and demanded the private foundation identify itself or the billboards would be removed. The private foundation refused and Clear Channel removed the billboards and donated 10 of the Cleveland area billboards to appease the protestors by posting the slogan, “Voting is a Right. Not a crime!”
Help me out here – why can’t a private foundation project a statement (let alone an accurate statement) from an advertising mechanism which they have rightfully purchased the ability to rent? I’m missing the illegality! When did it become okay to muzzle free speech? And since when must we sacrifice our right to free speech on the altar of tolerance and political correctness?
Clearly the intent of the liberal activists was to intimidate and bully those who do not line up with their beliefs. Unfortunately for these activists, the Founding Fathers reside on the side of free speech. Think of Common Sense or the Federalist Papers. Both, at their time of release, were published anonymously and contained contentious political arguments. These documents were pivotal for our independence and became pillars of our American freedom. If released today, modern day actions (exemplified in the Clear Channel saga) point to the censorship of these founding documents! How far have we strayed? Why in the name of free speech do we censor exactly what it is we seek to protect? And where will this progressive journey end?