You might remember how Bobby Jindal’s administration has tried to block MoveOn.org from having a billboard critical of the Louisiana governor.
Turns out – surprise, surprise – Jindal has something in common with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The Russian strongman’s government has, reports CNET, blocked “several Russian web sites noted for their criticism of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his government.”
According to CNET:
Russian Internet service providers were ordered Thursday to cut off access to a handful of sites, including those of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and famed chess champion Garry Kasparov, who runs opposition information site kasparov.ru. The order came down from the prosecutor general’s office, according to a statement by state regulator Roskomnadzo (Google translation).
“These sites contain incitement to illegal activity and participation in public events held in violation of the established order,” the agency said. Other banned Web sites include the opposition news portals Grani and Ej.ru.
Republicans have proven they don’t like the First Amendment; they have shown they do not take well to being asked questions, let alone suffer criticism, sometimes responding with violence. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had his own explosive response to hecklers on Thursday.
In Louisiana, meanwhile, if it does not get its way, the tyrannical Jindal administration has threatened legal action against MoveOn.org for its criticism of the governor. Putin made those websites go away; Jindal wants to make a billboard go away.
According to The Times-Picayune,
If the state chooses to take the matter to court, its case wouldn’t be particularly strong, said Keith Werhan, a constitutional law professor at Tulane University. Werhan said political parodies like the billboard are almost always protected under the First Amendment.
“The government can’t legally silence those who are criticizing them,” said Werhan.
MoveOn.org reports that their communications director, Nick Berning, had the following response:
MoveOn will not back down in the face of baseless legal threats. If Republican officials don’t want to be criticized for keeping hundreds of thousands of Louisianans from accessing Medicaid, there’s a simple solution — they should stop preventing Louisianans from accessing Medicaid.
Neither Governor Jindal nor Lt. Governor Dardenne will silence MoveOn members. This billboard is protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech. Instead of wasting our time and theirs with a pathetic attempt to suppress criticism of the state government, state officials should focus on helping nearly 245,000 Louisianans access Medicaid. If he is truly concerned about Louisiana’s image, Lt. Gov Dardenne’s time should be spent getting people health care, not trying to take down a billboard.
Let’s face it: it is not a big step from demanding MoveOn.org to “cease and desist” from its right to free speech, to simply sending out crews to take the billboard down. It’s a matter of degree, not of intent, which is to muzzle criticism. You can be sure that if Jindal thought he could get away with it, he and Putin would be doing the same thing right now, which is playing the tyrant.
The big difference is that while Putin’s opponents are helpless in the face of his tyranny (as the repeated abuse of Pussy Riot demonstrate), Americans have the First Amendment in their corner. Jindal can be a hypocrite and make his demands if he wants to go there, but as MoveOn.org has maintained, their billboard is protected speech. In this country, Jindal WILL have to go to court and make his case there.
Compare all this to President Barack Obama, who is regularly demonized by the right wing on billboards across the country.
Some are simply mean spirited and lack any factual basis:
Some of them are racist (and homophobic):
Some are threatening:
Obama is commonly portrayed as a tyrant, but Obama does nothing to block the billboards. He does not order them to be taken down. He does not demand anyone give up their right to free speech. He does not threaten to sue.
Rather, he understands he lives in a free and open society filled with divergent opinions, and that he is a public figure. He takes it like a man and let’s his actions speak for him.
Putin’s actions are also speaking for him, and sad to say, Bobby Jindal would rather emulate Vladimir Putin than Barack Obama. He would rather act like a Russian tyrant than an American president.
I think that says all we need to know about Bobby Jindal in 2016.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.