Is Speech Really Free? Part 3
by Catherine Bleish
As it turns out, during the course of working on this five-part series about freedom of speech, I have yet again been personally affected by violations of this most important constitutionally protected right. In part one, I told the story of my illegal arrest and detainment in Maplewood, Missouri for simply speaking. In part two, I described the growing issue of political profiling such as what happened here in Missouri when our highway patrol issued a report warning law enforcement officials that libertarians and conservatives might be violent radical militia members. This time, it was a U.S. congressman putting direct pressure on a media outlet to take down an episode in which I was interviewed about fusion centers and the growing police state.
Let me set the stage. During the epic fusion center battle of political profiling here in Missouri, a young man named John Bush was fighting a similar battle down in Austin, Texas. We met, joined forces and spawned a project called Operation Defuse. Our mission was to simply educate not only our fellow activists about fusion centers, but also law enforcement officials on the true nature of our fellow activists. We were working to defuse the growing police state and the notion that peaceful activists are potential violent threats.. Our effort produced educational YouTube videos, many of which can be found at http://www.operationdefuse.com. TruTV saw our videos, and contacted us about interviewing with their show “Conspiracy Theory” hosted by Jesse Ventura. We, of course, said “Yes!”
The episode was a huge success. The crowd at our watch party Brave New Books in Austin, Texas at was out the door, and our live stream of the event was seen by activists across the nation. Over a million viewers tuned into the first airing of the episode. Immediately my inbox caught fire, and I found myself deluged with emails, and phone calls. Never before had an interview resulted in so many inquiries. The episode aired almost one year to the date of the inception of Operation Defuse. We truly felt we accomplished a large portion of our mission. The issue of fusion centers just became mainstream.
Surprisingly, the following Friday the episode did not re-air as scheduled. It was scrubbed from the TruTv’s Web site, and my questions to the producer were met with a level of confusion equal to mine. Soon, we found out that Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen put pressure on the network to remove the episode. This most likely happened because he was directly confronted by Ventura about his sponsorship of H.R. 645, a bill that would create no fewer than six Federal Emergency Management Agency detention centers on existing military bases in the U.S. The situation is ongoing, and leaves me wondering - with even greater disappointment - is speech really free in these United States?