Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CDT to 6:00…
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This Week's "Your Turn" Radio Show Lineup

Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CDT to 6:00 p.m. CDT (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Commonsense.” Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 CDT/5:00 pm ET: Hans von Spakovsky, Manager, Election Law Reform Initiative and Senior Legal Fellow, Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation: On Sessions' Watch;

4:15 CDT/5:15 pm ET: Lee Casey, Partner at Baker & Hostetler: Detractors Denouncing Constitution;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm ET: Trey Kovacs, Policy Analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute: Veterans Department Ends Labor Union Work on Taxpayer Dime;

4:45 CDT/5:45 pm ET: Tzvi Khan, Senior Iran Analyst…[more]

November 12, 2018 • 04:24 pm

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Alarming New Poll Shows Americans Fear Expressing Themselves, and Congress Should Act Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Wednesday, October 17 2018
Private citizens should not remain afraid to express their viewpoints or support causes that are protected by the First Amendment, and federal laws most certainly shouldn't exacerbate that fear.

Do you fear speaking your mind in today's political climate of hyper-sensitivity and outright targeting? 

Do you find yourself self-censoring your viewpoints and concealing your political activities, except among trusted family and friends, or people you're certain are like-minded? 

If so, then you've got a lot of company.  According to an alarming new poll, large majorities of fellow Americans feel the same way. 

The new poll sampled an enormous field of 8,000 people, and was conducted by More in Common, a nonprofit organization with a stated mission of reducing political polarization.  Among other interesting findings, it highlighted a disturbing reluctance to engage in the most basic First Amendment right of free expression: 

Polarization has made it increasingly difficult for Americans to engage with each other on the most contested issues of the day.  This creates a chilling effect, driving more and more Americans away from public debate and leaving the conversation to the loudest, most extreme voices...   At least 50 percent of Americans claim there is "pressure to think a certain way."  Even among liberal groups, a significant percentage feels constrained...  More than two-thirds of Americans say they feel less inhibited voicing their perspectives when they are among "people like me." 

Over 80% of respondents agreed that political correctness is a problem in society, and that includes self-described liberals, moderates and conservatives. Only self-described "progressive activists" disagreed, which suggests the ongoing basis for the problem. 

Moreover, what respondents fear isn't necessarily official government retaliation.  Instead, it's harassment from fellow citizens, including being targeted at work or on social media: 

Across most segments, Americans are highly conscious of the risk of offending other people, and many express anxiety about doing so.  Many recount being called out for an insensitive remark, and they have heard examples of far more extreme cases.  They worry that these sensitivities stifle dialogue and intimidate people into silence. 

Until the Trump Administration took corrective action earlier this year, the federal government actually maintained a policy that would "stifle dialogue and intimidate people into silence" as the survey describes.   

Now, Senators Jon Tester (D - Montana) and Ron Wyden (D - Oregon) want to reverse the Trump Administration's corrective action through a hasty Congressional Review Act (CRA) vote. 

For years, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) required nonprofit organizations to submit what are called "990 Schedule B" forms, which disclosed the names, addresses and other personal information about donors to those nonprofit organizations.  Applicable law prohibited the IRS from using that information for any meaningful purpose, but that didn't stop IRS officials, state authorities and outside hackers from exploiting it to harass private citizens for supporting causes they opposed. 

For example, records of donors to the National Organization for Marriage were leaked, and far-left attorneys general like Eric Schneiderman of New York have sought access to IRS data to harass people for engaging in political activity on issues like climate change. 

Is it any wonder that Americans are more and more reluctant to engage in First Amendment free speech and protected political activity? 

The Trump IRS reversed that dangerous requirement for many exempt organizations earlier this year, but now Senators Tester and Wyden want to reverse it, and resume allowing the IRS to collect sensitive private information on donors that doesn't even serve any substantive IRS purpose. 

As the new poll confirms, Congress should reject Sen. Tester's and Sen. Wyden's dangerous attempt to make Americans more fearful of engaging in political activities protected by First Amendment freedoms of speech and political participation.  Congress should also enact pending legislation making the Trump Administration's corrective action permanent.

The First Amendment protects the individual freedoms of speech and political engagement, not the ability of the IRS, vindictive state authorities or vengeful hackers to scrutinize which causes private citizens choose to support. 

After rejecting Senator Tester's and Senator Wyden's proposal, Congress should then pass the "Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act," which would make the Trump Administration's correction permanent.  The House of Representatives passed the same legislation in 2016, and there's no excuse for delay now that a president who will actually sign it occupies the White House. 

As the new More in Common survey shows, doing so would address a concern held by enormous majorities of Americans. 

Private citizens should not remain afraid to express their viewpoints or support causes that are protected by the First Amendment, and federal laws most certainly shouldn't exacerbate that fear. 

Question of the Week   
Which one of the following individuals has NOT been Speaker of the House of Representatives?
More Questions
Quote of the Day   
 
"Reporting the news is difficult and expensive. Grandstanding is more fun and everyone has an opinion. That's why reporters were once taught, often by a stern taskmaster, to leave opining to the columnists and the editorial page, and save their opinions for after work in the bar across the street. This particular affliction -- grandstanding rather than reporting, advocacy rather than observing and…[more]
 
 
—The Editors, The Washington Times
— The Editors, The Washington Times
 
Liberty Poll   

How confident are you that your state's election supervisors make all reasonable efforts to count every legitimate vote and reject every illegitimate vote?