Freedom Updates: March 23, 2004

The Colorado Freedom Report:  A libertarian journal of politics and culture.

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com

Freedom Updates: March 23, 2004

All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.


Nathan Hickson Comes Home
Nathan Hickson has returned to his home in Colorado Springs after serving for several months in Iraq. Hickson is a long-time libertarian and the husband of Desiree, media director for the state Libertarian Party.

Hickson flew home on March 20. Desiree reports that, due to a communications glitch, she didn't know what day Nathan would return until that morning. Welcome home, Nathan!


Cut Prison Spending
Governor Owens wants to spend more money locking people away in prison, even if they've committed a non-violent offense or violated a "victimless crime" statute.

Stephen Raher of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition wrote a blistering response to a February 27 letter Owens sent to the Joint Budget Committee urging that group not to consider sentencing reform as a way of reducing government spending. Raher goes through the specific sources that allegedly supported Owens' claims, then concludes, "The governor's February 27 letter uses discredited research, distortions of data, and scare tactics in an attempt to prohibit any policy changes that would result in a reduction of Colorado's prison population." (Raher's full report is well worth reviewing.)

In a March 20 letter to the Fort Collins Coloradoan, Mark Brophy writes, "The easiest place to cut is the prison system. There has been an enormous increase in the prison population. According to prison officials, 23 percent of men and 35 percent of women in prison are non-violent drug offenders... Blacks constitute 4 percent of the state's population, but they represent 43 percent of the people in prison for drug use... It's time for politicians to balance the budget by cutting it in the most obvious area. If you agree, vote for Libertarian Party candidate Mark Brophy in November for Colorado Senate District 14."


Eminent Domain Update
It is no surprise that city politicians enjoy their ability to steal people's property and want to protect that ability. What is at least as repugnant, though, is that some city officials also use tax dollars to propagandize for that ability.

In the February/March publication of City Edition, a tax-funded "informational newsletter for residents of Westminster," city politicians praise a recent tax hike, offer tax-funded publicity for a new council member, and, of course, promote their ability to take people's property without their consent.

Meanwhile, Linda Berger argues in the Fort Collins Coloradoan (March 22), "The city wants to take a private path that runs through the middle of Paragon Point in southeast Fort Collins and turn it into a public, regional equestrian, pedestrian and bike trail, and spend thousands of unnecessary tax dollars doing so. The neighborhood is facing a serious situation in regard to the well-being of its homeowners' association and the safety of its children because of a condemnation action by the city of Fort Collins." Berger fears the city's action could result in higher costs for local residents.

Hillman Takes On Rocky Mountain Progressive Network
In a March 8 post, "JB" complains that State Senator "Mark Hillman whines about librul professors." JB adds, "Those inabstinent profs just ruffle his 'do, but 'durn it, he still stares right..." In the post, JB discusses Hillman's support for the "Academic Bill of Rights" (ABOR).

Hillman fired back in a March 19 column titled, "The not-so-subtle bigotry of the Left." He argued, "Given that the column in question contained nary a spelling or grammatical error and that RMPN didn't dispute any of the facts, I'm left with no conclusion except that these limousine liberals assume people from the country are too dumb to spell or speak properly, which obviously means we're too stupid to have relevant opinions... Such comments once again reveal that liberals are just as prone to hypocrisy and bigotry as those lesser beings like you and me, whom they revile. Stereotyping this wheat farmer and other rural Coloradans as quasi-illiterate is no different than demeaning the intelligence of blacks by mocking their speech patterns."

Hillman continued, "Last fall, when Denver police transcribed interviews with blacks phonetically with terms like "aks," "baf-room" and "poh-lice," the department soon found itself in a heap of horse apples. 'It's not only insensitive, it's insulting,' the Rev. Gil Ford of the NAACP told a Denver writer, who summarized Ford's objection as follows: 'It tags blacks as dumb. That dumbness presumes an inability to communicate well. That lack of good communication lets folks blow off your complaints, "because you don't even understand English".' ...What Rocky Mountain Progressive Network displayed on its website was no less bigoted." (The "Denver writer" of whom Hillman speaks is Jim Spencer of the Denver Post.

Unfortunately, Hillman does not counter the substantive criticisms of the "Academic Bill of Rights." Hillman does mention "a leftwing professor's temper tantrum in a House committee hearing which revealed to the assembled masses one of the Left's dirty little secrets: given unchecked power, liberals won't hesitate to ridicule, intimidate and silence those with opposing viewpoints." However, this instance does not prove Hillman's point. First, as the popular media reported, the professor later apologized to the student he'd yelled at and held a productive discussion with that student. Second, one instance doesn't prove the rule. Third, this was not an example of "unchecked power." Students already have the power to select their classes, complain about abuse, and so forth.

Thus, I agree with JB concerning the inappropriateness of ABOR. However, JB makes some other serious errors. JB describes ABOR as "just part of the well-coordinated attack on academia -- de-fund it, then have all the crumbled public colleges taken over by private evangelical institutions that funnel homeschooled grads into the White House."

JB's statement is wrong on several levels. ABOR is not part of any "well-coordinated attack" intended to "de-fund" universities. Rather, ABOR serves to entrench state involvement in those universities. Republicans are among the most ardent supporters of tax-funded education. Republicans (on the whole) do not want "public colleges" to be "taken over by private evangelical institutions;" they instead simply want to inject conservative and religious values into tax-funded institutions. JB confuses the removal of tax funds with "de-funding." The view that colleges should not be subsidized by the state is neutral as to whether colleges should be funded more or less. Finally, JB ignorantly conflates homeschooling with right-wing religion. In fact, homeschooling is quite popular among some leftists and many libertarians. The fact that homeschoolers consistently out-perform their government-schooled counterparts is apparently irrelevant to JB.

Rep. Shawn Mitchell agreed to pull ABOR in exchange for an agreement by Colorado's (tax-funded) colleges to take steps to promote fairness in the classroom.


California LP Advocates Paper Votes
Susan Marie Weber sent an e-mail on March 13 stating, "I am so pleased to announce that today, in San Jose, at the annual convention of the Libertarian Party of California, our cause to have elections with voter-verified PAPER ballots took a giant leap.

"This morning the LPC body of delegates added the following to the Libertarian Party of California's Platform...

"To avoid fraud and manipulation, we oppose direct recording electronic voting systems that do not use a voter verified paper ballot as the ballot of count, recount, audit and record. We support a voting system that is open, transparent and auditable in which each individual can verify at the time of voting that his vote is correctly recorded and in which the public can verify that the votes were correctly counted.

"We are so encouraged by this action, and we hope that all Libertarians in every state, and all other political parties take this same step. We MUST protect our vote."


LPCO Opposes 1078
The Libertarian Party of Colorado issued the following press release on March 13 about bill 1078:

Obscene Bill Harmful to First Amendment Rights in Colorado

(Denver, CO)--The Libertarian Party of Colorado (LPCO) has come out against House Bill 1078; a bill purported to "Protect Kids From Sexually Explicit Materials". Currently awaiting a senate hearing in the State Veterans and Military Affairs Committee in which the bills co-sponsor, Doug Lamborn is committee chair; Libertarians believe this bill is an obscene measure by legislators to curb free speech and other First Amendment rights in Colorado.

The LPCO believes this bill is unnecessary as there are already laws in the State of Colorado that protect minors from the sale of obscene materials as defined by community, state and national standards. The proposed bill goes further by making it a criminal offense for any "play, dance or exhibition displaying pictures, drawings, video recordings, films, books or magazines to depict nudity or sexual activity to a person who is younger than eighteen years of age."

The law requires that commercial establishments, whether they sell or merely display what is deemed as sexually explicit material, require identification before merely SHOWING supposedly obscene material to anyone 18 and older, or face criminal prosecution. These establishments include bookstores and museums, libraries and theaters, among other establishments. Materials or depictions made illegal under this proposal include real and PERCEIVED depictions of sexuality or sexual activity.

"Parents should be left to determine whether performances or materials are too explicit for their minor children. Letting government determine what is obscene will lead down a slippery slope that will make criminals out of businesses or individuals for doing nothing more than leaving a bare breast in plain view, even if it's in a museum," declared Norm Olsen, Chair of the Colorado Libertarian Party.

"There are sexually explicit materials all around us. Will libraries now require identification before checking out Shakespeare or even the Holy Bible?" continued Olsen. "Will museums now require identification before allowing individuals to view Da Vinci's 'David'?"

The Libertarian Party encourages all citizens concerned about the First Amendment to contact their State senators and strongly suggest that they reject this unnecessary bill. It is unconstitutional and is an infringement on individual, business and parental rights. ###

On March 16, John Sanko of the Rocky Mountain News reported the Republicans in the state senate restored the "display" section of the bill that had been removed in the house.


Tiger Rethinks LP Pledge
In a March 13 e-mail, LPCO Legislative Director Paul Tiger wrote, "While I was thinking up the bullet point list of reasons why anyone would not wish to sign the pledge I suddenly thought of why someone would, or at least should. I was too undiscriminating.

"A person who seeks office should have a strong bond to their party's ideals, and all others (voters) should know what that is. A Libertarian person seeking office is a candidate who must be a member of the organization; a dues paying member. Dues paying members are more likely to be involved in the organization than non-dues, just plain registered libertarian folks.

"Someone whom is not a dues paying member the Libertarian Party (local or state) can still gain ballot access through petition. They can also be appointed to complete someone else's term. In any case where they are not confirmed at the state convention, they still may become candidates or appointed to elected office.

"Without signing the pledge.

"Candidates confirmed at the state convention that are from within the party and its ancillaries, will be dues paying members and will have either signed the pledge or provided a letter of similar context with LPCO executive approval. Thus they are members and have pledged not to do the exact thing that candidates and politicians do every waking moment of their lives. Initiating force.

"So the flip of my wanting to be rid of this stinking liberty limiting pledge, is that every LP candidate for office should bring focus to it. All candidates should think about the pledge and how it applies and be trained by speaking it every day. Complete brainwashing. Could be a good thing."

Tiger previously argued the LP pledge should be eliminated.


Legislature Hangs Up on No-Call Bill
The Libertarian Party of Colorado has argued a no-call bill would create additional expenses and legal hurdles for minor parties. According to John Sanko, writing for the March 11 Rocky Mountain News, "Sen. Dan Grossman, D-Denver, gave up the fight Wednesday to expand the state's popular no-call list to include solicitations by charitable and political organizations."

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com