Will the Trump Administration Overdose on Authoritarianism?

Not only is the war on drugs unconstitutional, it also leads to richer and more powerful black-market drug cartels, increased violence, more lethal drugs, destruction of individual civil liberties both in the U.S. and abroad, and violates the bedrock of a free society—the nonaggression principle. President Trump has instructed his attorney general to “seek the maximum penalty” for even nonviolent drug-related offenses. Time will tell whether he’ll direct Sessions to violate states’ rights to determine their own drug laws as well.

By Ron Paul

Last week Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered federal prosecutors in drug cases to seek the maximum penalty authorized by federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Sessions’s order represents a setback to the progress made toward restoring compassion and common sense to the sentencing process over the past few years. Sessions’s action also guarantees that many nonviolent drug law offenders will continue spending more time in prison than murderers.

Sessions’s support for mandatory minimums is no surprise, as he has a history of fanatical devotion to the drug war. Sessions’s pro-drug war stance is at odds with the reality of the drug war’s failure. Over 40 years after President Nixon declared war on drugs, the government cannot even keep drugs out of prisons!

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As was the case with alcohol prohibition, the drug war has empowered criminal gangs and even terrorists to take advantage of the opportunity presented by prohibition to profit by meeting the continued demand for drugs. Drug prohibition enables these criminal enterprises to make profits far above the potential profits if drugs where legalized. Ironically, the so-called “law-and-order” politicians who support the drug war are helping enrich the very criminals they claim to oppose!

The war on drugs also makes street drugs more lethal by incentivizing the creation of more potent and, thus, more dangerous drugs. Of course, even as Sessions himself admits, the war on drugs also leads to increased violence, as drug dealers cannot go to the courts to settle disputes among themselves or with their customers.

Before 9/11, the war on drugs was the go-to excuse used to justify new infringements on liberty. For example, laws limiting our ability to withdraw, or even carry, large sums of cash and laws authorizing civil asset forfeiture were justified by the need to crack down on drug dealers and users. The war on drugs is also the root cause of the criminal justice system’s disparate treatment of minorities and the militarization of local police.

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The war on drugs is a war on the Constitution as well. The Constitution does not give the federal government authority to regulate, much less ban, drugs. People who doubt this should ask themselves why it was necessary to amend the Constitution to allow the federal government to criminalize drinking alcohol but not necessary to amend the Constitution to criminalize drug use.

Today, a majority of states have legalized medical marijuana, and a growing number are legalizing recreational marijuana use. Enforcement of federal laws outlawing marijuana in those states is the type of federal interference with state laws that conservatives usually oppose. Hopefully, in this area the Trump administration will exercise restraint and respect state marijuana laws.

Sessions’s announcement was not the only pro-drug war announcement made by the administration this week. President Trump himself, in a meeting with the president of Colombia, promised to continue U.S. intervention in South and Central America to eliminate drug cartels. President Trump, like his attorney general, seems to not understand that the rise of foreign drug cartels, like the rise of domestic drug gangs, is a consequence of U.S. drug policy.

The use of government force to stop adults from putting certain substances into their bodies—whether marijuana, saturated fats, or raw milk—violates the nonaggression principle that is the bedrock of a free society. Therefore, all those who care about protecting individual liberty and limiting government power should support ending the drug war. Those with moral objections to drug use should realize that education and persuasion, carried out through voluntary institutions like churches and schools, is a more moral and effective way to discourage drug use than relying on government force.

Ron Paul, a former U.S. representative from Texas and medical doctor, continues to write his weekly column for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, online at www.ronpaulinstitute.org.




Mistrial: Protesters Get Off But FBI Informant Found Guilty

Last week, the jury in the first of three trials of supporters of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy ended in a hung jury for four of the six defendants. Perhaps most shocking in the case was one of the two found guilty of multiple charges had been a paid FBI informant.

By Mark Anderson

LAS VEGAS, Nevada—In the three-part, landmark case that arose from the 2014 standoff near Bunkerville, Nev. between multiple federal agencies and supporters of rancher Cliven Bundy, the jury deadlocked on April 24, forcing U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro to declare a mistrial. Federal prosecutors were unable to secure convictions for four of the six defendants in the first of three trials. Shockingly, one of the two men convicted had been an FBI informant for years. His cover was blown during trial testimony.

The four defendants who escaped conviction were Richard Lovelien, Eric Parker, O. Scott Drexler, and Steven Stewart. The 12-member jury fell far short of convicting these four, according to defense lawyers.

The jury found two defendants in the opening trial—Todd Engel and Gregory Burleson—guilty of some charges, with Burleson bearing the brunt. During testimony, FBI agents said Burleson was an informant.

Engel was charged with obstruction of justice and using interstate commerce to commit extortion. Engel could possibly be sentenced to two years in prison, though it’s likely he’ll get considerable credit for time already served.

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The jury found Burleson guilty of multiple charges, including using a firearm to assault federal officers, interfering with federal officers, and extortion. The New American reports that Burleson of Phoenix, Ariz. has been a paid informant for the FBI for years, so don’t expect the provocateur to see the inside of a jail cell.

It is standard operating procedure for the FBI to send in informants to escalate violence in an effort to trump up conspiracy charges. Since some of the defendants in the Nevada cases were cleared earlier this year in Portland federal court of any wrongdoing for their part in the Oregon occupation-protest that ended in early 2016, the federal government is determined to secure convictions in a future trial. A staffer in the dockets department of the U.S. to Judge Navarro both confirmed that Lovelien, Parker, Drexler, and Stewart will be retried starting June 26.

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That is the same date listed in the docket for the second trial, in which longtime rancher Cliven Bundy and two of his sons, Ryan and Ammon, along with Ryan Payne and Internet radio host Pete Santilli, are the defendants. It’s expected to be an especially high-profile affair in which the bedrock fundamentals of federal land jurisdiction and control ought to be rigorously debated.

The third and final trial, involving Bundy’s sons Mel and Dave, along with Joseph O’Shaughnessy, Brian Cavalier, Jason Woods, and Micah McGuire, is expected to begin sometime in the fall.

The defendants in all three trials are being tried for their part in supporting Bundy in the now-legendary April 2014 standoff between armed federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents and the elder Bundy, four of the Bundy sons, and a host of supporters.

When the BLM showed up to impound hundreds of Bundy’s cattle for alleged unpaid grazing fees on public lands, supporters traveled to southern Nevada, near Bunkerville, to stand with Bundy in protest of federal land policies. The standoff was dubbed “The Battle of Bunkerville,” though not a single shot was fired.

Still, the federal government, which has been laboring to make its case that those who gathered with the elder Bundy pointed their weapons at heavily armed federal officers in a “threatening” manner, seeks to send all the defendants to prison—for life, if possible.

The defense maintains that Bundy’s supporters showed up only to exercise their First and Second Amendment rights in protest of BLM policies.

Assessing the situation, Roger Roots, an author and legal expert who attended nearly every day of the first trial, told AMERICAN FREE PRESS: “Maybe you can’t call this [deadlocked jury] a victory for the Bundy side. But the government’s ‘stock’ went down in this thing. And the feds, including the judge, are under a lot of pressure to try and provide speedy trials.”

Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor.




Will Christianity Perish in Its Birthplace?

“Liberated for democracy” by the U.S., Afghanistan is now among the world’s most deadly when it comes to persecution of Christians. In Iraq and Syria, which once tolerated and even embraced Christians, hundreds of thousands are now fleeing for their lives. The 44 Coptic Christians killed in Egypt on Palm Sunday are only a few of the estimated 90,000 Christians around the world killed for their faith in 2016. Is the ultimate goal to drive all Christians from the Holy Lands?

By Pat Buchanan

“Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?)” Those are among Jesus’s last words on the cross that first Good Friday. It was a cry of agony, but not despair. The dying Christ, to rise again in three days, was repeating the first words of the 22nd Psalm.

And today, in lands where Christ lived and taught and beyond where the Christian faith was born and nourished, the words echo. For it is in the birthplace of Christianity that Christians face the greatest of persecutions and martyrdoms since the time of Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin.

President Donald Trump, outraged by pictures of infants and children who had perished in the nerve gas attack in Syria, ordered missile strikes on the air base from which the war crime came.

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Two days later, Palm Sunday, 44 Coptic Christians celebrating Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem were martyred in terrorist attacks in Egypt. The first bombing was at St. George’s Church in Tanta, the second at St. Mark’s in Alexandria, where the Coptic Pope Tawadros II was at Mass.

The pope was unhurt, but 100 Christians were injured in the attacks. At St. George’s, one witness described the scene after the bomb exploded near the altar: “I saw pieces of body parts. . . . There was so much blood everywhere. Some people had half of their bodies missing.”

The Islamic State group claims credit for the murders, and the pictures of dead children from those churches were surely as horrific as the pictures the president saw after the gas attack.

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Copts are among the earliest Christians, dating to the first century A.D., when St. Mark, one of the Twelve Apostles, established the first church outside the Holy Land and became bishop of Alexandria.

The Copts make up 10% of Egypt’s population. They have been especially targeted for terrorist attacks since the 2013 overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi, who had been elected president after the ouster of longtime U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak.

In the subsequent struggle between Egypt’s Islamists, whose base is in Sinai, and the Cairo regime of Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who was welcomed to the White House in March, the Copts are seen as soft-target allies of el-Sissi’s and hated for their faith.

Whatever they did for democracy, the U.S. interventions in the Middle East and the vaunted Arab Spring have proved to be pure hell for Arab Christians.

In Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Christians were left alone if they did not interfere in politics. Indeed, they prospered as doctors, lawyers, journalists, academics, engineers, businessmen. A Christian, Tariq Aziz, was Saddam’s foreign minister, who negotiated with Secretary of State James Baker to try to prevent what became the Gulf War.

Before 2003, there were still 800,000 Christians in Iraq. But after a decade of church bombings and murders of priests, their numbers have plummeted. When the Islamic State seized a third of Iraq, Christians under the group’s rule had to convert to Islam and pay a tax or face beheading.

On Dec. 26, St. Stephen’s Day, which honors the first martyr, Pope Francis hailed the Iraqi Christians lately liberated from Islamic State rule, noting, “They are our martyrs of today, and there are so many we can say that they are more numerous than in the first centuries.”

In 2016, an estimated 90,000 more Christians worldwide died for their faith.

Under Syria’s dictator Hafez al-Assad and son Bashar, Christians have been 10% of the population and protected by the regime. They thus have sided with Assad against the terrorists of the Islamic State and al Qaeda, whose victory would mean their expulsion or death.

Of the 10 nations deemed by Christianity Today to be the most hateful and hostile toward Christianity, eight are majority-Muslim nations, with the Middle East being the site of the worst of today’s persecutions.

Afghanistan, which we “liberated” in 2001, is listed as the third-most hostile nation toward Christians. The punishment for baptism there is death. A decade ago, a Christian convert had to flee his country to avoid beheading.

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Consider. Christianity, whose greatest feast day we celebrated on Sunday, April 16, is the cradle faith of the culture and the civilization of the West. And in our secularized world, Christianity remains the predominant faith.

A millennium ago, Christendom mounted crusades to ensure that its pilgrims would not lose the right to visit the Holy Land in peace.

Now, a decade and a half after we launched invasions and occupations of the Muslim world in Afghanistan and then Iraq to bring the blessings of democracy, the people there who profess that Christian faith are being persecuted as horribly as they were under the Romans in Nero’s time.

Where are the gains for religious freedom and human rights to justify all the bombings, invasions, and wars we have conducted in the lands from Libya to Pakistan—to justify the losses we have endured and the death and suffering we have inflicted?

Truth be told, it is in part because of us that Christianity is on its way to being exterminated in its cradle.

Pat Buchanan is a writer, political commentator and presidential candidate. He is the author of The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority and Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?

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Is Putin the ‘Preeminent Statesman’ of Our Times?

While the U.S. is on the decline, mired in endless, costly wars around the world, Russia under Vladimir Putin is on the rise. U.S. career politicians assail the Russian leader as the U.S. military taunts him with maneuvers on his borders. Still Putin remains steadfast in his singular effort to make Russia great again.

By Patrick J. Buchanan

“If we were to use traditional measures for understanding leaders, which involve the defense of borders and national flourishing, Putin would count as the preeminent statesman of our time. . . . On the world stage, who could vie with him?”

So asks Chris Caldwell of The Weekly Standard in a remarkable essay in Hillsdale College’s March issue of its magazine, Imprimis.

What elevates Putin above all other 21st-century leaders?

“When Putin took power in the winter of 1999-2000, his country was defenseless. It was bankrupt. It was being carved up by its new kleptocratic elites, in collusion with its old imperial rivals, the Americans. Putin changed that.

“In the first decade of this century, he did what Kemal Ataturk had done in Turkey in the 1920s. Out of a crumbling empire, he resurrected a national-state, and gave it coherence and purpose. He disciplined his country’s plutocrats. He restored its military strength. And he refused, with ever blunter rhetoric, to accept for Russia a subservient role in an American-run world system drawn up by foreign politicians and business leaders. His voters credit him with having saved his country.”

Putin’s approval rating, after 17 years in power, exceeds that of any rival Western leader. But while his impressive strides toward making Russia great again explain why he is revered at home and in the Russian diaspora, what explains Putin’s appeal in the West, despite a press that is every bit as savage as President Donald Trump’s?

Answer: Putin stands against the Western progressive vision of what mankind’s future ought to be. Years ago, he aligned himself with traditionalists, nationalists, and populists of the West, and against what they had come to despise in their own decadent civilization.

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What they abhorred, Putin abhorred. He is a God-and-country Russian patriot. He rejects the New World Order established at the Cold War’s end by the United States. Putin puts Russia first.

And in defying the Americans he speaks for those millions of Europeans who wish to restore their national identities and recapture their lost sovereignty from the supranational European Union. Putin also stands against the progressive moral relativism of a Western elite that has cut its Christian roots to embrace secularism and hedonism.

The U.S. establishment loathes Putin because, they say, he is an aggressor, a tyrant, a “killer.” He invaded and occupies Ukraine. His old KGB comrades assassinate journalists, defectors, and dissidents.

Yet while politics under both czars and commissars has often been a blood sport in Russia, what has Putin done to his domestic enemies to rival what our Arab ally Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has done to the Muslim Brotherhood he overthrew in a military coup in Egypt?

What has Putin done to rival what our NATO ally President Erdogan has done in Turkey, jailing 40,000 people since last July’s coup—or our Philippine ally Rodrigo Duterte, who has presided over the extrajudicial killing of thousands of drug dealers?

Does anyone think President Xi Jinping would have handled mass demonstrations against his regime in Tiananmen Square more gingerly than did Putin this last week in Moscow?

Much of the hostility toward Putin stems from the fact that he not only defies the West, when standing up for Russia’s interests, he often succeeds in his defiance and goes unpunished and unrepentant.

He not only remains popular in his own country, but has admirers in nations whose political establishments are implacably hostile to him.

In December, one poll found 37% of all Republicans had a favorable view of the Russian leader, but only 17% were positive on President Barack Obama.

There is another reason Putin is viewed favorably. Millions of ethnonationalists who wish to see their nations secede from the EU see him as an ally. While Putin has openly welcomed many of these movements, America’s elite do not take even a neutral stance.

Putin has read the new century better than his rivals. While the 20th century saw the world divided between a communist East and a free and democratic West, new and different struggles define the 21st.

The new dividing lines are between social conservatism and self-indulgent secularism, between tribalism and transnationalism, between the nation-state and the New World Order.

On the new dividing lines, Putin is on the side of the insurgents. Those who envision de Gaulle’s Europe of Nations replacing the vision of One Europe, toward which the EU is heading, see Putin as an ally.

So the old question arises: Who owns the future?

In the new struggles of the new century, it is not impossible that Russia—as was America in the Cold War—may be on the winning side. Secessionist parties across Europe already look to Moscow rather than across the Atlantic.

“Putin has become a symbol of national sovereignty in its battle with globalism,” writes Caldwell. “That turns out to be the big battle of our times. As our last election shows, that’s true even here.”

Pat Buchanan is a writer, political commentator and presidential candidate. He is the author of The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority and Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?.

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Beginning of the End as Brexit Takes Shape

Today marks the beginning of the end of UK’s membership in the EU, a solid victory after a long, well-fought battle by populist-minded citizens desiring to restore self-rule to their nation. Divorces can be messy, and time will tell who wins custody of the UK “children”—including the nation’s agricultural programs and national immigration policy—and how the separation will impact the UK’s involvement in the European army.

By Mark Anderson

The inspiring populist surge that’s tugging at the seams of the New World Order has reached an historic turning point. On March 29—nine months after the June 23 “Brexit” referendum vote by a respectable majority of Brits to exit the European Union—the British government stated it would honor the will of the voters and is starting the formal process of filing for divorce from the EU.

It’s been nearly 45 years since British Prime Minister Edward Heath took the United Kingdom into the European Economic Community (EEC)—a Bilderberg-blessed trade and economic bloc that gradually sapped British sovereignty and foreshadowed the larger, more consolidated, deeply dictatorial European Union. This paradigm-shifting move in January 1973 brought EEC membership to nine. Then, a 1975 referendum saw the UK electorate vote to stay in the EEC under renegotiated terms of entry.

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Over time, Britain, while it clung to its pound sterling and never became part of the eurozone, nevertheless sank into the morass of the bureaucratic, increasingly dictatorial European Union. The 28-member EU’s immigration policies became especially egregious, in the eyes of UK voters.

The practical outcome of those policies: a heavy flow into Britain of often unassimilable foreigners who have drastically changed the island nation’s unique character. And British military involvement in the “war on terror” has helped destroy the home countries of Middle Eastern and North African peoples who have migrated into Europe and the UK, in ever-larger numbers.

Kicking off Brexit’s expected two-year process of pulling out of the EU, UK Prime Minister Theresa May confidently told members of Parliament in the House of Commons: “This is an historic moment from which there can be no turning back.” Accordingly, the UK’s Article 50 six-page notification letter was delivered by Sir Tim Barrow to European Council President Donald Tusk in Brussels.
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But the EU super-state and its managers aren’t big on national sovereignty. Sky News quoted Tusk as saying: “There is no reason to pretend that this is a happy day, neither in Brussels, nor in London. After all, most Europeans, including almost half the British voters wish that we would stay together, not drift apart . . .

“But paradoxically there is also something positive in Brexit. Brexit has made us, the community of 27, more determined and more united than before,” Tusk added, “In essence, this is about damage control. Our goal is clear: to [minimize] the costs for the EU citizens, businesses and Member States. We will do everything in our power . . .  to achieve this goal. And what we should stress today is that, as for now, nothing has changed: until the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, EU law will continue to apply to—and within—the UK.

“Finally, I would like to say that we have just released an official statement by the European Council, in which leaders stress that we will act as one and start negotiations by focusing on all key arrangements for an orderly withdrawal. On Friday [March 31] I will share a proposal of the negotiating guidelines with the Member States, to be adopted by the European Council on 29 April.”

Divorces, even when necessary and ultimately beneficial, can be a messy affair. Of course, the establishment press is largely beside itself, casting doubt on the wisdom of Brexit while trying to read the tea leaves on why mostly rural British voters decided they’d had enough of the EU. One BBC article called Brexit “suicidal self-harm” that will deny British finances and manpower to the greater EU.

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Significant challenges do lie ahead. Will the UK’s entanglement in the budding European army prove to be a barrier or have a slowing effect on executing Brexit? Will Brexit allow the UK to regain control of its fisheries and other agricultural systems? Will the UK government maintain open-borders immigration policies even as a non-EU member?

And as former UK intelligence analyst Alex Thomson of Eastern Approaches told the “UK Column News”  for its March 29 broadcast, the EU is a “supra-national body” from which departure is no cakewalk, because it’s not as if the UK is departing just another international organization.

As he stated, “The EU is unique in global and diplomatic institutions, in that it is not just an international organization by treaty, but it is also a supra-national body. It sits above and replaces parts of your government, by the connivance of your government, over the heads of the people. The continentals [those in the EU mainland] are starting to realize this as well.”

He added that the EU’s supra-national doctrine regarding sovereignty, “once acquired, always acquired” makes departing the EU particular difficult, as necessary and desirable as it is.  “It’s something that’s never been done before in world history,” he concluded.

Mark Anderson is a longtime newsman now working as the roving editor for AFP. Email him at truthhound2@yahoo.com.




The Battle of the Billboards Rages On in the South

North Carolina citizens are expressing their free-speech rights peacefully by posting messages expressing their values on billboards, an action that has generated both controversy and conversation. 

By Dave Gahary

A seven-word, anonymous billboard running along a stretch of road between Greensboro and Winston-Salem, N.C. has many locals up in arms, feeling that the message “delivers an antiquated, misogynistic, even transphobic message.” They’ve decided to fight back, by putting up their own billboard, with plans to spread them across not just North Carolina, but the entire country. What are the seven words that so disturbed a “liberal” contingent of the Winston-Salem community last month? “Real Men Provide. Real Women Appreciate It.”

Winston-Salem (population 241,218), nicknamed the “Camel City” (think cigarettes) is the most religious city in the state, and is extremely racially diverse, with a mix of 47% white, 35% black, and 15% Hispanic.

A local business owner, Molly Grace, who was tipped off to the billboard on Facebook, had organized a peaceful protest on Feb. 26 to counter what she and others feel is the sign’s negative message: “that men provide and that women should be thankful.”

American Free Press sat down with Ms. Grace, a white, heterosexual, 30-year-old, single mother of one, who relocated to the Tar Heel state from western Pennsylvania seven years ago. She explained why she was offended by the message and what she is doing about it.

Listen to AFP’s exclusive interview with Molly Grace by clicking the image below.

“The message was a hurtful one, and regardless of what the author intended it to mean— which is still unclear—the words that were chosen send an emotionally harmful message to young girls and boys,” she told AFP.

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Others see the message as extremely positive, especially in the black community, where, as Rev. James David Manning pointed out in an interview with this writer several issues ago:

“What has happened to families, where black men have abdicated their responsibility toward their children, [impregnating] these girls, and then leaving them to fend for themselves, not knowing where their next meal is coming from, living on government handouts, living in rat- and roach-infested buildings . . . this is across the board in the black community.”

Obviously, for that segment of the black community that falls into this category, the slogan “Real Men Provide” takes on a completely different meaning, especially for black women.

Inspired to counter the message, Ms. Grace organized a rebellion of sorts.

“Several people and myself tossed around different ideas of what we could do that would send a more positive message to counter the negative one,” Ms. Grace explained. “We decided that purchasing our own billboard with a positive, all-inclusive version of that message would be a really good way of doing that.”

Those attending the protest event voted and selected “People of Quality Don’t Fear Equality” for the words that will adorn their billboards.

Ms. Grace, who has received nasty phone calls and emails as well as death threats, is not deterred. “We are raising the funds to not only get one billboard in the Winston-Salem area, but we’re actually looking at making this an ongoing project and trying to get the same billboard all over other areas throughout the country,” she explained.

So far the project has garnered $3,627 in donations. “The billboard in Winston-Salem will cost about $2,000,” states the donation website. “We are hoping to exceed that goal and raise $10,000 to purchase several more billboards with the same message around the country.”

Curiously, on March 4, the seven-word billboard that caused such a stink was replaced by a new 39-word one: “Much Ado About Nothing. A social experiment that brought forth those so immersed in their own insecurity that in the mirror they could only see an angry victim of their incorrect interpretation of a silly billboard—Bless their hearts.”

Ms. Grace touched on why this message offends her as well.

“The thing that we were protesting is not ‘nothing,’ so shame on you for trying to tell us that the things that are very important to us are nothing,” she said.

So the next time you’re out driving around the country—wherever you are—keep your eyes peeled for politically motivated billboards. Whether you like their messages or not, it’s a peaceful way to express your opinions and exercise your First Amendment rights. And that’s what free and open debate should be about—not violent tactics in which one group or another tries to physically assault those who hold differing opinions, causing mayhem, property damage and, sometimes, serious physical injury.

Dave Gahary, a former submariner in the U.S. Navy, prevailed in a suit brought by the New York Stock Exchange in an attempt to silence him.