Free Speech Clampdown
• Billionaire book-banner Bezos, academia lead charge against free thought.
By Victor Thorn —
Just because the United States is called the land of the free and the home of the brave, don’t believe that freedom of speech and thought is alive and well. Powerful forces in America are actively pursuing policies of censorship to stifle controversial ideas that threaten the mainstream.
In AMERICAN FREE PRESS issue 51 & 52, reporter Dave Gahary detailed how several conspiracy and history books had recently been banned by Amazon. One of these taboo publications was Professor James Fetzer’s Nobody Died at Sandy Hook.
As a follow-up, in mid-December, AFP spoke with Fetzer about the efforts to sideline his book. “This is equivalent to book burning in the electronic age,” Fetzer began. “In my opinion, Amazon took it down because of pressure from the government. My book exposed how the Obama administration tried to fake its way into a huge gun-control agenda. What Amazon has done most closely resembles the suppression of the ‘Pentagon Papers.’”
“The Pentagon Papers” refers to the massive U.S. military study that was leaked to the press in 1971 by Daniel Ellsberg, which exposed the United States’s secret war in Vietnam. The federal government did everything it could to block the release, including threatening Ellsberg with prison for informing American citizens about Vietnam.
Fetzer added: “If these practices continue, I see us on a road to totalitarian government. We’ll be so locked into intellectual tyranny that there will no longer be freedom of the press. These hysterical violations of the First Amendment are simply absurd.”
Fetzer isn’t the only victim of such tactics. On November 27, AFP interviewed bookseller Carl Aschmann. Days earlier, Amazon had “de-listed” one of Aschmann’s titles, specifically Michael Collins Piper’s False Flags.
When asked about the reasoning behind Amazon’s move, Aschmann replied: “They said it violated their rules and conditions. Personally, I think they were probably getting pressure from the government. Amazon, I don’t think, would do it on their own.”
Aschmann provided more details during a subsequent interview.
“I contacted Amazon and explained that I hadn’t violated any of their guidelines,” he said. “After reviewing my case, they eventually relisted Piper’s book.”
Asked if he felt that everyone who sold controversial material may now be in the crosshairs, Aschmann answered, “If there is no freedom of speech, we’re all like lambs to the slaughter.”
All of which leads to another egregious example of an Orwellian boot stomping down on the neck of free expression.
On December 16, spurred on by a December 10 opinion piece by Lenny and Veronique Pozner, the parents of one of the children allegedly killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, Florida Atlantic University (FAU) issued a notice of intent to fire Professor James Tracy because he did not keep his affiliation with the university separate from his blog posts denying the narrative promoted by Obama administration officials and the mainstream media in regard to Sandy Hook. FAU issued an unsigned public statement: “James Tracy, an associate professor in the School of Communication and Multimedia Studies, was served a Notice of Proposed Discipline—Termination by the vice provost for Academic Affairs at Florida Atlantic University.” It noted faculty are afforded a grievance process, and Tracy has 10 days to respond “after which final action may be taken.”
Ironically, Tracy had been teaching conspiracy theories at FAU for the past 13 years. According to an April 23, 2013 article in the Sun Sentinel, FAU paid Tracy an annual salary of $64,650.
In a course entitled “Culture of Conspiracy,” Tracy taught his students to examine “the relationship between commercial and alternative news media and sociopolitical issues and events.” In an April 16, 2013 letter to the president of FAU, Gregory F. Scholtz, the associate secretary and director of the American Association of University Professors defended Tracy’s controversial views.
“It is such speech that requires the protection of academic freedom,” Scholtz wrote.
An ominous climate of authoritarian suppression has certainly descended on independent journalists, academics, and those in the private bookselling market.
When AFP reached out to Tracy on December 18, his response about FAU threatening to terminate him was brief: “I have been advised by counsel not to speak with the media about this matter.”
(After this article went to press, Tracy was fired.—Ed.)
Victor Thorn is a hard-hitting researcher, journalist and author of over 50 books.