By Matthew Rothschild on June 02, 2011

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky pretends to be a champion of civil liberties. But as Alex Seitz-Wald noted at Think Progress, Paul went on Sean Hannity’s radio show on May 27 and said the government should “take into account whether or not” people have “been going to radical political speeches by religious leaders.”

He added, “If someone is attending speeches from someone who is promoting the violent overthrow of our government, that’s really an offense that we should be going after.” In fact, he said, “They should be deported or put in prison.”

So much for Rand Paul’s devotion to the First Amendment.

The junior Paul doesn’t have a firm grasp of the Constitution or of the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution.

In its 1957 decision in Yates vs. the United States, the Court ruled that it was OK for someone even to give a speech promoting the violent overthrow of our government so long as it was “advocacy of an abstract doctrine” and not “advocacy of action to that end,” and “with a specific intent to accomplish such overthrow.”

Then in its unanimous 1969 decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio, the Court ruled that you could advocate violence so long as you were not “inciting or producing imminent lawless action.”

So if it’s kosher to make such a speech that promotes the idea of violently overthrowing our government, surely it’s kosher to attend the speech. (In proscribing attendance at such speeches, Paul also leaves no room for members of the media or law enforcement to be even present there.)

Rand Paul has now proven himself to be both a fool and a hypocrite.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his other "McCarthyism Watch" pieces by clicking here.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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