On Monday, National Review ran the latest in its series of horrifying stories about the attack on rule of law in Wisconsin.
Columnist David French relates the story of “Jonah,” a 16-year-old accosted by “uniformed officers, their guns drawn” at his door. These officials then “ordered him not to tell anyone about the raid – not even school officials. He asked if he could call his parents. They said no.” Why? Wisconsin police have broken down doors in the state for alleged “‘coordination’ between various conservative organizations and Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s campaign.” These are the so-called John Doe proceedings pursued by partisan Democrat Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm. French describes the legal process:
A quirky and dangerous Wisconsin legal mechanism, the John Doe proceeding allows, among other things, for expansive and completely secret criminal investigations, supervised not by the citizens of a grand jury but by judges who all too often simply rubber-stamp prosecutors’ demands. As a prominent Wisconsin conservative and political consultant, Jonah’s father was one of Chisholm’s targets.
Unfortunately, such partisan use of legal proceedings in violation of Constitutional norms has become regularized under Democratic rule. Texas Governor Rick Perry still faces down the wrath of convicted drunk driver, partisan Democrat, and Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz characterized the case as a farce, and reminiscent of “the old Soviet Union…The idea of indicting him because he threatened to veto spending unless a district attorney who was caught drinking and driving resigned, that’s not anything for a criminal indictment.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Justice has cracked down on Reason magazine, subpoenaing records of six commenters on the site. The DOJ went further, getting a federal judge to issue a gag order against Reason even speaking out; Reason eventually got the gag order lifted. As Reason editor in chief Nick Gillespie explains:
From press accounts of similar actions at other news publications and social media sites, we know that it is increasingly common for the federal government to demand user information from publications and websites while also stifling their speech rights with gag orders and letters requesting “voluntary” confidentiality. Exactly how common is anyone’s guess; we are currently investigating just how widespread the practice may be….In America, grand juries have almost limitless ability to investigate whatever they want, regardless of whether that investigation has any chance of producing a constitutionally permissible conviction.
The government wanted records of the commenters who left internet-level-innocuous comments like, “I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman” and “I’d prefer a hellish place on Earth be reserved for her as well.” As Gillespie says, “The comments are hyperbolic, in questionable taste – and fully within the norms of Internet commentary.” He adds:
To live in a world where every stray, overheated Internet comment—however trollish and stupid it may be—can be interpreted as an actionable threat to be investigated by a federal grand jury is to live in a world where the government is telling the public and media to just shut up already.
But that is precisely what the government now does. In Oregon, partisan Democrat Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian issued a gag order against Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa. That couple had refused to serve a lesbian wedding, was sued by the obnoxious lesbians (they accused the Kleins of “mental rape”), and was fined by the state to the tune of $135,000 and then shut down. Now, Avakian forced them to “cease and desist” from:
[P]ublishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published…any communication to the effect that any of the accommodations…will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination be made against, any person on account of their sexual orientation.
Avakian added, “This case is not about a wedding cake or a marriage. It is about a business’s refusal to serve someone because of their sexual orientation. Under Oregon law, that is illegal.” It did not matter to Avakian that the Kleins had served this particularly delightful lesbian couple before. No, the diktats of the state mandate that religious Americans bow before the all-knowing power of geniuses like Avakian.
The Kleins, who now face down the end of their careers and financial dreams, released this statement:
This effectively strips us of all our First Amendment rights. According to the state of Oregon we neither have freedom of religion or freedom of speech.
That’s becoming an all-too-common story in the left’s version of America. Compulsion has become the order of the day; the left’s aversion to guns stops at precisely the moment they control the guns, pointing them at their political enemies.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.