Tea Party Patriots CEO Jenny Beth Martin’s Remarks from Western Conservative Summit
Free Speech Under Attack
Jenny Beth Martin
Remarks prepared for delivery
Western Conservative Summit
July 1, 2016
I’m a Tea Party Patriot … and I am happy to be here with you tonight!
I am especially pleased to be here this year in Denver, because the theme of this year’s Summit is “This Land We Love.”
The good news is, there’s lots that I love about this land – the bad news is, I only have ten minutes to talk tonight … so I’m going to have to get right to it!
You know what I love most about this land? The fact that our Founders decided to go a different way, to chart a new course for human government.
They recognized a few very important things that no other government before or since has recognized:
First, they recognized that our rights don’t come from government, they come from our Creator, and government is merely the instrument we use to secure those rights.
It says so, right there in the Declaration of Independence.
That fundamental fact makes us different from every other country on the planet, and every other country in history.
Second, they recognized that the single most important political right was the right to speak freely about political things, including especially the right to criticize our government leaders if we felt it appropriate…
In the words of the First Amendment to the Constitution, “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
They didn’t put that in the Second Amendment, or the Third Amendment. They put it in the First Amendment.
That, too, makes us unique. No other government on the planet allows its citizens the freedom to speak politically that ours does. In fact, under the jurisprudence of the last two centuries plus, government isn’t just required to allow us to speak freely – it’s required to defend our right to speak freely.
But there are some who don’t share our love of free speech. And, unfortunately, not all of them are found in the Kremlin, or the caves of Tora Bora.
And in recent years, our right to free speech has come under attack.
It’s come under attack in different bodies of government, in different levels of government, and, sadly, by members of both major political parties.
These attacks take different forms – some are proposed new laws, or new regulations, or new enforcement actions using new interpretations of laws and regulations that are already on the books …
But they all have one thing in common:
They are attempts by establishment elites to shut down political speech they oppose.
And it should come as no surprise that the political speech they oppose is political speech that opposes them!
You may recall congressional Democrats in the fall of 2010, worried that in the wake of the Citizens United decision, the Tea Party movement might succeed at election time and throw them out of office? So they actually directed the Internal Revenue Service to “look into” our groups, to “see what could be done about” us, and others like us.
That was the only signal Lois Lerner needed.
She sent word down the line, and before you know it, the so-called Exempt Organizations Division of the Internal Revenue Service was asking conservative and Tea Party groups – groups with “Tea Party” and “Patriots” in their name – what books we read, and what did we pray about, all in an attempt to prevent us from using our rights.
It’s been more than three years since we learned about the IRS targeting, and we’re still waiting for someone to be held accountable.
Despite all the evidence against Lois Lerner, the Obama Department of Justice declined to prosecute her.
Why, just this week we learned of another massive violation of the law on her part – because it turns out intimidating and stalling us wasn’t enough for her. No, she wanted to get federal law enforcement authorities to actually prosecute conservative and Tea Party groups, and she illegally shared confidential taxpayer information with the FBI and the Department of Justice when she had no business doing so.
Can we get a do-over on that investigation?
But targeting Tea Party groups wasn’t enough – right before the 2012 election, the IRS leaked confidential taxpayer information about the National Organization for Marriage, so their donors could be harassed by progressive activists.
Again, was anyone held accountable?
Perhaps worse, not all the threats to free speech are found at the national level. All over the country, there are officials operating at the state and even local levels who want to shut down speech they oppose – which, as I said before, tends to be speech that opposes them.
Case in point: State Senator Kurt Schaefer of Missouri, who has said that, if elected as Missouri’s next Attorney General, he will prosecute 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) groups who run educational campaigns in his state. That’s crazy, and we will fight him and others who attempt to silence us or prosecute us for exercising free speech.
Back to the IRS. When John Koskinen assumed the job of running the Internal Revenue Service, he promised he would cooperate with congressional inquiries.
Instead, he failed to respond to subpoenas for documents, and then he lied to Congress about it. The result? 422 backup tapes containing tens of thousands of Lois Lerner emails – otherwise known as “evidence” – were destroyed.
Some Members of Congress have taken it upon themselves to seek justice.
They believe, as we do, that John Koskinen is not fit to serve as Commissioner of the IRS.
They believe, as we do, that John Koskinen has betrayed the public trust.
They believe, as we do, that John Koskinen’s betrayal warrants impeachment.
Do you believe John Koskinen’s betrayal warrants impeachment?
Join our fight at ImpeachJohn.com. We need you to help hold the IRS accountable.
Let me close by saying this:
Tea Party Patriots opposes attempts to restrict free speech – even when it’s speech we oppose.
Voltaire – or maybe not Voltaire – said it best: “I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Though those words are incorrectly attributed to a Frenchman, the idea behind them is quintessentially American.
And to those who want to deny us our right to speak freely, I have just one thing to say:
If you try to deny others the right to say what you think is wrong … it will not be long before you are denied the right to say what you think is right.
And to you, my friends, colleagues, compatriots … as we prepare to celebrate again the anniversary of our Independence, enjoy this weekend with your family and friends, and never lose sight of the blessings of liberty or the gifts our Creator has bestowed upon this land we love.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States!