John Klar: Some thoughts about free speech (and True North Reports)

Dear True North Readers:

I have been honored to share my thoughts and research with you here at True North Reports. I am greatly saddened that this important resource is closing down, because it has been a “true” free speech platform. Whether you as a reader have agreed with me on every point or not, I have been allowed full liberty here to select topics I believed were important, and communicate ideas and information about those topics completely unhindered. This is a credit to you the reader as well as this publication.

John Klar

I became enamored with free speech principles unintentionally, as a required part of constitutional law in law school. Free speech law also formed the foundation of one year’s arguments in moot court, steeping me in First Amendment case law. Of all the various subjects I studied in law, free speech law was the most fascinating. (It also made the most common sense: some constitutional law decisions are simply opaque nonsense.)

Having lived in England for several years, and studied international law extensively, I am acutely aware of America’s exceptionalism in the area of free speech — at least until recently. This is not always a good thing perhaps: America’s laws regarding pornography are arguably too permissive, and certainly much more “tolerant” of pornography as protected speech than in the U.K. and indeed most countries.

But that broad shield of thought and speech afforded by the United States Constitution to art and pornography also stakes out broadly protected ground for religious and political speech with special favor. And in that, America has stood among the top nations on the planet, if not No. 1.

This is where the fascination with free speech law arises. In America, free speech protects the “right” to burn an American flag. It protected the liberty of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X to dramatically transform society. It protected the right of potent, angry protests that helped end the Vietnam War.

The entire world marveled that the U.S. Supreme Court decision Brandenburg v. Ohio unanimously protected the “right” of a KKK member to publicly make overtly racist statements. To many in other countries, it seemed outrageous to permit such outrageous comments.

In Cohen v. California, the U.S. Supreme Court protected the right of a 19-year-old store clerk to wear a jacket in a courthouse proclaiming “F— the Draft. Stop the War.” Given his age and the political time (decided in 1971, Paul Cohen faced a draft into Vietnam), this expression, though profane, was decidedly political. Justice John Marshall Harlan observed for the majority court that “one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric.”

This might be said, too, of phrases like “Make America Great Again,” “Black Lives Matter” or “Let’s Go Brandon.” One man’s lyric is another’s vulgarity. The free expression of controversial slogans is the core of any speech at all, especially political. It is well captured in the adage “I disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Sadly, today is not the Vietnam War liberty time in America. We see cancel culture; attacks on numerous words and “microaggressions” as hate speech; physical assaults on students, speakers, and professors (remember Middlebury College’s repeated fiascos?); targeting of “Christian nationalists”; government compulsion to employ gender pronouns; firing of a principal for merely questioning BLM; government regulation of so-called misinformation during COVID or relating to election integrity; the hiding of Hunter’s laptop. This is just a partial list of the many restrictions we see being placed on speech even as false propaganda abounds. Free expression is intrinsic to the proper functioning of any healthy society.

How is it that burning the nation’s proud U.S. flag is permitted, but burning a Pride, Rainbow, or BLM flag triggers hate-speech censorship? Meanwhile, what of hate speech labeling white people universally as white supremacists? What of violent destruction of entire cities by BLM, Antifa, and other lawless gangs?

Which brings us back to you readers, and the journalistic virtues of True North Reports.

I came here to write because I was appalled by the overt, propagandistic censoring of content by certain other publications. I embrace the “let’s hear both sides” inquiry of Walter Cronkite, the investigative pursuit of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the open-mindedness that once marked American liberals.

This is the open-mindedness that I have watched at True North Reports, where alternative and even opposing viewpoints to the conservative lens have been regularly platformed. As an attorney and former litigator, I cannot over-emphasize the importance of considering an opponent’s positions, facts and arguments (and law) thoroughly prior to striding before the bench. This requires sincere appreciation for the shoes the other guy or gal is standing in. That’s what True North has provided its readers.

True North Reports has also provided a platform for conservative opinions and facts that are absent otherwise. This has been vitally important to Vermont, to keep alive the awareness that there is an alternative perspective to the progressive views. If progressive policies and ideas were as grand as their utopian proclamations, there would be no need to cover up the homelessness, crime, gang traffic, poverty, declining wealth, housing shortage, regressivity, and other impacts these grandiose spendthrift plans have inflicted.

True North has reported many stories that were purposely ignored by other media in Vermont. Recently, the Vermont media portrayed the girls who asked to change clothes privately in their Randolph Union High School locker room as liars, even after their story was confirmed as truthful. True North Reports covered the matter factually.

This has happened repeatedly, especially in school disputes regarding hidden school curricula. Most Vermont media don’t report “both sides,” and True North has served as a constant mirror to expose exactly that. Vermont needs more mirrors.

I will continue to offer original content free of government or editorial restriction on my Substack page, “Small Farm Republic.” I cannot adequately thank everyone at True North Reports enough for the opportunity to reach as many readers as I have. But neither can I sufficiently thank you who read me, even now, in my last missive from True North Reports, a canary in the darkening coal mine of Vermont’s vapid wokeness.

Let’s keep the True Light burning.

Image courtesy of Public domain

26 thoughts on “John Klar: Some thoughts about free speech (and True North Reports)

  1. Since I cannot just leave a comment w/ the information like here and in VDC I am not going to

    unless they make it so I can as a free citizen comment w/o signing up for a new site with a password. No thanks that is why I liked the 2 papers VT had.

    Some of us do not “do”
    facebook, Google, instangram or wordpress or any such spy on you garbage. Please fix it or you will not get as many people as you could. Almost as bad as VTdigger.

    • Shannon: Granite/Vermont Grok uses Disqus as its comment platform. Disqus is a national, independent entity. When you sign up on Disqus you’ll have commentary access on many different publications nationwide.

      And, in my opinion, the Disqus platform is superior to the platforms used by VDC and True North for a variety of reasons I’m happy to explain if you’re interested.

      So yes, you must register on Disqus to comment on Granite/Vermont Grok. But you had to register on an independent platform to comment on VDC and TNR too. I think VDC uses WordPress. Guy or Tim can verify this or tell us which platform they do use.

      Postscript: Disqus is nothing at all like VTDigger. Digger doesn’t allow real time commentary at all. Only Letters To The Editor are accepted on Digger and, in my case at least, the Digger editors censor that commentary to achieve their desired narrative.

      So please don’t hesitate to consider indulging the Granite/Vermont Grok digital publication. It’s becoming nationally recognized, and your comments will have a national voice as well as a local expression.

      • Actually, no I do not and never have had to “log in” to comment on either platform/paper. I have used discuss and no, I am well aware of the reach but again they do and have the right to decide if what I say is “not for them” who ever they are. My wife has been blocked/banned before from them as we both have a very right lean to our comments and many just don’t like reality. It is a simple thing to make it so you can do what the other papers do/did.. I care very little for a “national reach”, people in this area are more than enough. Last thing I really want is to be out there any more than I am. But thanks. Even VT digger had it and yup they decided what went up. that was the last straw for me.

  2. Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
    Because their words had forked no lightning they
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
    Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
    And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
    Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    And you, my father, there on the sad height,
    Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
    Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.



    We’re adding a room on with a new couch for all of you wayward Vermonters looking for a new home!

    Come see us in NH at and watch for it.. We’ll need content and commenters so get ready!

  4. Ms. Broughton is to be commended for a very valiant effort…but you can’t turn this battleship (of VT) around. I wonder if she realized it as well. As someone with assets – that are very highly taxed (taken) – to pay for the Progressive’s Dreamland….maybe she is closing TNR because she moves to sunny and no tax FLA? Or, maybe just for six-months-and-a-day – you are no longer thus taxed in VT as a resident…maybe she is VTGON…..Whatever the reason, she did a magnificent and selfless thing with TNR…in hopes of altering the propagandized agenda VT lives under. Thank you. But I am already “VTGON”….good luck Ms. Broughton, if you are soon as well.

  5. OH NOOOO. You folks were truly a light in the darkness in these parts, and you will be sorely missed. Thank you for all you have done over the years!

  6. Thank you very much. The work done here will be missed very much, hopefully a taste of the truth will never leave the mouths of so many Vermonters……..we’ve been fed absolute garbage for years, we need more good food for our minds and souls. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you….

  7. Thank you Lenore, Bruce, Michael (on State House duty), and others from shining a light into Vermont politics and life . Guy Page and his Vermont Daily Chronicle will help fill the void.

  8. I have enjoyed the articles and comments over the past several years. The nuttiness that goes on in Vermont must not be allowed in other states. I always forward TNR to my state representative, in Tennessee, and other decision makers.

    You did good work and the best to you in the future.

  9. Just as the war is turning and the battle is reaching a climax? A regiment of free speech and free press is folding up camp and retreating? Ethan Allen is shaking his head.

  10. One of the few bastions of free speech in Vermont, would be good to know why, a great service is gone. Thank you so much, now Vermont is back to our choreographed news? Watched wax tv the other night and was startled by shallow sugar coated news stories, no wonder so many in Vermont have been clueless for years. Thanks for all efforts great work has been done here.

  11. Can someone from TNR please contact me? We have been looking to expand into Vermont and can do it quickly – what TNR and its contributors have accomplished started does not have to end.

    Steve MacDonald
    Co-Owner/Managing Editor
    Dominating the Political Bandwidth in New Hampshire

    • Steve,

      I look forward to Granite taking over TNR.

      I always appreciate your insightful comments on the Maine Wind website, where I post my many energy articles

      Maybe all three can be combined to offer a smorgasbord of comments on the spectrum of issues

      • Main Wind website is called Citizen Task Force on Wind, which covers that subject, plus many more subjects.

        It has a versatile, up to date software platform, that enables posting almost any article, images, graphs, including from other publications

        These articles can be edited by the poster to keep them up to date.

    • I concur with Steve. As a daily reader, I know that we need all the Liberty / Free Speech sites as possible here in the Progressive Northeast. And the writers here need the opportunity to continue to be heard, boosted, and keep their prior work here alive.

      Skip Murphy
      Founder, co-owner

  12. I’m shocked nearly speechless.. which is very rare.

    What on earth can be done?

    I don’t understand, are you closing up shop or being shut down?
    And why can’t someone simply take over the site? sell it or whatever is done with websites today.

    Sheesh.. *shaking my head*

  13. I want to thank Lenore Broughton and True North Reports for their many years of groundbreaking work as a source of news and commentary.

    Vermont Daily Chronicle will try to honor TNR’s service by doing what it did, alone, for such a long time: fearlessly report the news and give Vermonters a platform to comment.

    At Lenore’s kind suggestion, I welcome TNR readers to subscribe free to Vermont Daily Chronicle at this link:

  14. Mr. Klar, as a middle ground conservative I have found myself disagreeing, not often of the substance, but on occasion with the delivery and method of supporting your thoughts. Non-the-less I have always found you thoughtful, intelligent and forward thinking in the way one has to be to understand the affects of the issue at hand. I will move over and follow you, if possible, on your website,
    Thanks for all your well thought out point of view. Of the yers.

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