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.
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.