John Klar: Vermont governor’s COVID order bans hate speech to achieve cultural equity

Editor’s note: This commentary by John Klar originally appeared at Conservative Truth.

Vermont is a crucible for Critical Race Theory (CRT), whose proponents have persistently attempted to erode established free speech principles in the name of eliminating “hate speech.” The United States Supreme Court has clearly delineated constitutional law regarding hate speech, yet Vermont Gov. Phil Scott has exploited COVID Executive Orders to impose this unconstitutional CRT agenda.

John Klar

On June 1, after COVID had largely subsided in Vermont, Scott issued Amended and Restated Executive Order 02-20, which declared: “the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted racial inequities across the United States, including in Vermont” (where 1.4% of the population is black) … the State must and will continue to address the challenges of achieving racial, ethnic and cultural equity across the State … COVID-19 and other emergencies demonstrate that disparities in times of crisis are reflective of disparities in times of prosperity, and that we must actively work to reduce structural inequities to ensure that no community is more vulnerable than another based on immutable factors such as race or ethnicity…[W]e must bring state leaders, agencies and interested parties together from across Vermont to examine existing law on hate crimes.”

Implicit in this Order is that the First Amendment, and the Constitution itself, are barriers to “achieving racial, ethnic and cultural equity.” This is classic critical race theory.

Scott’s COVID edict implicitly admits this is unconstitutional. His “Equity Task Force” is commissioned to:

Review current state and federal law on hate speech and freedom of speech and consider: a. Changes to state law that would facilitate prosecuting harassment, hate speech and other bias-motivated crimes; and b. Changes to State law necessary to ban Confederate flags or other similarly incendiary flags/images from being displayed in places that receive state funding. If all such proposed changes are determined by the Task Force to be highly likely to be found by a state or federal court to unconstitutionally restrict speech, after consultation with experts in constitutional law, the Task Force shall identify the entity most appropriate to conduct training and education in this regard.

All of these proposals do unconstitutionally restrict speech, under established law. The government can’t ban confederate flags based upon “receipt of state funding” — that is unconstitutional content (and viewpoint) discrimination, barred by existing precedent. Moreover, the pretext of COVID to ban “incendiary flags/images” is preposterous. What of art, or political satire? Was the journalism of Charlie Hebdo “incendiary”?

Public officials audaciously calling citizens racists with neither evidence nor accountability is now commonplace in Vermont, as is private “doxxing” and attacks on numerous individual Vermonters. Such attacks are explicitly encouraged by a hateful, racist ideology that seeks to “coerce others to freedom” in the name of justice. Free speech is being systematically strangulated.

A core tenet of CRT is that free speech has historically been employed to oppress minorities, and is thus a weapon of oppression. Therefore, no opposition to CRT may be broached — it is verboten! Understanding this is key to appreciating what is unfolding in America.

Scott’s effort to “ban hate speech” seeks to open the door to the ultimate hate ideology. It will silence citizens while sowing bitter resentment, which resentment itself will be stifled. This is already happening in Vermont and growing worse daily.

The U.S. Supreme Court has defined the boundaries of free speech: that is the law, binding on all government action. If Gov. Scott and BLM wish to introduce a new amendment to the United States Constitution to override the Supreme Court’s rulings, that is the legal path to change the Bill of Rights, not sneaky COVID orders that aggressively trundle well-established liberties.

Vermonters will defy this unconstitutional edict, not because they support hate speech, but because they support clearly established liberties and the rule of law, which provide that the Supreme Court’s decisions are binding, even for governors. And if any incendiary image should be banned, it is BLM flags at Vermont schools and public buildings, already a disgrace to free speech liberties.

John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield, and the former pastor of the First Congregational Church of Westfield.

19 thoughts on “John Klar: Vermont governor’s COVID order bans hate speech to achieve cultural equity

  1. JUST IN: Wisconsin Supreme Court Strikes Down Democrat Governor’s Mask Mandate
    By Cristina Laila Published March 31, 2021 at 11:59am 128 Comments
    The conservative-leaning Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down Democrat Governor Tony Evers’ statewide mask mandate in a 4-3 ruling.

    The state supreme court ruled that Evers violated the law by unilaterally issuing multiple emergency orders and circumventing the state legislature.

  2. Remember, people, we elected a self-declared Socialist (Bernie) to Congress and then to the Senate. We also allow non resident college students who pay out-of-state tuition to vote alongside residents. How insane is that?? All these are building blocks for the radical Left’s agenda to make Vermont and the U.S.A. Socialist. Vermont has become a petri dish for every hare-brained liberal and Progressive scheme on the Left’s wish list — the oppression and ruination of the taxpaying citizens be danged. Liberty? The Constitution? What liberty? What Constitution? The Left sees these as standing in the way of their public goal of resetting and changing America into a leftist Utopia. That has never worked and never will work. There is no Utopia this side of heaven. Then again, Venezuela — ?

  3. After seeing the photo taken w/CCP operatives, it’s clear who is pulling the strings of the Vermont delegation, the Vermont administration, and Vermont elected officials. They are all in with the CCP and DC. If the push back does not start soon, start learning to speak Mandarin or Cantonese as the new owners of this State will prefer we speak their native tongue.

  4. We have a way of determining if something our politicians do is unconstitutional. It can be challenged and a determination then made by the courts.

    If you read the quotes provided, Governor Scott talks about “examining” and “considering” . It would be helpful to know if any actions have indeed been taken by our Governor that might be actually considered an impingement on free speech and the Constitution and if so, are there any challenges being made in court.

    Governor Scott has been and continues to be demonized by those on the left and right. Perhaps he is just an old fashioned Republican in mold of Jim Douglass, Richard Snelling, and Deane Davis. May not be your cup of tea, but certainly not the devil incarnate.

    • Not the devil, but nowhere near the caliber of Douglas or Snelling. The current governor reflects the ideology of 2021 Vermont, a fearful gaggle of liberals, that cannot tolerate opposing views and opinions. His attention is not focused on Vermont’s now conservative minority, nor conservative values. Expect little “republican” behavior from Scott. He has shown us what he will and won’t do to remain popular…and governor.

      • Frank,

        I think in recent decades Republican Governors have served as a much needed balance to the Democratically controlled legislature. Snelling, Douglas and Scott have all filled this role with greater or lesser degrees of success depending in large part on whether there was a super-majority in the legislature that could override vetoes.

        You have to play with the cards you have been dealt and Phil Scott, who has been dealt a very tough hand, has by all accounts played what cards he has well in reigning in tax increases and limiting some of the more outlandish proposals whenever his is able. The overall competence of his administration also stands in stark contrast to his predecessor Peter Shumlin.

        Is this enough for the conservative wing of the Republican party. Clearly not. However, those who desire more change might best focus on electing more Republicans of all stripes to the legislature, than hammering on a governor who would love to have more members of his party in the legislature pushing for a smaller government that recognizes that we have maxed out how much we can tax our citizens and the importance of our Vermont based businesses and the challenges they face in our State.

  5. It’s time for Mr. Scott to declare himself a progressive and change parties. It’s been clear for some time that his heart is not with the GOP. As things stand now, not even the GOP is no longer the GOP bunch of pansies who twist in the wind.

  6. ” Changes to State law necessary to ban Confederate flags or other similarly incendiary flags/images from being displayed in places that receive state funding.”

    Good, because I consider the BLM flag hateful, offensive, and incendiary, and it should NEVER be flown over our schools or government buildings.

  7. Scott is nothing but a damn puppet for the liberal democrats who are nothing but socialists. Is that hate speech? No that is nothing but the truth.

    We have nothing but liberal out-of-staters in our Legislation and truth be known they left their own state where they couldn’t get into the government and take control. So move to Vermont and take over and make Vermont the way they want.

    Our once wonderful and beautiful Vermont has become a California state, a NY state
    The only racist people in Vermont are the ones who come here and make trouble. I went to school with Black students and there were never any problems, we treated each other like everyone else. They say Vermont is the whitest state in the Nation because we wouldn’t let people of color move in.. BULL—- !! In Montpelier, a black lady from Georgia moved here. Everyone loved her, she became a good customer at my father’s gas station, This was in the 50’s she became apart of our family.

    Vermonters weren’t raised to be racist. Vermonters were raised to be friendly, hard workers, and honest people. We are outspoken. We say what we mean. I was born and raised here and never in my life growing up had to deal with this crap that is happening today.. People who are calling us racist, telling us how to live our lives and who to vote for, what we can and can’t do. and most of all changing our way of life and our Vermont Constitution. These people need to go back to their own state.

    You don’t judge a person by their skin color you judge them on their action, are they honest or dishonest. Yrs ago your word and handshake were what counted and important.

    Our ancestors fought for our freedom and our right to free speech. Today there are those who are tearing down our history, banning books, telling us that we can’t call our parents Mom and Dad, brother or sister. The “cancel culture” needs to be cancel, before they kill our culture.

  8. MR Scott, why don’t you RESIGN your position as Head Politician of the State.. Your Ideas are more in tune with the Progressives and Liberal Left as well as The Democrats. You are CERTAINLY a RINO and I dare say OUT of touch with the Average Vermonter.

  9. It is truly hard to determine what motivates Governor Scott? Does he really believe his actions are proper, or is he obedient to a master who is self serving and contrary to our founding?

    • It makes me kind of wonder if they don’t have some kind of dirt on him that he doesn’t want exposed….

      It’s getting rather strange activities even for rinos.

    • When Chairman Phil ran for office – he put out a call for Democrats and Progressives to join his campaign. When politicians say they’re “not afraid to reach across the aisle” a wakeup call. VT now as corrupt as Tammany if not moreso. As a former supporter always wondered why certain Republicans were so reluctant to support a Scott run – I now know.

      Not a fan of witchhunts or removing party members – however when someone so violates the principles of a party he should be asked to not run again. Scott gamed the rules to get in power and is gaming the rules to stay in power. VT allows voters to vote in the primary regardless of party affiliation. We can now see the likelihood of vast leftwing primary support for Scott since most of his support base is Democrats.

      Party should put forward an alternative if the rules allow. Would like to see a petition of how many conservatives and Republicans oppose our communist-controlled governor.

  10. So how far are we from being branded for hate speech like calling a far left liberal a communist? It looks like that is what they want to do.

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