Creep: Martin E. Weinstein

Today’s creep is a fellow resident of Missoula, a certain Martin E. Weinstein who apparently doesn’t understand his basic civil liberties. In fact, Mr. Weinstein’s logic was so ridiculously hypocritical and convoluted, I almost forgave him the title of “creep,” which I like to reserve for people who are aware of their meanness of spirit. Weinstein seems merely confused. Maybe someone in need of a little Zoloft as well. (I think I may have seen this guy talking to himself down by the train tracks this weekend.)

Anyway, Weinstein’s letter to the Missoulian:

Professor is indoctrinating students

Gov. Brian Schweitzer and the Missoulian may want to reconsider their enthusiastic support for the petition for pardon for Ben Kahn, convicted in 1918 of violating Montana's now-defunct Sedition Act for opposing our involvement in World War I (“Righting a Wrong,” Missoulian, April 9).

This petition was initiated not by the descendants of Ben Kahn, but by University of Montana journalism professor Clemens P. Work, who “inspired”14 of his students to research the lives of people convicted under the Sedition Act. Professor Work believes that the Patriot Act shows a “stark resemblance” to the Sedition Act, and that both violate the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech.

First, let’s look at Montana’s “Sedition Act.” From the Sedition Project:

"Whenever the United States shall be engaged in war, any person or persons who shall utter, print, write or publish any disloyal, profane, violent, scurrilous, contemptuous, slurring or abusive language about the form of government of the United States, or the constitution of the United States, or the soldiers or sailors of the United States, or the flag of the United States, or the uniform of the army or navy of the United States…or shall utter, print, write or publish any language calculated to incite or inflame resistance to any duly constituted Federal or State authority in connection with the prosecution of the War…shall be guilty of sedition."

The Patriot Act, of course, does not use such strong and clear language to discourage dissent. Instead, it defines “terrorist” in such vague terms – then denies basic civil liberties for those accused of terrorism – that just about anybody who participates in a protest against the government could fall under that definition. (See an earlier post for the language of the Patriot act in defining “terrorist.”)

(While the Patriot Act so far hasn’t been used to prosecute anti-war activists, such “radical groups” as the Quakers have come under federal scrutiny through the Patriot Act’s provisions.)

While Work’s opinion may set him against the Bush administration’s policies and rhetoric, his comparison of Montana’s Sedition Act to the Patriot Act is not without basis. He’s not some out-there crank making sh*t up.


While Work is certainly free to publish his views, it is a dangerous, destructive abuse of academic freedom to use his classroom to indoctrinate students. Political indoctrination destroys free inquiry and standards. Students are graded not by quality, but by their political correctness – just as they were in Nazi Germany or the Communist Soviet Union. This petition is not an expression of free speech. It is a classroom assignment.

Of course, no one is forced to take the class, and I assume that there are other projects available to the students. Also, Weinstein’s claim that students are graded by “political correctness” completely lacks any basis in reality as unsupported as it is by any evidence and informed only by his own prejudice. Furthermore, to compare a professor who advocates that citizens should enjoy more freedom from government than they currently have to Nazi or Stalinist propagandists is completely unsound, unreasonable, and absurd. Nazis and Stalinists wanted less dissent against the government; Work wants more.

Professor Work and his ilk are misusing the First Amendment to destroy our Constitution and the United States, trying to lead us to a neo-Marxist utopia that would be a totalitarian state. They are sowing the seeds of defeat in Iraq in the name of freedom. They are in practice the unholy allies of Islamic terrorists.

The funniest thing I’ve read all week!

Misusing the First Amendment…to promote freedom of speech???

Apparently Weinstein thinks the only appropriate use for the free speech is to freely support the Bush administration, Our Great Leader, in his Quest to Democratize the World through Military Might.

How the exercising of our civil liberties will necessarily lead us to a “neo-Marxist utopia that would be a totalitarian state,” I’ll leave you to figure out. (To me it sounds like this guy needs to leave his tinfoil-wrapped motel room.)

“Unholy allies of Islamic terrorists”? Uh oh, using the “t-word” against Work. Hm, maybe speaking out against civil liberties is working for terrorists? Hm, maybe pursuing pre-emptive strikes against Mid East nations only encourages terrorists? Whatever. Don’t use the “t-word” in an argument. It’s inane. It’s an attempt to shut down discussion through the use of fear.

The Missoulian article concludes by telling us: “Schweitzer, whose German speaking ancestors immigrated to eastern Montana and were denied the right to speak their native language, said he won't stand to see those constitutional freedoms denied again.” Please, give us a break. The Schweitzers seem to have done pretty well here under our supposedly oppressive system.

What would a paranoid rant against academia, civil liberties, and freedom of thought be without a gratuitous swipe at the state’s Democrat governor?

  1. Haliburton

    Weinstein does more rhetorical gymnastics at The Wall Street Journal (letters, June 19, 2006):

    Knowing how to write and talk does not make him a good thinker, writer or speaker. It makes him a very good propagandist for his own ends, including his hatred of all in the Middle East except the regime for which he acts as a propagandist wrapped in a very thin disguise.

  2. Jeff Renz

    What Weinstein ignores or is not aware of is that all of my students volunteered.

  1. 1 4&20 blackbirds » Blog Archive » Missoulians support sedition amnesty project

    […] Two letters appearing recently in the Missoulian touted the work of Clemens Work, who is busy clearing the names of many who were criminalized under Montana’s infamous WWI Sedition Act, and decrying a recent paranoid attack on Work’s work by Missoula man, Harvey Weinstein. (A recent 4&20 “creep.”) […]

  2. 2 4&20 blackbirds » Blog Archive » Creep: David L. Green

    […] Martin Weinstein: Believes that freedom of speech should be extended only to those who have nice things to say about the government, and argues that unfettered liberties lead to Nazi or Stalinist states. Oh, and liberals are allied with Islamic terrorists. […]

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