Committees of Correspondence and Free Press Still Protect Our Liberties

April 2, 2014

By Richard Reeb at Desert Dispatch

Students of our history know that private, voluntary organizations were indispensable to winning American independence. In a time when crude printing presses and the postal service were the only means by which people scattered across hundreds of millions in the thirteen original colonies could communicate, writers disseminated news of the growing British oppression and shared updates on the patriot resistance.

Despite (or because of) the growth of big government in the last several decades, Americans still rely on those original means for informing public opinion. When the French political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville, author of “Democracy in America,” visited the United States in the 1830s, he took enthusiastic note of the multitude of newspapers and private associations (and, of course, churches) that thrived in our free society. He understood that a self-governing people cannot — and does not — do otherwise.

Amidst the domination of what we now call mass media by a liberal elite that has attenuated the vitality of journalism (except for Fox news), the equivalent of committees of correspondence regularly circulate their views through the mails and now the Internet. Often what the liberal media choose to ignore can only be known through these “alternative media.”

For example, one learns only because of organizations such as Life Legal Defense Foundation that the city of South San Francisco is giving unethical (and probably illegal) favored treatment to Planned Parenthood. The facility’s landlord is John Penna, former city council member and mayor of that community, and that has made all the difference.

According to the Life Legal, two years ago “Penna went to authorities of the city and arranged for a special ‘zone’ accommodating his new project, the renter of his dreams… It shows that, when it comes to zoning in South San Francisco, it really helps to have someone with connections.”

That is not all. When parishioners of All Souls Church nearby began peaceful protests, Penna, a professed Roman Catholic, had power washers turned on them. “Manufacturers warn that the spray from the nozzle of a power washer can strip human flesh from the bone,” very much like what happens to babies in the womb. The district attorney filed no charges against Penna, of course.

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood announced a “moratorium” on abortions, which means they will resume soon enough. Sound familiar, High Desert residents? Our local PP made similar claims.

Another stalwart private organization is the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which lately has taken up the cause of young men denied the legal rights of accused persons. In early 2010, Caleb Warner was accused of sexual assault by a fellow student at the University of North Dakota, which he claimed was entirely consensual. But despite a lack of evidence, he was found guilty by an administrative board, suspended for three years and banned from the campus.

According to FIRE, the local police began a formal investigation, reviewed the same evidence and decided not to charge Caleb with a single crime. “Instead, they charged his accuser with filing a false report and issued a warrant for her arrest,” said FIRE.

That made no difference to the university, ruling that it was “more likely than not” that Caleb was guilty of rape. Under the circumstances, he has no way to clear his name.

Lest anyone think that this is an isolated incident, consider this: “The U.S. Department of Education . . . recently set the standard of evidence to determine guilt at just 50.01 percent ‘certainty’ in sexual assault cases,” FIRE reports. This threatens innocent young men across the nation.

The greatest damage in these cases has been done to the bedrock principle of justice that those accused of crimes are considered innocent until proven guilty.

While the Left has been spreading the lie that the Right is waging a “war on women,” the truth is that the war on men is going on unabated at many of our colleges and universities.

To repeat, Americans would never know that the activities of elite media-favored organizations like Planned Parenthood and liberal-dominated institutions of so-called higher learning are being granted special privileges or abusing their authority were it not for the many right-minded organizations that we are free to form in a constitutional republic.

Recently, the Federal Communications Commission was poised to send “monitors” into newsrooms across the country to determine if enough coverage was being given to what it called “minority issues.” While the media quickly denounced the plan, it was only because one of the Commissioners had revealed it to alternative media.

Much as we admire the power and scope of our national media, they will never replace the organizations that, like the original committees of correspondence, sound the alarm at the attacks on our liberties. God bless them.