Anti-Government Speech Becomes Sedition
and Nisha Whitehead
Information Clearing House
-- Let’s be clear about
one thing: seditious
a real crime to anyone but the U.S. government.
convicted of seditious
against Stewart Rhodes who
to 18 years in prison for
being the driving force behind the January 6
Capitol riots, one doesn’t have to engage in
violence against the government, vandalize
government property, or even trespass on
property that the government has declared
off-limits to the general public.
convicted of seditious
need only foment
is not about whether Rhodes deserves
such a hefty sentence.
about the long-term ramifications of empowering
the government to wage war on individuals whose
political ideas and expression challenge the
government’s power, reveal the government’s
corruption, expose the government’s lies, and
encourage the citizenry to push back against the
government’s many injustices.
about criminalizing political expression in
thoughts, words and deeds.
about how the government has used the events of
Jan. 6 in order to justify further power grabs
and acquire more authoritarian emergency powers.
was never about so-called threats to democracy.
fact, the history of this nation is populated by
individuals whose rhetoric was aimed at
fomenting civil unrest and revolution.
by the government’s own definition, America’s
founders were seditious conspirators based on
the heavily charged rhetoric they used to birth
Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Marquis De Lafayette,
and John Adams would certainly have been charged
for suggesting that Americans should not only
take up arms but be prepared to protect their
liberties and defend themselves against the
government should it violate their rights.
country can preserve its liberties if their
rulers are not warned from time to time that
their people preserve the spirit of resistance.
Let them take arms,” declared Jefferson. He also
concluded that “the tree of liberty must be
refreshed from time to time with the blood of
patriots and tyrants.”
the duty of the patriot to protect his country
from its government,” insisted Paine.
the government violates the people’s rights,”
Lafayette warned, “insurrection is, for the
people and for each portion of the people, the
most sacred of the rights and the most
indispensable of duties.”
cautioned, “A settled plan to deprive the people
of all the benefits, blessings and ends of the
contract, to subvert the fundamentals of the
constitution, to deprive them of all share in
making and executing laws, will justify a
America’s founders feared revolutionary words
and ideas, there would have been no First
Amendment, which protects the right to political
expression, even if that expression is
matter what one’s political persuasion might be,
every American has a First Amendment right to
protest government programs or policies with
which they might disagree.
right to disagree with and speak out against the
government is the quintessential freedom.
individual has a right to speak truth to
power—and foment change—using every nonviolent means
Unfortunately, the government is increasingly
losing its tolerance for anyone whose political
views could be perceived as critical or
us are in danger.
recent years, the government has used the phrase
“domestic terrorist” interchangeably with
“anti-government,” “extremist” and “terrorist”
to describe anyone who might fall somewhere on a
very broad spectrum of viewpoints that could be
ramifications are so far-reaching as to render
almost every American with an opinion about
the government or who knows someone
with an opinion about the government an
extremist in word, deed, thought or by
see, the government doesn’t care if you or
someone you know has a legitimate grievance. It
doesn’t care if your criticisms are
well-founded. And it certainly doesn’t care if
you have a First Amendment right to speak truth
the government cares about is whether what
you’re thinking or speaking or sharing or
consuming as information has the potential to
challenge its stranglehold on power.
else would the FBI, CIA, NSA and other
government agencies be investing in corporate
surveillance technologies that can mine
constitutionally protected speech on
social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter
else would the Biden Administration be likening
those who share “false
or misleading narratives and conspiracy
theories, and other forms of mis- dis- and
else would the government be waging war against those
who engage in thought crimes?
ready for the next phase of the government’s war
on thought crimes and truth-tellers.
years now, the government has used all of the
weapons in its vast arsenal—surveillance, threat
assessments, fusion centers, pre-crime programs,
hate crime laws, militarized police, lockdowns,
martial law, etc.—to target potential enemies
of the state based on their ideologies,
behaviors, affiliations and other
characteristics that might be deemed suspicious
instance, if you believe in and exercise your
rights under the Constitution (namely, your
right to speak freely, worship freely, associate
with like-minded individuals who share your
political views, criticize the government, own a
weapon, demand a warrant before being questioned
or searched, or any other activity viewed as
potentially anti-government, racist, bigoted,
anarchic or sovereign), you could be at
the top of the government’s terrorism watch list.
Moreover, as a New York Times editorial
warns, you may be an anti-government extremist
the eyes of the police if you are afraid that
is plotting to confiscate your firearms,
if you believe the economy
is about to collapse and
will soon declare martial law,
or if you display an unusual number of political
and/or ideological bumper stickers on
According to one FBI report, you might also be
classified as a domestic terrorism threat if you
espouse conspiracy theories, especially if you “attempt
to explain events or circumstances as the result
of a group of actors working in secret to
benefit themselves at the expense of others”
and are “usually at odds with official or
prevailing explanations of events.”
other words, if you dare to subscribe to any
views that are contrary to the government’s, you
may well be suspected of being a domestic
terrorist and treated accordingly.
a whole spectrum of behaviors ranging from
thought crimes and hate speech to whistleblowing
that qualifies for persecution (and prosecution)
by the Deep State.
Simply liking or sharing this
article on Facebook, retweeting it on Twitter,
or merely reading it or any other articles
related to government wrongdoing, surveillance,
police misconduct or civil liberties might be
enough to get you categorized as a particular
kind of person with particular kinds of
interests that reflect a particular kind of
mindset that might just lead you to
engage in a particular kinds of activities and,
therefore, puts you in the crosshairs of a
government investigation as a potential
troublemaker a.k.a. domestic extremist.
are, as the Washington Post reports,
you have already been assigned a color-coded
yellow or red—so police are forewarned about
your potential inclination to be a troublemaker
depending on whether you’ve had a career in the
military, posted a comment perceived as
threatening on Facebook, suffer from a
particular medical condition, or know someone
who knows someone who might have committed a
other words, you might already be flagged as
potentially anti-government in a government
for example—that identifies and tracks
individuals who aren’t inclined to march in
lockstep to the police state’s dictates.
the FBI, CIA, NSA and other government agencies
have increasingly invested in corporate
surveillance technologies that can mine
constitutionally protected speech on social
media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and
Instagram in order to identify potential
extremists and predict who might engage in
future acts of anti-government behavior.
many Americans go wrong is in naively assuming
that you have to be doing something illegal or
harmful in order to be flagged and targeted for
some form of intervention or detention.
fact, all you need to do these days to end up on
a government watch list or be subjected to
heightened scrutiny is use
certain trigger words (like
cloud, pork and pirates), surf the internet,
communicate using a cell phone, limp
or stutter, drive
a car, stay at
a hotel, attend a political rally, express
yourself on social media, appear
serve in the military, disagree
with a law enforcement official, call
in sick to work,
purchase materials at a hardware store, take
flying or boating lessons, appear
appear confused or nervous, fidget or whistle or
smell bad, be seen in public waving a toy gun or
anything remotely resembling a gun (such as a
water nozzle or a remote control or a walking
at a police officer,
question government authority, or appear
to be pro-gun or pro-freedom.
then at the other end of the spectrum there are
those such as Julian Assange and Chelsea
Manning, for example, who blow the whistle on
government misconduct that is within the
public’s right to know.
Orwellian fashion, the government would have us
believe that it is Assange and Manning who are
the real criminals for daring to expose the war
machine’s seedy underbelly.
his April 2019 arrest, Assange has been locked
up in a maximum-security British prison—in
solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day—pending
extradition to the U.S., where if convicted, he
could be sentenced to 175
years in prison.
how the police state deals with those who
challenge its chokehold on power.
also why the government fears a citizenry that
thinks for itself: because a citizenry that
thinks for itself is a citizenry that is
informed, engaged and prepared to hold the
government accountable to abiding by the rule of
law, which translates to government transparency
all, we’re citizens, not subjects.
those who don’t fully understand the distinction
between the two and why transparency is so vital
to a healthy constitutional government, Manning
explains it well:
When freedom of information and transparency
are stifled, then bad decisions are often
made and heartbreaking tragedies occur – too
often on a breathtaking scale that can leave
societies wondering: how did this happen? …
I believe that when the public lacks even
the most fundamental access to what its
governments and militaries are doing in
their names, then they cease to be involved
in the act of citizenship. There
is a bright distinction between citizens,
who have rights and privileges protected by
the state, and subjects, who are under the
complete control and authority of the state.
why the First Amendment is so critical. It gives
the citizenry the right to speak freely, protest
peacefully, expose government wrongdoing, and
criticize the government without fear of arrest,
isolation or any of the other punishments that
have been meted out to whistleblowers such as
Edwards Snowden, Assange and Manning.
challenge is holding the government accountable
to obeying the law.
little over 50 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court
ruled 6-3 in United States v. Washington
Post Co. to block the Nixon
Administration’s attempts to use claims of
national security to prevent The Washington Post
and The New York Times from publishing
secret Pentagon papers on how America went to
war in Vietnam.
Justice William O. Douglas remarked on the
ruling, “The press was protected so that it
could bare the secrets of government and inform
the people. Only
a free and unrestrained press can effectively
expose deception in government. And
paramount among the responsibilities of a free
press is the duty to prevent any part of the
government from deceiving the people and sending
them off to distant lands to die of foreign
fevers and foreign shot and shell.”
forward to the present day, and we’re witnessing
yet another showdown, this time between Assange
and the Deep State, which pits the people’s
right to know about government misconduct
against the might of the military industrial
this isn’t merely about whether whistleblowers
and journalists are part of a protected class
under the Constitution. It’s a debate over how
long “we the people” will remain a protected
class under the Constitution.
Following the current trajectory, it won’t be
long before anyone who believes in
holding the government accountable is labeled
an “extremist,” relegated
to an underclass that doesn’t fit in, watched
all the time,
and rounded up when the government deems it
almost at that point now.
Eventually, as I point out in my book Battlefield
America: The War on the American People and
in its fictional counterpart The
Erik Blair Diaries,
we will all be seditious conspirators in the
eyes of the government.
would do better to be conspirators for the
Constitution starting right now.
Whitehead is an attorney and author who has
written, debated and practiced widely in the
area of constitutional law, human rights and
popular culture. He is founder and president of
Whitehead can be contacted at
Are You Tired Of
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