And Leftists Wonder Why No One Trusts the Media


It would appear that ThinkProgress has published a hit piece on me. The article ends with the following:

Mahler did not respond to ThinkProgress’ requests for comment on Thursday.

There is a bit of irony in this, as I received the following email from Mr. Barnes today at 13:11 PDT (16:11 EDT):

Dear Mr. Mahler,

My name’s Luke Barnes and I’m a reporter with ThinkProgress in Washington DC. I’m currently writing a story about your continued attempts at funding Jason Kessler and Chris Cantwell, who as I’m sure you’re aware were both heavily involved with last year’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville VA.

I wanted to give you the chance to comment on this article, specifically the following questions:

Can you explain why you think it’s important to fund Cantwell and Kessler? Why are you also funding Cantwell’s activism and artwork?

Can we talk a bit about your political beliefs? What would you describe yourself as?

What will happen if PayPal cuts your access? Will you keep up trying to fund Cantwell and Kessler?

Do you agree with Kessler’s former description of murder victim Heather Heyer as a “fat, disgusting communist”?

We’re hoping to get this article out soon, so a prompt reply would be much appreciated. Thank you in advance for your time and cooperation.

All the best, Luke Barnes Reporter – ThinkProgress 202-741-6347 – @LukeBarnes_92

For those who are not fond of math: Mr. Barnes gave me two hours and five minutes to reply to his email before publishing his article and insinuating that I refused to respond to requests (inaccurate plural in the original) for comment. If this is journalistic integrity, it is no wonder faith in the media has taken a nosedive.

As it is clear that Mr. Barnes is acting in bad faith, I am publishing what was originally going to be a reply email to him publicly instead of sending it to him personally. (However, shortly after I hit "Publish" on this response, I'll be replying to Mr. Barnes' email with a link to this post.)

Mr. Barnes,

Before I get to my response to your inquiry, let me start by stating that it is rather disingenuous and journalistically questionable to end your piece with:

Mahler did not respond to ThinkProgress’ requests for comment on Thursday.

when I was given a mere two hours to reply to your single email. That aside, my response to your email is included, infra.

As I'm sure you are aware, I am a California-licensed attorney. You may not, however, be aware of the fact that all California attorneys must take an oath before being admitted to the Bar. This oath, per Business and Professions Code § 6067, typically takes the following form:

I solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of an attorney and counsellor at law to the best of my knowledge and ability.

Both the Constitution of the United States (Amendment I):

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

— Constitution of the United States, Amendment 1

and the Constitution of the State of California (Article 1 § 2):

Every person may freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of this right. A law may not restrain or abridge liberty of speech or press.

— Constitution of the State of California, Article I § 2(a)

protect the freedom of speech. The bounds of this protection have been very clearly delineated by the Supreme Court of the United States (see, e.g., Brandenburg v. Ohio):

These later decisions have fashioned the principle that the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.

It is utterly irrelevant how you or I feel or how anyone else feels about the speech of another, so long as it is legal. It is, in fact, the case that "if there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought -- not free thought for those who agree with us, but freedom for the thought that we hate" (US v. Schwimmer, recently cited in Matal v. Tam). It is no great test of our commitment to freedom of speech for us to support the right to speak of those with whom we agree; the true test of our commitment to the ideal is our support of the right to speak of those with whom we disagree, with whom we may even disagree vehemently, those whose speech we find distasteful, objectionable, or abhorrent.

To clarify: I am not funding Mr. Cantwell or Mr. Kessler. Not a single cent of my own money has gone to either man. I am merely facilitating others in donating on behalf of Mr. Cantwell and Mr. Kessler because they have been routinely shut out of the system in a way that can best be described as concerted, discreditable, and, in my assessment, illegal. The free speech guarantees enjoyed by US citizens are meaningless if their exercise results in having one's life systematically destroyed. The Government has failed to act to address these transgressions by various financial entities, so it falls to those who have sworn oaths to protect these cherished ideals to act in its stead.

My own political beliefs are simple: I am a Republican. I believe in the Constitution and I support a return to its protections and prohibitions. The Constitution is the oldest, written constitution still in use today; it has served our Nation well for over two centuries. I hope to wish it a happy 250th anniversary in March of 2039.

If my current payment processors cancel my accounts, then I shall seek out other payment processors to keep the services I offer functioning, hopefully without interruption. I do not believe that these financial entities should be gatekeepers for who may and who may not exercise the freedom of speech, but they have been, effectively, given this role. I believe the Government should step in and regulate these entities and force their compliance with US law, including the Constitution.

In truth, I do not follow most of the political intrigue on the far Right (or, for that matter, the far Left). These are not issues that truly affect my life or the country in any meaningful way. I know virtually nothing about Ms. Heyer or her political beliefs, so it would be without my personal knowledge to make any assessment of her in that realm. If she were, in fact, a Communist, however, then I would decline to break with decades of sentiment on the political Right: Better dead than red.

If you are inclined to include in your article items from my blog, it might be best to include the most topical one:

Free Speech Corporations and Dissent


Corey J. Mahler, Esq., J.D., LL.M.