Free speech is only free if you're a billionaire. If you're protesting billionaires looting your state, you get targeted for shaming and public scrutiny by a billionaire serving as the governor's lackey.
June 24, 2013

For weeks, North Carolinians have been peacefully gathering outside the state capitol to protest the very awful, terrible policies being passed by the very red North Carolina legislature. It's like ALEC's dream come true in that state, with legislation only an organization like ALEC could dream up. Anti-abortion, school privatization, gutting environmental measures, and draconian cuts to the already slim pickings for assistance to the poor. You name it, they're gutting it. Those protests aren't violent. They're intended to stand for moral leadership, rather than corrupt, billionaire-driven agendas.

Oh, Art Pope. As if it's not bad enough that you're in a position to advise North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory to screw all people of color or those living on modest (non-existent) means, now you're actually targeting them on your foundation website? What's up with that?

Yes, that's right. The John W. Pope Civitas Institute has become the Art Pope Nonprofit Foundation for Naming and Shaming. All contributions are tax-deductible, of course.

Gov. Pat McCrory has described the demonstrators as "outsiders." Data collectors with EPS Research, a Chapel Hill-based company, surveyed the crowd a week ago and a statistical sampling of 316 participants showed that 98.4 percent of the demonstrators live in North Carolina.

The John W. Pope Civitas Institute, a conservative think tank that has been largely funded by Art Pope, the governor’s budget director, posted an online database last week of the people arrested in the Moral Monday demonstrations.

The database included the age, race, employment and home town of 382 of the arrested protesters.

The site also included a “Pick The Protester Game."

Nothing says free speech like publishing a peaceful protester's employer, right?

Let's see. Before the world blew up over other things, we were listening to angry teapeople making lots of angry noise about how the IRS targeted them for improper political activity. Do you suppose a non-profit organization using its resources to build and publish a database of regular people exercising their right to free speech might be something that is outside of its not-for-profit purpose? And do you think this is the first time?

Yeah, me either.

For the record, Civitas defined: A body of people constituting an organized community. Like those Moral Monday people, who are surely organized, and are definitely a community. One that an institute named after the concept is attempting to intimidate and silence. Ironic, that.

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