Neighborhood ‘Forum’ bans “Liberty and Justice for All” letter
by Guy Page
On December 3, Molly Jesse of Essex Junction submitted the post below to Front Porch Forum, a neighborhood online news, advertising and commentary service. Controversy and public discussion had been swirling for months on FPF over the high school’s decision to raise the Black Lives Matter flag.
Essex Republican Chair Ron Lawrence protested the decision and tried to repost Ms. Jesse’s post. His account, too, was deactivated.
Is FPF playing the politics of cancel culture? Let the reader be the judge. As noted in another story in today’s Vermont Daily, I think thin-skinned Front Porch Forum judged them not by the colorfulness of their remarks, but by the character of their content.
At least one observer noted in email exchanges about the FPF action, “I do think FPF has gone overboard in controlling posts—at least our local monitors. Any attempt to have a reasonable discussion on BLM for example, set them off immediately—even when I presented them with pretty outrageous posts in favor of BLM. I think it’s time to move to other social media where free speech is actually encouraged.” Below is the post submitted by Molly Jesse, and reposted by Ron Lawrence:
Liberty and Justice for All
- Molly Jesse • Creek Road, Essex
Posted to: Essex Center
Dec 3, 2020
Liberty and Justice for All is an Open Letter that begins as follows:
“We stand at the crossroads. Over the next several years, the noble sentiments and ideas that gave birth to the United States will either be repudiated or reaffirmed. The fateful choice before us will result either in the death of a grand hope or a recommitment to an extraordinary political experiment whose full flowering we have yet to realize.
The choice will involve either contempt and despair or gratitude and the self-respect worthy of a free people who know long labors lie before them and who proceed with hope toward a dignified future.”
The Open Letter ends with: “Like our forebears, we aim both to conserve and reform our institutions in light of enduring principles of justice. That is the task of self-governing people who know they live in an imperfect world and yet are not deterred by its challenges. We invite all citizens of good will to join us so that together we can strive for liberty and justice for all.”
Go to https://www.realclearfoundation.org/liberty-and-justice-for-all/ to read the Open Letter in full.
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Front Porch Forum, like VT Digger and Vermont Public Radio, should lose its non-profit status for breaching the IRS non-partisanship requirements that qualify it as a 501 (c)3 tax exempt organization.
“Members of the public may send information that raises questions about an exempt organization’s compliance with the Internal Revenue Code to IRS – EO Referrals, 1100 Commerce Street, MC 4910 DAL, Dallas, TX 75242. They may use Form 13909 PDF, Tax-Exempt Organization Complaint (Referral) Form, for this purpose.”
Front Porch Forum is not a 501c3 nonprofit and in fact is not a nonprofit at all. This is how MIchael Wood-Lewis gets away with operating the forum as if it were his own. Because it is. The reason for the common misperception that FPF is a nonprofit is because Wood-Lewis is constantly trolling his readers with requests for “donations.” Where it gets messy for him is that he applied for and received a $350,000 grant from the government which was awarded for providing connectivity in communities for times of emergency, in the wake of Hurricane Irene. Notwithstanding this, Wood-Lewis and his regressive minions eject userrs for any reason they choose, ignoring their promise to be a media resource for all Vermonters in times of emergency. Evidently in their eyes, if you have expressed anything hinting of conservatism, you have no right to be in their communication loop should there be a regional or statewide crisis. I know these things to be true because I was kicked off FPF, also without notice or explanation because I objected to a neighbor making a post recommending using poison on “radical Republican talk show hosts.” No one should kid themselves that FPF is interested in free speech or for providing a place for people to engage in intellectual discourse if it runs counter the Mr. Wood-Lewis’ regressive political agenda.
Thank you. I stand corrected. FPF is, indeed, a Vermont Public Benefit Corporation (PBC), NOT a tax exempt non-profit.
In effect, a PBC is nothing more than a marketing and advertising tool. I can’t find any financial benefit or difference between a PBC and any other for-profit corporate structure, other than the projected appearance to investors that the PBC is more inclined to put ‘public good’ over profit – which is, of course, a misrepresentation of profit making. But that’s a topic for another discussion.
That a PBC’s legal framework protects the company from being held liable for making decisions that do other than maximize shareholder value, doesn’t mean a PBC, like FPF, can’t be profitable. In fact, a PBC can pay dividends to its shareholders. Furthermore, PBCs such as FPF can censor content without assuming a liability. The proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing.
My advice: Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Use FPF for what it does for you. If you want to sell your car, or a dishwasher, post a help-wanted ad, or look for a lost dog, go for it. On the other hand, if you find FPF to be blatantly biased with censorship and overt and/or subliminal political content with which you disagree, don’t use it.
It also occurs to me that a PBC, such as FPF, can operate like a Poltical Action Committee of sorts, and circumvent State and Federal regulations for doing so. FPF can’t donate to campaigns. But it can filter its published content to benefit those with whom it agrees – especially if its shareholders happen to be poltical operatives or even politicians. The question then is, can a PBC such as FPF, restrict investment from certain shareholders and not others depending on their political persuasion?
Food for thought. Feeding the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing.
FPF has allowed many posts which I found personally objectionable including, but not limited to: a post commemorating Nakba Day and decrying the “Occupation” of Palestine”, a post from some guy who said he was part of a Coalition for A Blacker America, was taking donations, seeking reparations and offering to do counseling for “white guilt”, a post looking for ONLY other women of color to hang out and exercise with and lots more. Not to mention the endless posts fingering named stores for allowing unmasked people. I can’t imagine if someone tried to post about a day of mourning to mark the anniversary of the Civil Right Act, Gay Marriage, legalization of abortion etc that FPF would have ever allowed this. Or if they posted looking ONLY for white women to hang out with! So yes, they have their “standards” and only those who toe the line(are “woke enough”) are allowed to speak their mind.
Guy, This certainly seems to I dictate that, while free speech may not be dead, it should be on life support. When ‘publishers/forums’ are only willing to recognize that one side of as n issue is valid and any opposing view is not only invalid, but qualifies as ‘hate speech’ and should therefore be censured, there us no free speech. Is this the beginning of the end of a free country, or have already gone beyond that point?
Pat, that depends on whether elections remain free and fair, and whether people patronize the media that gives them the information they want. I believe both are possible but must be fought for.
No different really then VT Digger deciding they needed to cancel comments as there were too many comments of a conservative nature. So in VT, other than here at this website, only “woke progressives” have anything valid to say.
Yes. But VT Digger is a 501(c)3 non profit and its doing so breaches the IRS requirements (non-partisanship) for maintaining that classification. FPF is a different animal.
It becomes ever more clear that we are hated. Our vision of the world is anathema — heretical to their new revelation. We are going to contaminate this new world if we aren’t eliminated. Sounds familiar — Hasn’t this has happened before? — Bless their hearts — I suspect this isn’t going to work out so well for them.
Front Porch Forum is absolutely horrible – I too was kicked off. During an election when Republican Mike Lee was running for council -FPF allowed him on only two of the sites in the New North End while is opponent – the absolutely horrible Tom Ayers – was allowed on all 10 of the North Ave sites. Michael Lee – a fantastic candidate lost by 32 votes to incumbent Ayers. Also Tom Ayers repeatedly made inappropriate posts and was called out many times for this behavior only do it over and over with no repercussions. The best place to be is off THAT porch. They are hacks and bullies.
Well, they’re bullies behind a keyboard. They know exactly what they’re doing, and no doubt they’re proud of being instrumental in causing election interference that caused a Republican to lose. They probably had a party to celebrate their success. Ultimately this is why Front Porch Forum exists. To manipulate and control public discourse in our very neighborhoods. They are about as anti-American and anti-free speech as can be imagined. They pretend they’re all about connecting and communicating with your neighbors, but in reality they are all about controlling that communication to filter out what they don’t like. There really should be a concerted effort to expose these frauds.
I too was kicked off fpf for posting a pro Trump post.
Here’s yet ANOTHER VT resident whose FPF account was permanently closed due to censorship. I “dared” to take on the select board members of the town I lived in at that time (Pownal) who were corrupt, vindictive, & self-serving thieves (literally…both $ and property were stolen from town locked properties. Apparently, one of those selectmen, actually under law enforcement at that time for theft of public property, requested/demanded & be SILENCED…and FPF obviously complied — even though I was on that town’s Planning Commission at the time myself! Traditional or Conservative views are NOT welcome in VT. HOW did this happen??