Press anti-coverage of the Texas LP convention

Topics: Misc
02 Jul 1995

From: "DG Ervan Darnell"

This Texas Libertarian Party had their convention this weekend in Houston.
I was there. The Houston Chronicle was there, I'm not sure why since they
made up their story out of thin air anyhow. Steve Stockman (Repulican from
Beaumont area) spoke on Saturday morning. That's all they reported on. The
article began:

>Blunt, outspoken but jovial U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Friendswood, told
>Saturday that he believes in some of their philosophy but not flag burning.
Some Libertarians view
>the constitutional amendment, which Stockman favors, as an assault on free
speech and property
>rights; other party members see the proposal as an opportunity to promote
initiative and
>referendum, causes dear to the Libertarian heart. [*]
>Supporters of both views tried to make their points at a
question-and-answer session at the
>conclusion of his remarks [...]

First, I cannot help but note that the first sentence implies Libertarians
believe in flag burning instead of simply being opposed to the anti-flag
burning amendment. The rest of it is the real problem. "both views" ?!?
Libertarians are strongly and consistently opposed to censorship. One
person asked about the amendment. Stockman said that he was for the
amendment on the grounds that the physical act was not speech. He went on
to say that he knew Libertarians disagreed but that was just the way he
felt. The next several questions all continued to hammer on this trying to
make him admit it was censorship. Every question took the same point of
view, the amendment is censorship. No one said anything about referendum or
initiative. There may have been something said in the hall privately to a
reporter that was misconstrued, but I cannot believe any Libertarian said
they were in favor. It is surely the case that no one said so during the
Q&A period, as incorrectly reported as simple fact.

The comment about "property rights" convinces me the Chronicle reporter was
simply clueless. What happened was that one of the questioners drew the
distinction that burning a flag you own is different than burning one the
government owns. That is, Stockman's comment about physical act versus
speech was not valid because flag burners own the property in question as
well so there could be no objection to the physical act per se, only to the
content of the act is at issue and thus the amendment is surely censorship.
You can see how the Chronicle misconstrued this since they could not
understand it.

Pathetic reporting like this makes these editorials seem objective in

[*], 7/2/95 Chronicle