Thursday, August 06, 2009

An Open Letter to President Obama

Here is the text of the open letter.

Anyone interested in signing may please do so in the com-box, and I will add the names as they come in. Please indicate a US state, in addition to your first and last name.

Bloggers please feel free to copy the text and provide a link to the blog page.

A final note:

The White House has legitimate concerns about disinformation being spread.

By disinformation, I do not mean, unfortunately, mere inaccuracies or infelicities of formulation or expression.

Sadly, some of those, who oppose the President, have used methods that are irresponsible at best, and at worst, in bad faith.

Spreading deliberate falsehood is unacceptable.

Passing conjecture, however well-founded, for fact, is dishonest.

Conjecturing wildly is irresponsible.

That said, there are proper ways for the administration to address this behavior.

The present flagging initiative is not one of them.

One important way to discourage such behavior in one's fellows, is by being frank and forthright oneself.

So, I would also ask the President to give a frank, forthright answer to this one question: do you intend that your health reform legislation include provisions for taxpayer-funded abortion?


Now, for the letter:


Christopher R. Altieri
340 Beach Rd.
Fairfield, Ct. 06824

President Barack H. Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500

August 6, 2009

Re: "facts are stubborn things" WH blog post of 4 Aug, 2009

Dear Mr. President:

I write to urge you to put an immediate end to the “flagging” initiative you announced through the blog this past August 4th.

The government has a right and even a duty to advocate its policies and legislative agenda; it follows from this right and duty that government has a legitimate interest in debunking inaccuracies in public statements regarding its policies and legislative agenda.

I hope the White House is actively seeking to collect, on its own, criticisms that have been made publicly and are, therefore, available for critique – indeed, I would applaud the use of modern communications tools to this end. The flagging initiative, however, is based on the idea that there are rumors that have escaped the attention of the White House, and that citizens ought to report these to the White House when they hear them.

Quite apart from any question of intent, the effect of the plan will inevitably be to curb speech at a time when it is very greatly needed. Ask yourself, Mr. President: are people more likely to share their opinion of the government's plans, if they know the government wants citizens to report what they hear their fellows saying about the government's plans?

The initiative will make people nervous about writing, posting, in sum, sharing their thoughts: good and bad ones; fair and unfair ones; well and poorly informed ones; artfully and artlessly articulated ones, as always there shall be in our national discourse.

The initiative tends to undermine the trust and presumption of good faith, upon which rests our American tradition of absolutely free public exchange of ideas, utterly unfettered by government oversight or interference.

As a result, the program cannot but run counter to the real interests of our country in the short and long term. I therefore urge you to shut this program down today.


Christoper R. Altieri