Deconstructing Free Speech

When liberals do get worked up about free speech, they would rather support the “right” of pornographers, pedophiles and other degenerates to publish whatever vulgar garbage they want.  Our inalienable right to express ourselves through the spoken and printed word does not give us the right to appeal to our baser instincts and debase and dehumanize women and children for profit, but to appeal to our sense of reason, honor and integrity as a means to keep our government under control.  Yet we have let liberals define speech as behavior and in so doing, allowed them Constitutional cover for every vile and despicable act known to man.  For the Founders “Speech” was the ability to voice your beliefs, especially when those beliefs were in direct contradiction to the beliefs of those in authority. It was the unalienable right to think what you want and then express those thoughts to others of like mind, or to challenge those who disagree with you.  That they called this out in the Bill of Rights immediately after protecting the right to worship God as you see deem best, shows the importance that they placed on it.  If people are not free to speak their mind, they are not free at all.  That is the essence of liberty – the freedom to think, to use your mind to come to you own conclusions and to openly debate those views in the marketplace of ideas.  Because their arguments are weak, they know they can’t win in a free market of ideas, so they use a variety of means to get out of any debate that would be unproductive to their point of view.  We see, especially in recent years, an attempt by liberals to limit discussion, to shut down debate, to demonize those that believe differently.  A whole book could be written on the ways that liberals attempt to shield what they care about from the eyes and minds of voters.  We’ll discuss a few of them here. 

One tactic has proven very fruitful – remove the debate from the public square to a court house that has been stuffed with partisans.  There is a long list of debates they are afraid of and means that they have used to shut down those debates.  Rather than debate abortion publically where public sentiment is largely pro-life, they got the question settled by the Supreme Court by justices who were anything but just in their review of Roe v Wade.  In the 1960’s, in an attempt to undermine belief in God, liberals and atheists succeeded in getting the Supreme Court to rule against school prayer and Bible reading (which had been occurring in public schools since this country was founded).  In countless states, the homosexual lobby, rather than attempt to get state legislatures to redefine marriage legally, uses the courts to challenge the traditional meaning.  In some states, the right has actually had some success with protecting marriage.  In the 2009 election, Arizona, California and Florida all passed propositions that protected the natural definition of marriage.  It only took weeks before those new laws were challenged in the courts by the left. Fortunately, at least in California, the State Supreme Court ruled in favor of the peoples’ decision not to redefine marriage. 

As a conservative, at this point I must call out the one silver lining in Barack Obama’s election.  The failure of Prop 8 in California can partially be attributed to the heavy turnout of (religious) minority voters who supported Obama.  Black and Hispanic numbers were much higher than normal.  They were voting for Obama, not because he’s a liberal, but because he was a minority, and they voted morally against redefining marriage.  Had a minority candidate not been on the ticket, the state initiatives in Arizona, California and Florida that banned redefining marriage may have passed.  And had they passed in CA and FL, I think the rest of the nation would have followed shortly thereafter.  So, while Obama went on a spending spree the likes of which we’ve never seen, his constituency may have helped maintain a level of morality in this country that otherwise would have severely dropped had there not been the level of excitement about his candidacy that there was.

Another tactic the left uses to silence opposition is to attack the right for any attempt to validate voters as citizens by labeling such validation as a form of voter harassment.  But the left takes harassment to new extremes.  In Washington State, after the legislature and governor passed the 2009 Domestic Partnership Expansion Bill, conservatives grouped together to get an initiative, Referendum 71, on the 2010 ballot to overturn the bill.  Several gay activists groups, including KnowThyNeighbor.org, got together and promised to reveal on a website, anyone who signed the initiative ballot.  KnowThyNeighbor has tried the same tactics in several other states.  If that isn’t an outright attempt at harassment, try this.  On Election Day in 2008, several Black Panthers in Philadelphia were patrolling a polling place in military uniforms, brandishing nightsticks and threatening voters and legitimate poll observers.  One of the intimidators said to a poll worker, “You are about to be ruled by the black man, cracker.” The Bush administration brought charges of voter intimidation; the Obama administration won the case in April 2009, but then dutifully dismissed the charges.  Had the situation been reversed, with skinheads harassing black voters, can you imagine the outrage that would have occurred?  How crazy would the press have gone had a Republican administration dismissed the charges?

Another popular progressive tactic is to simply resort to ad hominem attacks.  It is really sad when even an administration stoops to such tactics.  Early in the Obama administration, on April 7, 2009, a draft of a report was apparently accidentally released, entitled Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment. It essentially identified a whole host of people with conservative views as extremists capable of violence.  The list included soldiers returning from overseas deployment, those who disagree with the new administration’s stance on issues like expanding welfare, increasing restrictions on firearms, open border policies, those who blame the government for the economic downturn, and even those opposed to abortion.  After initial public outcry the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, issued a statement on April 15 defending the report saying, “The document on right-wing extremism sent last week by this department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis is one in an ongoing series of assessments to provide situational awareness to [various] law enforcement agencies on the phenomenon and trends of violent radicalization in the United States. I was briefed on the general topic, which is one that struck a nerve…”  In May, 2009 while testifying before the House appropriations sub-committee revealed that the report had been withdrawn from the DHS website and was in the process of being replaced.  She continued to refuse to disassociate the administration from the report stating that it was released for “situational awareness”, but the fact that it was withdrawn proves that the administration overstepped what it though was an acceptable boundary.

Another way liberals make ad hominem attacks to limit speech is to link the opponent to some defamed group.  While there are hundreds of notable scientists and leaders who dispute global warning, anyone who disagrees with Al Gore and his hot air are called by liberals, progressives and the mainstream media a global warning denier, an attempt to somehow link them to those who deny the Holocaust of Nazi Germany.  The left also likened those who disagree with climate change pseudo-science to “flat earthers”, to call into question their intelligence.  Yet, the left has no answer for the likes of Stanley Goldenberg, an atmospheric scientist with the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA, who said, “It is a blatant lie put forth in the media that makes it seem there is only a fringe of scientists who don’t buy into anthropogenic global warming”.  According to Dr. Takeda Kunihiko , vice-chancellor of the Institute of Science and Technology Research at Chubu University in Japan, those who are afraid to speak out are simply afraid of losing funding.  He said, “CO2 emissions make absolutely no difference one way or another….Every scientist knows this, but it doesn’t pay to say so.”

Redefining the language is another tactic the left uses to redirect, mislead and limit debate.  To counter science against global warming, and noticeable global cooling trends, they recently stopped referring to this phenomenon as global warming and started calling it “climate change” and have even gone so far as to say that colder weather is a symptom of global warming.  By doing this, they’ve created an environment where they can’t lose – if temperatures rise, we’re in the middle of global warming, if temperatures drop, it is climate change caused by global warming.  So, they’ve defined an unscientific theory, one which can’t be falsified because they construe the evidence to always indicate climate change. 

One of the most common ad hominem attacks is the use of the simple phrase – “not PC”, as in “not politically correct”.  The idea that speech, or actions, have to be politically correct started in Marxist societies of China and Russia where citizens were expected to tow the “correct” party line.  Today, liberals use it to describe anything religious or overtly patriotic. 

Closely linked to labeling something politically incorrect, is invoking that an argument doesn’t respect diversity or is intolerant.  The Democratic Party was guilty of this during the 2008 elections when they put up a Barack Obama as their presidential candidate – a one-term Senator with no executive experience and very little actual legislative experience.  It didn’t matter what his qualifications were, if you questioned him or his policies, you were being racist.  They knew that America’s sensitivity to the race issue would cause a lot of people to vote for him, even though was not even the best the Democrats had to offer.  Similarly, once elected, Obama used the same tactics for his first Supreme Court pick.  When Justice Souter announced his retirement in 2009, Obama shortly announced his pick of Sonia Sotamayor, a Latina appellate judge on the Second Circuit.  She was hardly the most qualified as 60% of her decisions that were reviewed by the Supreme Court were overturned.   But to the liberals and progressives, the fact that Obama picked a Hispanic woman, trumped whatever qualifications, or lack thereof, she may have had.  Anyone who questioned her was bucketed as opposing diversity on the Supreme Court.  This strategy seeks to divide and conquer its dialectic opponents by minimizing their reasonable or substantive objections in favor of symbolic equality or fairness.  This approach is used often to beat into submission those who don’t go along with (liberal, unqualified) candidates for appointed positions, (wasteful) spending programs targeting education (and teachers’ unions) or (entitlement) spending on the unemployed (and habitually lazy). 

Unfortunately, liberals are not the only ones that attempt cut into our freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.  In 2002, President Bush signed into law the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.  This little gem prohibits groups from running ads, which promote issues and identify candidates who are for or against an issue, 30 days before a primary or caucus and 60 days before a general election.  This is nothing but a total assault on the right to assemble and the right to speech.  We have the right to assemble and associate with people of like mind.  If we gather together and determine that it is in our best interest to promote or detract from a candidate based on the issues, we have the right to let others know through speech, using print, broadcast or electronic mediums.  This legislation takes that away.  According to the Cato Institute’s Policy Analysis Number 393 of 2001, it is “a direct and scandalous effort to protect incumbents from criticism during elections.”  They don’t want us to be informed and thinking when we go to the polls.

Flat out lying and deception is another tactic that allows liberals to end debate when they misuses statistics.  Noted American author, Mark Twain summarized up the use of statistics well when he said, “Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable” and “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.”  Since Bill Clinton attempted, and failed, to redesign the American free market healthcare system into one controlled by the government in 1993, Democrats have been hell-bent on socializing healthcare in this country.  Turning over our healthcare to an entity that has bureaucracies as confusing and complex as the IRS is frightening because healthcare won’t get better, it will just spiral completely out of control.  Liberals make the argument that at least 46 million Americans are without healthcare.  This line has been repeated endlessly, by the press, members of Congress, and even the president.  In a townhall meeting in Green Bay, WI, on June 11, 2009, President Obama, in statements urging moving forward with his healthcare plans, called out that there were 46 million uninsured in this country.  Sadly, it’s an outright lie.  According to Dr. Roger Stark, a healthcare policy analyst for the Washington Policy Center, the actual number is more like eight million.  In a report titled, “What's Not Wrong with Health Care in the U.S.”, he wrote, “If we look at the actual numbers, it turns out that one-third of these people are eligible for existing government programs (Medicare, Medicaid, S-CHIP, etc.) but haven’t applied. Half of this 45.7 million are transitioning between jobs, and nearly one-fourth of the total are not U.S. citizens. It turns out advocates count anyone who was without health coverage at any time during a calendar year. Out of the entire 45.7 million, only about 8 million are chronically uninsured. This represents less than 5% of our total population. While an important number, it is arguably not large enough to be the primary motivator for an entire government overhaul of our health care system that would impact the other 95% of our population.”  When liberals start throwing numbers around, it’s always wise to dig deeper to find out what they’re hiding in their statistics.

My last example for how liberals shut down debate occurred during the 2008 election and was manifested during the first few months of the Obama administration.  During the campaign, Obama campaigned on hope and change.  One of the supposed changes was open government and a promise to have public review of legislation. On the campaign trail in Green Bay, WI on September 22, 2008, he said “When there is a bill that ends up on my desk as President, you will have five days to look online and find out what’s in it before I sign it”. And then, early in the administration, the White House website even stated “we will publish all non-emergency legislation to the website for five days, and allow the public to review and comment before the President signs it”.  However, the implementation was anything but open.  What he really meant was, if he actually wants our feedback, then, and only then, will he allow for public comment.  The 800 billion dollar stimulus bill and 2009 omnibus budget bill passed in the first few months of the administration, which spent more than the previous administration spent in eight years, were online for public viewing less than five days combined between the time that Congress passed the bills and Obama signed them.  You would think that the magnitude of spending magnitude contained in those packages would automatically engender itself to public debate and review.  But it’s not about debate – it’s about shutting down the opposition so that we don’t have a voice.  Liberals cannot win otherwise.