Saturday, May 1, 2010

When Freedom of Speech Gets in the Way

Once again we find the democrats and this time President Obama's dislike of free speech, when it's from the Tea Party and/or conservative media and comes on the tail of remarks by ex-President Clinton. Clinton seemed to be referring about Tea Party talking points, when he wrote in a NYT op-ed piece, "Fifteen years ago, the line was crossed in Oklahoma City. In the current climate, with so many threats against the president, members of Congress and other public servants, we owe it to the victims of Oklahoma City, and those who survived and responded so bravely, not to cross it again."( NYT April 18, 2010). This was preceded by, “I don't want something bad to happen to get this thing right again”, (CNN Situation Room April 17, 1010); the later quote sounding too much like a Chicago gangster, “You wouldn't want anything bad to happen again; Know whatimean? botaboom”.

Now we have President Obama with this commencement speech statement, “But what troubles me is when I hear people say that all of government is inherently bad. ... For when our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening foreign entity, it conveniently ignores the fact in our democracy, government is us.” President Obama (Michigan Graduation, April 30 2010). Now this statement may not sound exceeding provocative , but it takes on a completely different tone if one is aware that the day before Rush Limbaugh on his radio show, referred to the Obama Administration as a “foreign entity” that was trying to take over the country; it would seem the entire commencement speech was a response to being criticized on the radio! It also brings to mind, that after 8 years of a President Bush, who almost never responded to negative press, we now have a President who is so unsure of himself, he feels he must rebuke the press for every slight. During the same commencement speech, the President qualified his attacks on free speech with these platitudes, “Of course, there have always been those who've opposed such efforts. They argue that government intervention is usually inefficient; that it restricts individual freedom and dampens individual initiative. And in certain instances, that's been true”, as if he is really listening the concerns of the American people. Finally he tries to shut down debate with, “the truth is, the debate we've had for decades between more government and less government doesn't really fit the times in which we live". What? Of course that debate fits our times. In a truly open society, no argument is final and no science is settled; to deny this is the propaganda tool of tyrants.

The President finished this line of thought with," We know that too much government can stifle competition, deprive us of choice, and burden us with debt. But we've also seen clearly the dangers of too little government - like when a lack of accountability on Wall Street nearly led to the collapse of our entire economy”. So if the debate on the size of government is over, must we now accept a future of big government, stifled competition, deprivation of choice and the burden of crushing debt? And what about governmental accountability? What about Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac, whose backing of NINJO home sales and sub-prime mortgages, prompted Wall Street to create the financial instruments they used to implode the economy?

If you believe the saying, “Dissent the highest form of Patriotism”* (mis-attributed to Thomas Jefferson, but actually the words of a liberal progressive, Howard Zinn), then we must add an asterisk for the sake of the lost integrity of the left.

*”Unless we're in power, than it's un-American, racists and a prelude to terrorism”.

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