Free speech

Trump’s acolytes, other Republicans, and even some Democrats tell those opposed to Trump to get over it and accept his victory. Sorry, that’s not going to happen. And it’s hypocritical to ask. Republicans resisted Obama from day one. They established politics as ‘total war’. Let them reap what they have sown.

Congressionally there may not be much Democrats can do. The voters have given the GOP both chambers. Democrats may have some voice in Trump’s administration and Supreme Court picks. And wield filibuster power in the Senate. But that’s about it. But no Republican can stop the people speaking.

Any liberal who thinks that silence is the better course must consider this old apothegm: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”. It is perhaps the most often cited quote not said by its purported author – in this case, Edmund Burke. However, it resonates. Intuitively we know it to be true.

Had more people said more and done more in the early days of a tyrannical regime, perhaps the outcome would have been different. Does this mean that Trump will aim for tyranny? Not necessarily. However, it costs nothing to admit the possibility. After all, Trump has demonstrated the mental failures of a Mussolini.

He has a misplaced confidence in his own ability, an inordinate self-love, rampant megalomania, an inability to distinguish between truth and lies, and the full spectrum of narcissistic personality disorders.

America’s Founding Fathers were sensitive to dictatorship. America was a country founded by resistance to foreign tyranny. Thomas Jefferson knew it well. But he also knew that the citizens must be vigilant against the domestic variety. In a letter from Paris he famously wrote:

“What country can preserve it’s [sic] liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it’s [sic] natural manure.”

The winners naturally want the uncritical acceptance of the new order. But those in disagreement are not only permitted to speak their minds – it is their duty as citizens. Too often liberals have the attitude that “to the winners go the spoils” and “we’ll get them next time”.

Weakening Trump’s claim to dutiful obeisance is the fact that while he won by the constitutional rules, he did not win a majority of the voters. Of the people who expressed their opinion more said no to him than said yes.

I, nor any other citizen, is bound to keep quiet. We do not live in a totalitarian state where speech is punished. Our leaders do not get a free pass. We tried it once with the ‘Alien and Sedition Laws’. But they expired. And the Supreme Court has generally favored an expansive reach for the first amendment.

We live in a country where racists are allowed to burn crosses, and dissenters can incinerate flags, no matter how distasteful the larger community might find the conflagrations. The Westboro Baptist Church can advertise its vile homophobia on placards at funerals. And racists can stand on street corners vomiting their evil xenophobia.

Complaining about our government seems positively patriotic in comparison.




Should Stores Be Required to Serve Gays?

April 6, 2015

“Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right” ― Isaac Asimov. Some religious business owners don’t want to cater to gays. Laws allowing them to refuse service were proposed – and then withdrawn after a storm of protest. Which raises the question – were the protests fair or should religious […]

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Rutger’s rejection of Condoleeza Rice is unconscionable.

May 13, 2014

It is graduation season and colleges commencements are replete with guest speakers. The vast majority will speak without drawing comment – but the occasional high-profile and controversial speaker will roil the student body. Condoleeza Rice is the best known of this year’s casualties. Her scheduled speech at Rutgers University was cancelled after protests painted her […]

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The Fight Against Bigotry isn’t Bigotry.

April 10, 2014

Arizona’s Orwellian “Religious Freedom Restoration Law” was vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer. Brendan Eich, ex-Mozilla CEO, was forced to resign after the brouhaha over his $1,000 donation to an anti-gay marriage movement. Recent court decisions have repeatedly struck down states’ anti-gay law measures. So what is a poor bigot to do? Answer: Accuse the object […]

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Conservatives Believe That Free Speech Is Only For Conservatives.

December 20, 2013

By now it is widely known that TV’s “Duck Dynasty” patriarch, Phil Robertson, gave an interview in which he called gays sinners in pretty graphic language. And in which he claimed blacks lead an idyllic life in Louisiana pre-civil rights only to have their existence ruined by welfare and big government. And that A&E consequently […]

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Defending Free Speech Means Defending Speech You Don’t Like.

December 19, 2013

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” – Voltaire “Duck Dynasty” star, Phil Robertson, expressed his bemusement over homosexuality in a very direct manner, saying, “It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than […]

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