Freedom of Speech
One of the maddening things about discussing basic liberties is that the left masquerades as the champion of civil liberties while seeking to undermine them.
They cloak their assault on free speech with noble-sounding terminology. They're combatting hate speech. They want to clean up politics. They're for the "Fairness Doctrine" where the government is going to enforce what is fair in broadcasting.
In fact, the Left is very intolerant. Miss California speaks her mind in a beauty pageant, and she has to be canned. The President of Harvard voices his personal opinion about what he feels are innate differences between the sexes and he has to be fired.
Examples of the Left's Intolerance to Free Speech
After 9-11, there was an upsurge of patriotism. This made members of the Left very uncomfortable, and they began to speak of "a chill in the air" that was threatening their free speech. But look back on some of their complaints, and you will see that they were complaining about people criticizing them. It was during this period that I realized that, to the Left, free speech means you aren't supposed to criticize them. One example from this period was the incident where people were gathering together to burn records of the Dixie Chicks, because of their stance against the war. The defenders of the Dixie Chicks said that their free speech rights were threatened. But all of the record-burning parties were sponsored by private citizens and private companies who were exercising their freedom of expression to express their disgust over the freely expressed but offensive opinions of the Dixie Chicks. I don't remember hearing any suggestions that the government take any action against the Dixie Chicks or that they be silenced, only that they be protested. To the Left, when the Dixie Chicks protested the war, that was an exercise of free speech; while protesting against the Dixie Chicks was an abridgement of free speech. This is how they think.
Another illustration of the very intolerant instincts of the Left is their propensity to label political dissent as "racism." Rather than deal with opinions and argue opinions, they seek to intimidate dissent by the use of a highly charged epithet.
Their intolerance is also dramatized by their instincts to boycott. Compare two issues: gay marriage, and enforcing immigration laws. Some states have made gay marriage illegal, a move that conservatives believe has the potential to destroy society as we know it. It evokes a gut-level, intense disgust. But when legislatures have moved to legalize gay marriage, conservatives react with resignation and disgusted acceptance. On the other hand, the Left can't tolerate when Arizona wants to enforce federal immigration law and keep out illegal immigrants. When the duly elected legislature of Arizona moved to codify the overwhelming sentiments of the citizens of Arizona by cracking down on illegal immigration, their were many energetic attempts made to boycott the state.
Conservatives Should Stand up for Free Speech
Conservatives need to do more to communicate to people the intolerance of the Left. I was heartened to hear Karl Rove, when protestors disrupted some of his book signing events, respond by explaining that this is just another illustration of the intolerance of the Left. When conservatives are smeared with the term "racist," or when Town Hall participants are treated like rabble, I wish we would similarly counterattack by telling people that these are merely more attempts by the Left to silence dissent. Our liberties are threatened, and we need to make the battle lines clear.
Click here to read my blog postings about Freedom of Speech.