Click for a larger version
if you don't belive me.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peacably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
In my last post, I commented jokingly about how a friend of mine, against all logical reasoning, has decided to vote for Bush. For him, security was the top concern, and he remained convinced that Bush will somehow protect us from evil.
Of course, this is a childish notion, both in terms of how terrorism works, but also in terms of how Bush's policies seem to be geared towards creating enemies, but it what really bothered me was how, when the infringments that have been made to our first amendment rights were brought up, he was convinced that it "didn't matter."
What he meant was that just because both Howard Stern and the Dixie Chicks were taken off of Clear Channel when their views didn't jibe with those of the programmers, they weren't that bad off in their mansions. Of course, he has a point there, but the problem is that restrictions on free speech begin like that. While people like Dan are concentrating on keeping us "safe" from some spectral threat, the chipping away at our essential freedoms are alarming.
While it is true that I don't listen to Howard Stern and don't neccesarily agree with either his ideas or with the way he conducts his show, my choice not to listen to him is me exercizing my right as an individual to decide for myself whether or not I will listen to him. I don't have that choice anymore. This is a limit on my choice, and, yes, Stern's right to free speech.
Dan shrugged and said, "Nobody's telling me what I can and can't say." Well, no, but then again, your opinion is only given to those people that you know. The true test of whether free speech works isn't whether or not some guy barbecueing in a backyard in a suburban neighborhood espousing his opinions to his friends is clamped down upon, it's whether or not significant voices from different points of view can be heard by the public. This is not happening now partly because of media consolidation (a very scary thing that nobody wants to talk about), but also because of how certain viewpoints are being coddled and others demonized.
The principles that the Constitution's First Amendment contains are the ones that make it worth being an American, and I think that what I saw with Dan is not apathy towards the text itself, but that he is taking its protections for granted. And that means that he won't defend those rights because he doesn't think he has to.
And that's scary to me.
Okay, the fact that Republicans are swinging voters by blinding them with the rhetoric of fear and promising them security is nothing new. In fact, that's all they can really do, because the Bush administration has done such an abysmal job in pretty much every area. It's just shocking that Dan, who used to see the bigger picture, has been swayed by this stupidity.
It makes me sick.
I believe that liberty is the only genuinely valuable thing that men have invented, at least in the field of government, in a thousand years. I believe that it is better to be free than to be not free, even when the former is dangerous and the latter safe. I believe that the finest qualities of man can flourish only in free air – that progress made under the shadow of the policeman's club is false progress, and of no permanent value. I believe that any man who takes the liberty of another into his keeping is bound to become a tyrant, and that any man who yields up his liberty, in however slight the measure, is bound to become a slave.
- H. L. Mencken