I'll not be scraping off that bumpersticker any time yet - the one that says "IMPEACH CLINTON, and Her Husband Too" - but Hillary Clinton did something right a few weeks ago, and such an event is so rare as to be worthy of note in this column. We must be fair, and give credit where it's due.
She was in China, about as far away as she could get from Rush Limbaugh and Gordon Liddy, and she said, quote, "Let me be clear. Freedom means the right of people to assemble, organize and debate openly. It means respecting the views of those who may disagree with the views of their governments. It means not taking citizens away from their loved ones and jailing them, mistreating them or denying them their freedom or dignity because of the peaceful expression of their ideas and opinions."
Madam President, I could not have put it better myself. That speech proves conclusively that after all your support, on campuses across the nation, for Politically Correct speech and its enforcement by snitch and fuzz, you - or your speechwriter - really do know which way is up! What a shame you had in mind the government of China, and not your own.
Think about it; if what someone says is popular, and agreeable to the wielders of power, what need does it have of protection? - obviously, none. The genius of those who founded this great country is shown in their First Amendment, for they insisted that here, government shall not be delegated any authority to "abridge" speech under any circumstances; equally obviously, what they had in mind was speech that was subversive, UNpopular, IRreverent, UNtrue, etc.
Anyone can debate and contradict nonsense when they see it - I try to do it here every week - but there's no way, in America, that the most offensive stuff you and I can imagine can be made illegal. To disparage a black-skinned person by shouting that he's a "NIGGER", or a Jewish one by calling him a "KIKE" is disgusting and disrespectful of their humanity; but under Amendment #1, there is no way that such can ever become against the Law.
Yet it's easy to imagine how, if any combination of groups that thought they were being ill spoken of were to get together and get elected, they would lose no time at all in outlawing all manner of phrases! And it's for exactly that reason that here in America, speech is properly protected; anything goes. So it should always be.
This vital principle certainly makes much harder the job of people like me who try to advocate freedom itself; for it means that anyone is free to call for its opposite, and must remain so. So, for example, we hear every day from the government-licensed media that this country needs "defending" with a war machine costing $275 billion a year. (From whom, exactly??!) We hear the name "Public School", just as if the other sort were not open to the public, and just as if government schools delivered an education.
We hear that the government welfare machine actually helps the poor, instead of entrapping them in ever deeper and more desperate poverty. And we even hear the arrant rubbish that government can "create jobs", as if it had any money of its own to invest, which had not first been confiscated from others who would have invested it to create other, better jobs elsewhere.
Truly, a large majority of what we view and read is nonsense; yet, under Amendment #1, it is very properly free. When sanity is restored in America, we must NOT outlaw such garbage; idiots must still be allowed to say such things without arrest. If only as a set of historical curiosities, to show each rising generation how blindly foolish were the people of the 20th Century.
Most countries, of course, have no such protection for speech. China is one, as Harry Wu can attest. And surprisingly, Germany is another. One might have thought that after the disaster of the Nazi era, they might have wised up; but it's not so, I recently learned.
Sixty years ago, Germans were verboten to say nice things about Jews. Today, it seems, they are fobidden to say nasty things about Jews! Despite fifty years of democracy, some of which was quite enlightened, this wicked principle still remains: the German government retains the authority to control what its people say. Only the particular words, the index of prohibited phrases, has undergone alteration.
Worse: there is not actually an "index" that one can look up, and learn, so as not to offend their laws. You get to hear that something you said broke the law, only after you get arrested. Yes, government is bad enough here; but this nicely illustrates how much worse it could get, but for the Bill of Rights!
There's a current case, particularly obnoxious, of one Hans Schmidt. He's something of an unregenerate Nazi, it seems; he's mean about Jews. But he's also a US Citizen, and he wrote his ugly remarks in Florida, where they are properly protected as we've seen above. But he did send them to an official in Germany, and when he travelled there a few weeks ago to see family, they arrested him on a charge of uttering hate speech. He's still in jail.
Bad enough; but there's more. When the US Government notices any American here saying things that might be illegal in Germany, it passes the German border police a note of their passport numbers, to facilitate arrest! Now, doesn't that just take your breath away? Some "protection"!
It does, for certain, show what Hillary and her government really think about free speech. As soon as they can help suppress it without clearly violating Amendment #1 (at the very instant the speaker enters another jurisdiction) that's exactly what they do. Your tax dollars, at work.
|© Copyright Jim Davies 1999|
Jim Davies lives in New Hampshire,
and enjoys contemplating which way is up.
The above is Edition # 123
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