Why we fight...
Kidnapped by Japan - How A Mother's Dying Wish Led To A Father's Unimaginable Loss
Thursday, January 31, 2008
A recent headline in the British press proclaimed, Archbishop of Canterbury calls for new law to punish 'thoughtless or cruel' words, and related how the aforementioned Archbishop is calling for new laws that will punish “thoughtless and cruel” speech, in an effort to protect religious sensibilities. His “thinking” here is that certain kinds of speech offend religious sensibilities, can intimidate and then silence arguments. In other words he is seeking to limit free speech in order to promote free speech. (?)
In Canada, the Canadian Islamic Conference, the self-proclaimed “voice of Canada’s Muslims” has lodged two complaints with Canada’s Human Rights Commission against Mark Steyn, popular columnist and author of the bestselling America Alone, and Canadian magazine, McLean’s which excerpted a section of that book which details how immigrant Muslims in Europe are literally out breeding native Europeans and within a generation will outnumber them, burying Western civilization in the process as the immigrant wave rejects assimilation, instead bringing their native culture and transplanting it in the West. Heavily researched, cogently and wittily argued Steyn’s work could land him in jail. Apparently in Canada writing anything that could be considered critical of Islam is potentially a “hate crime”.
In universities across the United States speech codes spell out what can and cannot be said, so as to insure that no person or group is offended. Penalties for violating these codes can, under some circumstances, include expulsion. Over the last forty years “diversity trainings” have popped up in colleges, corporations and government, wherein speech is examined for any hint of possible offensive content. If any is found, and not successfully addressed, punishments of varying degrees of severity are meted out. The objective behind these “trainings”, if not the setting is similar to the reeducation camps that sprang up in Vietnam after the War there; those being “reeducated” were subjected to intensive indoctrination into the “correct” way to think and behave. No trials were necessary for those subject to such “reeducation”, just as no specific offense is required for diversity trainings: they’re mandatory.
Which raises the question: What about freedom of speech? This relatively new emphasis on “offense” being a major criterion of what is and is not permissible is, in fact, a major assault on the longstanding Western tradition of freedom of expression established and promulgated since the time of Socrates up through the signing of the Magna Carta and the passing of the First Amendment. Logically, there would not even be a need for the protection of a First Amendment if not for the possibility of “offensive speech.” Freedom of speech only exists to allow each of us to say whatever we want even if someone else is offended by what we say.
There have always been reasonable limits on free speech, of course. You can’t shout “fire” in a crowed movie theater; you can’t libel another person, etc. But this current emphasis on “offensive speech” is different in that now the burden of proof seems to have shifted. It no longer matters if your intent was meant to offend or even that your “offensive” speech had some demonstrable negative impact. Now it seems to be actionable if someone merely feels offended no matter if the offense taken is reasonable or not. Even the truth doesn’t seem to be a sufficient defense. Previously the remedy to being offended by someone’s speech was limited to the private sphere. If you said something that was interpreted as being offensive you either apologized or didn’t and faced the ramifications on a personal, social level.
Much of this sensitivity seems to have appeared contemporaneously with the rise of multiculturalism, which ostensibly is about promoting diversity, a good goal until we see how it is being pursued. Multiculturalism as it is often actually practiced holds that all cultures are equally good…with the sole exception being the larger American/Western culture which is assumed to be oppressive by definition. Therefore anything that can be interpreted in any way as insulting to any other group, culture, sex, lifestyle etc is immediately understood to be an assault by the repressive dominant culture.
You then get such bizarre situations as a Turkish lawyer filing a lawsuit against an Italian soccer club for having a large red cross on its jerseys, apparently offensive to Muslims as it is reminiscent of the cross worn by Christians in the Crusades one thousand years ago. California has banned the terms "mom", "dad", "husband", and "wife" from public schools as it is potentially offensive to gays.
The road on which these kinds of surreal developments seem normal is one which leads to a world in which people can no longer speak their minds, in which ideas can longer be thrown against each other in competition so that the best one might win out. A world in which no one is offended is a sterile world, a world without dynamism. The price we pay for freedom, the ability to do and say what we want is that sometimes we may wind up offended. That really doesn’t seem like such a bad deal, when you think about it. Does it?
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
After having failed to win a single caucus or primary, Democratic presidential candidate former Senator John Edwards is scheduled to announce that he will be exiting the race for the presidency sometime today.
It is expected that his hair will be especially lustrous during today's announcement.
That is all.
Monday, January 28, 2008
By now the story is well known: John Sidney McCain III, son and grandson of Admirals, while serving as a naval pilot during the Vietnam War was shot down over that country in 1967 and captured by the Viet Cong. Injured on impact he remained a prisoner for five years, two of them in solitary confinement. He was frequently tortured. In response to this torment he gave only his name, rank and serial number. The North Vietnamese, in an overt propaganda ploy offered to release POW McCain after his father was named Commander of the Pacific Command, the communists hoping to show that America cared only for the sons of privilege. John McCain refused, stating he would stay unless every man captured before him was released first. The North Vietnamese refused. Lieutenant McCain did not return home for another four years.
John McCain is the very definition of an American hero. I have voted in every presidential election for the past twenty two years and each time I have voted for the Republican candidate. John McCain, hero, is now running to be the next Republican nominee for President and if he achieves his goal it will be without my vote. I will not vote for John McCain for president. If John McCain becomes the Republican nominee, for the first time in twenty two years I will not cast a vote for president.
You see, unfortunately while Senator McCain has great personal courage and is a truly great man he also has terrible political judgment and is an absolutely awful Republican. Awful. John McCain claims to be a conservative but on issue after issue he has proven that he is not. Senator McCain's departures from conservative principles are almost as well known as Lieutenant Commander McCain's courage.
- On campaign finance reform he was the author of and chief cheerleader for the McCain/Feingold Act, the main effect of which is to limit the public's free speech during elections.
- When President George W. Bush passed his landmark tax cuts in 2001 McCain was one of only two Republican Senators to vote against it. As he campaigns for president today he says that he voted against these tax cuts because they weren't accompanied by spending cuts, but the record of the time shows this is not the case. He said at the time he was voting against the tax cuts because they favored the rich. This is rhetoric right out of the Democratic lexicon. And even if the claim were true it shows an astonishing lack of understanding about the proven track record of tax cuts: they raise revenue due to the increase in economic activity they stimulate. Tax cuts do not require spending cuts "to pay for them." They "pay" for themselves.
- He was the leader of the notorious "Gang of 14" Senators whose compromise on the filibustering of judicial nominees left open the door for more of the same in the future.
- Most notoriously Senator McCain worked hand in hand with Mr. Liberal himself, Senator Ted Kennedy to try to pass the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, which was in effect the largest amnesty program in American history and whose effect would have been a massive increase in illegal immigration into the nation. It was only stopped by a tidal wave of protest from average Americans.
The list goes on and on, on issue after issue. And with each and every one of these very damaging and very un-conservative policies Senator McCain became more beloved by the blatantly liberal mainstream media, frequently being referred to in conservative circles as the New York Times' favorite Republican. At times it seems that McCain is ashamed to be a conservative and his attempt to cast himself as one is nothing more than a mask he feels he needs to wear so that he can capture the office he so desires.
Stubbornness can be a good quality in a president but when taken to an extreme it can also be a fatal flaw. John McCain does not like it when he doesn't get his way and his reputation for nastiness and condescension behind closed doors in the Senate is common Beltway talk. I will always remember when he lost the South Carolina primary to then Governor George W. Bush in 2000. He said that he believed some "dirty tricks" had been perpetrated against him by Bush. This belief was specious at best. His concession speech on that night was one of the most ungracious and most troubling political performances I have ever seen, filled as it was with rage and rancor. He looked like a man on the verge of losing control. On that night I knew that John McCain did not have the temperament to be president.
It is odd that a man who has so many of the qualities of greatness should have in equal measure, qualities that would make his ascension to the most powerful leadership role in the world a likely calamity.
I respect John McCain. I know that John McCain is a better man than I will ever be. And I will not vote for him for President. Senator John McCain is the greatest man who could never, will never get my vote.