Sunday, September 30, 2007

My Free Speech trumps yours!

My mom sent me a link to a good essay by Peggy noonan in the Wall Sreet Journal. and asked me what I thought. My answer is below:


I agree with most of what she has to say, but it isn't that easy. There is a very real argument to be made for the free speech rights of the protestors as well. She likes to cite Jefferson as a founding father but it's best she stay away from Patrick Henry, whose tactics were in line with those of Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, and (I'm trying to think of somebody on the left as vitriolic as they. It's certainly not Franken. Hightower, maybe? Chris Mathews? Even Bill Maher is more polite than they are). Henry was the type of person to rush the stage. John Adams was often shouted down in congress by opponents of independence, and his supporters often shouted down the appeasers in the the Continental Congress. An unruly mob is also part of the history of the United States and, in fact, an unruly mob is what the United States was born out of.

(We followed the usual Marxist pattern, actually: a middle class legislative body attempts to give power to the people but fails, there is protest (broadsides against the stamp act), street protests (the Boston Massacre--our own little Intifada), followed by acts of terrorism (the Boston Tea Party was economic terrorism certainly), which escalates into insurrection and finally into revolution. But I digress.)

Read up on the Astor Place Riots.

There is also a strong argument made by Jewish scholars, which I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, that if you give validity to te arguments of those who want to destroy you by giving them a forum you hasten your own doom. This isn't specious. It comes out of the experience of the Holocaust. There were more then enough scholars politicians and businessmen in Germany during the Weimar Republic who knew what the Nazis were up to to dispute the arguments against jews that the Nazis made--and they did dispute them, but it didn't help. The speeches made and articles published by the Nazis simply made them more popular with the vast number of displaced and discontent people in Germany and helped them to gain power. Never forget that Hitler was duly elected by a democratic process set up by us to guarantee liberty and freedom to the Germans. So the Jews have a point when you say we should never give a forum to those who would destroy us.

It is not an easy thing. I do agree with Noonan, but I'm not entirely comfortable doing so.


I should add something: the reason I agree with Noonan's premise is that I believe in and trust the American peopel over the long run. I'm not one of thsoe people who think everybody who voted for George Bush was an idiot. I believe in and trust our system (although that trust has been sorely tested in the last six years it hasn't failed). America works.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, common sense is the reason that America works (thank you, Paine). BUT....a mob of shouting protestors drowning out a speech because the speaker is abhorrent doesn't make sense. The opposite is also doesn't make sense (read Coulter's column on Columbia U.) to offer a forum to a man whose views are so abhorrent. I still believe that conviction will come from the power of an idea, not the drum of repetition or the overwhelming force of the unruly mob.

Power is the issue, here. In order for my idea to prevail, a majority of the people must believe in it. So the issue of creating that majority is what drives the Marxist process....and it's what allowed the Nazi's to win election.

9:05 AM  

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