Freedom for What We Hate

The incident with Paula Deen finally did it for me!  To be fired for something you said in the privacy of your home 30 years ago?  Have her critics and the Food Channel people lived such pristine lives that they never uttered a “politically incorrect” remark in their entire lives?  Shall we now start relationships with people by giving them a list of what we feel are “politically incorrect” words and phrases and ask them whether they have ever in their lives used any one of them?  Where does this come from?  Are we so unable to judge character by the actions we observe that we need this as a guideline to tell us who is “good” and who is “bad”?  Are we capable of making our own decisions or will we now be dependent on lifetime background checks run by the thought police?

With all that is going on in America today, I find myself thinking often of the great dystopian novels of the past – Brave New World, 1984, Fahrenheit 451…  They presented societies where oppressed individuals with little sense of personal worth accepted a highly regimented style of life.  Self-expression was unknown because “self” had been eradicated.  Growth and movement and expression had stopped.  Society was static.   No individual had a value to society because each was interchangeable with the next.  Is this where we are headed?  I suggest it is.

How did the books suggest we had evolved into this situation?  In each case, history was suppressed, distorted or totally changed.  We see this happening today in our schools.  Children are not being taught their history.  How can we evaluate where we are if we don’t know from where we’ve come?  Censorship was also a major factor in all of the books.  Censoring of speech and writing (even for the lofty goals peddled by the PC police) retards thought and results in blind acceptance of our situation.  This lack of thinking causes the inability to analyze our circumstances and the suppression of new ideas.

We seem to be taking ourselves down that path today.  Why are we so concerned about the words people use?  Would we rather they hide their feelings under a veil of political correctness?  Personally, I’d rather know who I am dealing with.  While some “charged” words in our society may be unpleasant to hear, it gives us far more information about the person who is speaking.  We don’t need to continue to spend time in the company of one whose language we find offensive.  Are you old enough to remember that “Sticks and stone may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”?  It was a good lesson for young people to learn.  It put the ownership for what was said solely on the speaker.

To live in a free society, we must recognize the importance of being able to express ourselves freely.  And if it is sometimes unpleasant, well that’s what Justice Holmes meant when he said the first amendment included “freedom for what we hate.”  Take a stand for freedom today.  Don’t weigh your words for fear of inadvertently offending someone.

Edward Snowden – Patriot or Traitor?

The question of the day seems to be:  Is Edward Snowden a patriot or a traitor?  Sometimes that word “hero” is substituted for “patriot.”  We may all have opinions but at this point none of us can know the answer. 

Is he a patriot or a hero?  We don’t know what was really motivating him so we can’t tell.  Did he do us a service by highlighting the extent to which the government is capturing data about us?  I think he did.  Some had said it is foolish to fear that the NSA will misuse this information.  At some point in the past, those same voices would have said it was foolish to think the IRS would misuse our information.  Who can say what person in which future administration will decide that capturing private information on political enemies is acceptable use of this material?  Who can say if these same tactics will be turned against private citizens who disagree with the administration as happened in the current IRS situation?

Is Snowden a traitor?  It appears he may have broken non-disclosure agreements.  Were they agreements with his company or with the government?  Are they punishable by civil action or criminal?  I expect we will find out in the near future.  Does it rise to the level of traitor?  We have seen no evidence of that to date.  The terrorists were not surprised to learn we listen to them.  That is why they use code words and disposable cell phones.  Other countries know we spy on them – just as we know they spy on us.  What deep secrets have been exposed at this point?  Or is the government just reacting to the embarrassment of having the extent of their data collection activities placed before the public?

Before we start labeling people as traitors or patriots, we would do well to contemplate the men who signed the Declaration of Independence.  All loudly protested and physically fought against general warrants (the unlimited ability to search that which belongs to a private person without specifying what is being looked for or why).

  Were these men traitors?     Or patriots?

Watching Liberty Die

All of my great grandparents immigrated to this country, so my grandparents were raised with a clear understanding of the differences of the “old world” from which their parents came and this new place, America, which was their home.  From my grandparents, I got much the same messages about this wonderful land of liberty and opportunity as Marco Rubio talks about getting from his parents. 

I am the child of a World War II vet who saw action in the South Pacific.  Part of my education in the 50s and 60s was about citizenship and the freedom and opportunity this country offered.  I learned I could make choices, hold and speak out about political opinions, practice any or no religion as I chose.  I had a right to expect the government not to intrude on my life unless it could show reason.

Over my lifetime, I have watched as the Federal government took an increasingly intrusive role in my life.  It has usurped local governance passing regulations about prayer in schools, religious displays and activities, food you can serve in school cafeterias, kinds of light bulbs I can use, amount of water used in flush toilets, it decides when, where and how much I can have of legal products and imposes taxes as a punishment of my using too much of them, and it goes on and on and on…  They keep churning out new regulations by the tens of thousands.

The first, second, fourth and tenth amendment are being attacked regularly and we are often told that the constitution in no longer relevant.

Now we learn that the Federal government is tracking the phone data and other electronic communications of all Americans.  We are told that this is being done for our good, that freedom needs to be balanced with security.  I ask, what good is security if the cost is my liberty?  If I object to this government tracking, I am scorned as being paranoid.  We can, we are told, trust the government and it is crazy to think otherwise.

It seems to me that a good life rule is:  When someone says “trust me,” it is time to be wary.  Trustworthiness isn’t declared, it is earned through actions.

Monopoly – a Lesson in Wealth Redistribution

What we need to do is put aside the electronic games and teach our children how to play the old board game, Monopoly.    You will remember, the object of the game is to become the wealthiest player through buying and selling property.  At the start of the game, each player gets the same amount of money to start playing.  Initially, all property is owned by the bank and can be purchased during play.  The game ends when 1) all players but one are in bankruptcy. 2) all players quit. or 3) someone starts crying and your mother makes you put the game away!  In all three of the endings, the winner is the player with the most money and property.

Next, we let them begin the play.  After 30-45 minutes, stop the game, point out that some players now have more money than other players and the some players have property with hotels and houses and some may have no property at all.  Tell them this is not fair to those players who are doing less well.  Collect all the money and property and distribute it equally again.  Have them resume play.  After 30-45 minutes, repeat the process.  Keep this up until they get the point.  Under this process, nobody wins.  How much longer can you get them to play?  How soon will they want to play again?

If we look back over than last 100 – 150 years, we find that the economic concept of “redistribution of wealth” goes in and out of fashion.  Currently, it seems much in fashion in America.  It started with the disclosure of salaries of athletes, then of business executives.  It was a general resentment of why they were paid so much and how they could be worth it compared to the rest of us.  It came to a boil with the conversation between “Joe the Plumber” and the then candidate Barack Obama about everyone’s right to a “fair share.” 

Life is like a monopoly game.  People are only willing to continue playing as long as they have the possibility of winning (ending up with more than they had when they started).  Is it any wonder our economy is in trouble?