Free states live only with free speech

Tue, 09/19/2006 - 4:45pm
By: Letters to the ...

Talk. Of all the traits that display our humanity, talking represents the singular physical manifestation that divides us from the animal world. Of course to talk, we also have to think, and the effectiveness of our speech should relate ideally to the logic and breadth of our thoughts.

Talk must certainly have been the bedrock of human societies. The ability to bounce ideas off another intellect, to test and retest hypothesis has surely allowed humans to move very quickly from cave to Fayette County. Ideas cover all facets of human existence, and the most important to us, though we take it for granted, is in the area of governance.

When the representatives of 12 states got together to revise the Articles of Confederation and ended up discarding the entire document, they allowed everyone to have their say on every topic.

It became apparent that several representatives were attending only to saddle the whole process so completely that it would fail. Those people especially were allowed to state their uninterrupted views, some of them over the space of several days.

There was method to this madness, and a great deal of tradition. The wisest of the Founding Fathers realized the limits of their humanity; that great ideas are often overlooked in a drive to consensus; that this new form of government had to pass muster with each man’s constituency; that no one person or faction would attain all they desired.

They also realized the danger of limiting debate, and had great faith in each other that the best ideas would carry the day.

The Pope is in the news for his recent citing of a 14th century writing concerning the spread of Islam. The writing apparently refers to the fact that Mohammed encouraged the spread of Islam by the sword, whereas early Christianity had spread by example.

If one examines history, this assertion is entirely correct, and the reaction to it in the Muslim world was entirely predictable, just as the reaction to the Danish cartoons and “The Satanic Verses” was predictable.

It isn’t that Muslims aren’t good people or that Islam is evil. The cultures which have spawned and nurtured Islam have no history whatsoever of free expression.

Going way out on a limb here I can say with some conviction that the degree to which modern states are successful is directly related to their degree and history of free expression.

Last week Terry Garlock spent half a page telling us that he “gets it,” and in that half a page demonstrated such a disdain for, and ignorance of our English speaking traditions that it took my breath away.

In the name of “supporting the troops,” he demands your silence. To avoid “aid and comfort to the enemy,” he requests your self-censorship. For the sake of “national unity” your mute acquiescence is required.

Because President Bush received 2 percent more of the popular vote in 2004, we must all now say “Yessuh, boss, anything you say,” as he takes this nation down the toilet.

The interesting thing about political dissent is its absolute inconsequentiality in the absence of any sort of critical mass. In our society, dissonant voices are always crying out about this or that injustice. These voices gain momentum only if there is substance to their message.

Like Mr. Garlock, conservative pundits from Ann Coulter to George Will are inclined to blame the “Bush haters” or the media, or the unpatriotic Democrats. In reality, and despite their protestations, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney can no longer escape reality.

They manufactured the invasion and occupation of Iraq. They twisted the facts in the presentation to the American people and to the Congress. Even now they are trying to use the same scare tactics that have worked thus far.

Their success in doing so will mean our long-term failure. There is no shortage of terrorists that we can produce by remaining in a place we should never have gone.

Support the troops and get them out of Iraq.

Timothy J. Parker
Peachtree City, Ga.

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Spear Road Guy's picture
Submitted by Spear Road Guy on Thu, 09/21/2006 - 5:44pm.

You ought to go to a PTC council meeting Tim. Logsdon will berate you and cut you off. He'll do all that while he's raising your taxes and flooding the area with high density development.

But don't say anything bad about Logsdon, or he'll pull your records at the city. The Constitution doesn't mean a whole hell of a lot anymore.

Vote Republican

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