Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Who's that knocking on your door?
I have to say that the news becomes more and more disturbing and ominous by the day. I know I tend to be an alarmist, a “the sky is falling” kind of guy but I also figure better to go down shouting than with nary a whimper.
Case in point is a blog post by Bonnie Erbe on the webpage of U.S. News and World Report. Keep in mind that this appears in U.S. News & World Report, which has always been considered a legitimate news source. Ms. Erbe is a contributor to U.S. News and has a show on PBS. This is not the independent blog of some moonbat liberal or some far left rag, this is a source of mainstream news for decades. Ms. Erbe asserts that perhaps we should rethink that whole First Amendment thing, at least as it applies to speech she dislikes or has decided is dangerous. The title kind of says it all: Round Up Hate-Promoters Now, Before Any More Holocaust Museum Attacks. Here is her opening paragraph:
If yesterday's Holocaust Museum slaying of security guard and national hero Stephen Tyrone Johns is not a clarion call for banning hate speech, I don't know what is. Playwright Janet Langhart Cohen appeared on CNN yesterday right after the shooting, as she wrote a play that was supposed to have been debuted at the Holocaust Museum last night. Her play is about Emmett Till, whose lynching helped launch the Civil Rights Movement, and Ann Frank, whose diary told the story of Holocaust victims in hiding in the Netherlands during World War II.
Imagine if her post was titled: Round Up Muslims Now, Before Any More Buildings Get Bombed. Lest you think that is perhaps taken out of context, here is the closing of the blog post:
It's not enough to prosecute these murders as murders. They are hate-motivated crimes and each of these men had been under some sort of police surveillance prior to their actions. Isn't it time we started rounding up promoters of hate before they kill? (emphasis added)
Whenever anyone starts using words like “rounding up” people in response to the exercise of free speech, alarm bells should start going off. What is not said but certainly what is implied is that someone needs to be in charge of deciding what is “hate speech”. I am sure Ms. Erbe would volunteer to be the arbiter of that but other than that where do we go? Am I to believe that the same lefties who decry the Patriot Act are now going to trust the government they don’t trust to perform surveillance of terror suspects to determine what is or is not hate speech? Or maybe we should round up anyone saying anything strongly and make them prove in court that they are not a threat? You can see where this is going. Totalitarianism doesn’t spring forth from the ground fully formed. It takes time and creeps up. We already see control of free speech and expression with campus speech codes and punitive action against politically incorrect speech. Now we see fringe characters in the media calling for “rounding up” people that she disagrees with. I think people advocating for abortion rights are causing violence against unborn children but I am not calling on the government to “round them up” or for vigilantes to start shooting them.
Lest you think Ms. Erbe was just having a bad day, here is another quote from her in a different article regarding Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry’s statement after the shooting of George Tiller distributed by another respected news organization, Scripps Howard.
"George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God. I am more concerned that the Obama administration will use Tiller's killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions. Abortion is still murder. And we still must call abortion by its proper name; murder."
This type of speech ought to be against the law. Anyone who issues statements containing such language ought to be prosecuted as an accessory to murder, as well as for partaking in domestic terrorism…
Free speech is one thing. Speech that beckons to the unbalanced to commit the ultimate crime is something entirely different.
Speech that beckons to the unbalanced? That is a pretty vague concept. People who are unbalanced are, by their very nature, unpredictable and unbalanced. Who knows what could set them off? Someone who is unbalanced could be sent into a homicidal fury by watching an Arby’s commercial. They are unpredictable and crazy, that is what makes them unbalanced. By that standard virtually any speech could be banned. The question then becomes who is the arbiter of what qualifies as provocative or hate speech. You can see where that is going. This should be of concern to Christians. I have noted a number of writers who blur lines and draw unmistakable inferences that a devout Christian has the same potential for violence as an Al-Qaeda terrorist.
This is how it starts. You pick extreme examples like Scott Roeder, men who are unstable and able to walk up to an abortionist and shoot him, and then you start to draw lines between him and all people of devout belief who hold that abortion is murder. We have seen this for decades. The brutal murder of homosexual Matt Shepherd in Wyoming has been used as a club to try to quash Christians who are simply stating that the Bible declares homosexuality to be an abomination. For now, much of this noise is on the fringes of the media and academia, but the clamor is getting louder by the day. Ms. Erbe is clearly a kook, but while she and others like her are a small minority, they have a loud voice and a wide forum and the intolerance of the secular left is growing by leaps and bounds, emboldened by success and by apathy.
We get the specters of book burning and Joe McCarthy thrown out all the time. almost always from the Left. Whenever censorship is raised by the liberal media (redundant I know), it invariably becomes about right-wing censorship. The reality is that there are few people who are more intolerant than self-anointed champions of tolerance. The very word tolerance has taken on new meaning. No longer does it mean a tolerance for different beliefs. It now means an absence of any concrete beliefs at all. Believing strongly in something can be in and of itself intolerant, and we live in a time when being intolerant is being viewed as something to not just be frowned upon but acted upon, even justification to “round up” people who find themselves on the wrong side of the political correctness line.
That knock at your door might one day be the speech police. Enjoy the freedom we have today to preach the Gospel because that freedom may not be around much longer.
(HT: James Taranto for both the US News Blog Post as well as the editorial for Scripps Howard )