Posts Tagged ‘free press’
I saw a political cartoon today that has Patrick Henry saying, “Give me liberty or give me civility.” The apparent point being that civility is a limit on liberty. There is a saying that people in the old west tended to be rather polite, because everybody was armed; to the degree that is true, people voluntarily limited the offensiveness of their speech as a matter of prudence. The reality is that anything that governs any action is a limit on liberty, which is why the Founding Fathers held the idea of limited government as a basic tenet of the foundation of our republic.
There is a balance that should be maintained between complete freedom to say and behave in any way a person chooses and in civility and polite behavior. Politeness and civility come from a person’s upbringing and the social culture of society.
When I was a child, in the 1950’s, society was considerably more polite than it is today, not only in speech, but in grooming, dress, and general behavior. Men were careful of their personal appearance, were chivalrous, tipping their hats (everyone wore a hat), stepping aside to allow others to pass on the sidewalk, holding doors for women, children, and the elderly, and watching their language in public.
The big change to this came from the younger members of my generation in the late sixties and seventies. Inspired by left-leaning professors, it started with college students who refused to honor the draft, developed into opposition to the Viet Nam war; running counter to traditional patriotic support of our soldiers during time of war. This bloomed into the hippy era, drug culture, free love, abortion rights, women’s rights, environmentalism, and a general anti-establishment philosophy. They rose up in a mass rebellion against pretty much every social and moral more of the time.
From the close of World War II, the Soviet Union was very actively working to foment this type of unrest through agents and contacts in the American Communist Party, the Socialist Party, labor unions, the universities, and the media. These have elevated extremism to mainstream politics via left wing groups from followers of Alinsky, SDS, Acorn, and various other “community organizations” and radical groups.
The McCarthy hearings of the early fifties identified some of this activity, but concentrated most on the film industry, where they were fairly successful in disarming that propaganda effort. The irony of the Soviet success in placing socialist plants and creating civil unrest was that, while they ended up succeeding beyond their original hope, it did not cause a push for Soviet style communism, but instead a push toward greater liberty; almost, but not quite, an anarchy type of freedom.
There were some very good things that came from all this. Freedom of speech and expression were given a greater emphasis than ever before. Women gained equality in the workplace and a greater say in the political and civic arena. Citizens became openly hostile toward public corruption and cronyism. Industrial pollution and toxic waste has been reduced by probably 90%.
Business has been changed from the type X labor/management conflict model to a more win/win approach. Families have switched from a rigid patriarchal style, to more of a partnership with greater parental involvement with children. All these are examples of the good that came out of this period of unrest.
However, there were almost an equal number of bad things that came from this period; it was a sort of a “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” situation. The polite civility of our parent’s generation didn’t completely disappear, but it was badly damaged and greatly reduced.
The use of slang, poor grammar, and of aggressive, offensive, and threatening language greatly increased. Self-discipline and personal accountability have been replaced with selfish hedonism and victimization. The concept of earning respect was replaced with deserving respect. Our children have been raised to believe that competing is bad, and winning isn’t important; everybody deserves the same reward regardless of personal effort and performance.
Political correctness has created a society unable to address differences between cultures, races, or other social distinctions, while at the same time destroying the concept of the American social “melting pot.” We now have Afro-, Hispano-, Asian-, etc. Americans who believe the culture and values of their homeland or racial group is more important than their identity as Americans. We have inadvertently created a new type of segregation.
So in addition to the many good things, the history of the Baby Boomers and their children has created all kinds of bad fall-out. Examples are extremely high rates of birth out of wedlock, huge numbers of abortions, huge numbers of single parent families, widespread use of drugs, illogical environmental and social laws, great loss of heavy industry, tremendous growth in government and the taxes required to support it, and a less civil, more crude society.
A second irony is the left accusing the right of using violent rhetoric when the use of extreme aggressive violent language, hyperbole, rhetoric , and imagery has been an invention and mainstay of the left; they are now accusing a much more mild right, in particular the Tea Party and talk radio, of abusing freedom of speech with excessive use of violent language. For any liberal to make such an accusation is not only ironic, but also hypocritical.
Personally, I would like for people on all sides of the political spectrum to avoid aggressive language and instead endeavor to express their ideas and opposition with more accuracy and less emotion. I don’t think this will really happen, because the left is steeped in the concept of using every crisis to drive an emotional following to a loud attack on their opposition.
I recently stated that I dislike seeing the Republicans “playing nice” with the Democrats; and I definitely feel that way. I think the Republicans need to respect the right of the Democrats to their opinions, but I also think Republicans need to strongly counter those damaging and anti-American ideas.
Modern politics is more clearly than ever aligned between not just conservative and liberal, but right and wrong. The conservatives are simply right, and the liberals are simply wrong, and there is nothing in that to compromise. I would rather see congress unable to ever pass another law than to pass one more law that will hurt our country.