Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Free speech is a great idea, but...

Sunday, on Face the Nation, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R - SC) said this:
Free speech is a great idea but we’re in a war. During World War II, you had limits on what you could say if it would inspire the enemy.

Just think about that. This is a United States senator. True, he's a Republican, and true, he's from South Carolina, but still... how can such a man be elected to any office in America?

Yeah, a handful of religious nuts in Florida burned a Koran, which gave thousands more religious nuts in Afghanistan an excuse to riot and kill innocent people. And the response from this politician is to suggest limiting free speech in America? That's just incredible, don't you think?

This is especially the case because these same people have been pushing the most incredible bigotry against Muslims in America - campaigning against mosques built in our communities, saying that Islam isn't a "real" religion and so isn't covered by our Bill of Rights, engaging in witch hunts in Congress, a la Joe McCarthy,...

Maybe we should try standing up for America's constitutional freedoms, instead. Maybe we should proudly support freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Maybe we should refuse to torture prisoners of war, Muslim or not. And maybe we should give accused terrorists a fair trial.

You know, Republicans seem to hate everything America stands for. I just don't get it. Don't they believe in America at all?

But I want to address one other thing, this idea that we can abandon our fundamental freedoms because "we're in a war." Personally, I think our freedoms make us strong, not weak. So the last thing I'd want is to abandon what makes America great, just because we're at war.

But there's another thing to consider. Why are we at war? And when won't we be at war?

America wasn't invaded. We weren't attacked by another country. We're only at war because we wanted to be at war. Bush thought it would be fun to play Commander-in-Chief, and his political advisers thought it would boost his re-election chances (as it did).

Yes, many of us thought it would be great fun to be at war (as long as there was no draft, so we ourselves didn't have to fight it). In fact, when Afghanistan proved too boring, we started another war, for absolutely no reason at all, without even ending the first one!

The media went along with it, because war really boosts ratings. And Democratic politicians were, by and large, too cowardly to oppose anything so popular.

We're at war only because we wanted to be at war. We started both wars. Neither was actually necessary. Yes, 9/11 was terrible. But it was a crime, not an act of war. The Oklahoma City bombing was terrible, too, but we didn't use that as an excuse to wage war against Christians.

But Republican chickenhawks love war, as long as (1) they don't have to pay for it, and (2) they don't have to fight in it. As a spectator sport, though, it's great fun. Plus, it keeps ignorant, gullible Americans in a constant state of fear. What's not to like?

So now we've got the "war on terror," along with the "war on crime" and the "war on drugs." (The only war we quit, in abject surrender, was the "war on poverty.") So are we going to limit freedom of speech as long as these "wars" continue? Permanently, in other words?

Free speech is a great idea. There's no "but" about it. If you don't value freedom of speech and freedom of religion, including the strict separation of church and state, why don't you emigrate to Saudi Arabia? Here's something I used to hear in the 1960s that's far more applicable today: America, love it or leave it!

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