Political dissent is a time honored tradition in the English-speaking world. Editorials, commentary, and cartoons over the years have been rude, crude, and barely socially acceptable. Political commentary has lampooned, harassed, criticized, annoyed, and has come close to threatening the opposition. It’s politics. All’s fair in love and politics.
Throughout much of human history a person practiced political dissent at their own risk. Greek city states, at various times in their existence allowed political criticism. It was allowed in the Roman Republic until Brutus attempted the ultimate expression of free speech; stabbing his political mentor in the back, literally, thus putting an end to “free speech and expression” for a good thousand years.
After that, your friendly neighborhood despot and conqueror frowned on opposition of any sort – most of the time. During the reign of Henry II in England, the cornerstone of the first viable constitution was laid, one which our Founding Fathers used as a building block for the Constitution of the United States. Under Henry, his best bud, pal, and drinking buddy, pushed the premise of free speech and political dissent to the breaking point, and paid the ultimate price for it, when one of Henry’s sycophants took him at his word and actually did rid him of that bothersome priest.
During the Puritan rule in those dark days of the Cromwellian purges during the British Civil War, free political speech was basically exterminated, only to spring forth, full blown, during the restoration of Charles II, and has never died since. Taking their cue from their British brethren, those disorderly American Colonists and early settlers took the whole idea of free political speech to the extreme; the world has never been the same.
Political discourse and commentary rose to the level of a spectator sport. It became the powdered wig version of world wide wrestling, complete with a thesaurus of steroidal verbiage. Not only was it indulged, but it was nurtured to the point where the Colonies, in open rebellion, were subjected to a very unpopular (the British Version) political action. It was about the right to speak freely, to criticize freely, and not be subjected to punitive action. It became the very bedrock of the American psyche, so ingrained in our political souls that the more the British tried to quench the flame of political discourse, the more it grew and flourished.
Free political discourse without fear of punitive reprisal is a unique creation of democracy. Free political discourse exists only where a bipartisan effort is made to allow opposition dissent. Once that dissent is prevented, a nation crosses the threshold from a bipartisan free society into something resembling a dictatorship.
If only one side of an issue or one political point is allowed full expression, then there is no longer free speech.
Unfortunately, the current trend here in the United States under the early days of Obama is to label any opposition to him to be “unpatriotic”. When radio personalities openly call for the execution of someone who is annoying them while expressing an opposing view, they are dangerously close to behavior bordering on the “unAmerican”. They are ignoring the fact that the hallmark of a democracy is freedom of expression and the freedom to express an opposing viewpoint.
It isn’t what someone says, but the fact that there are certain factions currently at work who want to silence any voice of opposition. When the political opposition is silenced, the fragile light of freedom is on its way to being extinguished.
Though the sensitive and politically correct who can brook only one version of a story, may not agree, there is nothing wrong with even crude, lampooning dissent. There is nothing wrong with rude dissent. There is nothing wrong with socially unacceptable dissent. There is, however, something wrong when only one political voice and only one side of the political equation is expressed, or is allowed to be expressed.
When differing opinion is silenced, Freedom begins to die a slow and agonizing death.
Our Founding Fathers did not intend for any rational or irrational political discourse to be silenced or discouraged. This tendency to do just that is a rather current invention by the political left; the MoveOn.org, Daily Kos, and Huffington Post end of the spectrum.
Some of it is simply the desire to win at all costs. Some of it is simply the fact that a rather ill-advised “show-biz” mentality has taken over the Democratic Party. More alarming, though, is the demand for political correctness. In other words, we are not to say anything that might hurt someone’s feelings, unless that person is a conservative, Republican, Christian, then it doesn’t matter what is said. apparently, this segment of American society does not have feelings, is incapable of being hurt, and should be treated as a subspecies of humanity; not quite the intellectual equal of the more worthy Democratic mind.
Political correctness is for “sissies’ It is for the do-good touchy-feely, "don’t hurt my feelings but I can say anything I want about you" mind set. It is a tool for silencing the opposition’s opinion simply because those who practice political correctness don’t like something that is being said. It is a tool for silencing the opposition that eventually leads to tyranny
Silencing of your political opposition and the systematic harassment of different opinions is a dangerous trend in the Western World. In the Netherlands, any open expression of disdain against the encroaching Islamic dictatorship that is on the horizon is now openly prosecuted. In the UK, Christian ministers who dare to speak out against Islam are subjected to harassment, physical intimidation, and beatings. In California, those who opposed Proposition 8 have been subjected to a campaign of public harassment, intimidation and threats. It has reached the point now where those who support the position openly express their hatred toward the Latter Day Saints and Mitt Romney in particular. If a Republican openly says something against anyone who is supporting Proposition 8, they are told they are spreading “hate”.
This is a dangerous trend that will eventually lead to the death of freedom and democracy.
It has happened many times in history. It is happening here in the United States via the concentrated efforts to intimidate any opposition to Barack Obama and the far left Democratic agenda into withdrawal and submission. Is it is ugly. It is nasty, and it is a vile corruption of everything this country is founded upon.
And if you think liberals are the only ones who practice the intimidation and silencing of their opposition, you are incorrect. The Far Right Conservative element, most of it not even remotely connected to the Republican Party, is involved in the first shots of an uncivil war. There are a few non-Republican conservatives, such as Michelle Malkin and Laura Ingraham who will do just about anything and say just about anything to silence and destroy anyone who does not meet their version of conservative purity. Anyone opposes the extreme right are branded RINOs and subjected to some of the nastiest political harassment you can possibly imagine.
We are living through strange political times.