“The struggle is always between the individual and his sacred right to express himself and the power structure that seeks conformity, suppression, and obedience.”
Those are not the ravings of someone in the Black-helicopter brigade. Nor are they the rantings of a late-night cable infomercial pitching the protection of tin-foil hats. This clear-eyed warning is from the pre-eminent liberal Supreme Court Justice of the last 50 years, Justice William O. Douglas.
While many Americans of various political persuasions had serious points of disagreement with Justice Douglas, his love and respect for the First Amendment stands out as admirable to most citizens. Most, but sadly not all.
Increasingly, politicians and their cronies running outside pressure groups are working to shut down free speech by criminalizing political discourse. They are working to impose the nightmare Justice Douglas saw as “conformity, suppression and obedience.” And every day the noose around the necks of the American people drawers tighter.
These assaults on the First Amendment take many insidious forms. There are the outrightassults enshrined in the McCain-Feingold law, specifically designed to protect the politicians from the people they are supposed to serve. And then, there are the more subtle, yet equally subversive, moves made by the politicos and their co-conspirators toforce issue groups to disclose their internal documents so as to open up their supporters to threats, intimidation and attack.
In either case, the single focus is to silence the American people. Those in power, regardless of party or philosophy, are working overtime to destroy the right and ability of citizens to hold their government accountable. In short: theirs is a political pox on the vox populi. The First Amendment notwithstanding.
A good case in point is a recently introduced piece of legislation in Colorado. While there are countless other efforts in all the states, and, of course, in Congress, the Colorado assault stands out as a particularly egregious example of the goals and tactics of the authoritarian speech regulators.
State Senator Moe Keller (D-Jefferson) has introduced a bill, SB 48, that would outlaw the right of citizens to use the telephone to alert their fellows to actions taking place in the Legislature! Unless you, the citizen, had “a prior relationship” with people being contacted, it would be illegal. That’s right, general citizen alerts are specifically verboten. And one wonders how Mr. Keller would have viewed the midnight ride of Paul Revere.
William Wilson is the President of Americans for Limited Government. He has spent his career working in political strategy and public affairs for various causes and organizations.
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