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Thanksgiving Links between the Internet and Freedom

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for the Internet and the opportunity it affords for free expression. Granted, filth is just a click away, but the opportunity to exercise free will in ways that bring harm has been present since the Garden of Eden. Time will tell whether the Internet’s positive contributions will outweigh its negative ones, but I’m betting that it will. The omniscient Creator obviously knew there were problems ahead when He made us in His own image with the ability to make free, independent choices. But God in His infinite wisdom determined that freedom was an enterprise worth the evil it would make possible. So I’m going with God on the value of freedom.

Going Rogue by Sarah Palin FREE

I’m no authority on sports and I don’t know what it takes to put together a winning team. But apparently billionaire Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins for the last 10 years, doesn’t either. Despite all the millions he’s spent, the Redskins are a losing team. What particularly interests me — since the games are a lost cause — is the impact that television and the instant replay have on the game.

Many fans miss a lot of the action in real time; we depend on the instant replay in slow motion to see what really happened. What amazes me is hearing the commentators say even as the play is unfolding who is running with the ball, who made the tackle, who caught the pass, or who got slapped with a penalty. Then comes the instant replay, and in a high percentage of the cases, the play-by-play announcers with their years of experience and trained eyes saw what I was not able to see as a sometime fan.

John Madden, the ex-coach who turned commentator (until his recent retirement), took things a step further by superimposing a diagram of the play on the instant replay and thereby further educated millions of fans in the tactics being employed by the offensive and defensive coaches. The trouble is, the more educated the fans became, the less tolerant they were of bad game-changing calls by officials. It took awhile, but the pressure eventually became irresistible for a system whereby coaches could challenge an official’s call, forcing them to consult the instant replay and evaluate what the camera had already revealed to the fans.

It seems to me that we are already beginning to see the Internet do for politics and government something akin to what the instant replay has done for the officiating of pro-football. And in the arenas of politics and government, the need is so much greater and the stakes are so much higher.

Liberals have established iron control over most of our institutions of learning from kindergarten to graduate school and have turned them into propaganda mills where only politically correct ideas are allowed and speech codes enforce conformity; most ironic is the fact liberals do this while cloaking their actions with a gospel of tolerance and diversity. Much the same can be said of most the media where, with a few exceptions, free speech and freedom of the press were suffocated long ago. Objectivity and unbiased reporting have been replaced by cheerleading for liberalism’s latest fads and pet projects to use the power of big government to force the public to accept some utopian scheme that increases the power of the ruling elite at the expense of the public’s freedom.

If there is anything that may halt the advance of this juggernaut, it is the power of free expression on the Internet.

The Internet and its offspring, YouTube, are much like the instant replay. These technological advances are making it possible for ordinary citizens to replay the factual record of what political leaders say and do within moments of their occurrence. Moreover, they give us tools to search the historical record and compare what is currently offered up with previous statements and promises made; in addition, we can now easily make comparisons of their claims with the actual facts to gauge the accuracy and veracity of their statements.

But there is yet a further aspect of this that is going to change the way the political game is played. Thanks to the development of the Internet, the major media no longer has a monopoly on the dissemination of the news; today a new generation of political commentators — whose skills are such that they can educate the public about politics much as John Madden and others educated fans about football — have an opportunity to voice their opinions via the Internet at a very low cost.

Consider the most recent case of Attorney General Eric Holder’s defense of his decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in federal court in New York. To the untrained listener (i.e., most of us), Holder’s defense of his decision before the Senate committee may have sounded very compelling when he argued that trying KSM before a judge and jury according to the procedures mandated by the U.S. constitution would be a vindication of our system of justice.

But trained attorneys saw what many others did not. John Hinderaker (of the Powerline blog) walked us through an instant replay of Holder’s responses to Senator Kohl. When Kohl asked what would happen if the defendants were not convicted, Holder responded, “Failure is not an option. This — these are cases that have to be won.”

“Failure is not an option! Let’s hope that’s true, in the sense that if a jury acquits KSM or fails to reach a verdict, he would be kept in custody anyway. But, that being the case, isn’t the criminal prosecution fundamentally fraudulent?” Hinderaker then makes a comparison of a parallel statement of President Obama (immediately available on Breitbart through the power of the Internet):

Obama speaking of those offended by the legal privileges given to Muhammed by virtue of getting a civilian trial rather than a military tribunal: they won’t find it “offensive at all when he’s convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him.”

Realizing the implications of his statement, Obama immediately tried to backtrack by saying he did not mean he was prejudging the outcome of Mohammed’s trial.

Hinderaker dissects this by asking, “Can you imagine any other context in which the President of the United States would assure the public that a criminal defendant is guilty; that he will be convicted by a jury; and that he will be executed? Such comments make a mockery of the ‘rule of law’ as normally understood ... if only one jury verdict is acceptable; if the President is willing to assure the American people of conviction; if acquittal or a hung jury is “not an option;” if, assuming such a result, the defendant would be returned to prison anyway — then it is ridiculous to say that we are going through this charade in order to ‘vindicate the rule of law.’”

If the major media — which is little more than a propaganda arm of the current administration — had its way, the general public would never receive the education such an instant replay affords. But thanks to the Internet, public officials now have to contend with the instant replays and objective assessments that the “pajamas media” affords immediately, directly, and indirectly via e-mails that are transmitted across the country and around the globe by ordinary citizens who have come to a better understanding of “what in the world is going on in Washington.”

The political replays and objective assessments on the Internet give me hope for the future of our country, and for this I am very grateful this Thanksgiving.

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