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The Democrats' Credibility Gap on Free Speech

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Over the weekend, Democrat congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer wrote of the recent protests taking place in town hall meetings around the country, “These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American.” 

The White House is concerned that their health care plan is not being accurately characterized.  They have even encouraged Americans who read or hear their friends and neighbors saying anything “fishy” to report them to flag@whitehouse.gov.

Democrats’ concerns about allowing all viewpoints to be heard accurately would be a lot more credible if they had not been silent when those on the right were being silenced and demagogued.  In many cases leading Democrats were not silent, but actively participated in the demagoguery, spreading misinformation far and wide with the assistance of their friends in the media.

Culture of Corruption by Michelle Malkin FREE

 There have been many such examples over the past few decades.  Remember Democrats’ claims that Republicans wanted to starve old people and school children? You know, back when they used to tell Americans on a regular basis that an increase in spending was really a cut if it was not as big an increase as Democrats wanted? 

Remember when Democrats said Newt Gingrich wanted to let Medicare “wither on the vine” when he actually said “…we believe that it's going to wither on the vine because we think [seniors] are going to leave it voluntarily.”

Remember all the accusations of “blood for oil” during the debate over the war in Iraq? And that “Bush lied,” when he said he believed Saddam Hussein possessed WMD, even though every leading Democrat politician had claimed the same thing?

I believe we should be debating the health care issue based on facts, not rumors or mischaracterizations, but to have, of all people in this world, Nancy Pelosi preaching it is beyond ridiculous.

It is equally ridiculous to hear those on the angry left discredit and ridicule those American citizens -- Republicans, Libertarians and independent-minded Democrats – who have legitimate concerns over the inaccurately named stimulus plan, bailouts and the attempt to put the American health care system under government control .   Many in the media have joined in, labeling these concerned citizens as “angry mobs,” or, if reporting from MSNBC, as “tea baggers.”

Prompted by the “un-American” comment in Pelosi and Hoyer’s USA Today piece, Jon Henke points to the difference in attitude when the anger was coming from those on the left.  He quotes Glenn Greenwald: “Anger, when constructively directed, is a potent and inspiring passion. It is noble to be angry about dangerous situations and corrupt leaders, and there are few passions which can compete with anger for inspiring oneself and others to meaningful action.” 

I guess anger is a good thing, if in the right hands.  (Or, should I say, the left hands?)

It is hard to listen to Democrats squeal with indignation about their freedom of speech being stifled when they control the White House and the Congress, and when in the past, their supporters are the ones who did so much to crush conservative dissent .

Remember when conservative author and columnist Ann Coulter had two pies thrown at her during a speech at the University of Arizona to College Republicans?  At least she was able to speak.  There are many examples of conservatives being denied the right to speak at public universities by liberal protesters, in some cases due to violence or the threat of violence. 

When former Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo tried to speak at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill on the issue of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants earlier this year, “Hundreds of protesters converged on Bingham Hall, shouting profanities and accusations of racism while Tancredo and the student who introduced him tried to speak. Minutes into the speech, a protester pounded a window of the classroom until the glass shattered, prompting Tancredo to flee and campus police to shut down the event.”

William Jacobson put things into perspective when he wrote, “So this is what it comes to. After eight years of protesters hanging George Bush in effigy, calling him a Nazi, disrupting conservative speeches on campuses by taking over stages or throwing pies, creating websites and movies that wished for Bush's death, and a myriad of other indignities.... After all this time, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer discover what it means to be ‘Un-American.’”

I believe everyone should be allowed to publicly express their viewpoint, but others should be allowed to peaceably protest as well.   The Dixie Chicks had every right to express their opposition to the war, their dislike of President Bush and their contempt for their conservative fans, but those fans also had the right to boycott their concerts and stop buying their music.

It is often hard to find the voice of conservative America in the mainstream media, even when their views on issues are shared by the majority.  Now that the Democrats control the White House and Congress, they have even more “bully pulpit” power.  More is not enough for them though.  They won’t be happy until their opponents are silenced.

Average Americans, many who have never before publicly protested, are now feeling empowered enough to exercise their right of free speech.  When hundreds of thousands of average Americans showed up at over 800 “tea parties” held in over 800 cities, and in every state in the country, on April 15, 2009, those in the media yawned.  Compared to the media attention Cindy Sheehan and her Code Pink friends garnered when opposing the war in Iraq, those hundreds of thousands of Americans were ignored.  Worse yet, some in the media even ridiculed them.

It is not hard to understand why some of them decided they needed to speak with louder voices to be heard.  Now that they are being heard, those in the White House say they don’t deserve to be.  I think it is too late.  If opinion polls are an accurate indication, they are being heard loud and clear, and it is going to take more than even the anointed Obama can get away with to silence them now.

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