“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.
Of course, Senator Keller makes exceptions. The exceptions (not surprisingly) are for office holders! Oh, and there is an convoluted exception for “bona fide” candidates. But who decides what is “bona fide?” Well, naturally the government does.
This obscene measure is justified on the thin reed of convenience. You see, people are “inconvenienced” when they receive a call about an issue. So, to relieve them of the burden of telling the caller they are not interested or simply hanging up, Senator Keller has decided to impale free speech rights on the spear of criminalization. Regardless of how that may “inconvenience” the Constitution.
So, what would be the impact of the Keller dictate? Why get exercised about it? The impact is simple: Citizens, voters in Senator Keller’s district, will not learn what is going on except from an increasingly biased press or, of course, from Senator Keller, himself. It’s really a political application of what Hollywood calls the “Golwyn Maxim”: “When I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you.”
Independent views or reports to the public about tax hikes, spending sprees, handouts to special interests, the appointment of friends and cronies to government positions, etc,will no longer be tolerated. Only Senator Keller and the captive media will have the legal right to inform you. And the ability of citizens to express their views will be greatly diminished -- all in the abstract name of a wholly contrived “inconvenience.”
Again, Justice Douglas defined this type of action well. He wrote, “Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.”
Citizens in Colorado should demand a swift and final death to Senator Moe Keller’s act of subversion. And citizens everywhere should scan the legislative agendas for other variations of this odious measure and take immediate steps to defeat them as well.
As is always the case, the politicians have turned things on their head. It is not citizens or advocates for issues that should be regulated. It is politicians and government that must be forced back into what obviously is for them the “inconvenient” straight-jacket of the Bill of Rights.