Friday, October 13, 2006

Is America Still the Land of Free Speech for All? Or Just for the Left?

Peggy Noonan has a thoughtful piece today on the left's recent pattern of bullying and attempting to stifle dissenters from the right. She provides four specific examples. Here's an excerpt from the rest of the column:

It is not only about rage and resentment, and how some have come to see them as virtues, as an emblem of rightness. I feel so much, therefore my views are correct and must prevail. It is about something so obvious it is almost embarrassing to state. Free speech means hearing things you like and agree with, and it means allowing others to speak whose views you do not like or agree with. This--listening to the other person with respect and forbearance, and with an acceptance of human diversity--is the price we pay for living in a great democracy. And it is a really low price for such a great thing.

We all know this, at least in the abstract. Why are so many forgetting it in the particular?

Let us be more pointed. Students, stars, media movers, academics: They are always saying they want debate, but they don't. They want their vision imposed. They want to win. And if the win doesn't come quickly, they'll rush the stage, curse you out, attempt to intimidate.

And they don't always recognize themselves to be bullying. So full of their righteousness are they that they have lost the ability to judge themselves and their manner.

And all this continues to come more from the left than the right in America.

Which is, at least in terms of timing, strange. The left in America--Democrats, liberals, Bush haters, skeptics of many sorts--seems to be poised for a significant electoral victory. Do they understand that if it comes it will be not because of Columbia, Streisand, O'Donnell, et al., but in spite of them?

What is most missing from the left in America is an element of grace--of civic grace, democratic grace, the kind that assumes disagreements are part of the fabric, but we can make the fabric hold together.

We must indeed hold the fabric together in this time of global terror. We must find that touch of grace again.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

So full of their righteousness are they that they have lost the ability to judge themselves and their manner.

Just like the French Revolution and its "Republique of Perfect Virtue".

Or the First Russian Revolution and its "Workers' Paradise".

The Cause so Righteous it justifies any evil whatsoever to bring it about, the Perfect Omelette that always requires smashing more and more eggs...

Chalmers said...

Free Speech Zones

MaxedOutMama said...

"They want their vision imposed. They want to win."

Taken to the extreme, if someone could explain to me how this is different than the mindset driving the Islamicists I'd be grateful.

I would be more confident of our ability to combat the darkness creeping over the world if I felt sure that, as a society, we had the will to reject that darkness ourselves.

Dr. Melissa said...

MaxedOutMama,
If America doesn't stand.....the world is as good as dark already.