The United States has experienced a culture of irrational fear and prejudice at levels that rival those of our sad history. News stations frequently misreport details, berate objectors, provide biased coverage and even manufacture their own stories (for which they briefly apologize the next day). Regular citizens are routinely shut up for speaking against the government, even when it’s done peacefully. And everything seems to this this is OK.
Perhaps what’s most shocking is that these actions are not shocking at all to most people. In fact, it seems that we take it for granted that people who exercise their rights (as guaranteed in our Constitution and our Bill of Rights), should be punished. One case in point comes from a Progressive.org article titled Tenant Banned from Flying Flag Upside Down, Gets Death Threat. From the article:
When Decker asked for the statute criminalizing this, he says Officer Delsman responded: “I’m sure that it is somewhere.”
According to Decker, the officer also said: “You fly your flag at night with no light on it. The next time I see that I’ll have to do something about it.”
Decker says he stood his ground: “I told him, â€˜I know I’m not breaking the law, but if you can come to my house and show me the statute, I’ll take my flag down. Otherwise, I’ll keep flying it.’ ”
“I didn’t know that in the land of the free that a peaceful act of patriotism could bring out such violent tendencies in people,” he says. Decker says he’s been called “asshole, dickhead, cocksucker,” and a lot of other names.
He says one man, with a kid between the ages of 8 and 11, went after him in the parking lot at McDonald’s, saying, “I’m going to come over to your house and kick your ass right now.” The man also said, according to Decker, “If you keep up what you’re doing, a vet is going to find you and put a bullet in your head.”
There used to be a time when people realized that dissent against the government is the fundamental basis of democracy. It’s not something that we should suppress just because it annoys us. What would our society be like if we prevented Martin Luther King from speaking out against black subjugation?
Another sad example comes from an article titled, “Librarian carrying McCain=Bush sign kicked out of McCain Event“. It’s hard to imagine a more benign message, and it should be one that at least some people take as complimentary (yes, there are still people that believe that Bush is a good President). From the article:
DENVER, Colo.-On orders from Senator John McCain’s security detail, Denver police escorted a 61-year-old woman away who was waiting in line to attend a so-called town hall meeting with McCain that was billed as open to the public.
Carol Kreck, who works as a librarian in Denver, held a homemade sign reading “McCain = Bush.” On orders from McCain’s security detail, police cited her for trespassing and escorted her to the sidewalk. She was told if she returned she would be arrested.
“And all I did was carry a sign that said McCain = Bush,” Kreck said. “And for everyone who voted for Bush, I don’t see why it’s offensive to say McCain = Bush.”
This episode by McCain’s Secret Service appears to be a rerun of McCain’s 2005 town hall in Denver with President Bush in which the Secret Service had three Denver citizens removed from an “open” event where McCain was campaigning with Pres. Bush for his plan to privatize social security.
The list of facts that show that McCain would simply be Bush 2.0 is a long one (the article includes a few references). My question (and I wonder if it should be taken as rhetorical), is: Which freedoms should we curtail next? And, would we be better off getting rid of the protections granted by our founding documents? If I were more curious, I’d consider voting Republican…