Here Come the Censors

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A commenter writing from Britain yesterday says the following:

Anyone watching the BBC coverage would think violent tea party rhetoric and websites supported by Sarah Palin were responsible for this man's murderous rampage, despite the fact he was described by one of his classmates on a college course as "a left wing pothead."
I haven't exactly been glued to my television set, but I'd hardly be surprised to find news coverage here to be similarly poor, especially given how quickly the Democrats are racing to establish greater government control of guns (as noted yesterday) and, now, of the airwaves:
The shooting is cause for the country to rethink parameters on free speech, [Jim] Clyburn [D-SC] said from his office, just blocks from the South Carolina Statehouse. He wants standards put in place to guarantee balanced media coverage with a reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, in addition to calling on elected officials and media pundits to use "better judgment."[bold and link added]
If Clyburn truly values individual freedom, he should follow his own advice about using "better judgment." But then, given his haste to equate political positions he does not agree with to incitement, I have a mild hunch that individual freedom isn't part of his agenda. (I set aside for the sake of argument the matters of whether the gunman was a "right-winger" or even sane when he acted.)
Clyburn used as an example a comment made by Sharron Angle, an unsuccessful U.S. senatorial candidate in Nevada, who said the frustrated public may consider turning to "Second Amendment remedies" for political disputes unless Congress changed course.

Clyburn said the man accused of shooting Giffords did just that.
This is ridiculous: Angle was plainly not seriously proposing an armed revolt, and "What would an insane or unreasonable person use as an excuse to commit murder?" is not a standard for weighing whether someone advocates the same.

Thanks to the fact that the government currently respects our right to debate political ideas, America is nowhere near the point that only armed revolt could restore freedom (or should be even seriously considered). It is noteworthy that Clyburn's proposal to restrict freedom of speech would push us closer to just such a point.

-- CAV


Mo said...

You know Gus, I think determinism underlies all of this talk about "climate of hate" etc... Today I was reading about how crazy talk encourages crazy people. But then I thought to myself that crazy people don't need encouragement. What the article I read was saying is that if you are constantly exposed to violence (or to “violent” words, speech), you will be somehow programmed to commit violence, if not now, then at some time in the future. On the other hand if one is constantly exposed to pacific rhetoric, one will always be disposed to peaceful demonstrations of agreement or opposition.

This is similar to the argument used by the anti-pornography lobby. Because no one can prove that showing pictures of naked women is direct incitement to rape the claim is that these pictures somehow “dehumanise” all women and make it more likely that they will be raped.

Gus Van Horn said...

Or, as one Congressman put it today, "If violent rhetoric didn't cause this shooting, it will cause the next one."

madmax said...

While I think that the "anti-hate" noise we are hearing is the inevitable consequence of the Left's determinism, I also think that this is an example of "never let a crisis go to waste." The Left is doing what they did in '94. They are using an act of mass violence to demonize the Right. This is part of the broader pattern of Leftist behavior to attack anyone who challenges welfare-state politics in any way as racist or fascist or the essence of pure evil(tm).

Really, what we are seeing is the Left's declaration of war against non-Leftists (especially Christian Conservatives). We are heading for a civil war if things don't change.

Gus, what do you think about a "meme" that is floating around Right-wing circles: "its time for a divorce"? Essentially many Conservatives are starting to wonder if there are irreconcilable differences between Progressives and everyone else. They are starting to wonder if there should be some reorganization of the country, something along the lines of the Left gets half the country the non-Left gets the other half.

Given the disagreements between Conservatives and Libertarians not to mention the various factions within each, I am not sure this is a good idea. Although living free of the Left does evoke positive emotions.

Gus Van Horn said...

(1) I neglected to say this explicitly when answering Mo earlier, but he raises a good point when he notes that insane people don't need encouragement.

I'll add that incipient dictators don't, either. I think that, while many or most do have a deterministic view of free will, their view is inconsistent, and they use it as much as an excuse for more power grabs as for anything else.

(2) That "meme" is simply the latest example of conservatives failing to grasp how ideas affect culture. Rather than make their case to non-leftists and fight a battle of ideas (which they feel is "impractical"), they'd rather split our country (which not only IS impractical, but wouldn't make EITHER "half" free if it were since the real problem is that no major faction in America understands or accepts individual rights in the proper fashion).

Andrew Dalton said...

The fantasy of splitting the country was entertained by the Left after Bush's reelection in 2004: the United States versus "Jesusland."

Gus Van Horn said...


Thanks for reminding us of that.

Shared premise (Rational persuasion does not work.), same policy (Split the country.)