Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Denial of Free Speech Will Lead to a Backlash and It Won't Be the Fault of Conservatives

Lorne Gunter has a nice piece in today's The National Post on the story from the town near Liverpool, England about the couple who have lost their hotel business and are being charged by the police using "threatening, abusive or insulting words" which were "religiously aggravated." You thought free speech was the law in broken Britain? Ah, no, not unless you are Muslim, in which case you can march and chant death to "X" (i.e. whoever it is this time) whenever you like.

He ends his column as follows:
"Government has no right, none at all, to regulate what free people may say
to one another about faith, politics or other beliefs. There are personal
consequences for what we say and those should be the limits of what any of us
has to endure.

Yet agents of the modern state believe themselves empowered to regulate
free speech all the time, in Canada every bit as much as Britain.

In Saskatchewan, human rights apparatchiks have ruled parts of the Bible
are hate speech. In Alberta, a pastor has been ordered to apologize for expressing views against homosexuality and ordered by the Alberta Human Rights Commission never to utter those views in public again.

If ordinary citizens don't demand of their politicians that they disband
the political correctness inquisitions, there will soon be Canadian versions of
the Vogelenzangs -- people who are criminally charged for stating their beliefs."

Now, here is the thing I want to point out. As the politically correct police become bolder and as ordinary people have their rights systematically abused, a groundswell of grass roots anger is bound to build. The leftists who advocate curbs on free speech claim that they are doing so in order to maintain social peace and harmony. What is one supposed to make of this claim, when it is obvious that their policies are socially divisive and eventually going to lead to anger, hatred and polarization? Are they sincere? Are they just out of touch? Are they stupid?

It is hard to know, but we know one thing for sure. When people begin to get mad and when antipathy toward immigrants begins to build, the liberals will blame "right-wing expremists" for it. So one wonders if that is their game all along: create intolerable social chaos, wait for the explosion and then use it to demonize the right - while buttresing their own entrenched power positions.

I honestly don't know. As David Brooks recently said: "I don't have a machine for peering into the souls of Obama's critics." (He said this, I'm pretty sure, to make it clear that he didn't have access to the one his fellow New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd apparently owns - you know, the one that allowed her to know that Joe Wilson said "You lie!" but was actually thinking "You lie, boy!")

Anyway, whatever the explanation - evil scheming or just good intentions couples mixed with deplorable short-sightedness - the liberal attempt to link in the public mind these two issues - immigrants and taking away our right to free speech - is going to hurt democracy, hurt people, hurt immigrants and hurt the credibility of all liberal/progressive causes.

Anybody can screw up, but it takes real talent to make that much of a mess with one, single policy. But remember: intolerance, racism and a backlash against immigrants - all this is the result of liberal social policy, not conservative philosophy. If we conservatives had our way on this one, a lot of pain and evil could be avoided.

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