Getting it Wrong About Free Speech and Fear

First off, sorry for the no-posts – I was out of town for a week, so I’m a little behind the commentary curve here. On the other hand, it gave me time to better digest things – and see what everyone else is saying. And what everyone else is saying appears wrong to at least some degree.

Let us clear one thing up: we are afraid. All of us. We are all afraid of the radical Islamists. It would be the height of stupidity not to be afraid of them. They kill people at the drop of a hat, for crying out loud. Of course you’re afraid of people like that. I’m sure my dad was afraid of the Germans and the Japanese in 1944. Here’s the thing, though – in response to this terrible, heart-rending fear of what the Germans and the Japanese might do, he joined the United States Marine Corps. At the age of 17, I should add – you know, in our terms that means he was 9 years shy of being an adult. Still joined up. There were bad people out there who wanted to do horrible things to all my father held dear – his mother and his father and his brothers and his sisters and his country. Off he went. Fortunately to come back alive. A bit north of 330,000 men just like him – who were also afraid – didn’t come back.

That was a different America, of course. In 2015, we are seeing two different responses to the fear, both of them wrong.

On the one hand, we have our Ruling Class – especially in the MSM and including many on the right – who have decided that the best response to their fear is to try and hide. This is where you get the people who say, I love free speech, but… If you put a “but” after something, it probably means you’re full of it. If you love something – seriously love something – then the actual thing you are saying is I will kill and die in defense of it. Someone who says, I love my wife, but…is probably someone headed for divorce court. Such a person doesn’t really love his wife. He’s trying to get the credit which accrues to someone who shows willing to die for a person or cause without, you know, actually risking anything in defense of the allegedly beloved person or cause. Our Ruling Class – logically afraid of people who kill pretty much at random for no actually justifiable reason – wants the credit for being defenders of freedom, but doesn’t want to defend freedom, because defending freedom might get you killed. So we get these cowardly statements which essentially condemn the victims of the Islamist radicals – from the same sorts of people who are always saying Christians and Jews have to take it on the chin in the interests of free speech.

The other – equally wrong – response is to go about provoking these lunatics. Oh, I know – a lot of people who will, say, draw a cartoon insulting Mohammed will be all, “well, I got my guns; let them Islamists come at me!”. Well, what if they come after you at the mall and I’m standing next to you? What if I’m your neighbor and the Islamists get the wrong house? There’s plenty I’m willing to put my life on the line for but most assuredly not so that someone can hurl insults. Freedom is the ability to do the right thing – not the ability to do whatever we darn well please. It isn’t right to insult people. Ever. Not even if they are really mean and nasty people. Look at it like this – suppose I spent an hour just yelling at you all manner of disgusting insults and when you’ve finally had enough, you come at me…and then (by some miracle; and trust me, it would be) I beat you in the fight. Am I a hero? Did I do a grand thing? Nope. I just caused a ruckus – and I didn’t even get my proper reward for being a jerk. Yes, you are perfectly free to say or draw whatever pleases you as far as I’m concerned. I’ll agree to no law or regulation or anything which would get any government agency to stop you from saying what you please. But if you’re being an insulting jerk, then you’re being an insulting jerk – take the consequences…and for pity’s sake, take them when I’m out of range.

We do need to confront and defeat the Islamist radicals. It is a crucial campaign for the safety of our civilization – and, indeed, for the safety of Muslim civilization. What we should be saying is how we’ll get that job done. That is the proper subject for free people to discuss…not whether someone should draw a cartoon of Mohammed and whether or not free speech covers such a thing. Drawing Mohammed or condemning a drawing of Mohammed gets us nowhere. It neither builds public understanding of the threat we face, nor does it produce plans and means for defeating the threat. It gets us into an endless, pointless argument while the enemy builds his forces and perfects his plans for our undoing. In fact, all we’re doing right now is doubly playing into the Islamists hands – by drawing insulting pictures of Mohammed we feed his propaganda among the Muslim people and by craven condemnations of the drawings we explicitly state to the enemy that we’re a bunch of cowards, easy to beat.

We’ve got to get serious about this. The stakes are high – indeed, they are absolute. We win or they win. There’s no in between. We won’t win by being cowards on one hand and hurling mindless insults on the other. This is not about free speech. This is about a justified fear of a ferocious and determined enemy. What we do with that fear decides what happens. I guess dad could have drawn an insulting picture of Hitler, or explained away the Bataan Death March…might have occupied some time. But it wouldn’t have stopped the Japanese or the Germans.

27 thoughts on “Getting it Wrong About Free Speech and Fear

  1. Cluster May 6, 2015 / 7:57 pm

    I agree 100%. Just because we have the right to do something, doesn’t mean we should. And we do have to get very serious about winning this war that we are seemingly reluctant to admit to.

    • M. Noonan May 6, 2015 / 11:24 pm

      I consider the whole thing to be a distraction – and I’ve long had my issues with Gellar on other matters. In this instance, what she’s doing is entirely unhelpful…in fact, what she’s doing aids the enemy (foreign and domestic) because it takes our eyes off the ball: which is the Islamist plan to, you know, attack and kill us all.

      We’ve got to stop being stupid – just keep reasonably and responsibly making the vigorous case that this is war and we must fight it and win it…eventually the enemy will play into our hands in an unmistakable way and public opinion will swing to our side. But in the meantime, let’s not give our opponents (and our deadly enemies) an easy out.

    • M. Noonan May 6, 2015 / 11:31 pm

      Of course, it would help if people actually knew what they are fighting for – it would clue them in on what we are supposed to be fighting against. Beheading and enslaving people is horrible, but it must be kept in mind that such actions are a symptom, not the problem…the problem comes from the particular theology of Islam as interpreted by the Islamist radicals. Boiled down, if you ever wondered why the Church defended the Trinity so vigorously early on, Islam is your answer…it is what happens when God is not a Trinity.

  2. dbschmidt May 6, 2015 / 9:25 pm

    Here is where I side on the 1st amendment and nothing less. If, after all, this is America. Let us examine a couple of examples that are local to me here in NC but have nationwide implications.

    Let us start with “Piss Christ” which is a 1987 photograph by the American artist and photographer Andres Serrano. It depicts a small plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of the artist’s urine. Funded by American taxpayers. None shot ~ no car bombs.

    Maybe we should remember the “The Holy Virgin Mary, a 1996 collage by Chris Ofili, an award-winning British artist, which incorporates elephant feces.” Again, paid for by American taxpayers. None shot ~ no car bombs.

    Private organization holds a private event without taxpayer dollars and it is a problem? How?

    Next we can look at a couple of NC high school kids on a school sponsored trip to Gettysburg as an educational outing including a re-creation of one of many famous battles of the Civil war post a picture of themselves holding Confederate battle flags are now facing charges beyond possible expulsion.

    Wait. PETA and the likes have a new law being considered here in NC that would make taking a job for other than intended reasons a misdemeanor. This is because many PETA folks take jobs and film their positions on turkey farms and the like—even though nothing filmed is illegal. The LSM use these to effect change with a little fancy editing.

    On the last, I would have to ask the reader how they would feel if the police showed up in a workman’s uniform saying, for example, “Hi, I’m Jim and I am here to fix your water heater” but was really there to find activity of any crime.

    My point being is we are “accepting” to much in the form of crap. It appears to me the America I once knew has become a land of the faux oppressed and instantly outraged.

    Get a grip and grow a pair—I do not only mean that towards our politicians

    • M. Noonan May 6, 2015 / 11:20 pm

      The thing about our SJW outrage-mongers is that they, too, are cowards. They want to appear to be bravely defending something when all they are doing is being braying asses following the group to attack someone who is (a) defined as an enemy and (b) there’s zero chance this identified enemy will actually be able or willing to do something about the attack.

    • Cluster May 7, 2015 / 8:09 am

      Its not a matter of growing a pair. It’s a matter of using common sense when combating a truly insane opponent. Even though you have the right to go into a death row full of serial killers and start insulting their mothers, it wouldn’t be a very wise move to do such a thing. When battling bullies, you must be prepared to out bully the bully. Our response to their heinous acts must be swift, more heinous and much much more devastating. That would include killing their women and children, burning them alive, beheading them, and obliterating their cities, towns and way of life. This battle will end only when the “moderate” Muslim world falls on their collective knees and begs the world for forgiveness and begins to clean up their own house.

      • M. Noonan May 7, 2015 / 4:39 pm

        I can’t go with that – any force applied must only be enough to secure the desired end. Of course, some massive force will have to be applied. I’m of a mind that we need a complete re-working of the Middle East…a carve up based upon ethic realities. There are a very large number of groups there – and even the Muslims are divided and re-divided upon sectarian lines. Give everyone their own little box to play in, though some of the resulting nations would be quite small…and population transfers so that no minorities exist for majorities to oppress.

      • Cluster May 8, 2015 / 10:24 am

        I disagree. We should not be their babysitters or impose our ideas of how their society should look. We need to bring extreme punishment to these assholes for the last 40 years of death and destruction that they have brought to so many innocent people. Now it’s our turn. And it will take Hiroshima type devastation to win this battle and then let them clean up the mess.

      • M. Noonan May 8, 2015 / 10:10 pm

        We agree that something very vigorous needs to be done – but we are away from each other on the particular action to be taken. I was listening to the Patrick Madrid show on Catholic radio this morning and he pointed out that Jesus died for the people in ISIS…in fact, died very much especially for just that sort of people. I must trust that in the end, God will move their hearts and solve our problem for us. Meanwhile, of course, in order to defend the innocent, we must fight them…but all the while knowing that without a change of heart, there is no end to the war. Of course, crushing military defeat can change did for the Germans, who are probably the people least likely to ever wage aggressive warfare again.

        Additionally, I have our brothers and sister over there to concern myself with…the Assyrians, Copts, Armenians, etc who are fellow Christians. And I very much want them to have their own lands, free from Muslim domination…and that will take some effort on our part, but an effort well worth it, I believe, because the mere existence of independent, Christian States in the area will prove a long-term moderating influence.

      • Cluster May 9, 2015 / 10:43 am

        In my opinion, ISIS and their brethren are not at all people who Jesus died for. They represent pure evil and they have no hearts for which God to move. I believe this is yet another test for God fearing people with hearts to rise up, recognize evil and defeat it. ISIS preys upon the timidity and weakness of our good nature and our want to believe such nonsense that Patrick Madrid displays.

        Winning this battle will require an unwavering resolve to do whatever it takes to win without much regard to collateral damage. Much like the resolve it took to win WWII. And the beauty of unwavering resolve is that it demonstrates strong purposeful leadership that many will then fall behind and support. In fact unwavering resolve is what countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE etc., are waiting for. If we continue to fight timidly and to equivocate on our resolve, many more innocent people will die needlessly and we will surely be in a much worse situation in the years ahead. Remember, these insane Islamists have been growing in ferocity for over 40 years, since the 1972 Munich Olympics. As the strongest, and most civil rights minded country on the planet, when are we going to say enough is enough?

      • M. Noonan May 10, 2015 / 11:50 pm

        They certain carry out evil acts and need to be stopped – on that we can agree.

      • dbschmidt May 7, 2015 / 7:44 pm

        Now I can not validate this beyond a video interview of a person that went to the site of ‘Mohammad Cartoon Contest’ and held up an American flag; however, he stated that even a Muslim couple came up and thanked him.

      • dbschmidt May 7, 2015 / 8:59 pm

        Shorter answer is ‘I am ready’ up to and including my life. Simple promise all armed service members make. Long answer is our government is not. Chicken Sh*ts.

      • Retired Spook May 7, 2015 / 10:23 pm

        DB, I think if more people were asked to risk their lives, or at least sacrifice in some significant way for their beliefs, we’d have a lot fewer crazy beliefs. At the very least, having some monetary skin in the game (and I don’t mean electing someone who promises to steal someone else’s money) would get people to put a little more thought into their ideas. Margaret Thatcher said the problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people’s money. I’m still waiting for that to happen. I guess when you can print and digitize money to your heart’s content, you don’t really need OPM.

  3. Retired Spook May 7, 2015 / 7:47 am

    I’m at the age where I don’t lie awake in fear of much of anything, especially not death, although I’d prefer it not be from having my head whacked off. I do fear for the kind of world my kids, grandkids, and now a great granddaughter will live in, but I was reading an interview with one of the co-authors of “The Fourth Turning”, a book written back in the late 90’s, which gave me some hope that the Millennial generation my step up to the plate and save humanity.

    I do look on the event in Texas a little differently than the one in Paris. The Charlie Hebdo cartoons were designed, first and foremost, to offend Muslims. The cartoon competition in Texas was primarily a free-speech event, which the winning entry illustrated. If every demographic that’s offended by something had it’s own fringe group that reacted violently to the offense, I might feel differently, but Islam is the only such group, and cutting off heads offends me way more than someone blaspheming the Prophet.

    • M. Noonan May 7, 2015 / 4:34 pm

      I do think I have much less fear for my own life than I used to – but there is still the fear…and, like you, it is a fear for the world the young will inherit.

      As for whether we’ll stand up and fight – the bottom line question on that is, what for?

      I’ve been reading an interesting book about Kennedy over the last couple days – written by an investigative journalist who cut his journalism teeth covering the Kennedy Administration. He seems a clever fellow and the story related thus far rings true…and it shows the monumental dishonesty of Kennedy, his Administration and his MSM butt-kissers (of which the author claims he was one – JFK was, it would seem, a tremendously charming personality…he had charisma). The part I’m reading now relates to the Kennedy decision to ok the coup against Diem which ultimately resulted in Diem’s murder. Nowhere in the discussion does anyone seem to be asking what we were fighting for in Vietnam…nowhere does anyone ask whether the United States had any moral authority to try and reconfigure the South Vietnamese government. The book claims that the genesis for the American-backed coup was nothing more than South Vietnam becoming a political millstone around Kennedy’s neck in the run-up to the 1964 election. We already had 16,000 troops in-country and JFK was worried that if things went bad, he’d lose in 1964. What was Kennedy fighting for? A second term – and that seems to be about it. And all his aides and cheerleaders were also fighting just for that – four more years of Kennedy in the White House (oddly enough, Johnson seemed to be one of the more sensible ones…but even he, being Johnson, always just figured it was a matter of figuring out who to buy off and what their price would be).

      Decisions were made and men died because a Ruling Class was worried that things otherwise might look bad in the MSM…and potentially cost them their place at the trough. Did 33,000 men in Korea and 55,000 in Vietnam die because Ruling Class nitwits were willing to spend lavish amounts of blood rather than look bad? Rather than lose an election? I’m wondering – has pretty much all of American policy been geared like that for the past 100 years? Taft was good – he actually refused to do some things because they were the wrong things to do…same with Coolidge and Reagan. Even W – remember how the military was called off against Fallujah just prior to the 2004 election? I still give credit to W for standing tall when it really mattered…but, seriously, did we back off in 2004 and allow the enemy more time to prepare because someone in the Administration was worried that a bloody street fight might cost the Administration the election? Our current Administration seems to be shot through with it – though they have the exceptional advantage of an MSM which is not just slavishly devoted (they were just as slavish with Kennedy) but which will actually suppress the truth and broadcast lies in order to serve the President’s political needs. But even with the slavish press, Obama makes decisions which send men to their deaths simply because he doesn’t want to look bad…he had to do something about ISIS, right? And so he did – and those who die: well, no biggie, right? At least Obama’s political capital was preserved…doesn’t matter what actually happens on the ground to flesh and blood human beings.

      I ponder: is this what comes when morality is no more?

    • dbschmidt May 7, 2015 / 8:00 pm

      It is my belief that Radical Islam (ISIS / ISIL, etc.) is no more than the anarchists that flooded us with the entire 1% BS. In my opinion–most of the middle east is, at best, in the 18th or early 19th century and their version of our ‘anarchists’ want a return to the Ottoman Empire without knowing what that really entails.

      It is most obvious as that they run and meld into hostage communities for cover at the slightest push back. Chicken Sh*t. I spent over 9 years in the Marines, and like my fellow Marines~past and present, we did not do it for fame or glory. Look no further than the current Commandant of the Marine Corps and hopefully future Chief of the Joint Armed Services committee as an example of all of our men and women in service.

      If this country somehow defines a ‘right’ not to be offended–why, that would offend me because I “offend” people daily just by telling them the true, unadulterated facts. One has to remember that America is the ‘heartbeat and soul’ of the free world. If we cave–the world caves. I do not believe that will happen; nevertheless, the sooner we get a stranglehold on this current administration until we can retire them one soon January morning–the better.

  4. Retired Spook May 8, 2015 / 8:23 am

    “Imprimis”, the monthly publication of Hillsdale College, has another spot on essay in the current edition WRT free speech and religious freedom, adapted from a speech given by David French, a graduate of Harvard Law School and a writer for National Review. It’s not available on-line yet, but I get it in the mail, and I’d like to excerpt a portion that gives me more hope than anything I’ve read so far.

    “Four truths are emerging [from the battle in Indiana]: first, the battle is not between gay rights and religious liberty — although religious liberty is certainly at stake — but between the sexual revolution and Christianity itself. This means that Christians are faced not with allegedly “minor” or “insignificant” theological changes to gain leftist acceptance, but with wholesale changes to the historical doctrine of the church.

    Second, not a single orthodox denomination is making or even contemplating such changes. this means that tens of millions of Americans will remain — indefinitely — opposed to the continued expansion of the sexual revolution.

    Third, rather than going quietly, cultural conservatism is showing increasing strength at the grass roots — opposing leftist campaigns at the ground level, bypassing politics to support those most embattled by radical hate campaigns.

    And fourth, the conservative grassroots and the conservative public intellectuals are united — from Ross Douthat at his lonely perch at the New York Times to the pages of National Review and the Weekly Standard, from First Things to the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, there is no wavering among America’s most influential conservative writers and thinkers.

    In short, if the cultural Left is hoping to dominate the culture — and feels strong in its coastal bastions — it is overreaching, extending beyond the limits of its power. It is exposing itself to embarrassing cultural defeats and succeeding mainly in hardening conservative resolve. In the fight over religious freedom, the Left will not prevail.

    • M. Noonan May 8, 2015 / 10:15 pm

      I agree with that – in fact, taking a look at the British election results, one can see how weak the left really is…it is no more than city-bred people who are, one way or another, entirely dependent upon government…either in the form of welfare or for alleged employment. I saw one Labour tweet yesterday where the guy was bemoaning the fact that a Tory government probably means he won’t be able to get a job with the government…another Labour voter stated he had just graduated from medical school but now fears there won’t be a National Health Service for him to work in…as if a doctor needs an NHS to practice medicine! In the end, the left is nothing – it merely controls the media and thus appears to be powerful. But, take away their ability to agitate at taxpayer expense, and they won’t for long even control the media…after all, the media is a typical money-grubbing corporate enterprise…they only cave to leftwing pressure because there is, indeed, leftwing pressure…and that pressure comes from liberal layabouts who have all the time in the world, thanks to government subsidies, to agitate. Once they are turned out and have to get real jobs in the real world, all that agitation ends…and the media, bet on it, will merely kowtow to the money…which is almost entirely reasonable, responsible middle class people.

      • dbschmidt May 9, 2015 / 1:15 pm

        Not to incite but rather to remember history–it was when the North (New Hampshire, IIRC) took 80% of Southern taxes for themselves that lead to a revolution called the Civil War. Just saying.

        BTW, as a final note (from myself) I double checked the Constitution this morning. Just as I thought it reads

        Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

        Not a single “but” in there anywhere…

  5. Retired Spook May 11, 2015 / 7:42 am

    Ran into this reader comment over at The Blaze this morning, in which the commenter excerpts a paragraph from Stephen Coughlin’s new book, Catastrophic Failure

    Stephen Coughlin a leading national security advisor and Islamic law expert explains how and why America is losing to jihadists in his new book: “Catastrophic Failure: Blindfolding America in the Face of the Jihad,” On page #12 Coughlin writes, “I had entered the Intelligence Directorate adhering to the traditional methods of analysis. Soon, however, I discovered that within the division there seemed to be a preference for political correctness over accuracy and for models that were generated not by what the enemy said he was, but on what academics and “cultural advisors” said the enemy needed to be, based on contrived social science theories.”

    It seemed the enemy was aware of this as well. Forces hostile to the United States in the War on Terror appeared to have successfully calculated that they could win the war by convincing our national security leaders of the immorality of studying and knowing the enemy.”

    Best analysis I’ve seen on the war on terror.

    • Cluster May 11, 2015 / 8:51 am

      Perfect explanation of why we continue to negotiate “in good faith” with people who chant “death to America”. Here’s a little clue for the Harvard brain trust. When your enemy says they want to kill you – believe them!

    • M. Noonan May 11, 2015 / 10:33 am

      Clearly our government is more interested in political correctness than accuracy – and I suspect this attitude comes from the top. I doubt very much if Obama and his top staff want to be told the truth…because they are liberals and if the truth contradicts their received beliefs, they just don’t want to have anything to do with it.

      • Retired Spook May 11, 2015 / 12:09 pm

        I’m not sure if they don’t want to be told the truth because they just can’t deal with it, or because they know that the truth marginalizes everything they believe and everything they’re trying to do. Either way they’re not in an enviable position.

        I missed the first part of it, so I’m not sure what the time frame was, but this morning Glenn Beck was playing portions of a commencement speech made by Michelle Obama in which she invokes all the old racial stereotypes. Beck’s comment was that the Obamas had the chance to fundamentally transform race relations in this county and instead took us back to the 1960’s. There are a lot of aspects of the Obama presidency that have disappointed me, but none more than the failure of the first black president to seize the bully pulpit to heal the racial divide. I hope historians are honest about that failure. We could well be headed toward a race war, in which case historians won’t have much choice but to be honest.

  6. Cluster May 12, 2015 / 8:09 am

    How about just getting it wrong? Of which liberals have accomplished on nearly every single issue. Los Angeles, California’s homeless population is now up 12% following decades of liberal policies aimed at giving the lower class a “fair shake”.

    But I am sure those homeless folks are enjoying their healthcare if they can find a doctor. .

    Also, re: the ACA. It seems as though the lower class of Kentucky will be receiving the short end of the syringe on this one with hospitals closing and doctor shortages expected:

    If there was only someway we could have predicted this?

    And the city of Baltimore now stands at the epicenter of the colossal collapse the “war on poverty”. Obama recently said that if what we have been doing for 50 years towards Cuba has not worked, then we should try something else. Shouldn’t the same logic apply to liberal economic policies?

    Are you ready for Hillary??

    • Retired Spook May 12, 2015 / 9:06 am

      If there was only someway we could have predicted this?


      Shouldn’t the same logic apply to liberal economic policies?

      If I were a GOP presidential candidate, that’s a meme I’d be repeating until the cows come home.

    • M. Noonan May 12, 2015 / 11:51 am

      I think all we have to do to secure 35% of the urban vote – and thus a mortal lock on the Electoral College – is to start seriously campaigning in the urban areas. Remember, we’re still getting crushed by 30 percentage points…but we’re winning States like Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania. All we have to do is ask – give these people a real choice and some of them will choose our side.

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