Maybe I’m a seeing a full-on assault against enlightenment values where there is none. And, as the Tom Paine quote that forms the title of this post suggests, crisis brings out both the best and the worst in people. First, there were the college demands for “safe zones”, i.e. non-free speech zones. Following the killings in San Bernardino the New York Times devoted a rare front page editorial to a call for gun control in the United States that was so filled with logical fallacies and errors of fact that it should alarm supporters and opponents of gun control alike. The only way the Times editors’ argument holds water is if you take a strictly instrumental view of law. What is the limit on such arguments? That presidents who don’t like articles that the Times runs about them are empowered to shut the paper down?
Then I read Linda Stasi’s column in the New York Daily News which draws an express equivalence between one of the victims of the couple in San Bernardino and the terrorist couple:
Make no mistake, as disgusting and deservedly dead as the hate-filled fanatical Muslim killers were, Thalasinos was also a hate-filled bigot. Death can’t change that. But in the U.S., we don’t die for speaking our minds. Or we’re not supposed to anyway.
Thalasinos was an anti-government, anti-Islam, pro-NRA, rabidly anti-Planned Parenthood kinda guy, who posted that it would be “Freaking Awesome” if hateful Ann Coulter was named head of Homeland Security. He asked, “IS 1. EVERY POLITICIAN IS BOUGHT AND PAID FOR? 2. EVERY POLITICIAN IS A MORON? 3. EVERY POLITICIAN IS RACIST AGAINST JEWS?” He also posted screeds like, “You can stick your Muslim Million Man march up your asses,” and how “Hashem” should blow up Iran.
all of those utterances are protected speech (particularly opposition to governments and politicians). You may not like it but it’s protected. There are no “buts” here. There is no equivalence between Thalasinos on the one hand and Syed Farook and his wife on the other. Seeing one is a rejection of Enlightenment values.
This morning on one of the talking heads programs I just heard Jeb Bush articulating an argument in support of abridging the rights of some people in the United States depending on their political views.
A week or so ago I posted on polling results that found that a majority of Americans feel like strangers in their own country. Is it any wonder?