Tag Archives: liberty

Neither Black nor White nor Brown nor Red, only Evergreen

evergreen state

With my two girls in their first year of college this past year, I’ve been highly attuned to all the craziness that’s been going on at Berkeley, Notre Dame, Middlebury, and other colleges, and now Evergreen State College. Whoever heard of Evergreen State before this past week? I think they’re having their fifteen minutes of fame, and I hope they’re enjoying it, because I suspect the enrollment’s going to drop, at least among students who actually want an education and hope to get a job someday. I feel like a broken record on this topic in my house, ranting and raving about the continuous assaults on free speech and critical thinking at these institutions of supposedly higher learning.

The latest such disaster is occurring at Evergreen, a tiny liberal arts college in Washington state. If you haven’t heard about this one, the short version is, a bunch of whiny babies, er, students from this college threw a collective fit because one of their professors exercised his right to free speech in a polite, thoughtfully written letter objecting to a planned activity that banned white people (including professors and staff) from being on campus for a couple of days. He failed to see how such a racist policy was helpful in improving race relations, or, ya know, teaching college students the information they were there to learn. These students literally cornered their professor in a hallway and hurled curse words at him and refused to let him speak in defense of his not-unreasonable point of view. In other words, they weren’t the least bit interested in any “conversation”.

Following that episode, they assailed the president of the university with a further barrage of screaming foul language and a written list of demands, including pizzas, no homework, and a forced apology for all of the president’s personal short-comings, like not using gender-neutral pronouns. If you watch any of the video of this, your first thought, like mine, will probably be “Dog Day Afternoon”, and the second will be, “What the heck are these kids gonna do when they get out in the Real World?”

My words to these coddled, self-important young folks would be this. You’re so concerned about privilege. Lots of people have privilege in this life—some are super smart, some are really attractive, some are quite athletic, some are musically talented or great actors. And some people (even the same people sometimes) have significant disadvantages—maybe they were born into abject poverty, maybe they grew up with two alcoholic parents, maybe they have physical or mental disabilities you can’t see, maybe they were beaten or raped or robbed at gunpoint in their lives, or something else way worse than belonging to a particular ethnic, racial, or cultural group that some people treat unfairly. News flash, kiddos: We’re not all equal, and we never will be. And there’s nothing right or just about trying to make us so. Should we have cut off Michael Jordan’s feet so he wouldn’t be so darn tall? Would the world be a better place if we had taken away J.K. Rowling’s typewriter after the first Harry Potter book? ALS wasn’t enough to slow Steven Hawking down; maybe we should’ve given him another handicap. You don’t rise out of oppression by pushing other people down. So stop whining about what you ain’t got and how someone else needs to give it to you. You just might get your wish.

Kathy Griffin Learns a Lesson about Free Speech

kathy girffin

I haven’t blogged in a really long time, because I’ve been trying to keep my head down and get this darn fourth book in The Gifted Ones series finished, but shoot, I just can’t keep quiet about the Kathy Griffin thing. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you either live under a rock, or you only read books and don’t pay attention to TV or the Internet, which makes you awesome! Unusual, but awesome.

So for you awesome folks, here’s the deal. Kathy Griffin is a comedienne of great fame and wealth who thought it would be funny or cool or whatever to share photographs of herself holding up a fake, bloody, severed head of President Trump, ISIS-style. I don’t personally find that remotely amusing, but I am also a staunch supporter of the first amendment to the Constitution, which accords to all U.S. citizens the right to express themselves freely. Contrary to what the far left would have us believe, free speech does include horrible, hateful speech and speech you just don’t like, a fact which has been reaffirmed by the high courts multiple times.

IMHO, Ms. Griffin’s photographs fall into the category of horrible, hateful speech, and I do indeed defend her right to express herself thusly. What I find ridiculous, however, is her speech yesterday, wherein she attempted to turn the tables and somehow blame the Trump family for all the negative fallout she received as a result of her little stunt. Here’s what she had to say about their reaction:

“What’s happening to me has never happened in the history of this great country, which is a sitting president of the United States and his grown children and the First Lady are personally, I feel, personally trying to ruin my life forever.”

Uh, sorry, Kathy, you don’t get to play the victim card. The right to free speech is just that. It does not offer protection from the repercussions of the speech (short of physical assault). When I was a kid, the typical example was that of the KKK being protected by police as they marched down the street in their white hoods in a public parade; people might be screaming at them as they marched, but they were free to march. I rather liken Kathy Griffin’s ISIS photos to those marches. The Constitution protects her right to self-expresssion, and likewise protects the rights of everyone who responds to her with a little self-expression of their own. If you throw rotten tomatoes at someone, don’t be surprised if they scrape a little off and toss it back on you, and certainly don’t ask anyone to feel sorry for you as a result.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

baby its cold outside

Wow, I just couldn’t keep quiet on this one. I am soooo tired of living in this P.C. world where a bouquet of roses turns into a bundle of withering weeds with the snap of some do-gooder’s fingers. Just in case you haven’t heard, apparently, the cheery, romantic 1944 Christmas song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is really a song about date rape. Yeah.

If you’re not familiar with the song, it’s a cutesy duet where a couple volley back and forth about how it’s late and the lady has to get home (as a lady would in those days). The lyrics and tone make it clear that both the fella and his lady don’t want her to leave just yet and are making excuses for her to stay. It’s been a sweet, festive holiday favorite for over 70 years, but this year, in the age of everything-is-offensive, a couple of singer-songwriters (Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski, whoever they are) decided the song was “sexually agressive”, and felt compelled to compose new lyrics to clean it up. In their haste to label another innocent pleasure as something unseemly, the couple re-wrote the song in ultra-politically-correct “positive consent” terminology. For example, “I really can’t stay/But Baby, it’s cold out there” became “I really can’t stay/Baby, I’m fine with that.” Um, really? That’s what passes for romance nowadays?

Look, anyone who’s read Little Miss Straight Lace knows I’m no date rape apologist. I get it. Believe me, I get it. It’s a terrible thing for anyone to experience and have to live with and be haunted by for years, but that doesn’t mean we need to see it everywhere we look—especially in places it was never meant to be! The original song was written by a husband-wife singing team to entertain their guests at parties. It was intended to be a light-hearted Christmas ditty, not cynical social commentary. If you’re seeing anything more than that, try taking off your Grinchy glasses and look again. And if you’re still struggling to have a happy holiday with all these thought police around, try whipping up a bowl of eggnog and invite them inside for a drink. Better not spike it, though, or someone will start crooning, “Baby I’m fine with that…”

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Left

betsy ross

When I was ten years old, I got to dress up as Betsy Ross and ride on a big “Happy Birthday, America” float in our local community’s Bicentennial parade. I no longer remember the reason I was chosen for that honor—straight-A report card or Dork of the Week or whatever—but I remember the experience. I was proud, super proud, to represent all that was good and right about my homeland.

Growing up in these United States, I would often hear scary stories about Russia and China and Cuba, and how the governments in those countries suppressed truth and presented only twisted propaganda to their populace. I would shake my head and feel sorry for all the people not fortunate enough to be living in a great free country like I was. In school, I studied American history and felt reverence for our forefathers who laid down their lives for the right to speak their minds, even when their ideas weren’t popular. Today, my heart is aching for the world that was.

Whatever political affiliation you may have, whatever feelings you may harbor about our outgoing Commander-In-Chief Barak Obama, I doubt you were expecting his recent remarks at a conference in Pittsburgh:

“We are going to have to rebuild within this wild-wild-west-of-information flow some sort of curating function that people agree to. There has to be, I think, some sort of way in which we can sort through information that passes some basic truthiness tests and those that we have to discard, because they just don’t have any basis in anything that’s actually happening in the world.”

In other words, let’s censor the Internet! No more debate about climate change or vaccine safety or Russian hackers. The official government-approved statement on all of these is out, and you will accept it. Then add to that, just last week, a Tweet by CNN anchor Chris Cuomo echoing a similar sentiment, as he informed us (incorrectly) that it would be illegal for any of us peons to read the Clinton/Podesta leaked emails, but it was just fine and dandy for our esteemed press corps to do it, and then pass their sanitized version of the truth on to us.

Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or Independent, I hope you are as appalled by these attitudes as I am. The idea that citizens of the United States should not be free to express or consume any information we choose is as un-American as it gets. The words “unmitigated gall” come to mind, but for now, let’s just call it Orwellian.

My response to the would-be thought police is this:

Do I look like a three year old who just asked where babies come from? Sorry, my self-proclaimed intellectual leaders, but I am an adult, and a highly educated one at that. But in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, I don’t have to be, to be allowed to make my own decisions. Maybe I’m an idiot. Maybe I’ll make bad ones. Maybe my choices will turn out to be horrendous mistakes, but they’re my mistakes to make. I don’t need you or anyone else to “curate” my information sources, thank you. I’ll decide who to listen to and who to ignore…and that might be you!

The Wild, Wild West of the free and open Internet is the best thing that ever happened to this country and the whole world. We can read a thousand differing opinions on each of a million different topics. Is some of it wrong? Is some of it potentially hurtful? Is some of it downright comedic? You betcha. But I’ll figure that out myself and glad to do it. We understand why you want to quiet dissenters, bury unpleasant truths, and spin reality like a centrifuge; it’s not exactly a new tactic, guys (see earlier remarks about Russia and China). There’s a reason we’re all turning our backs on CNN and MSNBC and The New York Times. Shuck the agenda, stamp out the spin, and give us the facts, if you want a rat’s chance of survival.

And while I’m on my soapbox: Long live the America I grew up in, where liberty and individuality were celebrated, not squashed, and where we were reminded daily that while we might find others’ ideas offensive, our freedom to speak our minds depended on us tolerating the same from everyone else. Three cheers for the First Amendment!