Tuesday, October 07, 2014

The left wants to shut down opposition, rather than debate issues

Commentary by James Shott

Not everyone on the left is intolerant of contrary ideas, or afraid of open debate of ideas, or so convinced of their own superiority that they deem civil and informed debate unnecessary, but many of them are.

Back in 2010, thirty liberal organizations, including the Center for Media Justice, the Rainbow Push Coalition, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, and Common Cause, among others, supported an effort to have the Federal Communications Commission clamp down on so-called “hate speech” on talk radio, the internet, and the cable television news networks. The imagined “hate speech” resulted from support by those media outlets for Arizona’s illegal immigration bill, which those trying to limit the debate characterized as “one of the harshest pieces of anti-Latino legislation in this country’s history.”

The law, SB 1070, passed in 2010 by the Arizona legislature and signed into law by the governor, created state penalties relating to immigration law enforcement, and included trespassing, harboring and transporting illegal immigrants, alien registration documents, employer sanctions, and human smuggling among the things Arizona declared to be state issues.

Given the negligence of the federal government to provide border security, and the harm to residents of border states like Arizona from drug dealers and other thugs and hoodlums who easily move back and forth across the border, passing laws to protect residents against the harm that often results from illegal immigration might be the right thing to do. 

Unless you are one of the intolerant liberals. They basically said that if you support that law, you are a hater and a racist, and being unwilling or unable to discuss the issue in a civil manner, they resorted to: “we say we are right, and that’s the end of the story.”

And then there is Robert Kennedy, Jr. who wants organizations that disagree with the idea that human activities are responsible for global warming or climate change to lose their business charter.

As Mr. Kennedy wrote for The Huffington Post last October, “corporations which deliberately, purposefully, maliciously and systematically sponsor climate lies should be given the death penalty. This can be accomplished through an existing legal proceeding known as ‘charter revocation.’ State Attorneys General can invoke this remedy whenever corporations put their profit-making before the ‘public welfare.’"

He wants to intimidate those organizations – which include both corporations and think tanks – to discourage them from acting in their own best interest or advocating policies they think are beneficial, and/or opposing those policies that would harm them or that they believe are harmful. But not all organizations; just the ones that support or oppose the “wrong things.” 

Coal mining companies would be punished for pointing out the fraud committed by global warming activists, like some of the International Panelon Climate Change scientists, and for challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s water quality standards that are so severe that Evian bottled water and apple juice would be ruled unsafe, but organizations that followed the politically correct line would be left alone. 

Mr. Kennedy is one of the many who is willing to punish Americans who disagree with his ideological mania, so long as it helps him further his narrow ideological goals, and nothing must stand in the way. 

He has forgotten, or perhaps never learned, that freedom of speech is guaranteed to enable Americans to say things that may be unpopular with some or many, and specifically to protect political dissent. But disagreement, debate and discussion of political issues, whether by individuals or by organizations like corporations and think tanks, form the path to informing the public, thus yielding a greater possibility for sensible policymaking and better government.

Mr. Kennedy, like many leftists, is more than happy to force his ideas on the rest of us, and it matters not whether the truth is on his side, or whether a majority agrees with him.

It isn’t difficult to picture him regaling himself in the court of some tin-pot dictator, like North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, gleefully ordering “off with their heads” for those who have the temerity to indulge in independent thought.

Steven F. Hayward, inaugural scholar in conservative thought and philosophy at the University of Colorado at Boulder, says of the left’s tendency to shut down dissent, “These inclinations to rule certain issues out of bounds by denouncing dissenters with moral calumny rather than argument is not a sign of health in liberalism.  It is a sign of ideological senescence.”

Perhaps liberalism is old and tired, which would explain why its adherents gave up that term in favor of “progressivism.” But whatever they call their ideology, the left cannot persuade others to their way of thinking through the power and logic of their ideas, and is why they have to resort to shutting down and shutting up their opponents. 

We see today in America a situation where groups that advocate some idea or action have employed exaggeration, deception and other nefarious means to gain far more influence than their causes warrant. This is wrong on several levels, but more than just wrong, it is a threat to our liberty.

Cross-posted from Observations

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