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Sunday, 29 November, 2020

The New Crusade

Date: 15 June, 2001

By: Chief

Imagehey are all around us. Look in any direction and you shall see them. U.S. Attorneys backed by an alphabet soup mixture of federal law enforcers — all with automatic weapons — killing or arresting citizens for the most horrid of crimes ... speaking or writing.

'Tis insane, is it not? But nonetheless it is happening. Congress is passing more and more laws restricting what can be spoken or what can be written. A few years ago when political correctness first came on the scene people, myself included, took the whole thing as a joke. However, as we have all come to find out political correctness is no joke. To be sure, the crusaders of this new crusade are serious — deadly serious — pertaining to what a citizen can say and what a citizen may write.

Others have joined the new crusades. School districts. Teachers. Even software companies, Symantec, McAfee, Ositis and the Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA) to name a few. Censoring what is viewed or said or written in the class room, in the board room and, believe it or not, on the World Wide Web.

We must protect the children! Hate crimes must stop! Two of the crusaders favorite battle cries. Those who oppose the crusaders, if apprehended, are severely dealt with. Civil suits, criminal charges, fines, jail or prison time. Their life, in essence, destroyed. All for the crime of either speaking or writing.

The First Amendment reads, in pertinent part:

"Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech . . .."

Now, I'll grant you that I am not a rocket scientist by any stretch of the imagination, yet that sentence seems pretty clear to me. "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech." Clear, simple and to the point. I like that. Too bad Congress doesn't.

The Supreme Court, in 1927, upheld the free speech clause. Mr. Justice Brandeis, in a concurring opinion in which Justice Holmes joined, wrote the following:

"Those who won our independence believed that the final end of the state was to make men free to develop their faculties, and that in its government the deliberative forces should prevail over the arbitrary. They valued liberty both as an end and as a means. They believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty. They believed that freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth; that without free speech and assembly discussion would be futile; that with them, discussion affords ordinarily adequate protection against the dissemination of noxious doctrine; that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a political duty; and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government."

It is truly unfortunate that the majority of our fellow citizens have become exactly what Brandeis and the founders hoped we would not become — inert. It is, without doubt, that precise reason why Congress and the rest of the new crusaders have been able to get away with such "noxious doctrine." Passing laws abridging our free speech. Then sending out the crusaders to round up or shoot those who disagree.

I mentioned earlier that software companies are producing software which excludes web sites from being seen - if you use the filtering system. Indeed, Ositis, makers of a fine proxy server program have this to say about their site filtering software:

"The 27 SmartFilter Control List categories represent general content types, encompassing a wide variety of materials. All sites defined within each category are deemed potentially inappropriate for today's typical workplace or educational environment. In the broad context of cultural norms and individual taste, what is considered inappropriate may be debatable. However, Secure Computing considers the sites in the 27 Control List categories to be non-business related and unproductive for most employees or students to view in a standard business or educational environment."

Symantec is basically the same. So is McAfee software. In fact McAfee has two "child advocate" consultants on its payroll. Hmmm, I would assume that those who are parents would be the best advocates. It does appear however, that what the parents believe is not good enough. Somebody or some corporation knows, in their own mind, what is best for you and your kids. Making a quite a profit at the expense of our rights.

If something I say or write or you say or write is blocked, censored, then how do we learn the truth? How does debate ensue if the citizenry are deliberately left out of the equation? If a person is arrested for saying or writing something which to someone else is offensive, who or what will be next to be arrested for saying something which may or may not be offensive? If you cannot speak your mind, then one cannot learn what is on another persons mind. That is how ideas are drafted. That is how we all learn, be it for good or for ill. Where is the line drawn?

I hasten to say, that line was drawn a long time ago, 1791 as a matter of fact, when the Bill of Rights was ratified. The Supreme Court did nothing but reenforce that with the 1927 decision I quoted earlier in this paper. As it stands currently, that line is drawn and then redrawn depending on who doesn't like or agree with what you said.

I most sincerely hope those who are 'inert' will shed this 'inertness' and commence to raise bloody hell over the censorship of our speech and writings — before we lose that right entirely. The crusades of the 1100's and 1200's ended in utter defeat for the crusaders. We need to ensure a repeat performance awaits these new crusaders.

My great grandfather was fond of saying:

"If you don't like what I say, get out of earshot."

I agree.

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