“Do you realize that the mass of people still live under some totalitarian or autocratic regime? It’ll make you think.”
– Ed Chigliak
1 : centralized control by an autocratic authority
2 : the political concept that the citizen should be totally
subject to an absolute state authority
I remember growing up in the ‘60’s and early ‘70’s, and how it was pounded into our heads that Socialism, and especially Communism, were evil and bad because they took away our rights to free speech, to worship as we choose, and to pursue “life, liberty and happiness.” My father fought in World War II against the autocratic Hitler and his deranged attempt to control how everyone thought and lived in Europe. We were told that that was the way Socialistic regimes were, and that we had to fight them to preserve our freedoms.
All well and good.
We won the “cold war” and so today there are very few Communist countries left, and few others are interested in becoming Communist. So why is it
that in these United States, where our freedom of speech is allegedly guaranteed, that we no longer have that freedom?
“What do you mean?”
You might ask. Well, consider actor Danny Glover: he was fired from his spokesperson position with MCI because he used his freedom of speech to
speak out against this government and the war in Iraq.
Is that freedom?
Many conservatives would say that if you speak out against the President and/or against the war (any war actually) you are a traitor, and traitors should be killed. But I ask you, if you are only free to speak out in favor of the President and in favor of war, how is that freedom of speech?
Many conservative fundamentalist Christians will tell you that the 1st Amendment (and the rest of the Bill of Rights, and the rest of the Constitution)
only applies to conservative fundamentalist Christians. Not only that, but they will also tell you that the freedom of worship only applies to
conservative fundamentalist Christian churches (everything else is a cult). They will tell you that American citizenship is really only applicable
to conservative fundamentalist Christians, because the founding fathers were in fact, conservative fundamentalist Christians themselves.
Now you and I and any other thinking individual will realize that conservative fundamentalist Christians are full of shit, have their heads WAY up their asses and don’t know what they are talking about (or worse, are deliberately making up the grossest lies ever conceived). But I warn you, people like Pat Robertson, Jerry Fallwell and other well known evangelists are spreading these damnable lies so far and wide that many otherwise educated Christians are starting to believe it, and if they have their way, conservative fundamentalist Christianity will be the law of the land, and this country will become the very totalitarian state that millions of our fathers, brothers, mothers and sisters (many of whom were Catholic, Episcopalian, Unitarian, Atheist, Moslem, Jewish, Wiccan, Pagan, etc.,) gave their blood and their lives to prevent.
I digressed a bit here. Freedom of Speech is not totally dead:
If you are very wealthy, you can say whatever you want, to whomever will listen, and get away with it (and if you happen to employ workers, you can force them to listen and even agree with you).
Likewise, if you are very poor (and I mean, homeless, nothing-to-lose, poor), you can also say whatever you like, whenever you want, wherever you want, to whomever will listen (but no matter how truthful or right you are, very few will listen to a “looser”(and in America today, anyone making less that $100k / year is considered a “looser”).
But the vast majority of us can safely exercise our freedom of speech only in the voting booth, or anonymously. With “Patriot Act” powers in effect, even the later is questionable, and maybe the former as well.
What good is the 1st Amendment if you can lose your job, or your house, or have to fear for your family’s safety, for practicing it?
And, if it is true that our fathers, brothers, mothers and sisters gave their blood and their lives to keep this country free of totalitarianism, why are we so willing to allow their sacrifices to go to waste?