American Elephants


Let’s have a conversation about freedom. by The Elephant's Child

Thomas Sowell wrote a rousing column today, as he usually does.

Most people on the Left are not opposed to freedom.  They are just in favor of all sorts of things that are incompatible with freedom.

Freedom ultimately means the right of other people to do things that you do not approve of.  Nazis were free to be Nazis under Hitler.  It is only when you are able to do things that other people don’t approve that you are free.

One of the most innocent-sounding examples of the Left’s many impositions of its vision on others is the widespread requirement  by schools and by college-admissions committees that students do “community service.”

There are high schools across the country from which you cannot graduate, and colleges where your application for admission will not be accepted, unless you have engaged in activities arbitrarily defined as “community service.”

The arrogance of commandeering young people’s time, instead of leaving them and their parents free to decide for themselves how to use that time, is exceeded only by the arrogance of imposing your own notions as to what is or is not a service to the community.

Working in a homeless shelter is widely regarded as “community service” — as if aiding and abetting vagrancy is necessarily a service, rather than a disservice, to the community.

Obama has mentioned that college kids working in the college library or hashing in a dining room are not considered community service, while dishing up food in a cafeteria for vagrants is.  Explain that one.

According to campaign promises and statements, by 2012, four years from now, over one half of the population will pay no taxes, and be supported by the other half who work.  This is not freedom.

Dr. Sowell goes on:

Supposedly students are to get a sense of compassion or noblesse oblige from serving others.  But this all depends on who defines compassion.  In practice, it means forcing students to undergo a propaganda experience to make them receptive to the Left’s vision of the world.

I am sure those who favor “community service” requirements would understand the principle behind the objections to this if high-school military exercises were required.

Indeed, many of those who promote compulsory “community service” activities are bitterly opposed to even voluntary military training in high schools or colleges, though many other people regard military training as more of a contribution to society than feeding people who refuse to work.

In other words, people on the left want the right to impose their idea of what is good for society on others — a right that they vehemently deny to those whose idea of what is good for society differs from their own.

I think we are in need of an ongoing conversation about what is meant by “freedom”, how we preserve it, and how we lose it.  And how we go about regaining our freedom if it is lost.



Let’s really talk about freedom of speech, before it’s gone. by The Elephant's Child

One of the most troubling aspects of this presidential campaign, and of recent years is the concerted  attack on freedom of speech. There is no more precious right than the right of free expression — the right to stand up and speak your mind.  As the teaching of history has declined in our schools, so has our understanding of what is meant by “freedom of speech”.

The first amendment does not grant you a platform or venue for your opinions to be heard.  What it does grant is the right to be free of attempts to regulate, silence or punish your speech.  There is no right to be free of criticism.  Anyone is free to have at you — you may speak your mind, but nobody has to agree with you, and they are free to say so. This is not a right that the government has granted to you, but a right that you have told government that they must respect.

Colleges and universities have become enamored of “speech codes” in recent years, and it has devolved down to the public schools as well.  You are not supposed to hurt anyone’s feelings.  Of course they have come up with all kinds of things that are supposed to govern what you may say. Laws governing “hate speech” have been passed in direct contravention of the constitution.

Seldom have we had a political candidate quite as thin-skinned as Barack Obama.  He doesn’t like criticism.  He has appeared as a “blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.” Democrats have been singularly uninterested in filling in that “blank screen”; but others want to know just who this man is who speaks so persuasively of “hope” and “change” yet reveals almost nothing of himself.

Obama’s supporters feel free to indulge in the most heinous slanders on Sarah Palin and John McCain, feel free to depict any member of the administration as a Nazi, yet those who look into Obama’s background are attacked.  Obama is only to be admired not questioned.

A candidate for the world’s most powerful office is not to be examined about his radical record, his far-left politics, his unsavory associations, his disturbing economic ideas and his aggressive push for defeat in Iraq. Those who discuss any of this may be subject to legal harassment or more.

Andrew McCarthy at National Review enumerates some of the incidents:

Item: When the American Issues Project ran political ads calling attention to Obama’s extensive ties to Ayers, the Weatherman terrorist who brags about having bombed the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol, the Obama campaign pressured the Justice Department to launch an absurd criminal prosecution.

Item: When commentator Stanley Kurtz of the Ethics and Public Policy Center was invited on a Chicago radio program to discuss his investigation of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, an “education reform” project in which Obama and Ayers (just “a guy who lives in my neighborhood”) collaborated to dole out over $100 million, the Obama campaign issued an Internet action alert.  Supporters, armed with the campaign’s non-responsive talking points, dutifully flooded the program with calls and emails, protesting Kurtz’s appearance and attempting to shout him down. The same kind of attack was conducted when David Fredoso subsequently appeared on the same program.

Item: Both Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, have indicated that an Obama administration would use its control of the Justice Department to prosecute its political opponents, including Bush administration officials responsible for the national security policies put in effect after nearly 3000 Americans were killed in the 9/11 attacks.

Item: There is a troubling report that the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Section, top officials of which are Obama contributors, has suggested criminal prosecutions against those they anticipate will engage in voter “intimidation ” or “oppression” in an election involving a black candidate…In a system that presumes innocence even after crimes have undeniably been committed, responsible prosecutors don’t assume non-suspects will commit future law violations — especially when doing so necessarily undermines the First Amendment freedoms those prosecutors solemnly swear to uphold.

Michael Barone notes that Obama supporters have threatened critics with criminal prosecution.  In September, St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch and St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce warned citizens that they would bring criminal libel prosecutions against anyone who made statements against Obama that were “false”.

Then there is the Democrat’s “card check” legislation that would abolish secret ballot elections in determining whether employees are to be represented by a union. The union strategy is obvious, a few union thugs can go to a employee’s house and get them to sign cards that will guarantee a union victory without giving the employee a chance to be heard.

Ralph Peters, recently wrote in the New York Post that after a lecture to the Marine Memorial Association, a reporter thrust a microphone at him and asked if Peters thought he should be tried for war crimes for his columns supporting our military.

James Hansen, NASA scientist, called for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature because they were actively spreading doubt about the reality of global warming.

There are many more examples, but the point is that the Democrat candidate for the highest office in the land, who has both studied and taught constitutional law, seems to be either unfamiliar with the first amendment, or just doesn’t think it matters. This is not a small matter.

As Andrew McCarthy said: “Senator Obama and his supporters despise free expression, the bedrock of American self-determinism and hence American democracy.  What’s more, like garden-variety despots, they see law not as a means of ensuring liberty but as a tool to intimidate and quell dissent.”

You really need to think about that.



Maryland Democrats go After Guns Through Your Kids by Emerald City Elephant

Two Maryland Democrats, Barbara Frush and Virginia Clagett, have introduced a bill in that state’s legislature to ban the government from granting hunting licenses to anyone under the age of 13.

Right now, the State of Maryland issues “junior licenses” to children under 16 who pass a firearms and hunter safety course.

“The bill is a deliberate attempt to sabotage the future of hunting,” said Rob Sexton of the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, a group that protects the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers. “If passed, this bill will have a devastating effect on recruiting young hunters and the future of wildlife conservation in Maryland.” Hunting license fees go toward conservation programs.

According to the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, research shows that people are far less likely to take up hunting after age twelve. “Parents, not the government, are far more equipped to know when their sons and daughters are ready to hunt,” said Sexton. [read more]

No need was cited for this law. No pressing issue. They just want to get rid of guns. If there is anything liberals know, its that if they can’t get what they want now, all they have to do is use the power of governement to force their values on your kids, and they will get what they want in a generation.

Look for similar bills to be coming soon to a liberal legislature near you.




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