Wednesday, August 16, 2006
I would like to thank all the people who provided thought-provoking responses to my letter to the editor concerning publication of Ann Coulter's column in the Steamboat Today. In trying to come up with my response, there was much to digest. I would like to ask some of you: Do you believe that freedom of speech is a sacrosanct end-all, that the First Amendment's protection provides a cloak of immunity? Civil society clearly believes it doesn't, and correctly recognizes that some "speech" needs to be regulated. Religious cannon prohibits blasphemy. Criminal law prohibits speech that incites violence and other criminal activity, and civil law prohibits slander, defamation and liable. If, for example, I were to publicly accuse Mr. Cholet, without proof, of treason against the United States, he could seek recourse in civil court, and I could be ordered to pay damages and be censored from making any more groundless charges. If editor Scott Stanford printed my accusations in the paper, he could face the same punishment.
And yet, Ann Coulter has leveled her finger and publicly accused, ad nauseam, that "liberals are traitors to their country," without proof or evidence. She has charged me and tens of millions of good, honest, caring people with a heinous crime worthy of the punishment of imprisonment or execution. Yet we are expected by some to do nothing to defend ourselves and to not try to refute and limit her accusations any way we can. This is something I cannot do. ":(all?) liberals have accused (all?) conservatives of being Neanderthals, bigots, racists, stupid, greedy," states Mr. Patterson. I don't know you, sir, but I can assure you I've never called you those things. If you want to hurl that or comparable invective directly at me: sub-human (for being "liberal" or not agreeing with your point of view), bigoted and racist (for supporting affirmative action and admission and hiring quotas), stupid (for being too idealistic), greedy (for thinking that the "rich" don't pay enough taxes), and I'll throw in "godless" (for being an atheist), that's fine, I can take it. One can even compare me to a Nazi for not wanting to see Coulter's garbage in a newspaper. Those things are not a crime. Just don't call me a traitor. Don't tell me I have no right to defend myself from that. If Maureen Dowd came anywhere near saying all conservatives are criminals, I would be equally offended.
It was suggested that I take some inspiration from Mein Kampf. Ironically, this is not far from the truth. While I have never burned a book, when I was mature enough to understand what the holocaust was about, why some of my ancestors were murdered by the Nazis, and to appreciate the story of how they came to my grandmother's home and told her to change her Yiddish sounding name or they would put bullets in her family's heads, leaving them in the village square as an example, I read passages of this book. While I am eminently uncomfortable with comparisons of this nature (some of you are obviously not), it would seem neither author seems uncomfortable making baseless allegations of malfeasance against a homogenous portion of their respective country's populations, allegations based, not totally, but in part, on a difference of belief systems.
It seems strange to me that it would be unlawful to make a baseless allegation of criminality against an individual, but to make the same allegation against millions of people would be viewed as a privilege to be coveted and unchallenged.