Saturday, October 14, 2006

Those who cannot tolerate free speech

Peggy Noonan outlines four recent instances of liberals not tolerating dissenting opinions. One instance was out Columbia University where protestors silenced a Republican-sponsored speaker. It was explained that silencing one's opponent is part of "free speech":
"We were aware that there was going to be a sign and we were going to occupy the stage," said a protestor who was on stage and asked to remain anonymous. "I don't feel like we need to apologize or anything. It was fundamentally a part of free speech. ... The Minutemen are not a legitimate part of the debate on immigration."
The psychology of this rage can understood by looking at a much smaller example, also from Ms. Noonan:
On "The View" a few days earlier it was Rosie O'Donnell. She was banging away on gun control. Guns are bad and should be banned. Elizabeth Hasselbeck, who plays the role of the young, attractive mom, tentatively responded. "I want to be fair," she said. Obviously there should be "restrictions," but women have a right to defend themselves, and there's "the right to bear arms" in the Constitution. Rosie accused Elizabeth of yelling. The panel, surprised, agreed that Elizabeth was not yelling.
To Rosie, even polite dissent sounds, in her mind, like "yelling." Something similar might have happened in Bill Clinton's mind when he was questioned by mild-mannered Chris Wallace and responded: "So you did Fox's bidding on this show. You did your nice little conservative hit job on me."

This leads to a related issue: paranoia. Notice that, after being asked a substantive question, Mr. Clinton jumps to a conclusion about Mr. Wallace doing "Fox's bidding" on a "conservative hit job." This is reminiscent of Mrs. Clinton's theories about the "vast right-wing conspiracy." Jonah Goldberg reviews examples of this in his essay "The magnifying trick of liberal paranoia."

Alexander Hamilton had similar paranoid delusions about the evil things Thomas Jefferson would do if Jefferson was elected president. He thought Jefferson would ally with France and start a war with England. He didn't, even after two terms in office. History showed that Hamilton's concerns were merely based on delusions.

It is impressive that democracy continues to work even when so many of its participants appear insane.

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