Sunday, November 22, 2015

For Free Speech to Thrive in Any Society, A Stable System of Government, aka Law and Order, Is Required

Freedom and anarchy aren't the same thing --- not even close.

And a stable system of government is not the same thing as oppressive government --- again, not even close.

We Americans are blessed to live as free individuals in a stable society governed by the rule of law and not by the rule of man. The protection of constitutionally guaranteed individual freedoms in a safe, secure and stable democratic system of governance serves as the foundational hallmark of our American society.

It all works together to make us a unique and even 'exceptional" nation of equals. And it's a nation with a governance system where individuals choosing freely how to live our own lives is deemed preferable to one allowing any individual or group to make those life choices for us. In other words, by acting as individuals in our own self interest we will be better served than if any one of us (or even a small group of 'experts') are given the power to make those life decisions on our behalf.

As Americans our individual rights are God given natural rights --- they are not granted by government. And those individual rights to 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' have been expressly protected by the U.S. Constitution since our nation's beginning.

For free speech to thrive in any society, there must first be an effective governing system of stability within the broader community, aka a system where law and order prevail. Not a police state, of course, but rather the rule of law and a stable environment where we as individuals are free to express our views without fear of condemnation or retribution.

And one where we're free to do as we please so long as we don't infringe on the rights of others to do likewise. See Backlash Develops Over Student Protests which is subtitled 'Some say protesters' tactics are designed to suppress debate.'

Alas, free speech protected by the rule of law is not the way in much of the world today, including many American college campuses. In that vein, U.S. college campuses and the city of Paris have something very unhealthy in common. It's not a good state of affairs.

From Missouri to Paris makes the point both starkly and succinctly:

"Before Islamic terrorists murdered 132 people in Paris last Friday, the biggest news story in the U.S. was the bonfire of the academy. Protesters at the University of Missouri forced the resignation of the president of the 35,000-student campus. They said his efforts to reduce racism were “inadequate.” University officials at other campuses expressed solidarity with the Missouri protesters’ goals.

Missouri and Paris have something important in common. Both represent the inability of primary social institutions to defend themselves. American institutions of higher learning are beset by an intellectual anarchy that is eroding their reason for being. In the Middle East, unchecked anarchy has caused millions of refugees to flow into a Europe incapable of handling that crisis and now reeling from its vulnerability to terrorist attacks on normal life. . . .

Institutions survive for many reasons, but one is that they operate inside a common moral order—a foundation built over a long period of time.

In universities, the basis of that order for centuries has been free inquiry. In the U.S. the country’s founders gave constitutional protection to freedom of speech. They knew that the moral claim for free speech is that it protects the common good.

Since President Tim Wolfe’s resignation at Missouri and since the video of a shouting match between a Yale student and administrator over the university as “a place of comfort,” many articles have described the decline of free speech as a common value on American campuses. One recent student posting said simply, “Hostile speech is not free speech.” That statement describes the revision of a moral title that has been under way in academia a long time.

For years, the liberal academy shunned conservative teachers. Progressive students extended the logic: Failure to shout down certain views, they say, is itself immoral. Now these students organize themselves into mini-mobs—recently at Missouri, Yale and Dartmouth—to silence anyone on campus who they imagine disagrees with them. Once it is established that “hostile speech is not free speech,” they can do anything they want to their targets, because the opposition is . . . no good.

The pace at which university presidents—and boards of trustees, if you can call them that—are acquiescing to this alternative moral order is astonishing. Their broader institutions are left undefended, and their pained restatements of commitment to free-speech are crocodile tears. Freedom of speech is dying on the ivy vines in the U.S."

Summing Up

To repeat, anarchy does not equal freedom, and oppressive government will not result in a stable system of democratic government.

In America our constitutionally guaranteed individual freedoms must always prevail over groupthink and any group's rights.

Groupthink is a serious danger to the health and well being of the groupies who practice it, whatever their reasons. ISIS is a great example of that. And regarding the campus upheavals today, writer Evelyn Beatrice Hall long ago said this about each person's right to speak freely, "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

And that captures very well the essence of American individualism and the American way ---- we have long been and remain blessed with a system of stable and constitutional government --- a system where We the People as individuals are free to say and do as we wish, but only to the extent that we do not infringe on the rights of others to say and do likewise.

That's my take.

Thanks. Bob.

No comments:

Post a Comment