The Democrats' talking points of the hour say that President Bush and company are attempting to "stifle dissent" on matters relative to the war against terrorism, Iraq in particular. After the Republican National Committee released its first ad of the election cycle, the Dems started yapping in unison. Ted Kennedy called it an "attempt to stifle dissent." His colleague John Kerry called it a "reprehensible attempt to stifle dissent." The state party chair of New Hampshire, where the ad ran, went farther. As far as she was concerned it was "neo-McCarthyism." Democrat National Committee chair Terry McAuliffe deviated from the script a little. He just called the 30-second spot "insane."
There's no doubt America is experiencing a heightened level of intolerance for differences of opinion. But the stifling is coming from the political left, not the White House or the RNC. In fact, the chilling rise of political intolerance will, if left unfettered, make the PC language police and public school Nativity Nazis seem downright Jeffersonian.
Some recent examples illustrate my point:
On the December 1 Hardball, host Chris Matthew's asked Howard Dean if he would "break up Fox" if he were elected president. It wasn't really a controversial question. Many liberals want to prohibit news organizations from getting too large, and Fox (actually News Corp.) is really, really big. The real surprise was Dean's answer: "On ideological grounds, absolutely yes."
Apparently Dean swiftly realized he had just offended the First Amendment, to say nothing of common decency. He immediately equivocated, "I don't want to answer whether I would break up Fox or not." Except that he just had.
On December 8, Dean's rival John Kerry tried to kill another media outlet before it could even get started. The National Rifle Association wants to start a cable station to take advantage of the media exemption in the new campaign finance laws. So Kerry filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission to block it. "We urge you to prevent the NRA from hijacking America's airwaves with the gun lobby's money," Kerry wrote. That is to say he doesn't want the NRA to use its own money to talk about the issues that matter most to its members.
So, the probable nominee for president from one of America's major parties and a powerful U.S. Senator want to limit free speech on ideological and political grounds.
Kerry's letter to the FEC explained, "If the NRA has something to say, it can play by the rules, just like the millions of people in America who do every day." Except that the Supreme Court's decision in McConnell v. Federal Election Commission makes those rules for regular Americans a lot less, um, liberal.
In the name of getting regular people involved in politics again, every branch of government has now officially signed on to this truly stifling law. Essentially, a bunch of politicians passed a law to make it harder for the American people to criticize them and the U.S. Supreme Court endorsed it.
And let's not forget the Clintons. In office, Bill flirted with bringing back the Fairness Doctrine to silence talk radio, and his IRS often audited the White House's political enemies. Hillary, the early odds-on-favorite for the Democrats' nomination in 2008, has spoken of the need to have a new "gate keeping" mechanism to filter Internet content to protect the reputations of public persons such as…herself.
The political left is playing a dangerous game; for conservatives, for America, for anyone with an honest gripe about their government or politicians. If Americans remain lax against their advances on the First Amendment, it may leave us all, literally, speechless.
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