BLOG COMMENT OF THE DAY:
Everyone who has been the victim of a breach [of] First Amendment protections like those frat brothers in Oklahoma is un-heroic, it least to contemporary observers. People who say nice things aren’t expelled, or evicted, or jailed, or beaten, or tortured, or killed — and by nice I mean conforming to the prejudices of majority. The free speech martyr is always despised by the majority because he says things or writes things or makes photographs of that which the majority finds objectionable. So when the government cracks down on Nazis like Lincoln Rockwell or pornographers like Larry Flynt we all tend to think “good, the bastard needs to be shut up since what he says is so horrible, so false, and so hurtful.”
But the bastards are heroes, and here’s why — we wouldn’t have a First Amendment except for the fact that back in the 1780’s not all Americans were approved of by the majority. Some were Catholics, some were Jews, and some Quakers… and some weren’t too happy with the break with England. These people were afraid that the new American nation would turn on them for being nonconformists, and would enacts restraining laws against their worship, schools, festivals, and observances. Some slaveholders feared the abolitionists. Some abolitionists feared the slaveholders. We must remember that the Constitution in it’s original form contained no restraints on legislative power that would prevent enactment of laws against the saying and hearing of Mass, for example. Under the charter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony Catholics and Catholicism were banned absolutely. In 1788 Massachusetts was still overwhelmingly Calvinist, and in the 18th century Calvinist zeitgeist a Catholic was either an ignorant superstitious peasant, or an idolator in league with Anti-Christ, a least as bad a racist today.
Everybody who has an opinion and his ballsy enough to express that opinion is somebody’s worthless bastard who needs to shut the fuck up, get right with God, and dress like a human being fer chrissake. It was the nonconformist bastards of 1788 who insisted on free speech. Without them America could have wound up like any tin-plated dictatorship. Dictators always curb speech, and the reason they give is always “we gotta shut up the bastards!” The bastards are a minority, so the majority don’t complain too much, except when it too late as Bonhoeffer discovered to his sorrow.
If you only stand up for speech you approve of, you’re a hack. If you only stand up for speech that everyone approves of, you’re a coward.