Phil on the Links, Chicks on the Right, and Silencing Free Speech

January 23rd, 2013

It was pretty disappointing to hear that golfer Phil Mickelson backed down on his observation that high taxes in California would likely drive him out of the state.  Sadly, I’m not entirely surprised he took that path of least resistance in the end.  Reading some of the comments from the left to the various articles about Mickelson, the common theme was clearly “shut up, play golf, and keep writing that fat tax check.”

In case you didn’t notice, not many in the top 2% of income earners dared say a word publicly about their taxes going up during the fiscal cliff “debate.” After being demonized as the evil rich during the last election, most of them likely felt it prudent to remain silent lest they meet the fate of the Tsar and his friends in Russia circa 1917.

With all the recent discussion of the Second Amendment, the fact that the First Amendment guarantee of free speech (at least if you’re a conservative) is increasingly coming under assault is generally going unnoticed.

As we all know, the Bill of Rights in the Constitution speaks to what government can and can’t do to abridge our rights.  The restraints we place on each other aren’t covered, but we can only assume that the more ingrained self-policing becomes in our daily discourse with each other, such restrictions will eventually find their way into what is legally permissible free speech.

The idea of “politically correct” speech is interesting in this context.  In a country which prides itself on freedom and openness of expression, it’s fascinating to see us head down the path of deciding what each of us can and can’t say without being tarred and feathered by a mob of politically correct thinkers.

An example of the road we’re possibly heading down is the situation the website Chicks on the Right finds itself.  Evidently, the two conservative women running this site maintain a popular Facebook page as well.  Recently, one of them posted the following message, “Jay Carney can kiss my assular area.”

Would I have said that?  No, because that’s just not my style.  Would Dee Dee have said it?  Very likely.

Apparently, the day following this post, one of these women had her Facebook privileges suspended as she faced investigation for violating the Facebook Standards policy.  Given some of the things I’ve seen on Facebook (both left and right), I wasn’t aware of any particular “standards.”  I knew posting naked photos of yourself or threatening someone you hate wasn’t permitted, but that just seems like generally accepted common sense.

I suspect this is what’s going on.  These women evidently have a big following.  Good for them.  They also carry a decidedly conservative message.  My guess is some of the thought police from the left reported them to Facebook leading to the Facebook investigation.  I’m told now the thought police on the right are fighting fire with fire and reporting anything they can find on the left to Facebook.  If this goes on, it can only beg the question, “What country are we living in?”  It’s beginning to look like something from a George Orwell novel rather than what Thomas Jefferson probably had in mind when he penned the Declaration of Independence.

I grew up near Dallas.  Politically, it’s mostly a very conservative place.  Currently, I live in Austin which prides itself on being very liberal.  The city motto is Keep Austin Weird. I don’t know how most liberals handle life in Dallas, but I know here in Austin, I’m very careful not to say too much or stand out.  You will never find a political sticker for a Republican candidate on my car.  While I respect people who aren’t afraid to proudly show their colors, I personally find having to take my car in for a new paint job after it’s been keyed by some angry Obama supporter not worth my time.

I’ve also been burned by trying to speak up on occasion.  Most recently, it was at my children’s school.  On the first day of school, I noticed a sign on the teacher’s door which read “Everybody’s different. Everybody’s welcome.”  As we were waiting to go in, I overheard a parent laugh and say, “Yeah, unless you’re an evangelical or a Republican.”

After hearing this, I decided to bravely go to the head of the Lower School and express an observation and concern.  For years, my children have been carefully instructed on the importance of  tolerance at school, yet it was clear that the “tolerance” being taught was only towards people with whom you agreed. Everyone else evidently is fair game for ridicule and disdain. To me, that’s hypocritical and I said so.

The woman I spoke to was very nice.  I’ve known her for years, and I believe she means well.  Her solution? I should go talk to the school’s Diversity Director.

Another pleasant woman, she and I had a very nice conversation.  It all sounded wonderful and looked like we were really making progress towards a school where all opinions and positions could be greeted with respect and genuine tolerance rather than a faux tolerance intended just to make us feel good about ourselves as politically correct people.  She promised to follow-up and get back to me.

I haven’t heard from her since.

My hope is that those of us with conservative ideas on some issues garner the courage to speak up even in the face of people who feel that the best way to deal with people they disagree with is simply to silence them.

If we don’t stop the madness with all of this, today it will just be losing our Facebook privileges, but tomorrow it might be reliving 1917 all over again.