Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Freedom of Speech in Peril: Tories Among Us

In my previous post we read of a 74-year-old man who was 'arrested' for selling 'Impeach Bush' buttons at a farmer's market. What happened to Freedom of Speech, the First Amendment to the Constitution. Dictators, kings, and other scoundrels fear it and suppress it mercilessly.

As a child hearing my teacher telling the story of the American Revolution, I would visualize those early papers in the Colonies nailed to lamp posts and trees which spoke of defying the king of England and his soldiers. Brave men nailing them, more brave authors. Sedition was the crime; death the sentence.

As we slide up the history time line a few hundred years to our day, we find curious Tories among the American populace these days. The Tory of the Revolutionary War days believed that the King's authority was supreme and superseded that of the Parliament. How interesting that today, here in 'the colonies,' that same argument continues.

Lately, many Americans are alarmed at the ever-expanding powers of the Executive Branch of our government. Many believe that the term, 'executive privilege,' is tantamount to limitless monarchical authority.

Some Americans are confused by the statements of President Bush, especially when he speaks of 'bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq.' Some ask: what kind of freedom, what type of democracy?

Some Americans are brave enough to publicly question the wisdom of the leaders, the President and Vice-President, the Congress. Many Americans, blinded by the fresh images of 9-11, cheered President Bush's preemptive invasion of Iraq back in March of 2003. They were misled by the propaganda that falsely linked Saddam Hussein to the attacks of September 11, 2001. There are still Americans who believe that.

Nonetheless, some Americans spoke out against such an invasion. I was one of them. And I was severely criticized for my speech. My phone rang off the hook after I had written a letter to the editor of The Blade questioning the wisdom of such an invasion. I was jeered and called un-American as I carried a 'No War' sign on street corners. Tories, indeed.

Apparently there are fewer and fewer Tories today, four years later, yet they have not all gone away. They wait in ambush in dark alleys and under the shrubs. They blindly follow authoritarian figures no matter where they are led. There must be some sort of satisfaction that they derive out of this, a cathartic akin to a baby's pacifier. Presumably these folks find comfort in a power-figure, in the status quo. Tories.

A short while ago, a friend of mine wrote his own letter to the editor critical of the 'imperial presidency' that he observed of the Bush/Cheney reign. As with me, his telephone answering machine recorded the verbal blast of one of those Tories for what he had written. Freedom of speech. My friend used his Caller ID and called back. Rather shocked by the return call, the Tory continued his rage and hung up, not permitting the author to speak. A second call-back resulted in profanity and the slamming of the receiver once again.

Tories hiding in dark alleys and under the bushes. Ready to pounce or shoot those who dare question the authority of the king. Freedom of speech apparently has limits.

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