Nice to see you, Ron.
You cannot limit political criticism in a free country. Not even a little. The minute you do, it ceases to be a free country. It becomes, instead, a reflection of whomever it was you allowed to set the limits.
Perhaps you see me as limiting political criticism in a free country?
I don't see myself as limiting political criticism in this country. Telling people that the government is doing x,y, and z is not political criticism; it's a straightforward assertion of fact, and it needs to be buttressed with facts.
Especially if such statements are made to people already inflamed, such statements need to be buttressed with facts.
If those facts show that Congresswoman Bachman's assertions are true, that our government is setting up political re-education camps for our children for our kids, I'd join her in her upset.
In fact, my frequently expressed upset about The PATRIOT ACT, that piece of bi-partisan paranoid trash passed with the active help of the Democrats during the the first administration of the second Bush, hinges on just such issues as this. I have expressed upset about President Obama not working to get it repealed, just as I expressed upset about the Democrats helping get it passed in the first place and about the pivotal roll the Republicans played in getting it passed in the first place, and have played in allowing it to stay in place now.
If anybody wants to deal with that, let me know. There is to my mind significant danger and it has no particular party to which it is aimed, only at the liberty of the nation itself. "Only!"
I see nobody who wants to deal with that. What I see is an attempt to stir up partisan rage directed at the Administration for partisan purposes. Should Congresswoman Bachman wish to deal with the actual danger to the country, count me in. Even in that case she (and I, because I would then be included) would be responsible for dealing with the issue on a factual basis. Advocating violent revolution is seditious and because of that, illegal. The right wing seems to be heading in that direction, and that is what the article in [i]The Guardian[/i} pointed out.
I see myself as wanting people to keep the discussions factual. When you start lying to a bunch of folks walking around with guns, I submit to you that the results can be explosive.
Facts are slippery little critters. It's patently impossible, and usually unwarranted, to consider every possible fact about every possible thing. So we pick and choose which facts we want to attend. Just as the article did, just as Bob is doing. That's why, even when the facts are accurate, they often lead to something other than the truth. Indeed, perhaps the greatest threat to critical thinking is mistaking accuracy for truth.
Perhaps you heard me say that I wished to consider every possible fact about every possible thing.
In that case, you will no doubt be relieved to know that I believe that to be not only impossible, but also irrelevant. You pointed out my weakness for tangents, and this would certainly be an overindulgence. I am not even terribly curious about who shaved the barber and who let the dogs out.
When the facts are accurate, they may, in fact, lead to something other than the truth. I agree with you entirely. There are other factors that need to be considered, and I'm interested to know what you think those might be, because I certainly didn't mean to suggest that accurate facts would be the only element to be considered in making a decent decision, and I am, above all, interested in making a decent judgement and a decent decision.
What I would like to point out, while I must acknowledge the fact that accurate facts may not necessarily lead to the truth, is that accurate fact are much more likely to lead to the truth than lies, half truths and deliberate evasions. Despite the somewhat checkered record of the Intelligence services of this country, we still fund them because most administrations and most leaders other than, of course, the administration of the second President Bush, have found that accurate facts have proved absolutely vital in the formulation of national policy and in the making of safe and effective governmental decisions. There are, as I mentioned, the occasional exceptions.
It's been general governments experience, fronm the time of Sun Tzu on, that it's better to make decisions with a knowledsge of the facts than without it. How well you make the decisions is infinitely more personal.
Here's the thing.
Trying to muzzle the little boy who cried wolf only serves to leave all the little sheep vulnerable and helpless. The little boy may have been wrong (or lied) any number of times, but he was right at least once. That one time, I believe, justifies all the mistakes and lies.
But here's the thing.
In real life, you aren't always limited to a single source of information, as in the example of the boy who cried wolf. If that boy is the only source of information you have, well, gee, you're sort of stuck, aren't you. You have to decide whether it's more expensive in terms of lives, money, safety to keep mobilizing every time you hear "Wolf" come over the loudspeaker, or whether it's more expensive in the same terms not to.
You can decide to figure out if the boy is responding to the possibility of a coming wolf, or if the boy is responing to some other stimulus that makes him yell wolf instead, for example the need to have a dinner, go to the john or have a bit of excitement. Idf you can do that, then you can plan around those times, or fire the boy and get another boy or make other plans entirely. You don't have to keep listening to the same boy doping the same thing as though you were silly and helpless.
Or you can figure out where the wolf is and go after it, eliminating the threat in the first place.
There are also other strategies you can come up with.
Why allow yourself to be stuck in a failing dead-end strategy with an unreliable method when you can change it? Surely, Ron, you don't believe that we have only those two choices? I don't. And it's certainly not a good reason to justify all the mistakes and lies.
If it were your burglar alarm, you'd probably replace it, wouldn't you? After the cops came out to your place the thirtieth or fortieth time and started coming more and more slowly, and then maybe didn't respond at all once or twice?
What if Obama really does intend to use one of his proposed social tools to influence the minds and attitudes of our kids? Don't you think that's kind of important? Shouldn't we at least want to take a look at the message he plans to send our children? What if it's a Republican president doing it a few years from now? Shouldn't Americans be warned?
I asked Mike the same question about the Patriot act a few years ago, and really got no answer. I guess he missed the importance of the question. It remains as important today as it was then.
The answer, as it was then, is to repeal the silly Patriot act, which gives the foundation in law for all these pieces of worry that today's Right Wing is (and I think with good reason) worrying about, because there is law there to support such actions as far as I understand it. I was worrying about such actions during the previous two administrations. And I still worry about such actions today, for the very same reason. Also, we have come to a time when ther Posse Comitatus law is no longer in force, a big thanks due to both parties during the last administration. That law needs to be brought back.
One can communicate any of this stuff without trying to foment the sort of violence that Ms. Bachman and many of the cohorts seem to be attempting. I don't expect everyone to agree it's hate speech. You do not see the Democrats trying to equal or exceed it, however.
Nor is it a question of disagreeing with Ms. Bachmann's interpretation of her facts. She has not shown them to be facts. She makes them as assertions. If they are facts, then she needs to show that they are facts and source them and reference them. My interest in lies and propaganda of my own is zero. I'd rather avoid that. If I find myself voicing any, it is not intentional, and I will willingly apologise for anything that I say that I find to be untrue. I can at least try for as much personal honesty as I can bear, which I hope to be quite a lot. That doesn't mean I lay my life open befoire anybody, but that what I say I do believe to be true.
I do not, on the whole, believe that violence comes from free speech. Doing psychotherapy, one of the things that I've found is that for most people, angry speech is in fact a substitute for angry actions, and that if you can get somebody to vent, then the likelyhood of violence may well diminish. This is not, however, always the case, and there are people for whom violent speech raises the level of violent tension higher, just as, for many, sexual speech raises the level of sexual tension. Psychopaths, whose level of excitement is chronically low, really only begin to feel normal when the sense of danger for other folks begins to feel quite uncomfortable. And it is these folks that I worry about. They enjoy putting themselves into the fantasy of violent confrontations, and, after a time, the fantasy is not always enough.
You can't curtail the freedoms of the many to control the psychopaths among us. But you can ask those of us who tend toward the more inflammatory sorts of speech to make sure that we're basing what we say in the facts and the truth. And we should feel free to confront those who don't base what they say there. That, too, is free speech.
Hopefully, then, there won't be as many people we need to punish for violent actions: Once, that is, people get used to making sure they're telling the truth when they speak, and other get used to confronting them about where they get their facts.