The New Battleground: Freedom of Speech

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

—First Amendment of the Constitution

Once upon a time, our civil liberties as enumerated in the Bill of Rights were like the plumbing under the house: necessary underpinnings of our existance, but not really something to which we gave a lot of thought. If something seemed broken, we called in the “experts” and trusted them to deal with the problem appropriately, without the necessity of ever getting our own hands dirty. Then our circumstances changed. The rapid growth of the Internet, combined with the repercussions of a terrorist attack on our soil, threw many of us into a tangible awareness of our rights and the realization that if we didn’t learn a little about how to protect and maintain them ourselves we were going to wind up, well, knee deep in sewage. For the last six years, there has been increasing awareness and involvement, and looking around the web and at our own government it is clear that lines which were once nearly invisible are being etched deeply into the sand. On some level, we all know that the next battle to be fought on our soil will not be one of “us” fighting “the terrorists”. It will be us fighting for which version of ourselves we want to become. Continue reading

Letter To A Friend Who Is Not Voting

Over lunch, you told me that you were not planning to vote next Tuesday. The slight smile on your face told me that you knew what our reaction to this would be, that you knew there would be a stunned silence followed by a barrage of expostulation and argument. You knew, and you were prepared for it. You had your reasons straight, and I found I couldn’t argue with you then. I am, however, prepared to argue with you now.

We were talking about our Congressional candidates, and you said that you could not with good conscience support either of them. Honestly, neither can I. The constant influx of negative campaigning would have been enough by itself, but when I sat down last night to actually review their politics in detail, I confess that I almost drank myself into a coma. They are both pro-life, they are both pro-war, the differences between them boil down to a few inconsequentialities and my sense of a new hatred struggling with one which has stood for eight years.

You said, “Who are you going to pick to be your Leader? Who’s gonna be your Daddy?” and the anarchist spirit in me sat up and started asking how far down the river I had sold my soul just to try to reach something a little better than what we have, and whether it was worth it. Why am I so proudly insisting that it is every American’s duty to march into that booth on Tuesday and mark a choice for a person to lead the nation whom they would never choose to lead a Boy Scout fundraiser? Continue reading