Posts Tagged ‘Freedom’
Texas Governor Rick Perry, the leading GOP contender for the Presidential nomination in 2012, is a particularly odd choice for Republicans and Tea Party advocates alike. Polls consistently show him atop the pack of contenders for the GOP nomination, however there are a significant number of reasons his consideration as a Presidential nominee, as well as his standing in the polls, comes as a surprise.
- Mr Perry used to be a Democrat, until he concluded the path to power in Texas is paved with Republican pavement;
- Rick Perry is a career politician. He has been in various offices since 1984, when he was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives as the Democratic representative of District 64 (he switched sides in 1989). Career politicians are not looked upon favorably by Tea Pary supporters, or Constitutionalist;
- Mr Perry’s use of executive order to attempt to force state-ordered vaccinations on eleven year-old girls in Texas violates two concepts Tea Partiers, and libertarians, hold dear: the order was passed (and later reversed by the Texas legislature) without being put to a vote of the people’s representatives, while at the same time representing a shocking intrusion by government into people’s lives by requiring parents to actively opt out of the forced vaccination program. The notion of an individual (in this case the Governor) ordering injections of children without debate or a vote is rather shocking. Mr Perry now considers this a “mistake”;
- Mr Perry’s policy of granting discounts on taxpayer provided education to illegal aliens in the state of Texas is anathema to most Republicans (and to taxpayer advocates as well);
- Governor Perry has increased taxes multiple times in Texas. He voted for a $5.7 billion tax increase proposal, and refused to pledge not to increase taxes, a pledge which, notably, his Democratic opponent in the 2002 contest for Governor of Texas made;
- Mr Perry not only supported Al Gore in 1988, he was the chairman of Mr Gore’s Texas campaign committee. It is difficult, for a whole host of reasons, to imagine Republicans embracing the chairman of Mr Gore’s Presidential committee as their nominee for President of the United States;
- “Crony capitalism”, the latest buzzword of Republican Presidentail hopefuls, can be seen throughout Mr Perry’s tenure in politics: trading prominent appointed positions for campaign contributions has been a hallmark of the Governor’s strategy while in office.
- While Governor of Texas, state spending grew 30.6% under Mr Perry’s leadership, after adjusting for population growth and inflation.
Two incidents this week served to highlight the fact speech is no longer free, and hasn’t been for some time. They further illuminated the hypocricy of governments who, on the one hand, praise Egyptian, Yemeni, Jordanian and Syrian rioters, yet on the other hand permit no dissent against their own establishment.
The first instance concerns England. When citizens of London rioted, there were calls from the government to restrict access to instant messaging, and to prohibit encrypted messaging, most notably Blackberry Messenger (BBM). Imagine a government calling for the outlawing of pen and paper, on the grounds that these may be used to convey messages the government does not approve of. Or that all pen and paper communication must be accessible to government watchers. The difference is one of techonology, not principle.
At the same time, a 21 year old who posted comments to Facebook encouraging violence in Norwich was sentenced to four years in prison, despite no violence occuring as a result of his postings. A victim without a crime.
Meanwhile, in the United States, the government authority which controls the Bay Area Rapid Transit systems (BART) blocked all cell phone communications in fear that protests might occur on the subway line, following events surrounding the killing of civilians by BART authorities.
Imagine if the characters in the story were changed: “Syrian man jailed for four years for encouraging resistance”; “Egyptian government disables communication systems for rebels”. If you’re busy, as you read this, trying to justify why the UK and the US should be given a pass for supressing free speech while other regimes shouldn’t, you’re clearly not in favor of free speech to begin with.
To reiterate: in both cases, no violence occured. Free speech was suppressed where such speech displeased the government, full stop. And both instances prove that “free speech” is a convenient slogan where it suits those in power, but has no real substantive meaning, other than to posit that citizens are free to speak on any topic they wish, provided government considers such topic “acceptable”.
Free speech is a binary proposition: either you have it or you don’t. It’s a little like being a little bit pregnant. The oft-cited (if incorrect) argument that “reasonable limits” apply to free speech (“One is not permitted to yell ‘Fire’ in a theatre”) serve as an effective argument against the principle of free speech in its entirety. But such arguments imply freedom is limited to those freedoms government is willing to concede, situationally. That is not, in any case, freedom. It is, instead, a prison of simply different dimensions.
I read with great interest today the BC government’s soon-to-be-implemented ban on smoking in all indoor places and some outdoor places. Particularly noteworthy is the ban on smoking rooms in pubs, which aims to protect the workers from the dangers of second-hand smoke.
Putting aside the fact these pub owners spent upwards of $50K each to build these specially ventilated smoke rooms in order to comply with the government’s edict of a few years ago, it got me thinking: they’re on the right track here – why are we allowing people to put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of earning a living??? Read the rest of this entry »