Newt Gingrich and the War on Freedom

28 11 2006

Newt Gingrich, who may or may not decide to make a run for president in 2008, said in a speech recently that we need to re-evaluate freedom of speech in order to meet the challenges posed by terrorism.  Story.

Gingrich, speaking at a Manchester awards banquet, said a “different set of rules” may be needed to reduce terrorists’ ability to use the Internet and free speech to recruit and get out their message.

“We need to get ahead of the curve before we actually lose a city, which I think could happen in the next decade,” said Gingrich, a Republican who helped engineer the GOP’s takeover of Congress in 1994.

This may simultaneously be the most terrifying and the most idiotic thing I’ve ever heard suggested.  Freedom of speech is a concept that Mr. Gingrich evidently can’t wrap his feeble little mind around.  I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be insulting, it’s just that he’s an idiot.

If he did understand it, he would understand that it is not something that can be tweaked – it either exists or it doesn’t.  There is no grey area here. 

But what about the terrorists? he asks.  He is afraid that the terrorists may be allowed to spread their message of hate.  (This is something that he believes christians and republicans should hold the monopoly on.)

It seems as of late that republicans have forgotten what the word ‘freedom’ means.  With warrentless wire taping, the department of homeland harassment, and the patriot act – how can we dare as a country try to instill ‘freedom’ in middle eastern countries when it is obviously a concept we have yet to grasp?

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One response

1 12 2006
Kate

Amazing. Remember when Republicans believed in limited government and personal freedom? Remember when Republicans wanted tax cuts, not to help the rich, but to slow down an overreaching, bloated federal government?

I just watch what is happening to the Republican Party and can’t help but ask what is behind it all. I have several theories and I just can’t tell which one is closest to the truth.

1. Fear is the best way to rally the dumb and impressionable. Under this theory, few, if any, of the Republican leaders really believe their scary stories, but they keep repeating them because they are hoping they can sell their ideas by scarring the populace. It is a tactic that has certainly worked well countless times throughout history. But this is the most cynical of the theories. I am ashamed to see otherwise reasonable Dems embrace this conspiracy theory just because they like any theory that paints the GOP as jerks. I don’t think that Newt is that calculating.

2. They actually believe the fear rhetoric. It is interesting because Dems have been asking the government to intervene in people’s lives by introducing taxes and limiting freedoms for years (like gun control, or corporate oversight, or health and social services) because the Dems say disease, poverty, and violence are threats to life. And the GOP said that there was no need to have the government to get involved. But now terrorism is something worth panicking about and all of a sudden the old rule book goes out the window. So the real question is, why is terrorism so much more scary to the GOP? One thing is to look at the demographics of the targeted population. Terrorists are targeting nice, rich, important people. And the GOP sees “their kind” in the faces of the victims and so it is more real and more scary to them then AIDS and homelessness and gang violence combined. Again, pretty cynical, but more believable.

3. Finally there is the theory that I suspect you might find interesting, the theory that now that Republicans have embrace the religious right they are becoming more and more comfortable with the idea of embracing tactics like repression of speech. On your post about the pastor who changed his mind on hell, I found it interesting that the real thing he did “wrong” was talk about his thinking with his church. In Christianity it seems that so many people accept the idea that you can show up to church and disagree with what is being said, as long as you just don’t say anything. It seems that good Christians just learn that your choices are to agree, to shut up, or to drop out. There is no concept of the importance of argument.

I think that while everyone has had their eye on the most controversial issues, like gay marriage and abortion, we have been loosing ground on some more fundamental issue like freedom of speech. I also think that Dems have to start seeing this and making a bigger issue of it. In this last cycle, Dems won by shifting to the middle and seaking out religions Dems. I think that we are going the wrong way. I think that we need to start seeking out some Libertarian Dems. Or pretty soon we are going to start finding ourselves exactly where the GOP is.

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