Some things are simply not negotiable


    which is why we removed them from government action by protecting against such action in the Constitution and its Amendments.

    Speech and religion are both supposed to be protected.

    We do not allow either to be suppressed either by the Government, nor by people no matter how many who might object.  A heckler’s veto is not supposed to be able to deny someone’s speech, otherwise whoever can yell the loudest can prevent the expression by anyone with whom s/he may disagree.

    Yes, our rights are never absolute, because if they are in conflict there becomes a need to balance.

    Hurt feelings however should never trump guaranteed rights.

    Someone who does not understand that is not, in my opinion, fit for public office of any kind.  Those who would bow to a mob mentality are thereby encouraging more shrillness, larger mobs, greater attempts to suppress expression or belief, and thereby undercutting one of the basic principles of this nation.


    On Monday, my students will arrive.  Currently I have 189 on my roles for my six classes.  My final number might be more, it might be less.   What they all have in common is that they will spend 45 minutes a day in my room, supposedly learning about American government.

    Supposedly.  Because yet again I am finding myself wondering whether I can teach with integrity when I look out and see what I thought I knew and understood about our system of government beginning to disappear before my eyes.

    I am old enough to remember blatant racism as a tactic to win political office.  At the same time, there were people who did not speak out, who acquiesced.  It took federal troops to enforce the law and the Contitution, so that teenagers could go to Central High School in Little Rock.  It took troops and marshalls in places like New Orleans, or University of Mississippi, or University of Alabama.

    People were killed for merely trying to help people exercise their right to vote.

    For a while, at least, the nation in general acted with revulsion, and we began to move forward.

    But there are always those willing to look backward.  They insist on honoring an alcoholic Senator from Appleton Wisconsin named McCarthy who was willing to wreck lives and careers and wreak havoc on our government and politics.  They see nothing wrong in attempting to intimidate, suppress, even persecute.  And if that does not work they will urge people to violence, even if they themselves are too cowardly to meet face to face with those at whom they are willing to engender hatred and violence.

    Those who acquiesce, for whatever reason, are simply wrong.  They are not worthy of our support, and I will no longer offer mine.

    I will continue to try to have my students learn what is correct.

    Until I can no longer honestly do so, because I can no longer find political figures willing to stand for what is right.  Or until they kick me out of my classroom or attempt to silence me.

    On this issue Michael Bloomberg is right, David Patterson and Harry Reid are very much wrong.  And I have nothing but pity for the likes of Jeff Greene and many of the Republicans.  Pity, because they are too small-minded to grasp what our Constitution actually means.  Pity because not only are their minds too small, their hearts are shriveled in their apparent inability to open to those different than themselves.

    Some things are simply not negotiable.

    They are not subject to votes.

    And they sure as hell should not be suppressed or eliminated by hate, by mob mentalities, by political opportunism, or by political cowardice.

    Now excuse me while I return to preparing to teach my students what is right.


    • teacherken

      for some reason, it grabbed the attention of a lot of people, and has been heavily trafficked all day.

      When I checked my email early this evening, Lowell urged me to cross post it here.  So I have.


    • Venu

      Do you actually share your views on today’s events with your students, or just try and use the forementioned historical examples to make your point?  

    • Elaine in Roanoke

      You have my best wishes and prayers as you work to teach young Americans the rights that are guaranteed to all of us under the highest law of the land – the Constitution.

      We are, unfortunately, once again seeing how demagogues inevitably rise every so often and prey upon the fears and the prejudices of people for their own political gain.

      The only antidote is knowledge.

    • Pictou

      Tolerance seems to be a virtue that requires constant reaffirmation. We have to be careful how we define tolerance. Does it mean affirming the right of someone to voice views with which we disagree or does it mean in addition that we must affirm the validity of those views? In the later definition, teacherken would not be permitted to point out the error of views that he/she abhors. I hold to the definition of tolerance where someone has every right to hold and voice opinions that I think are wrong and stupid, but I do not give up my right to point out that those opinions are wrong and stupid. It is not possible to both have free speech and prohibit offending someone. If I am really correct and the other person wrong then it can be argued that I have not just a right but a duty to point this out. It is possible to express one’s opinions without invective and ad hominem attacks. I could list a few left wing intellectual hot buttons that would elicit responses consisting of ad hominem attacks, half-truths, innuendo and character assassination, but little in the way of real intellectual discourse.  Most, if not all people, have their blind spots viewing the world through ideological prisms that distort reality. It seems the human condition.  The worst thing you can do is prove someone wrong. Then ego kicks in overriding logic and evidence. For teacherken, what is right is to teach how to argue ones point civilly with evidence and logic rather than invective, ad hominem attacks, half-truths, innuendo and character assassination, the tools of the demagogue.