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On Those Who Use Their Free Speech Rights To Stifle Others’ Speech (Our Own BV Experience)


Our own President Obama had told us to “make him” make the change he promised. So why do fellow Dems try to silence the effort toward REAL change, change that is substantially different from a Bush-wacked economy?  These are difficult times. A post over at DU said that being poor sucks and we are all far more likely to experience it than most people realize. Indeed, even the insured and the supposedly secure, are all one significant catastrophic injury or illness away from disaster, or one wrongful foreclosure away from homelessness.  Most personal bankruptcies occur because of loss of a job and skyrocketing health care bills. We’ve learned that the so-called American dream isn’t, unless you are a large corporation or in the top 2%. Americans, especially Republicans, still do not get that the odds are against them ever getting upward mobility. Indeed, all the economic data shows that mobility is downward. Now Republicans are fighting anything that raises taxes on those making a half million dollars or more.  And Dems have already bargained away much hope of a just budget reduction bill.  Not that that was our biggest problem. Restore jobs and you can shrink the deficit. Stop throwing unneeded tax preferences to corporations (essentially gifts to executives, who are most likely to benefit from them) and they will still be profitable. Reign in economy-busting fraud on Wall Street with real reform, and you help far more than the deficit reduction bill.  Yet our president does not always use his bully pulpit to best advantage.  

And so some columnists, progressive pundits, and bloggers set forth to emotionally portray the unjustness of it all, to defend most of America against a Congress (and at times, the WH) that has lost touch. Some of us clearly care more about this mounting injustice than others.  Some of us are disproportionately more affected than others. But the hope is we all have enough of a conscience and enough empathy to protest loudly and often, if our fellow citizens are hurting.  Amidst this backdrop, then, some progressives have been yelling loudly. Indeed, our President told us to hold him accountable, remember?  

Then come the pretend Obama defenders, who hide behind the president to run rough shod over anyone who questions the president at all. Their paternalism demeans the president, though. It is as if they are saying he will wither if anyone argues vigorously for the causes we believe in.  It’s not so. One  individual, and a couple of other commenters here, are the self-appointed thought and speech police. All of us front pagers and most others here, worked and donated to elect our President.  (I doubt the silencers did a fraction as much as the more active among BV bloggers.) It is inconceivable that we would not vote for him again. Despite the growing despair of some of us, all of us have said as much.  But the verbal attacks over imagined betrayals still unfold. Why?  

This weekend a column was posted on an opinion blog at the New York Times. Here’s a quote from the post:

Words are misappropriated and meanings twisted. I believe that these tactics are not really about making substantive claims, but rather play the role of silencing. They are, if you will, linguistic strategies for stealing the voices of others. These strategies have always been part of the arsenal of politics. But since they are so widely used today, it is worth examining their underlying mechanisms, to make apparent their special dangers.

 Jason Stanley, NY Times, June 25th, 2011

In his column, on “The Ways of Silencing,” the author shows how propagandists use linguistic tactics to silence others.  The very same side-bar blogger does this over and over.  Like clockwork, she takes off after progressives and anyone who questions.  With sock-puppet-like fertility she plants the same posts here, on HP and on Kos.  The reaction of bloggers is usually the same, with some agreeing with her, but the majority standing up to the thought control of one who purports to be from our side of the aisle.  But not here.  Few have stood up to this. When teacherken merely questioned the historic accuracy of one of her pieces, a new-found of sidekick of said sock-puppet (and possible troll) played the stifling game. It’s the “New Democrats” version of “watch what you  say.”

It’s ironic as hell, given New Democrats recalcitrance and foot dragging about justice issues. It is not that she is alone. Recently, Goldmanusa tried a similar tactic, the sole purpose of which was to silence. I first had had the “gall” to challenge a so-called Dem (with whom he has worked) who is trying to ram destructive policies through to the detriment of 98% of Americans by his colluding behind closed doors with one of the most reprehensible Republicans ever elected to the Senate by Georgia (or any) voters.  And later, in the more proximate trigger of his ire, I questioned the interpretation of data by a certain vested interest, which Goldmanusa didn’t like either. So, he unloaded a screed and tried to silence yours truly. He has no problem posting his own personal propaganda on our FP.  Just don’t let anyone else write what they think. (Well. too bad.)

Back to our side-bar sockpuppet. She’s from a party, which values the Constitution, including and especially the First Amendment, but she tries to rob us of it. Her main anti-free speech tactic is to boldly proclaim that anyone who disagrees with her is tantamount to insane, ignorant, hypocritical, lazy, misogynist or racist.  It is that last claim which she has focused most of her vitriol, “whilst” accusing others of such.  No BV front page blogger has uttered a racist word here.  Nor would we. Some of us were involved in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, but that does not matter when there is a fake charge to throw around. And racism on the side bar is not countenanced either. We are proud that President Obama was elected our president and proud of the First Family. This does not mean we must support every thing he does or agree with everything he says. Nor is it a guarantee against our venting frustration on the blog. But she doesn’t just take away our voice. By trying to be the arbiter of content, she tries to take away yours. Do not fall for it.

She also tries to silence with counterfactuals, such as “no one criticized President Clinton.” On the contrary, most were ready to declare him finished the first day of the Starr document dump. It took the work of MoveOn.org (which I am sure she skewers) and a large cadre of grassroots activists to try to turn the discussion back to defending that President against the fishing expedition that was the Starr campaign to unseat Clinton by any means necessary.

There has been unprecedented hate-laced criticim of our president –from The Tea Party, FAUX News and talk radio celebrities, and the Republicans in Congress. They have engaged in a disgusting and racist campaign against our president from Day One. Democrats have not done that to him–ever. If Issa or any other fisherman in the GOP tries to invent a case against Obama, I will be there defending him too, as would everyone who has pointed out shortcomings in the administration’s policies and strategies. But yet, her implication is that we would not.

If someone who is affected by this country’s  persistent exclusion and repression of gay people is impatient, there’s a rant forthcoming by our resident sock puppet.  Blame the victim.  Never mind she has no business whatsoever telling someone how he or she should feel, or judging the extent of their personal anguish over rights denied. How dare she?  This past weekend, I introduced speakers who talked about their experience being married in Canada, but having no recognition of their relationship here in Virginia. They have been together for decades, are pillars of the community, but have no legal respect. It is shameful that Virginia treats people this way, much less refuses to remove from the books an anti-sodomy law even SCOTUS found unconstitutional.  One questioner laid claim to a similar argument for incrementalism as said blogger uses.  “What’s the hurry?” (she pretends while  millions of  Americans’ lives slip away un- or less fulfilled). It is about their happiness, damn it. Can she even try to walk in their shoes? And we had best not judge what is “OK” for others to deem essential.  It is not their responsibility to appease the speech police.

As a heterosexual supporter of LGBT  persons’ rights, I prefer to understand and to start from the the humanity of those who want precisely what we all want. They thought that was what this country was about, the freedom to love, to form families, to live productive lives, and to live their lives free of abusive treatment by their government or fellow citizens.  And yet, the blogger in question rants away.

If her claim to care about labor and jobs were what she claims, she would see that there is much fertile ground from which to make a case for economic fairness, as we, the rest of us here, try to do for those suffering from job loss, overwhelming health care bills, or fear that their Medicare will be hammered by relentless politicians who use them as bargaining chips. And perhaps if she stuck to her apparent main cause she could actually  do some good. We are waiting for her contributions on that subject.  I do not presume to circumscribe the subject matter for someone else, though. Still, I must note she seems more interested in bashing progressives.

She also wages verbal class warfare.  If she perceives someone is more affluent than (apparently) she, or most of us here, as are some affluent West Coast progressives, she stereotypes. She rails about their presumed fake dedication, “laziness,” or numerous other supposed vices related to the accident of their wealth. The ridiculousness of her slurs against them give me pause too. Her accusations sound like they were written by Republican framers.

Those of us who are either poor, Middle Class, or old, should not have to worry whether either food, Social Security or Medicare will be bargained away, of course. We have every right to be angry that politicians, who are all wealthy,  keep putting our futures “on the table.” But she suggests critics are racist? If those who have lost their jobs or have to worry about homelessness express upset, well then they “are racists” too?  In what universe???????  

Dear progressive BV reader, I know that whether or not you are upset with this or that policy, when the chips are down you will vote for our president as will I. I also respect your (and my) labor enough to know that you give it only when you are inspired or when you do not feel let down too much. Each of us knows what our individual thresh holds are. In the meantime, perhaps our resident sock puppet could show some humanity.  Perhaps if she showed compassion. How different it might be:

–If she just once listened to teacherken’s  conscience-driven work at Kos or here;  

–If she heard what I have been trying to say;

–If she thought for just a minute what it feels like to be near the end of the line age-wise only to be verbally abused by Alan Simpson (an abusive misanthrope the president should never have appointed) or other Republicans.

–If she tried to consider the fear of (so many now have), wondering what will become of us all if Dems keep caving;

–Or, if she thought for one minute that we might be trying to protect Medicare and Social Security for HER and her children too.

Instead, she is on a misguided mission.  While she accuses others of tantrums, it is she who is throwing them.  Miss-Play it my way, and say what I tell you too, or I will smear and defame you…76.  There have been far too many real racist slurs and verbal attacks on this president to trivialize that subject by hurling the charge whenever you are pissed off  (or  lacking empathy). I do not expect anything will change much.  She leaves a trail of sockpuppet copies of the very same blogs all over the progressive blogosphere.  Makes you wonder what side she is really on?



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