Dissent in America

Friday, March 7, 2014
posted by elizabeth @ 3:11 PM

Government, academia, internet companies, cultural and community institutions, mental health groups as well as business have, and continue to create a culture that is sanitized, monochrome, monotone, one dimensional, uncontroversial and downright boring.  Dissent, freedom of speech and freedom of the press are all under attack in the United States. 

Dissent, freedom of speech and freedom of the press are liberties held and treasured by both liberals and conservatives.  Frankly, these liberties should be something every American values regardless of who you are, what you believe and support politically, religiously, economically or otherwise.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, not known as a raving liberal, wrote one of the simplest explanations of free speech in his dissenting opinion in CLS Vs. Martinez.  “The proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express ‘the thought that we hate.’”  You can look to the late Hugo Black, Justice of the U.S. Supreme court, and a well-known liberal, for his comments on free speech.  The Framers of the Constitution knew that free speech is the friend of change and revolution. But they also knew that it is always the deadliest enemy of tyranny. 

Liberals are concerned that government is oppressing freedom of speech.  An article published in 2013 on The World Socialist Website highlighted the concerns of many on the left.  “The authorities have already branded select participants in Occupy Wall Street and anti-Nato protests as “terrorists.”  Last year, heavily-armed “domestic terrorism” commandos raided Occupy Wall Street protestors homes…The commandos were authorized to seize all “anti-government or anarchist literature and material.”

I am no supporter of the Occupy Wall Street movement and activists.  Those who know me will tell you that I have strongly held views that oppose their opinions and activities.  However, simply possessing anti-government literature, whether you be a member of the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street, is not criminal and is no reason to raid homes commando style. Remember the quote from liberal Justice Hugo Black that free speech is the “enemy of tyranny.” 

Conservatives are growing fearful and more concerned about the IRS squelching the voice of conservative organizations through the onerous use and abuse of their regulatory authority.  This fear is highlighted in a Heritage.org article by Hans A von Spakovsky, “Protecting the First Amendment from the IRS.”  In the article von Spakovsky writes that “The indefensible Internal Revenue Service targeting of Tea Party and other conservative citizen organizations is a scandal that should concern the entire nation…the agency can ruin lives, businesses, expressive freedom and prosperity of every American.”  The actions of the IRS should be feared by all.  If such a powerful agency can be used under a Democrat administration to exert such tyranny you can bet it can happen under a Republican administration as well. 

Members of the press should have as much fear and concern for their loss of freedom to investigate and report as liberal protestors and conservative activists have regarding their free speech.  According to the 2014 World Press Freedom Index, which is prepared by Reporters Without Borders, the U.S. lost 13 spots on the index.  We are now rated 46th out of 180 countries.  The fact that we are not rated the top one or two countries for freedom of the press should concern every American.

Of greater concern to me is a movement within the mental health community to label dissent as a mental illness.  In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders there is something called Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD).   Amazingly psychiatry has taken it upon itself and determined that those who don’t fit the mold that society wants them to fit into and are somehow “defiant” have a sickness.   If you look at their definition then Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and all of those who participated in the American Revolution against England were mentally ill and suffering from ODD.  Perhaps those with ODD are simply courageous and they dare to disagree with authority and the establishment.  Just like our Founding Fathers did centuries ago.  Can you imagine, they were crazy, radical and mentally ill revolutionaries.  Thank God we did not have modern psychiatry in 1776.    

-Andrew Biar

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