One of the least attractive aspects of modern society is the ability of a notion, no matter how absurd, to attract a following. There can be found on social media those who seriously believe the Earth is flat and no scientific data will convince them otherwise. To such data they cock a suspicious eye and mumble about “the elites.”
This is not exclusive to today, but is amplified greatly by social media. Combine that with an execrable education system and here you have a recipe for a carnival of fools that everybody in a democracy gets a ticket to by way of free speech.
The unfortunate part about free speech is that it is communications socialism, as everybody, no matter what their intelligence or merit, gets to spout off about anything at any time. It is expression according to need, not according to value. Some may think this article meets that standard. Fair enough, in an egalitarian system.
Given the regrettable leveling nature of our system, the voice of the nitwit is held in the same chorus as the voice of the scholar or individual with real world experience. Free speech is a political necessity, but it is an intellectual abomination. What are the worst examples of its modern abuse?
In Congress Monday Democrats went on the offensive and tried to blame the Biden Bugout…on Trump. The man is not in office, did not have recent command of the military, or was he in command on the ground in Afghanistan. Joe Biden fills all those slots. Yet, Fox News reported this about Rep. Gregory Meeks, Democrat of New York, “Meeks also criticized former President Donald Trump for his negotiations with the Taliban during his time in office. Meeks said that in addition to Blinken, the committee should hear from former officials in Trump’s administration, as well as the Obama and Bush administrations.” When he said this he should have been laughed out of town. He wasn’t, though not one fact stood in his favor as Meeks tried to shift blame to three prior administrations. His pronouncements were Dada business as usual.
In response to an article I wrote on Biden, a reader opined in the comments section, “Are you suggesting the Republicans offer an actual positive program instead of focusing on ‘riling up the hayseeds in the base’? That would be refreshing if it would ever happen. As for Biden, that’s right, just go ahead and keep on underestimating him, it’s worked well so far, hasn’t it?” Ah yes, underestimating Biden has so far proved to be a dangerous course. For whom? The Taliban, the Chinese, illegal immigrants? The statement is a clear absurdity and yet the writer offered it in public without reservation. No shame, no qualifications, he actually believes this.
It’s not only the Democrats who indulge. There are populist Republicans who seriously think that either Trump is secretly still in power (which would make the Democrat attack above plausible and would warrant a third impeachment, albeit a secret one), that he will be somehow returning to power before January 2025, or that he (and Trump himself has uttered this nonsense) will return to power or get an electoral mulligan after November 2020 is decertified by the courts.
It’s hard to know how to respond to that, as anyone not under psychiatric care should be embarrassed about even thinking any of those thoughts, or frankly any populist thoughts at all. But millions do.
Hence, back to our overriding point. Freedom of speech is a integral part of our system and should generally remain that way. But just like giving car keys, a loaded shotgun, and a case of tequila to a 21 year old may be completely legal, the consequences are likely to be somewhat unfortunate. James Madison, call your office and then take a sail over the horizon. The Earth, you see, is not flat at all.