Tuesday, February 21, 2006

what about o'reilly et al? why glenn g is slightly off the mark regarding the coming together of left and right on issues of "liberty". Unclaimed Territory - by Glenn Greenwald: Are there American political values that transcend ideology?

Where Glenn states that
The set of precepts composing core American political values is clear and uncontroversial to most. We are a nation that lives under the rule of law. No man is above the law, including the President. Presidents do not have the right to engage in conduct which Congress makes it a criminal offense to engage in. To avoid the President seizing the powers of a King, the powers he exercises must always be checked and balanced by the Congress and the courts. In order to ensure that we have a representative government, only the people, through their Congress, make the laws, and everyone, including the President, is required to abide by those laws. We are a nation that is ruled by the people -- our elected officials do not rule over us -- and when we enact restrictions through our Congress on what our Government can do to us as citizens (as we did with FISA), those laws bind all citizens, including our elected officials.

None of those principles is even arguably liberal or conservative in the contemporary, political sense of those words. They are the defining American principles of government which has guided our country since its founding. And the Administration’s radical theory that any matter relating to national security threats "is for the President alone to decide" and that neither Congress nor the courts "can place any limits on the President's determinations" – which even bestows on the President the power to ignore Congressional laws or to wield war powers against American citizens on U.S. soil – could not be any more contrary to all of these core principles.

These are the principles that led Americans, in 1978, to enact a law, in response to decades of abuse of eavsdroping powers by Administrations of both parties, which made it a criminal offense for our government to eavesdrop on Americans without judicial oversight and approval. We collectively decided that we want aggressive eavesdropping against our foreign enemies, and the law we enacted enables aggressive eavesdropping. But we also decided that we trust our government to eavesdrop on Americans only with judicial oversight, not in secret and with no oversight. Through our Congress, that was the law we passed, and with that law, we imposed restrictions on the powers which our government could exercise against us.

he ignores the fact that there exists in this country a group who dedicates themselves on a daily basis to this very fundamental aspect of American law. they are called the ACLU. they are attacked regularly by the right, and not the "fringe" of which Glenn speaks, but rather by o'reilly and limbaugh and malkin and so on, e.g. "mainstream" conservatives. and say what one will about "classical conservatism"--these are the current exemplars of conservatism in the public sphere.

to quote a certain king, sorry, president of ours, "they hate us for our freedoms."

and that is what makes the modern left different from the modern right. where once the left was all for "speech codes" and punishments therein, it has all flipped, and now it is the right who attacks all kinds of speech as "treason" and so on.

just sayin'.


  1. While I agree with main point entirely, I have a problem with your mention of speech codes on the left.

    These were, for the most part, never about restricting free speech in the classically understood sense. They were about creatig a civil, respectful atmosphere, particularly for those historically excluded, for whom an entire aresenal of harrasment, humiliation and abuse already existed, along with a long history of using such terms. And they followed in the wake of much more longstanding, and more restrictive codes of both speech and conduct which were commonplace on most college campuses well into the 1960s and even 70s.

    I remember once in the late 60s, someone posted the dress code from a nearby college at the anything-goes school that I atteneded. We were in stitches just reading it aloud. We're not talking speech code, we're talking dress code. So this is the proper historical and institutional context to be considering when you mention college speech codes. There was a very long tradition of expecting and demanding a more "elevated," self-restrained sort of conduct on campus. (Off-campus, of course, you had Animal House.)

    You can add to this the findings of Robert Altemeyer (this is from memory, sorry) that among undergrads it was the rightwing authoritarians who much more into "policical correctness" than those who scored much lower on the scale.

  2. "Speech codes" from the left were misguided from the start because they opened up the can of worms that makes the phrase "politically correct" resonate so well with people on the right.

    Which of course is why the ACLU remains valuable. They'll defend anybody's right to say anything.