On speaking minds and losing them

The free speech double standard in American politics is profound. Any bear paying half attention knows that the left can say things that the right simply cannot.

The left can call a population segment poor and needy and be characterized as mercifully sensitive. The right can call the same segment the same thing and be caricatured as obnoxiously insensitive.

The double standard became even more pronounced in the wake of the Tuscon, Arizona, shootings earlier this month.

To some on the left, conservative commentators were complicit in a hate crime. Prodded by a member of the media, one victim’s family member denounced the culture’s “venomous political speech,” insinuating that modern civic dialogue played a role in the tragedy.

No evidence suggests that the perpetrator garnered any motivation from either side of the political spectrum. Evidence does suggest that he was emotionally and psychologically imbalanced, and that he acted on his own volition from his own troubled world.

I don’t disagree that our country could use less talking and more listening. Most human relationships could.

I covet Stephen Covey’s advice: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” And better yet, from the brother of Jesus: “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

But don’t limit my freedom to speak my mind just because a loon loses his.

As a thirty-something Republican, I grew up in an era when getting a conservative to be confrontational was like getting a four-year-old to burp with his mouth closed. It was virtually impossible.

As a result, my party spent the 1960s, 70s and 80s as a reliable Congressional minority. It wasn’t until talk radio and new media hit in the mid-90’s that Republicans emboldened. Only then did a right-of-center party begin to fully govern our right-of-center nation.

Once conservatives started going head to head with liberal ideologies, they won the political day.

Except for compromised fiscal principles and an elongated military conflict, the Democrat gains of 2006 and 2008 would not have happened. By extension, the uproarious course correction of 2010 would not have been necessary.

Liberals know this. They know that common sense, conservative political speech is remarkably representative of what most Americans believe.

So, liberals don’t go toe to toe on the field of ideas; they attempt to move the goalposts. They don’t repudiate the message; they attempt to silence the messenger.

Hence, their labeling as uniquely novel and dangerously provocative the political commentary that has flowed for generations.

To undermine the compelling content of their opposition, they vilify their opposition’s tone. In truth, it is no more “hateful” than their own and no more heightened than that of public discourse through the ages.

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