Occasionally I tune in CNN, actually appreciate some of its news discussions and otherwise grin and bear it. The other day, though, I frowned and decided not to bear it because here was this hoity-toity guy telling us how freedom would be endangered with Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court because the conservatives would outnumber the liberals.
Excuse me, but, with exceptions, liberals are among the worst enemies American freedom has. It’s true that the words “liberal” and “liberty” emerge from the same root word, namely “liber,” meaning free. In fact, when liberalism began in the 18th century Enlightenment era, its foremost plank was liberty. We had inalienable rights, you see, and this philosophy was at the heart of America’s beginnings just as the current, refashioned version could propel our ending.
What happened was “the Great Switch,” a phrase used by the historian Jacques Barzun in his book “From Dawn to Decadence.” In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, he wrote, socialist enthusiasms began to creep into liberalism, causing ideals to bend in coercive directions. Grant accomplishments but wade through to our 21st century, and we find liberals forever fencing us in. Our big-government superiors, you see, are trying to deliver a centrally planned utopia on the way to being an authoritarian dystopia.
A major means for this undertaking is regulations, and there are multi-thousands of pages of them telling us what’s best for us, only it often isn’t. Businesses get smashed, your choices are more limited, legal threats start sneaking up on you. And guess who loved this stuff? President Barack Obama. He set all kinds of records giving us new regulations now being undone by President Donald Trump to the benefit of a booming economy and human flourishing.
The left is not restricted to government. At a vast number of ultra-liberal universities, another group of our betters limit free speech by students to designated zones, impose speech codes and skip due process when a female student accuses a male student of sexual abuse. Back to Washington, Democrats in Congress have proposed that gangster laws be employed against corporations questioning catastrophic climate change. A few years ago, as a show of virtue as they understood it, all the Democratic members of the Senate voted for rewriting a portion of the First Amendment to further empower Congress to control political speech.
Never tiring in such efforts, liberals in and out of politics are also encouraging the prohibition of hate speech. Hate, of course, could be so vaguely defined as to curtail any speech insufficiently euphemistic to meet liberal tastes.
One of the scariest things of late occurred when liberals were outraged by two free-speech rulings by conservatives on the Supreme Court. One decision said it was wrong for the state of California to require pro-life organizations counseling pregnant women to put up posters telling them where to get abortions. In other words, the state legislature thought that, if a private group advocated a cause it did not like, it could force it to promote the opposite cause. Nope, said the court.
The court also ruled that government employees refusing to join public unions should not be forced to help pay for their costs, including TV ads supporting political causes they might not agree with. Does that make you stomp your feet and insist the government darned well ought to have the prerogative of making you help finance any private group you deign not to join? I hope not.
The amazing thing is how five conservative, majority justices in these rulings were excoriated for “weaponizing” free speech. A front-page New York Times story quoted law professors and others as saying the powerful should not have free speech and that free speech was only legitimate when used to defend liberal causes. It shows you where the left is today and underlines how conservatives, especially those who are libertarians, of course, are now the true liberals.
A constitutionalist majority on the court is no threat to freedom. It is a boon to freedom even it brings tears to the eyes of liberals who are no longer liberal.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.