Friday, August 7, 2009

Free Speech

A bit of an abused term, of late. For a small example, blogs are most surely about free speech. Of the blogger. Some of the most widely read blogs don't allow comments at all; most others employ either overt or presumed censorship of egregious commenters. There's no contradiction there, any more than in the fact that it's not allowed for visitors in the galleries of Congress to shout while business is being conducted. People have a right to say things, but it's not absolute. Particularly when they choose to drown out what is arguably the most important conversation of all: that of the people with their elected representatives.

These orchestrated disruptions of presentations on health care around the country are the perfect microcosm of the decline and fall of American democracy. They have it all: foment by crazy media types obsessed with their delusions, of self-importance and of the value of ratings above all; an opposition party so bereft of ideas and so consumed by a sense of victimhood that all they can do is lie; a public so poorly educated that they can be moved by falsehood and stoked anger as easily as a leaf in a windstorm; a lack of understanding of (and, when the chips are down, support for) democracy; people with such an encompassing sense of marginalization that there's no way to get past it, no avenue into their heads by which reason might lead to shared purpose.

I can hear the cackling. In board rooms across the country, in right-wing strategy sessions: how many palms have been slapped over how easy it was to sell their self-interest as public interest? How surprised must they be that people can be so thoroughly hoodwinked, using their fears and prejudices as weapons against them?

Of course there are reasons for concern over health care reform. (Mine, for example, are that they're not going anywhere near far enough.) Without question, reasonable discourse would be a useful way to address those concerns. But it's been clear for a long while that the right wing simply has no intention of providing any. Having decided that it's in their political interest to block reform (both as a way to derail President Obama's popularity, and to curry favor with those who pay for their elections), providing only lip service to the undeniability that our health care system is heading for the rocks, they have zero interest -- ZERO INTEREST -- in real debate, or in providing the public with truthful information. (If anyone can provide an example of honest characterization of Obama's plans for reform by any of the RWS™ I'd like to see it.)

I've written many times that our system works best with two strong parties. By "strong," among other things I mean having intelligent, thoughtful, hard-working legislators, willing to hash out really tough problems, honestly, with the best interest of the entire country paramount. It used to be so. By abdicating their role, the right wing has failed us all.

So scream away, you teabaggers. As you pull us down, don't forget you're at the bottom of the pile. Remember it when you can no longer breathe.


  1. "They have it all: foment by crazy media types obsessed with their delusions"

    Why are those physicians like that????? Maybe they're stupid? Deluded? Orchestrated? Marginalized?

    I know you don't like this, Sid, but it's the truth. I imagine you'll delete this, but you can't decide it didn't happen. Unless you're deluded and marginalized yourself.

    Or just desparate. Like all the dems.

  2. "Or just desparate. Like all the dems."

    That is just like a Rapeublican... take a clear and absolutely apparent fact, and turn it around and argue the complete opposite.

    It's the Rapes that are desperate. YOU lost the Presidential election because the people wanted a change. YOU lost control of congress because people don't like your ideas. YOU preach family values to the rest of us while screwing around on your wives. YOU are resigning from office left and right because you cant take the heat. YOU are (usually) the rich and privileged "elite" who can't be bothered to care for the less fortunate. YOU and your administration had the helm of this country and presided over the destruction of our economy.

    Note, "you" means the Rapeublican party in general.

  3. And another thing, in your article, the physicians don't say they don't want healthcare reform, it's the Rapeublican congressman quoted saying, "doctors don't want socialized medicine."

    Besides, and again you're missing the point entirely, we're not talking about socialized medicine anyway.

  4. It's not about disagreeing, as anyone who can actually read what I wrote could see. It's about deliberately disrupting for its own sake, for the sole purpose of preventing the sort of discussion that we need and which I, as a physician and a human, would like to see. It's one thing for a group of physicians -- any group of any sort -- to express legitimate concerns; even better to present alternatives. But as a matter of policy, the right wing has opted for lying and for disruption.

    But I repeat myself. Which is what Mr Beer Bottle makes me do all the time, because he seems congenitally unable to see or address the point. Which is why he's been deleted so much, of late. I suppose keeping him around serves to prove what the problem is. But of late I find it too tiresome.

  5. I love your blog- I have been reading for as long time- dont give up!

  6. Hold on. These presentations should be open to the public in a democracy, yes? Yet, I am hearing stories of the general public being locked out while supporters are being ushered in to large reserved seating through side doors. I've seen videos of supporters of health care reform attacking protesters.

    Look, I support universal health care.. if it is done right. I am deeply concerned that what Obama is doing will shred my coverage without providing a good alternative for me. But I'm not seeing any debate, I'm not seeing any answering of fears just scare tactics and yelling on BOTH sides. Obama's all about consensus but as far as I can tell, the only people he's finding consensus with is the health care industry.

    The last election made it quite clear to me that there is NO difference between the Republicans and Democrats. They are both beholden to corporations and special interests. Neither one really cares about we the people.

  7. Well, Lisa, I guess there's plenty of video to prove any side. But what I see, over and over, are people inside the meetings shouting down the speaker and preventing debate of any sort. And it's been clearly shown that the powers behind it, for the most part anyway, are lobbyists for the insurers. I do know of some meetings so packed that, because of fire laws, doors were closed. On the inside, there were such things said as "Keep the government out of my Medicare." Shows you how thoughtful is the opposition. Now Sarah Palin has checked in with the most outrageous statement of all. And those people will believe her.

    I don't disagree that the current plans are too cosy with the insurers. On the other hand, I have a hard time reconciling your view with your fear that he'll "shred" your coverage.

    I also agree that both parties are pretty pathetic, especially their people in Congress. But if you see no difference between the two, then such things as climate change, health care reform, women's rights, foreign policy, education, judicial appointments, aren't of concern to you.

  8. No supporter of Obama has ANY right to talk about women's rights after their gleeful support and use of sexism against both Clinton and Palin.

    I'ld always believed the Dems were the good guys until they were silent during the election about this. Then I realized that they simply mouth the words but don't actually care. No, both parties are simply in the pockets of corporations.

    And you know what.. protesters DO have the right to protest, even inside a meeting.

    There is no difference between the two.

  9. Sexism is bad when it happens. In the case of Sarah Palin, I strongly disagree: she was clearly unqualified and unprepared. When her campaign was based nearly entirely on the sort of "us vs them," "real Americans" vs anyone who disagrees with her, she lost all credibility and deserved every bit of the criticism she got. Calling out a person for idiocy is not the same as sexism. If the idiot happens to be a female, must one refrain? Sarah Palin was a train wreck, and it had nothing to do with her sex; nor did the pointing out of her constant stream of outrages. Which continue, by the way, every time she opens her mouth.

    People love to jump on Joe Biden when he sticks his foot in it? Is that sexist?

    And the most sexist rhetoric against Hillary was from the right; particularly Rush et al.

    It's certainly true that people on all sides cross boundaries, and that things are said on all sides of any campaign that are improper. To say Obama ran a sexist campaign, however, is to make stuff up.

    And you know what? There's a difference between protest and disruption; between disagreeing and preventing people from expressing opposing views.

    There's an ENORMOUS difference between the two. These orchestrated tactics, cheered on by an entire media enterprise and given silence by leaders is simply unprecedented. Have there been protests by liberals? Of course. Has it been aimed at silencing all discussion, and organized like this? Are you kidding? Democrats? Organized?

    I can think of no equivalent lies -- killing grandma and Down babies; he's a Kenyan -- repeated by an entire network and talk radio, spoken in the halls of Congress, based on NOTHING -- from the left over anything Bush did; point some out to me, and we'll discuss it further.

  10. Sid, everyone has a purpose in life:

    Like Drekman, BB's purpose is obviously to serve as a horrible example.

    Without the comments of people like them, on this page, it would be hard to believe the level of InZanity loose in America today.

    It's much different than seeing it on Murdoch's media.

    The small room atmosphere this page provides renders an intimate experience of up-close crazy and the tangible moonbat eeriness of their hateful comments and demented beliefs.

    It is somewhat like having a safe way of viewing some revolting organism, that fascinates as much as it horrifies, without having to actually touch,smell or worry about getting it on one's shoes.


  11. Eugene: I'm sure you're right, as a general principle. But there's no shortage of examples of idiocy everywhere one looks nowadays. Whereas there's nothing I can do about the sick feeling I get from most of it, I realized I could do something about it here.

    There are others who disagree in comments here; I have no problem with it, and am happy to engage. Assuming a baseline of substance on which to base it. If I were ever to need to re-engage with the feeling one gets as one watches the country collapse, I can turn on Fox News (sic), or, perhaps, tear out my eyes. No need to put up with it here any more.


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