freedom of speech: the right to dissent

Not all Amendments are created equal. The First, for example, get short-shifted in times of war (by much the same people who tout the Second's universality and infallibility).

I am against this war. I felt it important to start laying out my case and be on teh record as such before the war started. And like Howard Dean, I will continue to speak out about why I am opposed.

I support our troops. I want them to come home. I don't want them to be there - but if they have to be there, I want them to win. And they will.

But take note, all those who sneered at the suggestion that post-9-11 there was an atmosphere of stfling dissent, who still crack jokes about freedom of speech. Freedom of Speech is not proved to exist by one example, but it proved to be threatened by a single counterexample.

It has begun:

Although right wing hectoring has not deterred the anti-war movement, you can bet that folks like Richard Perle, who recently labeled journalist Seymour Hersh "the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist"; Ann Coulter, whose new book -- set to be published sometime this spring -- is called "Treason"; and talk-radio's Rush Limbaugh and Savage will crank out the vitriol. In the name of "patriotism," their goal will be to silence dissent.

Already, GOP chickenhawks pile on to Senator Daschle (a Vietname veteran), DARING to equate his principled dissent with a lack of patriotism. See here for what the true definition of chickenhawks is - and here for a strawman argument against the term which evades the point.

Daily Kos has a masterful post on the GOP chickenhawking, giving 1. Daschele's actual statement, 2. the hypocritical response by Hastert and Tom Delay, 3. the elegant and powerful rebuttal by Daschlke and Pelosi, as well as background info on the heights of hypocrisy of DeLay for critiquing Daschle. And provides this link to a Saletan piece on DeLay for good measure. It's devastatingly effective and rigorous.

Howard Dean has taken the principled call of dissent the loudest - and still stands alone in doing so among the Presidential contenders. Some see this as kowtowing to the GOP's dreams. It's clear from the GOP rhetoric that they plan to use patriotism and silencing of dissent as a major political tool. This can only backfire - and if it doesn't, we deserve to be silenced.

UPDATE: This WaPo article is important. Dissent isn't just citizens speaking their mind, or protestors chaining themselves. It's also about diversity of opinion and thought. There is a War on Dissent taking place and there are as always those who are willfully blind to it.

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