Free Speech and the Republican Party

The Carpetbagger supplies me with this nice little quote:

“Anyway, ‘Get used to the protest, Gibson.’ This guy is in the U.S. Army. He writes to me from Tirrenia, Italy, on a U.S. [email account]. Can you imagine this? ‘Get used to the protest, Gibson. Americans are finally waking up and seeing the lies and the fallacies of the Bush administration. Fox News has done its best at bird-dogging the Iraq war.’ This guy is in the Army. Who knows? All right, find him and arrest him.”

That’s Fox News’ John Gibson, guest-hosting Bill O’Reilly’s radio show. Yep, this is the same guy who thinks Karl Rove deserves a medal. A nutcase, admittedly, but a nutcase with a national audience on the highest-rated news channel in the country. Anyway, Carpetbagger thinks the anti-military sentiment is the worst part. I disagree. That’s to be expected; the Republican noise machine performs character assassinations on anyone who openly rejects party dogma, including military personnel. If military experience helps them, as with George Bush Sr., they use it, with pleasure. If it hurts them, as with John Kerry and Casey Sheehan, they attack it, with even more pleasure.
No, what worries me about this is the casual manner in which Gibson dismisses the concept of free speech. This is becoming depressingly common on the right. Accusations of “treason” (preferably by its Constitutional definition, giving “aid and comfort to the enemy”) and “sedition” are thrown around like candy. Some of their targets are despicable, such as those who openly support the Iraqi insurgency. Others simply oppose the war in Iraq or, better yet, the war on terror. This is truly frightening. On no issue is public debate more essential than war. A nation should never go into battle lightly. People, including civilians, will die. That is not a hypothetical. If anything, active support for war should be restrained; war is never a pleasant option, and should always be a last resort. And yet the right refuses to allow Americans to even so much as question the necessity of bloodshed. This is a disturbing development, one that must be counteracted.

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