Regimentation, conformity, and obedience have become not just commendable traits, but in the era of the Republican Reich can be considered as virtues for every citizen to cultivate. Hence the voices of anyone who dares to disagree is labeled as emanating from “a conspiracy theory lunatic” and considered anathema. A nation born out of rebellion has morphed into a stogy old country where innovation and creativity are considered worthy of (metaphorical alert) an abortion procedure.
The National Society of Newspaper Columnists have selected April 18 as “National Columnists’ Day,” because it was on that day, in the year 1945, when Ernie Pyle died in combat during WWII. Since America’s much vaunted “Free Press” isn’t reporting that the situation in the Middle East is alarmingly grim and the pundits are not heralding the fact that for the first time in American political History, there is Presidential Candidate who can (opinions are covered by the First Amendment) be described as “frumpy,” this year’s column noting the arrival of National Columnists’ Day will not be on a columnist per se, but will celebrate the nearly extinct species of “unique voice in America.”
Sometimes, even a fascist dictatorship can be tolerant of voices of dissent.
Ernst Junger won an Iron Cross from Germany during WWI and wrote a very jingoistic book about combat (Storm of Steel) and became a popular author in his home country. As WWII approached he produced a new novel that some alarmists thought was critical of the Third Reich. The would-be advocates of extreme censorship brought it to the attention of the Chancellor for life. Hitler reportedly shrugged it off and said to let the writer alone because he was, after all, the Iron Cross winner. Junger, whose biography was (the last time we checked) available in only a German language version, became the only German to win an Iron Cross in both World Wars and was named the cultural ambassador to Occupied Paris.
In America, it seems, Conservatives have become über-enthusiastic about censoring all political opinion that is not enthusiastically very patriotic and since they control the media, the Congress, and have a majority in the United States Supreme Court, mouthing-off in a critical mode is not very healthy for any aspiring political pundits.
It wasn’t always like that, boys and girls. When the non-Christian heathen Warren era Supreme Court opened the flood gate for pornographers (in the early Seventies) Al Goldstein started a newspaper with reviews and news about the burgeoning Industry and became a star in the Pop Culture area of the American media.
Lenny Bruce said naughty words (that everyone used in private conversations) on stage in his comedy routines, became very famous, and died.
Recently we heard (or at least thought we heard) a woman CBS radio news reporter described a harsh boss with the colorful descriptive term “prick.”
What could Lenny Bruce, if he were still alive and grossing and grumbling in the media today that could possibly get him into hot water? How about: “Those f*****g electronic voting machines that have no means for verifying the results are rendering elections to the category of irrelevant!”? He’d be labeled a conspiracy theory lunatic and banished from the spotlight just like he was in the Sixties.
The conservative owners of media would banish him from any and all publicity and ignore his attempts to point out that in an era when no computer seems to be invulnerable to hacking, it is silly (insane perhaps?) to think that a security system that features a des key that is readily available on the Internets can do what the state of the art programs can not.
In Berkeley, a homeless fellow (according to a local legend) used to use the free speech explanation to deliver rants on Sproul Plaza which sanctioned hatred. He became a local legend that merits the term “Berkeley’s beloved hateman.” Go figure.
Hypothetically speaking, there maybe a voice out there on the Internets that is an extreme example of free speech in action, but without a publicity agent to make him (or her) a media fad, the position of “America’s best known voice of dissention” must remain vacant.
There are (as of today) 570 days left until the USA votes for the 45th President. It seems to be a strong likelihood that the contest will be a dual between two candidates who want to revitalize the concept of American Dynasty.
Yes, the Jon Stewart Show will feature some witty one-liners about JEB and Hillary and Saturday Night Live will do some acerbic skits at their expense, but will it be anything more relevant that seeing Richard M. Nixon go on “Laugh In” and asking: “Sock it to me?”?
Ernie Pyle and his associates produced a string of anecdotes about the ordinary G. I.’s that portrayed an image of Boy Scouts with guns hunting down mad dogs from other countries. They didn’t cover such interesting anomalies as the medal winning soldier in France who went AWOL and shacked up with a French chick.
Apparently the only thing the MP’s did was to round-up inebriated combatants on leave and put them in the slammer for a night so that they could sleep it off.
It’s not like the stifling of voices of dissent doesn’t serve a useful purpose. In the book “the Late, Great State of California,” the author examines how a California governor successfully used the issue of student dissent as a stepping stone for his bid to become the President. Apparently the sentiment that colleges spread communism has always been popular with patriotic voters.
In the hectic high pressure world of deadline journalism at its nerve wracking best, why bother to present both side when any imbecile can tell you that only one is correct?
Ironically, the need for a voice of dissent may never have been greater. The situation in the Middle East is shrouded in secrecy. Insightful commentary on the cauldron is MIA in the American media. An opposing point of view might qualify to be classified as treason so anyone foolish enough to mouth off might want to think twice before actually expressing a controversial point of view.
The prospect of dueling dynasties is too pathetic to merit serious commentary.
If, however, the United States Supreme Court, with a majority of conservative, compassionate, Christian Republicans declares that gay marriage is unconstitutional, it might be a very good thing if there are no voices of dissent which could be misconstrued as urging rebellion or fomenting and or inciting a riot in response to an unpopular decision.
If the Supreme Court declares that gay marriage is unconstitutional, it will be a case of “Game over” for the liberal advocates of that cause. At that point the liberals should be expected to display the good sportsmanship mode of conduct and be ready to shake hands with the opposing team and saying: “Good game!”
Sidebar story: Pauline Kael’s home in Berkeley is (reportedly) up for sale and some locals want it preserved as a historic site.
What makes a better news story: the NBA playoffs or a civil war between rival religions in a country you can’t find on a world map?
Mark Twain (reportedly) said: “God invented War so that Americans could learn Geography.”
Now the disk jockey will play the Rolling Stones’ “contractual obligation” album, Jimmy Buffet’s song “Let’s get drunk and screw,” and Pussy Riot’s Osvobodi Bruschatku (Release the Cobblestones [it’s on youtube]). We have to go see if we can find copy of the Berkeley Barb for this week. (Did they ever make a student protester doll?) Have an “abomination against nature” type week.