The Watering Hole, Saturday, February 23, 2013: Is Extremism in Denial of Liberty a Virtue?

I’m worried about my country. I’m worried because our open and free society has been manipulated by extremists bent on exploiting the worst in us in order to achieve their own very undemocratic, very anti-freedom, and very mentally unstable goals. The First Amendment protection of Free Speech is great and this wouldn’t be America without it, but just because you’re allowed to say something, it doesn’t mean that everyone has to treat what you say as valid, nor does it mean you have any right to demand that people do. And there has been a perversion of our Free Speech rights such that to question anyone’s right to say insane, even traitorous things, brings wrath that is, for reasons that escape me, treated as valid complaints. We have a Right Wing movement in this country so extreme that to call them “Conservative” is to misunderstood what true Conservatism is about. Barry Goldwater, in his acceptance speech as the 1964 Republican presidential nominee, said that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” A nice, patriotic sentiment, as patriotic pablum goes, but if we accept it as valid, must we also accept that extremism in the denial of liberty is no virtue? Yet this is exactly where today’s so-called “Conservative” movement has gone.

If you believe in reproductive freedom rights, then this is an area where you and the RW extremists shouldn’t even be in the same library, let alone on the same page of the same book. In 2011, “legislators in 24 states, many elected in the 2010 Republican tide, passed a record 92 laws restricting abortions“, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Some Republican extremists even want to ban contraception, an issue that was decided by the Supreme Court long before Roe v. Wade. If you believe that what you and your lover do as consenting adults in the privacy of your own bedroom/hotel room is your business and none of the government’s, how could you ever support a movement that would vigorously fight to regulate that activity? Is this extremism in the defense of liberty or in the denial of it? Should we really be treating what the proponents of these anti-abortion, anti-contraception laws say as valid?

Another issue sure to invoke Right Wing extremism is that of gun control. Now, I have some serious disagreements with Gun Rights advocates that the purpose of the Second Amendment was to serve as a check against a potentially tyrannical government. I agree that allowing citizens access to their own guns for purposes of community defense and security would have the side effect of helping to keep such a government in check, but I wholeheartedly disagree that this was its primary purpose. But try telling that to the RW extremists who believe that not only was this its primary purpose, but that it was its only purpose. You never hear some of these people mention militias or the “security of a free state,” but they can sure quote the second half of the Second Amendment. And lately, their rhetoric has become so extreme that they are claiming that President Obama is raising a private black army to massacre white Americans. Well, it’s not exactly what they’re saying, but it is one of the many false premises they’re using to denounce what the evil Obama “might” be doing. You know, “If he really is raising a black army to massacre white Americans, that would be a bad thing.”-kind of thing. Or, “If he really does go door-to-door to try to take away people’s guns [something which, in fact, he has NEVER proposed], then he can expect to meet a lot of resistance.” Except none of those things are happening. Not even close. They are grossly twisting and distorting a line out of a 2008 campaign speech. It’s true that Obama said, “We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.” But as with many of the more extravagant claims quotes from the RW, this quote is taken out of context. According to, Obama “was talking specifically about expanding AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps and the USA Freedom Corps, which is the volunteer initiative launched by the Bush administration after the attacks of 9/11, and about increasing the number of trained Foreign Service officers who populate U.S. embassies overseas.” (Go to the link to see the full quote in context.) Now if people want to say these things, that’s all well and good. They’re as wrong as one can possibly be, but they do have a Constitutional right to say these nonsensical things. But what they don’t have is a right to expect us to treat them seriously and respectfully and to act upon those unfounded fears as if they have validity. They don’t.

As the late, great Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, from my own state of New York, once famously told a rival, “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.” The problem we face today is that facts don’t matter in our political discourse. (Even a lack of facts, such as that there is no evidence something happened, doesn’t even stop our elected officials from making outrageous claims that they did happen.) The RW does feel entitled to their own facts because they believe having an opinion is equivalent to having a valid opinion. They feel that not only do you have to respect the fact that they have an opinion (I do), but that you must respect that opinion (I don’t.) Is it any wonder, really, why our country is so divided politically?

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss whatever you wish.

63 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Saturday, February 23, 2013: Is Extremism in Denial of Liberty a Virtue?

  1. Opinions are sort of like calories. You have to be careful how you consume them because the empty ones can be hazardous to your health.

  2. I have to wonder why it is that Wingnuttistanians see Obama as being black. Only his father was black, his mother was a white woman born in Kansas, of all places. According to my math, that makes him as much a white man as a black man, and since whites are clearly superior, wouldn’t that mean that his white half is dominant? And if his white half is obviously dominant, and since Amurka is a white Christian country, that means . . . . Well, you know.

    Wingnuttistan seems to me to quite literally define the concept of intellectual inferiority, with virtually its entire population clearly intellectually inferior to, near as I can tell, even a housefly. Anyone who cares to disagree should first take a close look at the intellectual “capacities” of some wingnut icons — say, Louie Gohmert, Rand Paul, James Inhofe . . . a good start — and then maybe we can talk!

    • Wingnuts are totally into the concept of form over function. If it looks or sounds good to them it is all good. The fact that it doesn’t function is immaterial.

    • They believe their opinions are facts and should be respected as such and the news media encourages them by accepting their rhetoric as fact. I heard a journalist state that the news is an hypothesis. If there is an explosion and five people are killed is that a theory that has to be proved??? A meteorite hit Russia is that a theory – the news should be only facts. Commentaries can be hypothesis, but not the news and there lies the problem. The media can’t distinguish fact from fiction so how can the readers. It only encourages people to feel they have a right to their own ‘facts’.

        • Looks like a comment meant to apply to Wayne’s post, got indented as a ‘reply’ to the sun flair post instead. I’ve managed to do the same on occasion, no big deal.

          In any case, I do agree with the commenter. Well said.

      • Like you, I miss the time when editorial opinion was clearly delineated from the news. Sometimes the things which were inconvenient were omitted, but we all expected the facts that were reported were real and true, otherwise no serious person would listen. Now people seem to want to hear their worldview reaffirmed, not learn what really happened. I hope I’m not too late to welcome you here arleenfei, it’s been a long day that saw the lose of a promising hog.

  3. Danica was leading as a caution came out on lap 8, from starting 12th. she followed Tony Stewart to the front then they separated. About lap 30 the engine let go after the revs started dropping, and the temps went up.

  4. It has been said that the best comedy is that which makes one a bit uncomfortable. I also believe that the best insults are when the person being insulted is too effing stupid to realize it. Keeping those two thoughts in mind; this is just freakin’ funny as Hell. I wish that “real journalists” would occasionally say; “get the fuck outta here!”.

    On a related note. I wonder if the laminated mail-order documents came from David Barton. It sounds like something he would come up with.

    • I don’t have a problem with secession. It is like divorce on a national scale. Lincoln fought it at the cost of more American lives than any other war we have fought and the end result was we still have the problem. Let Texas go as a test case. It will be painfully fun to watch.

  5. And it certainly doesn’t help the FACTS when the RWLieMachine has FauxNewz at its garbage disposal, maintaining the right to lie about any and every thing.

    • Added Martin O’Malley, the governor of Maryland: “I think he’s long-term optimistic. Short-term, he believes Republicans seem hell-bent on slowing job recovery through sequestration, which in some perverse way they see as a win.”

      Maybe this is as much as O’Malley wants to say in public, but the GOP have their crosshairs on ruining Social Security and Medicare. They also will fight to protect the tax breaks and subsidies for corporations. They still think if they don’t cave, they will be able to get the funding for the military restored at some point, without giving anything up to get it.

    • Gun Ruling Leaves Illinois Lawmakers to Grapple With Concealed Carry

      A federal appeals court on Friday narrowly rejected Illinois’ request to reconsider a ruling that found the state’s concealed carry weapons ban unconstitutional, leaving lawmakers in the only state that still prohibits concealed carry grappling with how to proceed.
      The 5-4 ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave state Attorney General Lisa Madigan the option of appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court — a move that could affect gun laws in other states. It also came on the same day that state lawmakers held a hearing on the issue in Chicago — a city that’s drawn national attention for its soaring gun violence and homicide rate, including the death of a 15-year-old honor student a mile from President Barack Obama’s home.

      Looks like this is heading to the SCOTUSes. Can’t have two circuits issuing contradicting rulings on the Constitution.

  6. Paranoia on parade. One would think that any sane person who glances at the graph would realize what the problem is and want a solution but the freaks are so caught up in strawman arguments that there’s no reasoning with them. With all the calls going out for stricter control of firearms I haven’t seen anyone propose sending officers to seize firearms or take inventories. But? That’s what they are afraid of. They also seem to be simply terrified that they won’t pass stricter scrutiny. I sure would like just one of them to tell us why. Criminal record? Mental instability? Get off on kicking dogs? Or just a plain, old-fashioned, guilty conscience? Such fear must have a basis even if it’s irrational but none of them I’ve run across will answer that simple question; what are you afraid of?

    On a related note: My old friend, Chuck, is buying the bullshit. He’s stocking up “before guns are illegal and only crooks have guns”. His old friend, who is winding down his farm in preparation for retiring to Hawaii, is trading old farm equipment for assault rifles. I tried talking some sense into Chuck but no luck. So? I figure I’ll sell him my old rifle that he’s always admired. I don’t think I’ll go big game hunting again and I’m tired of having it around and could use the extra cash. Since he is none too mobile I figure he could benefit from the long range when he hunts deer from a stand.

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