Free Speech

First, read this article.

Done? Good.

This is the sort of thing that just makes my blood boil. None–none!–of the poetry, posters, and other art was obscene. But it was critical–in some cases, very critical–of our national policies. And so, for that reason, the principal decided to obliterate it; to crush it; to silence it.

Now, I’m certainly aware that this isn’t the first time that a school has moved to crush student opinion, and it’s not going to be the last. But how can we expect young Americans to be good citizens if they’re not permitted to exercise their minds and question that which we hold to be self-evident?

“Dissent is the highest form of patriotism”. Those words were spoken by a man who was probably the proudest American who lived this century–Teddy Roosevelt. But to me, dissent goes beyond that. Dissent goes to the very heart of what it means to be an American, from the very first Pilgrim who set foot on that Massachusetts beach shore, all the way to the present. You deny dissent, you deny America.

America wasn’t populated by people who were happy with the way things were going back home; it was populated by people who were angry with how things were, who were sick of getting trod upon, and who dreamt of creating a beacon of freedom and liberty and righteousness for all the world to gaze upon and aspire towards.

And what makes this worse is that this happened because some school principal thought all this dissent was “un-American”, since they were criticizing our war in Iraq. And what really sets me off is that the schools’ military advisor (most likely a JROTC advisor) was a participant in this? What the heck? What was he doing within 2,000 miles of this?

The single biggest reason I use a pen name is because I want my criticism and my writing about everything to be separate of my life as a soldier. I am a soldier, but I’m not just a soldier; there’s more to me than just the GI Joe part. But I don’t want people to get the impression that how I feel is an official statement by the Army, or supported by the Army, or in any, way, shape, or form represents official Army thinking. What I do, and what I write, I do and write as an American, not as a soldier.

It infuriates me when people in the military, who really should know better, engage in political conduct while in the course of duty. There’s a dangerous trend here, and it’s been percolating for a few years. It bothers me greatly that several senior officials saw fit to denigrate the President (and by extension, Democrats) when that office was held by Bill Clinton. It bothers me even more that those folks weren’t punished in many cases. It really bothers me that several soldiers have slammed the current Administration while in uniform, and it bothers me most of all that those guys got the book thrown at them. There’s a standard that should be met, but it isn’t; there’s, instead, a new standard, and it’s this: slam a liberal, and you’re okay; slam a conservative, and you’re toast. That’s a crock, a really steamy one at that.

Enough.

This military advisor needs to, at the very least, apologize; personally, I think he needs to resign, the sooner the better. The military doesn’t need to be within a light year of anything that even remotely smacks of the suppression of basic freedoms.

While I’m at it, a word about supporting the troops. Supporting the troops goes beyond waving a flag, wrapping yourself in a flag, or otherwise telling the troops, “Attaboy!”. Sometimes, it means asking what our troops are doing; sometimes it means asking, is it worth doing?

And sometimes, it means asking yourself–and others–the same question a young man my age once posed to others:

How do you ask someone to be the last soldier to die in Iraq?
How do you ask someone to the last soldier to die for a mistake?

Especially, when we may have known it was a mistake all along.

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12 responses to “Free Speech

  1. Welcome to the New American Theocracy. Enough to make any Taliban proud. US soldiers fighting for freedom my a$$.

  2. PS
    Why do the Republicans hate America?

  3. Rich Puchalsky

    I think that these kids learned a valuable lesson. The American Dream is dead. Without this lesson, they might have — no offense — risked and possibly lost their lives in a military that has no real defensive mission, and whose only current function is the conquest of other countries.

    As it is, that school’s “military liaison” (and since when did each high school get a military advisor?) may have some trouble recruiting, except from those students who are thrilled by the thought of repressing their fellows. They are welcome to their Army experience.

  4. Pingback: The Gamer's Nook

  5. Arkhangel, thanks. One of the things I am trying to get across on my blog is – this is *our* chance, our generation’s chance – to not make the mistakes of the 60s. One of which was blaming the army which is, given that not Swiss condotti, not Auxilliares from the Provinces, *us*, born of us, our memes, our ideologies, our faults as well as our virtues – particularly that so mcuh of the front is taken not from hereditary base subcultures but from national guard.

    (I call this counter-meme of mine, rather melodramatically, “the sword in the hand of the wielder.”)

    But Rich is also correct, in that it is good I think to rip off the illusion that America teaches and lives freedom to her youth. Last 4 July I posted on my site JS Mill on how schools were turning out little regurgitators, sheep who would never be good makers of democracy, which requires critical thought and individualism. He wrote it ca 1850 of england, and it sounds like it was written yesterday. I know someone who refers to HS here as the Schulag Archipelago. They are a wretched hive of conformism and capoism using Orwellian language of “individualism” and “youth” to keep the masses content.

    It’s now, when the smiling masks come off the silver deaths-heads, in the schools and at Instapundit and at the Atlantic, that we have the chance to wake the sleeping and stir the nation to action.

    I’m a realist – we may all end up in the MATRIX (renamed form of pointdexter’s TIA) yet, and sentenced to Redemption…

  6. On Liberty, 1869

    Now Mill says some troubling and on the surface retrograde things, like how “senile” & “barbaric” societies are like children & need authoritarian rule – but for one thing Mill is very complicated and uses lots of irony, and for another thing I never thought you have to agree with *everything* someone else says to think that they say some wise things.

    “When we compare the strange respect of mankind for liberty, with their strange want of respect for it, we might imagine that a man had an indispensable right to do harm to others, and no right at all to please himself without giving pain to any one.”

    and

    A government cannot have too much of the kind of activity which does not impede, but aids and stimulates, individual exertion and development. The mischief begins when, instead of calling forth the activity and powers of individuals and bodies, it substitutes its own activity for theirs; when, instead of informing, advising, and upon occasion denouncing, it makes them work in fetters or bids them stand aside and does their work instead of them. The worth of a State, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it; and a State which postpones the interests of their mental expansion and elevation, to a little more of administrative skill or that semblance of it which practice gives, in the details of business; a State, which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands even for beneficial purposes, will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished; and that the perfection of machinery to which it has sacrificed everything, will in the end avail it nothing, for want of the vital power which, in order that the machine might work more smoothly, it has preferred to banish.

    sum up in my mind why Mill deserves, to paraphrase WWI KIA Saki, his own action figure… (He has lots of relevant stuff on marriage, weapons, female empowerment, as well as politics and education, that all sounds like it was written yesterday except for the style.)

  7. One of the few encouraging things about that editorial is that it was published in Jeb’s state.

  8. “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”

    —Juvenal—

  9. Totally agree with your take, Rafael.

    (But excuse me for interrupting … What’s going on w/ the next installment of the story on AOB?)

  10. If you want to read “Revolution X”, warblogging as a copy of the poem here.

  11. Damnit, I’d blow off the “debunking” except that The Agonist is a good site. Unfortunately, all I read was a response to a reader request, and no confirmatory links were provided. I’m gonna be real pissed at the shameless manipulation of peoples’ lives if this story is truly just a crock of political spin :-/