Marita Vargas
Free speech and rude awakenings
By Marita Vargas
September 1, 2009

In an age and time not too distant from our own, the heirs of our once noble civilization will regard our political debate as just so much graffiti. Like good archeologists sifting through the shards and fragments of an age gone by, our posterity will sort through the sound bites, slogans, and blogo-gyrics of our defunct civilization in an attempt to discover what went wrong. Such a frenzied exchange of words should have given rise to some action to preserve the republic. Could it be that despite the multitude of messages, the American people never learned how to talk to each other?

Free and open debate is more important to the average Joe or Josephine than to the beltway crowd because it is possible for us to forge the consensus that will move the nation in the right direction. When we know where we are headed, we will know what we have to do to get there. We can make the lackeys of the state completely irrelevant.

As it is now, they think we are irrelevant. It never occurs to them that they cannot possibly speak for us for the simple reason that they cannot bear to hear what we have to say. Truth to tell, we have not been saying very much, at least not much that can be heard over the din of lobbyists and money-men.

But our president inadvertently acknowledged the power of people-to-people communication when he established the inform-against-your-fellow-Americans website, to keep track of dissenters to his health care proposal.[1] President Nixon had his enemies list, enemies he knew by name. President Obama has his enemies list, enemies whose names he wants to know. But then he is only making open and explicit a war on free speech that our ruling elite have been waging for a long time. The ongoing town meetings regarding health care reform make this very clear.

My local representative never intended to have a town meeting. Instead, he agreed to be the featured speaker among a panel of health experts assembled by a group favoring national health care. When the area tea-partiers reacted with scorn to his programmed discussion, they were labeled as rude. Who was rude, or shall we say naïve? The people who believe that the rep works for them or the rep who believes we should accept his handiwork without question?

The rep has every reason to believe that we are naive. He and his gang engineered our silence a long time ago. First of all there is the granddaddy of "shut-up or else" statutes, the 501C3 gag order — a bribe that allows non-profit charities to keep their money just so long as they don't speak up on politics.[2] The law has effectively silenced the churches. In a country that owes its origins to the brave pulpit men whose revolt against King George the III was labeled a "Presbyterian preachers' rebellion" — the repeal of this law is long overdue.

Next, there is McCain-Feingold[3]. Under the guise of campaign reform, two senatorial bullies stepped up to deliver a black-eye to the little guy who wanted to have his say before an election. It is a bitter reflection to note that McCain's role in this assault on free speech contributed to his failed presidential bid. Is it any wonder that President Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Barbara Boxer think they can assault free speech directly without suffering any consequences?

The assault on free speech is relentless and far-reaching. Once it is gone, government can do what it wills. There is very little that our government has left to do to make free speech obsolete. Our Demander-in-Chief wants the legislature to give him the power to declare a cyber emergency and cut off Internet and cell phone communications.[4] The F.C.C. under Chairman Genachowski will work with Mark Lloyd, in the newly created office of diversity director, to address the "structural imbalance" (read conservative slant) of talk radio. Lloyd is the sort who admires what Hugo Chavez has done to eliminate dissenting opinion in Venezuela. The major media are concentrated in very few hands and are wholly sold-out to the progressive cause, the cause that would see us progress to the status of Cuba.

Did I mention our churches are silent?

The assault on religious freedom, the true basis for free speech, goes on unabated in courtrooms across the nation. There is a reason why freedom of religion is in the First Amendment — it is the first freedom. Because religion governs the conscience of the individual, its free exercise necessitates the free speech that government can only ratify. A free individual can become the basis for a free and independent nation because he moves among other free and independent individuals whose liberty comes from God. Government exists to protect his freedom.

Finally, religious freedom alone is the bedrock on which the foundation of the state may confidently stand, securing it against the folly of building on the narrow fulcrum of secular authority. Why? Because powerful people have got to be made to feel that they answer to a Supreme Being infinitely more powerful than they. Americans have forgotten that there is a very good reason why our constitution limits the power of the powerful. We may be on the verge of finding out what life is like when the czars among us are given free reign.

Do you remember any of our beloved rulers opening the health care debate with the essential question: What is constitutionally allowed? No, that is a question they never seem to ask. Could it be that they don't believe in constitutions any longer? How much do you want to bet that after they have all but dispensed with our Constitution, they will no longer believe in restraining their every whim?

To speak easy is to breathe easy, and to breath easy is the best evidence of the "blessings of liberty." But if we are to breath easy any time soon, we must exert ourselves as though we are running the race of our lives. The clock is ticking. The torch is flickering out. Let us run without growing weary, learning to talk to each other, becoming a rude people: unafraid to talk about religion and politics; unafraid to speak in the coffee houses, shops and workplaces across the land; unafraid to speak truth to power. We must make sure that if a rude awakening is to be delivered, it is delivered by us to our faithless legislators, and not to us, the American people, as we awaken one morning to discover that our freedoms are gone. Speak up America!


[1]  "Proposed" is used loosely. We all know, well, almost all of us know, that President Obama is not a legislator.

[2]  In 1954 Senator Lyndon Johnson was responsible for the amendment to the tax code that made cutting churches out of political debate legal, thereby killing two freedoms with one stone.

[3]  In 2002 Senators McCain and Feingold were responsible for the law that denied broadcast access to interest groups 30 days before a primary and 60 days before an election, thereby making the world safe for politics as usual.

[4]  The ACLJ website can keep interested parties abreast of developments in this area.

© Marita Vargas


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Marita Vargas

Marita Vargas believes in freedom of speech and in civil discourse. Because for decades the American people have been silenced, intimidated, and poorly informed, they are in danger of losing their freedoms for the simple reason that they rarely discuss the underlying reasons for the current state of affairs. She can be reached at


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