Curtis Dahlgren
How stands "Liberty of Thought and Discussion" today, boys and girls?
By Curtis Dahlgren
February 17, 2009

". . the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth; if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error." — John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

BY LIMITING DEBATE, CONGRESS IS ROBBING POSTERITY IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE. In Topsy-turveydom, Black History month is somehow February, and "President's Day" is the sixteenth of February this year. I'm not very well "adjusted" to the modern way of "thinking," but I'd prefer being mal-adjusted than TOO WELL "adjusted" (like so many of our young people today). What Topsy-turveydom needs is a good old-fashioned filibuster. Something is fishy in Denmark, as they used to say, and in Washington, for sure.

As Chris Adamo's new column says, "Throughout history, every successful despotic regime has understood the critical importance of establishing and maintaining a monopoly of information. A governing body that intends to rule with absolute authority and impunity simply cannot afford to have its inevitable mistakes and failures highlighted in front of the general public, whose unquestioning loyalty and devotion it needs in order to survive."

FIRST THE BAD NEWS: As Adamo says, it's obvious that the like-minded Democrats in Congress [in "solidarity" with the Administration], fully intend to hush Rush and his "competitors" (with the best of "intentions," of course).

THE GOOD NEWS IS: History teaches us that such power grabs can be beaten back by the common people. The only question remaining is whether we are growing weary. The liberals grew "weary" of Mills' "Liberty of Thought" a long time ago, but the future of the country Washington was the "Father" of is totally dependent now on whether we the Traditionalists are weary of the "bickering" — or NOT.

The last election campaigns lasted two years, and almost everyone has some news fatigue. But this coming battle isn't just for the news junkies. Even the news publishers have the most to lose unless they get off their high horses and down to the real business they're in business for — being Sentinels for the Truth (no matter where that "lies"). William Cowper (1731-1800) said:

"And diff'ring judgements serve but to declare
That truth lies somewhere, if we knew but where."

That simple statement simply "does not compute" with our highly-educated leaders. The elitists would "redefine" Cowper's profound statement with an over-simplification: Truth isn't absolute, so just 'Trust us.'

John Stuart Mill's "Liberty of Discussion" is rapidly being redefined as "divisiveness," if not "hate-speech" (as opposed to their saintly TOLERANCE). ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

We Traditionalists weren't born yesterday, you know, and I for one am not going to shut up. Robert Louis Stevenson said that:

Man is a creature who lives not upon bread alone, but principally by catchwords.

[Just ask James Carville.]
Here are a few words more from Stevenson (1850-94):

"To be honest, to be kind — to earn a little and to spend a little less, to make upon the whole a family happier for his presence, to renounce when that shall be necessary and not be embittered, to keep a few friends, but these without capitulation — above all, on the same grim condition, to keep friends with himself — here is a task for all that a man has of fortitude and delicacy."

Yes, in the Age of Unreason in Topsy-turveydom, one even has to write columns as "delicately" as possible (so as not "offend" someone out there TOO much). It helps to be able from time to time to use some of their own words against them. My first book, "No More Bull; America, Please Phone Home," contained a few words straight out of "The Humanist" magazine. I must find the author's name and the issue, but here's the gist of "The Trouble With Tolerance":

"In addition to telling people how to act, the ethos of tolerance also tells people what they should and shouldn't think. First, you should [supposedly] think your truth is relevant to you but not necessarily to someone else. Second, you realize that [supposedly] no single group of standards is valid for everyone. Third you should believe that it is inappropriate to try to pressure someone else to think like you do.

"Not only do these three ideas violate avowed standards of tolerance by telling people how to think, they are also self-contradictory. Supposed principles of relativism, they are all absolute, all pertinent everywhere at all times. In other words, they all exemplify the very thing they refute . . .

"However wonderful it sounds then, in practice, tolerance as it is espoused most commonly today seems to me a specific, absolute world view — one that seeks to impose its way on everyone. In this world view there are clear ideas of right and wrong; but calling them right and wrong contradicts the relativistic, self-effacing, impartial notions that supposedly govern thought and action.


"The issue then, is not that we should be tolerant but what we should and shouldn't tolerate. The question — like it or not — is what is right and what is wrong."

[There, everything you always wanted to know about Political Correctness, but were afraid to ask (my emphasis).]

The avant gard, wave-of-the-future, elitists dominating our colleges and universities certainly aren't shy about condemning evangelicals, Intelligent Design, or Free Speech itself (just ask Michael Savage or Rush Limbaugh).

But if history teaches us anything, and it does, it has taught us that the "Wave of the Future" often crashes on the other shore, injuring most of all those riding the "Wave."

Laurence Sterne (1713-1768) wrote:

"Whenever a man talks loudly against religion, — always suspect that it is not his reason, but his passions which have got the better of him."


I hope it "offends" (or at least irritates the you-know-what out of the Left) the more we quote those moss-backed old-fogeys who lived 400 years ago, because the more that their words are published, the worse that Politically Correct despots look in contrast. And today being "Presidents Day," I must save room for a couple of quotes from Washington and Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln's favorite President was in fact George Washington, and he said that it was Washington's character that was key to his success [not his eloquence or charisma or his P.R. spin]! Nothing but pure character would have held the colonies together for so long during the Revolutionary War, Lincoln said, and here are some much-ignored quotes from Washington's Farewell Address (it covers 12 pages of fine print):

"I have already intimated to you the dangers of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations . . . This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but in those of the popular form [republics] it is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy.

"The alternate domination of faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual, and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation on the ruins of public liberty . . .

"The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism . . The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositories [branches of government and the states], and constituting each the guardian of the public [welfare] against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern, some of them in our country and under our own eyes."


"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness — these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.

"The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity [expressions of happiness]. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice?

"And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. [we hear a lot of that these days]

"It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free government. WHO THAT IS A SINCERE FRIEND TO IT CAN LOOK WITH INDIFFERENCE UPON ATTEMPTS TO SHAKE THE FOUNDATION OF THE FABRIC?" [my emphasis there]

The integrity and intellectual power of our Founding Fathers is so obviously superior to that of our contemporaries that it almost goes without saying, but all of these statements by Washington are ignored by our leaders, and scorned by our pop culture. One of the "crises" today is that some people may be deprived of their diet of couch-potato entertainment — due to the lack of $40 to buy a "converter box." I say they need "converter boxes" for their HEADS, and that the best thing that could happen to a lot of people would be to go without TV for quite some time!

Society as whole has been so dumbed down that it's almost impossible to find a person worthy of occupying the office once held by Abraham Lincoln, and he himself felt unworthy to occupy George Washington's office. Our esteemed contemporaries not only spend money on high-definition TV, but "green" golf carts, and to save a species of mouse in the salt marshes of San Francisco Bay, etc, etc!

Speaking of George Washington's "out of date" concept of virtue and morality as the "pillars" of a free society, I have a book titled "The Religion of Abraham Lincoln." There's a lot of "debunking" going on out there concerning Washington and the rest of our national forefathers. One exaggerated myth is that Lincoln was either a homo or a homophobic racist, and that he himself was a "despot." The inconvenient fact is that before Lincoln had set foot inside the White House, a revolution had been started in the South (by the same "partisan spirit" that Washington warned us about). Like Nixon's 1960s, Lincoln's 1860s were the worst possible time to be President. Both were faced with outright revolution.

A few words to the South today: The God Who our Founders said preserved the American Revolution would never have allowed the USA to split into two separate countries. The Civil War is OVER. It just wasn't in the cards, so get over it!

As I said, there are a lot of myths going around — and most of them come from the "debunkers." One college student whose statement was broadcast by Laura Ingraham said that Abraham Lincoln was even a slave owner! All the men of the cloth in Springfield, Illinois voted against him in 1860 because they thought he was anti-religious, and yet he was the closest thing to a prophet that America had known. Lest you think I exaggerate that, I am going to stretch this column out with a few words more from William Wolf's 1963 book on Lincoln's religion:

"Isaac Cogdal, who had known Lincoln from the time of the New Salem period, recalled a discussion on religion in Lincoln's office in 1859; Herndon was in the office at the time. Lincoln expressed himself in about these words:

"He did not nor could not believe in the endless punishment of any one of the human race. He understood punishment for sin to be a Bible doctrine; that the punishment was parental in its object, aim, and design, and intended for the good of the offender; hence it must cease when justice is satisfied.

"He added this remark, that . . he was not sure but 'the world would be better off if a little more punishment was preached by our ministers and not so much pardon of sin.' This last comment has all the earmarks of an authentic Lincoln utterance . . .

"The prophetic note of a God of mercy Who punishes the sins of men in the judgments of history with a view to reformation would become a dominant theme in his later religious utterances, especially in his presidential proclamations.

"Here Lincoln say much more clearly than most of the parsons of his day that there is an unbiblical preaching of pardon for sin that, by extricating the individual man from his historical and social setting, gives him illusions about punishment in this world and the next. Lincoln understood the gospel to mean the salvation of all men in both a this-worldly and a next-worldly framework. Many ministers had reduced Christianity to a message of escape for individuals in the NEXT WORLD." [my emphasis]

Now maybe we have a clue as to really why all those "parsons" voted against Lincoln. And could this not be our clue as well?

America has removed all art-work concerning the Ten Commandments from most of the courtrooms of the land [except the Supreme Court, so far] and too many Americans feel that they are "entitled" to uninterrupted prosperity — never mind our fiscal irresponsibility and the fact that we call murder of the unborn "interruption of pregnancy" now — and we WONDER WHY WE DON'T HAVE PROSPERITY? That one deserves one big DUH?

More to come next week.

© Curtis Dahlgren


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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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