by William Lloyd Stearman, PhD


At this point I would like to share with my readers my favorite political quote which appeared in The Times (London) on August 11, 1846 and should especially be read by all those living in democracies:

“The greatest tyranny has the smallest beginnings. From precedents overlooked, from remonstrances despised, from grievances treated with ridicule, from powerless men oppressed with impunity, and overbearing men tolerated with complacence, springs the tyrannical usage which generations of wise and good men may hereafter perceive and lament and resist in vain. At present, common minds no more see crushing tyranny in a trivial unfairness or ludicrous indignity, than the eye uninformed by reason can discern the oak in the acorn, or the utter desolation of winter in the first autumnal fall. Hence the necessity of denouncing with unwearied and even troublesome perseverance a single act of oppression. Let it alone and it stands on record. The country has allowed it and when it is at last provoked to a late indignation it finds itself gagged with the record of it own ill compulsion.”

In this vein, I also like these 1788 remarks of James Madison:

“I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedoms of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

I cite these out of concern about what I see as potentially serious encroachments on our First and Second Amendment rights. Addressing the former, as I mentioned in Chapter Five, we have overcome many past intolerances often manifested in the use of pejorative and hurtful epithets such as ,for example, the “N-word” for describing our black fellow citizens. This I welcome as an improvement, certainly not an encroachment on freedom of speech. What concerns me greatly, however, is the stifling effect on free expression inherent in political correctness which, as I noted, is especially manifest on college and university campuses where liberals usually hold sway and non-liberal views are suppressed. This can be documented by citing countless cases. Now, we have liberals at the highest levels of government which certainly raises the ante to the political level and which necessitates constant vigilance and, when needed, vocal expressions of concern.  An especially insidious manifestation of this is in the badly misnamed Employee Free Choice Act,  under consideration as of this writing, designed to promote union organization of our labor force, in itself a perfectly acceptable goal, but prohibits a secret ballot decision by workers whether or not to have a union shop. The Act instead provides for an open choice rendering workers highly susceptible to union pressure. As once a factory worker, I can easily envisage how this could happen. The problem here most certainly transcends the issue at hand, since elections and choices by secret ballot are integral to a democratic society. When the U.S. Government in any way mandates against the secret ballot in any context, we are on the edge of the kind of slippery slope warned against in the above quotes. Fortunately, as of this writing, President Obama is not pushing this Act.

Politically correct stifling of legitimate expression is a much wider and more prevalent phenomenon. This makes it difficult and often impossible to discuss some sensitive issues which badly need discussing. For example, race issues, homosexuality and freedom of religious expression.  Tom Brokaw’s Boom describes the views of former radical black activist turned conservative academic, Dr. Shelby Steele, who “insists that the ‘enormous moral evolution’ of white America from the Sixties to the present is one of the great untold stories of our time.” Dr. Steele has these trenchant observations on the sensitive issue of white racism: “Steele believes white America is being conned into believing it is a racist society, ‘Because [he says] the more you [whites] think that, the more you’re gonna be open to our [blacks’] demands. It all began in 1968. White America lost its moral authority. That’s the price it paid for being good, for acknowledging it was wrong. Whites could be stigmatized, and they’ve been living in terror ever since. The worst thing that can happen to a white person is to be labeled a racist.”
(This epithet is, incidentally, never applied to blacks who discriminate against whites.)

This has a chilling effect on race relations since it obviates any frank and honest discussion of differences. It cannot, however, ultimately redound to the benefit of blacks to, in effect, be treated as too immature or insecure to cope with criticism, even that coming from fellow blacks, such as Bill Cosby, for example. This problem was intelligently addressed by our first black Attorney General Eric H. Holder who stated on February 18, 2009, "If we are to make progress in this area, we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about racial matters that continue to divide us." (Washington Post Feb. 19, 2009)

As I noted in Chapter Five, in which I discuss in detail the growth of homosexuality in the U.S., the  use of “homophobe,” in describing those who have problems with considering homosexuality as normal, should be treated with the same opprobrium as we rightly now treat the “N-word.” Those of us who sincerely believe that it is both morally and clinically wrong to consider homosexuality normal, especially in school sex education courses, in the interest of illuminating this growing phenomenon, deserve the respect accorded those who disagree with us. Instead, our views and opinions are systematically squelched. When, for example, have any of you readers read that homosexuality has been successfully treated in numerous cases? This is not good. The restricting of religious symbols in public is another example of restricting First Amendment freedoms. The religion part of the Amendment was clearly intended to prevent the establishment of a state church, such as the established Church of England held up by our Founding Fathers as something to be avoided. This Amendment protecting the “free exercise” of religion was clearly never intended to ban public symbols of, for example, our prevailing national religion, Christianity, such as Christmas crèches, the Ten Commandments, crosses and even nondenominational prayers.. Litigation, mostly carried out by the misnamed American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), too often succeeds in courts in violating our basic religious rights.

Another basic right, our Second Amendment right to bear arms, which like much of our Bill of Rights, had an antecedent in the 1689 English Declaration of Rights, has been under constant assault by those who, under the guise of gun control, are dedicated to depriving law-abiding citizens of their right to bear arms. The tack used is exploiting the Amendment’s language, “A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” Thus the gun controllers argue the right to bear arms actually refers only to those in a militia. The ultimate goal of the gun control lobby was nearly realized in the District of Columbia where all handguns were banned and all other guns ordered to be disassembled and thus rendered  unsuited for defensive purposes. The result has been one of largest serious crime rates in the nation.  As I noted in Chapter Five, liberal, black Washington Post columnist William Raspberry once wrote, that as much as he hated to agree with the National Rifle Association, it is right in stating that “when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”
This certainly described the situation in our nation’s capital. Finally a suit was brought against the DC government ordering it remove the handgun ban and other firearms restrictions. In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the DC government noting, in essence, that “the right of the people” trumped the militia language. Interestingly, leading liberal constitutional law scholar, Harvard’s Lawrence Tribe, had come to the same conclusion in his writings. The struggle to protect the Second Amendment is, however, certain to continue. ”Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” (Usually attributed to Thomas Jefferson.) The DC government is now defying the Supreme Court decision with continued onerous and unnecessary gun controls. Incidentally, the NRA strongly supports the only gun control measure that has actually proven to be effective: the instant background check to eliminate gun buyers who shouldn’t have guns. The NRA worked with Congress to strengthen this measure in the wake of the 2007 killings on the Virginia Tech campus.