…not about the evolution of Freedom but the evolution of the consciousness of Freedom. … Consciousness is paramount in Freedom, just as Reason is paramount in History. And it is the consciousness of Freedom that is the unfolding agenda of History. – Gertrude Himmelfarb, On Looking Into the Abyss: Untimely Thoughts on Culture and Society, Page 57
As I pulled out my notes to populate this post, I came across the above quote and it struck me as being appropriate and a noteworthy addition to those I had gone looking for and have pasted below. My first inclination is to read it literally…as in the “advancement” of the “consciousness of Freedom”…but I now see that the proper context, and why I am posting about it today, has just as much to do with the retreat from the required watchful and appreciative awareness of Liberty. Welcome to the times we are now in…
The topic of this post is centered around someone named Alex Jones. I know virtually nothing about this person. Until this week’s news coverage I couldn’t have picked him out of a police line-up. But he has been the major subject of the Breaking News pushers and junkies for a couple of days now:
Note that the “lie machines” referenced in that third item comes from NBC…now that is rich. But I digress.
I will further admit that I know very little about the details of this case beyond the headlines. While the entire story revolves around a true tragedy, I find the extensive selective outrage about “lies” and “hoaxes” by the corporate media types quite interesting (and likely strategically diversionary) given the demonstrable flow of (now undeniable) lies and hoaxes featuring a certain figure named Trump from these same sources for the last six years. (We could go back further, on just about any topic involving Republican politicians or conservative politics, but there is little marginal value in going back beyond this most recent mountain of lies and hoaxes. But I digress.)
The real point today is to address the agnostic to softly supportive reaction of many of the sort-of conservative, center-right-ish on-line commenters to the verdict and the nearly $1 Billion penalty awarded…it seems, solely for things that he has said in public.
Now, I have long acknowledged that I tend toward being a free speech absolutist. Not just because it – and the consciousness of it – are the most important feature of our liberty, but because it is critical to maintaining a healthy, non-fear-based, free society. That is why I went hunting for two important quotes from the wise Madam Himmelfarb. The first on the conditions necessary for liberty of thought:
As liberty of thought is absolute, so is liberty of speech, which is “inseparable” from liberty of thought. Liberty of speech, moreover, is essential not only for its own sake but for the sake of truth, which requires absolute liberty for the utterance of unpopular and even demonstrably false opinions. Indeed, false or unpopular opinions are so important to truth that they should be encouraged and disseminated by “devil’s advocates” if necessary, for only by the “collision of adverse opinions” can the most certain of truths survive as live truth rather than “dead dogma.” – Page 78
The second on the appropriate conditions for actions by a moral society in reaction to the harm caused to others:
Even the qualification regarding harm reinforces the moral neutrality of society, for it is only in the case of harm to others, not for the “good” of others, that society can properly interfere with the freedom of the individual. And harm itself is further qualified by being limited to “direct,” “definite,” ”perceptible” harm… – Page 84
To be as blunt as possible, if you wish to argue with any of the sentiments in those two short, simple passages then we likely have little to discuss. Just stay out of my foxhole. But it truly saddens me to see so many of the sort-of conservative, center-right-ish on-line commenters who I have read, respected, and agreed with so much over the years turn so soft on such an important principle. I do see that the easy way out is attractive for the go-along-to-get-along rationalizers…to face the now entirely accepted reflexive demagoguery from the left that has long replaced intellectual honesty would be uncomfortable, unpleasant, and unavoidable: any attempt to stand up for American liberty will necessarily be spun as “supporting Alex Jones.” The dead dogma of the modern Left requires it.
But then again, any country…and especially the rotting husk of a dead republic currently lurching toward totalitarianism…operating under a puppet-President controlled by an unseen panel with unapologetic totalitarian instincts requires the imposition of fear regarding speech they deem unpopular. Dead dogma indeed. And those who willingly go along with such things (ala the path of least uncomfortable resistance) only enable the dampening of the consciousness of Freedom across the greater We the People. No thank you…the Liberty of thought behind this keyboard will not play that game.