We’re a nation under armed siege. That comes as news to a lot of us. But, more than news, it’s a hard fact.
It sort of “snuck up” on us. And, it didn’t really seem so until January 6th and the attack on Congress by an armed mob. A mob, it seems, that was more organized and focused than first thought.
But, it’s not just there. It’s in nearly all the 50 states as legislatures begin meeting. Local and state police have been called to provide extra security at your nearby statehouse. While still debating whether to meet in person or by remote electronic means for health reasons, the new threats of possibly armed confrontations have taken over as topic #1 for members nearly everywhere.
We’ve already seen some skirmishes in Oregon, Idaho, Washington and elsewhere. Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and more. Local folks - and some not so local - showing up with assault rifles and grenades.
The thing that bothers me most about all this - scares me most - is some members of the bodies being attacked seem to have been in on it by skirting security measures and opening doors for attackers. In nearly all such cases, the believed traitors have been Republicans.
And listen to the loud bitching by some in the same party about the new security measures on Capitol Hill. Some GOPers refuse to go through the new metal scanners and deliberately go around them. It’s gotten so bad the Speaker of the House is talking about fines for the miscreants of $5,000-10,000. And higher.
In nearly all instances, the attackers heads are filled with fantasies, irrational conspiracies, Qanon B.S. and whatever Hannity and Ingraham said last night on Faux Neus. Mental junk and mental poison.
In D.C., some of those storming the House and Senate chambers were organized and, as the FBI has discovered, wanted to capture certain members of Congress. “Capture and kill” some hollered.
This is serious business. And it’s getting “seriouser” by the day. So, how to stop this craziness and lawlessness before it gets worse? Because the usual measures won’t work in these unusual times. I see at least one dangerous - and possibly - unconstitutional answer.
When a farmer wants to cut off the supply of water to his crop, he closes the head gate. When someone is snake bit and wants to be sure it doesn’t happen again, he cuts off the head. In other words, you go to the source and kill it.
When “free speech” is twisted out of shape - when “free speech” is weaponized, it becomes our enemy. It becomes something it was never meant to be. Lying, perverted, hate-filled, evil fantasies, deliberate perversion of our “mother tongue” were never meant to be either “free” or “protected” speech.
Now, I’ve spent much of my adult life defending the 1st amendment and free speech. I’ve defended some hateful, rotten speech. I’ve done so while firmly holding my nose at times. I’m a firm believer of the right to free speech.
But, the common denominator here is not “free speech” but speech meant to pervert - too enrage. Meant to create followers, “believers” as it were. Meant to delude minds not centered in reality. It’s meant to bring disparate and often lonely people together with other such folks. And, as we’ve seen on January 6th, its speech meant to arm - to attack - to kidnap.
The I-Net is one “feeder” offering gathering places and unedited, unchecked, totally biased and totally dangerous “free speech.” The private companies that make such speech available must step up, must muster the guts to police and stop the spread. If they don’t, the freedom they enjoy - that other forms of communications don’t - can quickly be cut short by the FCC and Congress. Firm regulation of the unregulated.
Companies - other private and public companies - must stop sponsoring the I-Net platforms, hate radio and lie-filled TV if they continue as is. They - and their advertising companies - need to make certain their dollars are not spent providing hate speech - racist speech, ignorant speech meant to dis-inform and inflame. Money - or the discontinuance of it - speaks very loud.
But, perhaps the hardest thing that must be done deals with Hannity, Ingraham, Limbaugh, Carlson, News Max and the other purveyors of deliberate lies, twisted facts and hate-mongering. They - and others of their ilk in local broadcasts - must be silenced. I know. I know. First amendment and all that. But, again, hate speech is a deliberate attempt to pervert free speech for other purposes. Lies and damned lies, fact-bending, deliberately distorting reality and stoking hate among willing-but-dangerous followers is not free speech.
England has a “media regulator” called Ofcom. It enforces broadcast rules on impartiality and accuracy for all news broadcasters. Those who breach the rules are censured or fined, putting pressures on radio/TV operators to play stories fairly straight.
We need constitutional scholars to gird up for a very important review of “free speech.” NOW! There exists already a list of court-approved banned speech:” pornography, blackmail, threats, etc.. Hate-mongering, deliberate lies, demented fantasies passed off as fact and much, much more need to be re-examined for inclusion.
Desperate times = desperate measures.