Remember Aesop’s Fable about people foolishly killing the goose that laid golden eggs? The idea is that short-term greed can motivate people to do stupid things that undermine their long-term well-being.
If we think of the USA as the goose, so to speak, then the golden egg is our individual liberty, including freedom of speech and freedom of religion, specifically as guarded by the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.
So I could make the case that we are in the process today of killing the goose that laid the golden egg.
- Government overreach responding to the Pandemic.
State governors and city mayors ran roughshod over constitutional civil liberties in the name of public health. Of course, not every decision they made was wrong or bad, but some of them were certainly unwise, even tyrannical. For example, in Michigan, churches were forced to close while abortion clinics, marijuana and liquor stores remained open. In Louisville, church attendees were threatened with surveillance. In Kansas City, an official wanted a list of all church members so his department could track them re public health. In Pennsylvania, churches were threatened by the governor, and in Minnesota churches sued a state public health official for that office's draconian and discriminatory treatment of churches. In California recently, churches were told not to sing during services.
2. Lawless riots overpowering lawful protest responding to racial injustice, police brutality concerns.
While peaceful protestors tried to make their frustrations about racial injustice known in cities across the country, they were soon and often over-run by people more interested in larceny, looting, arson, and destruction.
In the name of racial justice, lawless agitators destroyed or defaced statues of Confederate officers, but then well beyond obvious connections to race,defaced or destroyed the statues of abolitionists, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, even Abraham Lincoln and Boston’s monument to the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, an all-Black group of Union soldiers who fought against slavery and the Confederacy. Minority businesses and neighborhoods have been burned or otherwise trashed. In Portland, a statue of an elk was burned, why, no one seems to know, other than anarchy.
Meanwhile, in many cities and states, politicians who earlier had quickly acted in aggressive top-down-power fashion re public health, either stood by helplessly or actually ordered police departments to stand down as mobs trashed their locales.
This kind of arbitrary action or no action vis-à-vis freedom of expression is, to say the least, concerning.
3. Big Social Media Tech: Facebook and Instagram, YouTube and Google, Twitter, and Big Biz: Amazon, positioning itself as arbiter of what’s worthy communications base on its ideological, politically correct viewpoints.
Big Social Media Tech operates with near impunity, blocking content that disagrees with the “accepted” view of C-19 response—in the name of public health calling the blocked material “dangerous” or “misinformation”—block content shared by Christian worship leaders or conservative websites like Prager U, even some of President Trump’s tweets. Certain books that question the legitimacy of LGBTQ+ mantras are rejected from sale via Amazon.
Online communication companies were given protection from lawsuits under the Communication Decency Act, but this assumed they would function as neutral forums and thus could not be libel for what people posted. But of course, now, Facebook/Instagram, Twitter, and Google/YouTube are not neutral.
4. Politicians pandering to special interests, again with little regard for constitutional rights.
Politicians are not having their finest hour. Some think they can wield power without concern for constitutional limitations. Others stand by as rioters destroy their neighborhoods. Some politicians even bowed their knee in a bit of political theater making the photo opp they wanted but also making themselves look foolish. Meanwhile, politicians cannot find it in themselves to condemn rioters, this for fear of angering the mob.
5. Major public universities creating “free speech zones” and “safe spaces,” limiting discussion of certain topics to just these areas.
The great day of the public universities as bastions of free inquiry is over. Today, public universities have been captured by people who really don’t believe in truth or a search for truth, or allowing others to hold views with which they are uncomfortable. Free speech on the public university campuses of America is at grave risk.
The USA is not perfect. Never has been. Its history has been checkered by great nobility and great ignobility, triumph and tragedy in social action. But the US is the “First New Nation,” the first and only country ever formed to advance the cause of freedom, including especially life, religious and economic liberty.
From time to time, I’ve reminded people not to confuse what biblical Christianity is about with how the Church or individual Christians, including me, behave.
America is like that. It’s America’s ideals that make it special, not always what we Americans have done.
Then again, our forebears did a lot of things right as well as things wrong. They handed us a free country, that like Benjamin Franklin, who after a session at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, was asked by a lady what kind of country we would have. He said America would be “a republic, if you can keep it.”
We’ve been given a goose that lays golden eggs. I hope we don’t kill it.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020
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