In surveying the myriad assaults on freedom of speech and thought, there appears to be a unifying culprit: Groupthink. Borrowing from George Orwell’s 1984, the principle is simply that enormous pressure within a particular group or political party stifles independent thinking or alternative viewpoints.
One of the most honorable aspects of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is that the organization will defend the right for individuals and groups to speak their minds — regardless of how abhorrent they may be (i.e., the KKK). This basic freedom is under assault from all quarters.
The left and right and media continue their march to the extreme fringes of discourse. They are all complicit in this disgusting trend, which feeds off controversy, fear, emotion, hyperbole, the demise of civility and power of social media. The results are as shameful as they are sickening:
- In the nation’s capital, Sen. Elizabeth Warren if yanked off the floor for reading a statement by widow of Martin Luther King.
- Last week in Sacramento, the Democrats did the same thing by removing Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) as she sought to deliver a speech criticizing the late Tom Hayden for his anti-war activities.
- Panel discussions on both CNN and Fox News are nothing but forums for bias and shouting under the guise of journalism.
- President Trump bans news outlets from news briefings in retaliation for unfavorable coverage.
- Universities – including UC Berkeley (birthplace of the free speech movement) cancel speeches from controversial figures.
- Protestors disrupt town halls with no intention of finding common ground.
What is happening, America?
We have become a state and nation of thin-skinned people who already have their minds made up in lockstep with their peer groups and according to their respective Groupthink labels. In this type of environment, anyone holding a different view is public enemy number one and a target for attack.
This is especially damaging to moderates, who often find themselves in a no-man’s-land that seeks to balance and find valid elements of opposing views in an effort to reach consensus or compromise. One would think this approach would prevail because most people want solutions. Yet extreme Groupthink drowns it all out. This reality only confirms the adage that the only things in lying in the middle of the road are dead.
Enough with the labeling. Enough with the intolerance. Enough with hate.
About the only silver bullet the Blue Dog can come up with is to change our national anthem to Nick Lowe’s “(What’s so Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?” as performed by Elvis Costello.
Since this song was written by a Brit, maybe everyone can agree to this. Go ahead and laugh. Got any better ideas?