Friday, December 01, 2006

Hey, Newtie: STFU!

Free speech and the delusion of grandeur

Keith Olbermann responds to Newt Gingrich's comments about free speech

And the arsonist at the microphone, the former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, was insisting that we must attach an "on-off button" to free speech.

He offered the time-tested excuse trotted out by our demagogues since even before the Republic was founded: widespread death, of Americans, in America, possibly at the hands of Americans.

But updated, now, to include terrorists using the Internet for recruitment. End result — "losing a city."

Mr. Gingrich, the British "broke up our capacity to use free speech" in the 1770s.

The pro-slavery leaders "broke up our capacity to use free speech" in the 1850s.

The FBI and CIA "broke up our capacity to use free speech" in the 1960s.

It is in those groups where you would have found your kindred spirits, Mr. Gingrich.

Those who had no faith in freedom, no faith in this country, and, ultimately, no faith even in the strength of their own ideas, to stand up on their own legs without having the playing field tilted entirely to their benefit.

"It will lead us to learn," Gingrich continued, "how to close down every Web site that is dangerous, and it will lead us to a very severe approach to people who advocate the killing of Americans and advocate the use of nuclear and biological weapons."

That we have always had "a very severe approach" to these people is insufficient for Mr. Gingrich’s ends.

He wants to somehow ban the idea.

Even though everyone who has ever protested a movie or a piece of music or a book has learned the same lesson:

Try to suppress it, and you only validate it.

Make it illegal, and you make it the subject of curiosity.

Say it cannot be said, and it will instead be screamed.

And on top of the thundering danger in his eagerness to sell out freedom of speech, there is a sadder sound, still — the tinny crash of a garbage can lid on a sidewalk.

Whatever dreams of Internet censorship float like a miasma in Mr. Gingrich’s personal swamp, whatever hopes he has of an Iron Firewall, the simple fact is, technically they won’t work.

As of tomorrow they will have been defeated by a free computer download.

Mere hours after Gingrich’s speech in New Hampshire, the University of Toronto announced it had come up with a program called Psiphon to liberate those in countries in which the Internet is regulated.

Well, Mr. Gingrich, what is more "massively destructive" than trying to get us to give you our freedom?

And what is someone seeking to hamstring the First Amendment doing, if not "fighting outside the rules of law"?

And what is the suppression of knowledge and freedom, if not "barbarism"?
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