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Right to Free Speech Will Atrophy if Not Exercised
by Isabel Lyman
March 30, 2000

Isabel Lyman Pat Buchanan spoke at Harvard University recently and said this: “Those who rail most against bias very often do not even look at the bias in their own hearts.”

Pitchfork Pat’s insight brings to mind a current dilemma: Some left-wingers are so zealous about imposing their isms - multiculturalism, feminism, globalism - that they will silence dissent, by any means possible, to implement their agenda.

The tactics of the 'liberal speech police,' however, have annoyed enough Americans to motivate them to exercise their First Amendment right to complain. About time, too. Here's three examples from the trenches of the culture wars:

In Norman, OK, David Deming, a University of Oklahoma professor and gun rights advocate, sent a letter to the campus newspaper in which he compared a vagina to a handgun. Deming was responding to a column by a Jodi Kletter who argued for stricter gun control laws. Deming wrote, “Kletter’s easy access to a vagina enables her to quickly and easily have sex with as many random people as she wants” and “possession of an unregistered vagina also equips her to work as a prostitute and spread venereal disease.”

Predictably, some chicks got offended with the blunt language. The femmes could have held a press conference and fired an opening salvo at Deming like, “Vaginas don’t kill people, guns do.” Instead, they wanted blood.

The Oklahoman newspaper reported that Becky Hebert of Advocates for Sexual Assault Awareness, a student organization, filed a sexual harassment complaint against Deming. She claims six other complaints have also been made. Hebert wants the professor to be reprimanded and to receive (yawn) sensitivity training on women’s issues.

But there’s more. Letters poured into The Oklahoman from all over the country railing against Hebert. From Oklahoma City, OK: “The OU professor stirred up a hornets’ nest getting the attention of the gun prohibitionists when he pointed out that the use one makes of anything determines whether that thing is dangerous. Guns protect people from criminals and from the greatest criminal of all, a dictator.” From Attleboro, MA: “For years we on the pro-firearms side have had to put with remarks about how firearms assuage our inadequacies in our manhood. Now one guy makes one remark about one woman’s anatomy and everyone is ready to go to Federal Court? How this can possibly qualify as harassment is beyond me.” From Rutledge, PA: “If there’s anything to be learned from this embarrassing incident - in which a number of students appear to have missed the point of a clear and obvious analogy - it is that the university should perhaps consider implementing more rigorous standards for admission.”

Borrowing a page from Al Sharpton, a vigil was held at Smith College in Northampton, MA to remember Amadou Diallo, the West African immigrant who was mistakenly shot by four New York City cops. Attended by 200 supporters, the event attracted its share of fools and bullies. The Daily Hampshire Gazette reported that one Smith College coed was alarmed over “this racist, white verdict.” Oh, really? The Diallo jury had four blacks, including the forewoman of the jury.

Meanwhile, three counterprotestors materialized with an American flag and signs that tersely noted, “You weren’t there, the jury was.” This tiny minority was asked by the well-heeled leftists to leave the rally. Lovely.

But, again, there’s more. Massachusetts News, a daily founded by a lawyer tired of the liberal bias of the Bay State's media, criticized the Smithies. An editorial noted, “We will never be able to solve any of those problems as long as our preeminent colleges continue to disregard the truth and say whatever happens to agitate a crowd.” In Los Angeles, Jesse Lee Peterson, a black minister who runs the Brotherhood Organization of A New Destiny, challenged Sharpton and those orchestrating Diallo rallies. He appeared on various talk shows, including Fox's Hannity and Colmes, to pointedly ask, “Why are you outraged by one killing when you express none when blacks kill each other every day?”

In Hollywood, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, the radio relationship guru, has teamed up with Paramount Television to star in a forthcoming talk show. If her critics let her, that is. She holds traditional, Judeo-Christian values on homosexuality and is no fan of same-sex marriages. Bill Bradley, the failed Democratic presidential candidate, and Susan Sarandon, actress and limousine liberal, say it’s a waste of airtime to give such an unenlightened soul a program. A coalition of gay rights activists - www.StopDrlaura.Com - is campaigning to have the show cancelled before it is broadcast because “...with 20 million listeners, Dr. Laura has more free speech than she can handle.”

More speech than she can handle? The Campaign for California Families disagrees. “America is damaged when the voices of intolerance rise to quash free speech,” said Randy Thomasson, the organization’s director. He showed his support for the First Amendment by holding a small rally the day hundreds of Stop Dr. Laura supporters held their noisy demonstration outside Paramount’s lot. In Washington, D.C., Joe Beard, the Chairman of Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty, also had an opinion, “I think it is ludicrous that a community that is so dependent on the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, so benefited by the liberties of Americans, should make a totalitarian, political correctness the cornerstone of its political message for the 21st century.”

Robust talk about truth, liberty, justice, and the American way is healthy. If more people would just leave their comfort zones and speak out against those who are imposing the standards of Fidel Castro instead of James Madison, our freedoms won’t be wasted. And to those who refuse to remain silent and are braving critics, thank you!

Isabel Lyman lives in Edmond, Oklahoma. A former editorial columnist for the Daily Hampshire Gazette of Northampton, Massachusetts, her views have appeared in various national publications, including the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily. She may be contacted via e-mail by clicking here.
Click here for an index of other Isabel Lyman columns.
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