Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Bill Kauffman Fourth of July

"We live in an age in which one is free to view pornography that would make de Sade wince and gore that would make Leatherface retch, yet we have less 'free speech,' as the Founders would have conceived it, than ever before," writes the Sage of Batavia — Up Against the Wall. "The range of permissible political opinions has narrowed to encompass the rat-hair’s breadth separating Mitt Romney from Joe Lieberman, and woe betide the straggler who wanders away from the cage." Why?
    Blame war. Blame TV. Blame the nationalization of political discourse, as regional variations and individual peculiarities are washed away by the generic slime of poli-talk shows. Radicals—even naïve Tea Partiers or idealistic left-wing kids—are dehumanized in ways unthinkable when America was a free country. No one was barred from the conversation back when there was a conversation. No dispatch ever read, “Wingnut Henry David Thoreau today issued a manifesto from his compound near Walden Pond…”

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee, I love it when people kvetch about the lack of freedom of speech from the safety of the blog on which they enjoy perfect freedom of speech. The owners of Fox News, CNN, the networks, etc., use their own freedom of speech to ignore Bill Kauffman. Congress didn't pass a law excluding him.

Back in the day, if you were an anti-abolitionist in the South, you expect to have your press destroyed by a mob. And if you were a Loyalist in a Whig town, you could be tarred and feathered. Now, the law forbids this. So we shouldn't romanticize the glories of regionalism in public discourse.

~An American

10:32 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

You'd make a fine Soviet citizen. Read Tocqueville about "the tyranny of the majority" and then get back to me.

10:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and I meant the owner of an abolitionist press in a pro-slavery area, not an *anti-*abolitionist press.

~An American

11:28 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

I took your meaning. You make a valid point, but the mobs of the past might be preferable to the media distortion unorthodox ideas are given in today's America.

1:21 AM  
Blogger Tracy Fennell said...

Always great to read some of Bill Kauffman's work. I'll look for the new book.

1:09 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

The fellow Western New Yorker is probably my favorite contemporary writer.

11:04 AM  

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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.