stat counnnter

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Is Free Speech the Issue This Election?

Gus Van Horn has a post on the continuing persecution by the Canadian Human Rights commissions against Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn. My concern is how do our presidential candidates view this Canadian attack on free speech? As things stand right now, I think free speech is the big issue. If free speech is destroyed, or even thwarted, Objectivism will have a much harder time spreading through academe and the culture.

As far as I can tell, McCain has a nonchalant attitude toward free speech. He may regard it as a value but further down on his priority list; something that can be sacrificed away to achieve a higher goal like campaign finance reform. But I don't know where Obama stands. If he comes out for hate speech legislation, I would consider it to be a frontal assault on free speech and would consider him more of a threat than McCain. Even though McCain would be a longer term threat, Obama would be a serious short term one.

So what if Obama declares he will fight for hate speech legislation? Will McCain oppose him? Join him? How much will the Dem controlled congress let him have his way? Will the Republicans find a spine someplace and resist him? (At a recent objectivist study group meeting in the Detroit area this election was discussed. One thing we all agreed on was the fact that the only time Republicans fight against anything is when Dems are in power. When Repubs are in power they enact the Dem agenda of bigger government and more regulation.) So the question becomes, how much will Obama actually be able to get away with? McCain too for that matter?

Then this voice in my head keeps telling me that I can't trust anything either of them says because they are pragmatists and don't use words to convey meanings but to evoke emotional responses. It gives me a headache thinking about it. There are lots of reasons to vote against both of them.

Darren Cauthon posts on an excellent reason not to vote for McCain. Evidently, McCain thinks innovation can be spurred by tougher 'penalties.'

Myrhaf has good reasons not to vote for Obama pointing out that Obama is just as adamant about mandatory national service as McCain is.

As the election draws near, the two may become more committal, maybe. I'll see.

(If you live in the Detroit area and would like to attend one of the study group meetings, send me a private email and I'll get back to you. It's in my profile)


Burgess Laughlin said...

Mike, this is a very intriguing comment: "... they . . . don't use words to convey meanings but to evoke emotional responses."

There is an issue here that I have begun wrestling with, but I haven't made much progress so far. What I see, for example, in some weblogs (especially from conservatives and far leftists), is the use of language primarily to express emotion or primarily to evoke emotion in readers or to do both.

Such writers seem to assume that emotions cause history. The emotions seem to be the values to achieve and the means for achieving them, at the same time.

Perhaps all this is simply subsumed under "emotionalism,"but I would someday like to be able to articulate what the underlying philosophy is.

Mike N said...

"The emotions seem to be the values to achieve and the means for achieving them, at the same time." Good point and I agree completely. In my estimation, it's pragmatism taken to a new lower level: if this kind of communication works, then lets use it. I learned of this technique from Dr. Peikoff's lecture "A picture is not an argument." In it Dr. Peikoff referred to it as picturism. But I think it has probably been used for some time in speech but I just didn't recognize it. I'll be looking out for examples of it though.