The spark for this post is the recent fiasco engineered by Modesto Junior College in California, which told a student that he could not pass out copies of the United States Constitution outside the student center on September 17, 2013, which happens to be Constitution Day. College police and administrators demanded that student Robert Van Tuinen stop passing out Constitution pamphlets and told him that he would only be allowed to pass them out in the college’s tiny free speech zone, and only after scheduling it several days or weeks ahead of time. Fortunately, as is almost always the case in such campus outrages, The Fire, The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (and what does it tell us that this indispensable champion of individual rights is widely regarded as a “conservative” organization?) was at the ready, and ripped off a letter to the school administrators that served the dual purpose of warning it to back off and holding it up to national ridicule.
But as with the still ongoing persecution of Justin Carter for harmless recreational speech that alarmed some Canadian hysteric, I am less concerned with the fact of the incident than I am with the atmosphere in America that apparently has the consensus regarding our hard-won rights weakening by the day. Why isn’t the automatic response of someone asked to arrest a kid for joking on Facebook,“Of course not!”? Why wasn’t the immediate reaction of IRS agents instructed to interfere with the lawful activities of tea party and conservative organizations—yes, I know the mainstream media, taking its cues from the Obama Ministry of Truth, refuses to cover the increasingly disturbing revelations in this orgy of political speech suppression, but it is real, and it will come out—to say, “Are you kidding? NO! This is the United States of America!” And why would any school, anywhere in this nation, when presented with the possibility of declaring it impermissible to freely circulate the Constitution of the United States of America on Constitution Day not instantly slap themselves in the forehead and say, “What am I thinking? Of course a student can give out the Constitution!”?
Then there is the NSA…
These are all ethics alarms that should be hard-wired into the soul of every citizen, elected official, appointed bureaucrat and American institution. Why are they failing so often? Is it because our high elected officials so blatantly and shamelessly deceive the public at every turn that we have quietly concluded that all of our ideals are shams? Is it because the current administration has embraced the ethics-free concept that individual liberty is often just a luxury to be traded away or ignored when it gets in the way of a problem? Is the situation amplified because this threat to our consensus on liberty is coming from the supposedly freedom-loving Left rather than the order-extolling Right, where it usually dwells, and thus liberals and progressives are allowing the powerful forces of cognitive dissonance to rot their most cherished convictions?
Perhaps it is because our education system does such a wretched job of teaching basic American values and the content of our founding documents that even those Americans with advanced degrees barely understand and respect them. What is your theory?
Whatever the cause, we need to address the problem, and fast, because the government’s respect for the Bill of Rights and dedication to the Declaration’s absolute insistence that we never be impeded in our enjoyment of life, existence in liberty, and pursuit of happiness can no longer be assumed, trusted or taken for granted, and the society it is nurturing shows signs of the same dire malady.