The Obama administration has been complicit in this attack on the First Amendment, subverting the law by resorting to extra-legal means to achieve the same ends. What happened to Nakoula Nakoula, the alleged producer of that Internet video, is one example. Others are the bullying speeches administration officials, from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on down, have made and the Pakistani television commercials that, at U.S. taxpayer expense, criticize the video and its author. As Andy observes, “These fundamentally betray the federal government’s principal duty to safeguard American liberties against foreign threats.”
Note well: “But it is not just our security that is at stake; it is our capacity to maintain the free-flow of ideas a self-governing people must have in order to flourish.”
Rubbish masquerading as art is nothing new. Some of us have spent a good deal of time criticizing puerile acts of “transgression” that, more and more it seems, have replaced serious artistic endeavor.
It is one thing, however, for individuals to criticize art that is meretricious or worse. It is quite another for the federal government to insinuate itself into the process, intruding on the metabolism of free expression in order to further a political end. “When government’s coercive power is put in the service of the heckler’s veto,” Andy observes, “when it becomes the ‘ad hoc nullification machine’ by which corrupt officials smother constitutional protections that inconvenience their cronies, then that government is no longer legitimate.”
The issue here goes far beyond the shameless partisanship of a debate moderator, far beyond the particular lies of particular elected officials. What we see percolating down through the fissures of the body politic is a corrosive mixture that, unchecked, will eat away at the very foundations of our free society. “It is not enough,” Andy concludes, “to reject Obama’s lies. It is essential to reject the premise of his lies. In our society, we get to say unkind things about icons, just as we get to speak vigorously in their defense. It is for us, the sovereign people, to weigh the merits of these competing claims, without government’s meddling thumb on the scale. That is a big part of what makes Western civilization civilized.”