Paul used an example from Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451 to explain how power can be retasked to any purpose and how the liberal can become illiberal. If firemen can become book-burners than anything is possible, which is the brilliance of Bradbury's metaphor. An earlier Rand Paul editorial contains an almost identical text to his Berkeley example, and I will use to represent what he said.
In the opening pages of Ray Bradbury's famous novel Fahrenheit 451, protagonist Guy Montag asks: Wasn't there a time when firemen used to put out fires? They laugh at him, rebuke him and say: Everybody knows firemen start fires.
Montag knew this. Montag's father and his grandfather had been firemen. It had been his duty for many years to start fires. He knew it was his duty to burn books, but this day would be different.
Montag arrived on the scene to do his job, but found a woman who wouldn't leave. He complained that she had all of her books but still wouldn't leave. Undeterred, Montag proceeds with the other firemen to douse her books-and her-with kerosene. The woman shouts out and goads them. She is indignant that they would touch her books at all and she still wouldn't leave. She says to them: "Play the man, Master Ridley; today we will light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, that it won't be forgotten."
They keep dousing her with kerosene and she says it again: "Play the man, Master Ridley. Today we will light such a candle." ... The reference is to 16th century figure Hugh Latimer, who literally became a human candle. He was burned at the stake in 1555 for heresy-opposing the state religion. He wanted to promote the idea that the Bible should be translated into English, which the state forbade.
In America today, we're not yet burning people at the stake, fortunately. Nor are we burning books. But your government is interested in what books you read. They're interested in what you say in your phone calls. They're interested in what you write in your emails.
As we all now know from the National Security Agency (NSA) revelations last summer, such government surveillance of citizens has been going on for a while now.
In the Summer of 2012, I asked for a report on this subject and was given a classified briefing. I wanted to know to what extent your privacy was being invaded. To what extent government was reading your emails, listening to your phone conversations without a judge's warrant. At the time, I couldn't tell you the answer because it was classified.
And wasn't there a time when tolerance meant tolerant and the IRS was meant to collect taxes from everybody without favor and the NSA was meant to spy on America's enemies? As many nightmares start with"wasn't there a time" as fairytales begin with the phrase "once upon a time". And the correlation is not concidental. The difference between a fairytale and a horror story is in the details.
Back in the 1960s there was successful Coca-cola ad campaign featuring hundreds of people standing on a hilltop determined to buy the world a soda. It seems like a wonderful and uplifting video. What no one stops to ask is: how did that crowd get up there? They must have been marched up the hill with a undrunk bottle of Coke and drilled for hours to sing in perfect harmony. And where are the port-a-potties?
Prince Charming's Castle is architecturally identical to the Tower of London. And tolerance of the right sort of intolerance is of course, tolerance.
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Article printed from Belmont Club: https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez
URL to article: https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2014/4/5/eich