Columns » Bob Lancaster

Bite your tongue



We tried it this way ourselves until 200, 300 years ago, coping with the unpleasant consequences of free speech by simply killing off those who tried to exercise it. When they wouldn't shut their piehole, shutting it for them. For their own good, of course. Transitioning them in order to save them. They'd thank you in the afterlife when you surveyed Hell together.

Or tormenting them into recanting. Free speech can't accomplish much mischief if you cut out its tongue. Or cut off its hands if it tries to write itself into a problem. Just the thumbs would remedy the latter-day texting threat, and thank goodness we'd learned to live with it before YouTube viraling loomed.

The Islamists persist with a technique that we also tried and failed at. That is, instead of killing the practitioner of free speech, kill the innocent bystander at his elbow. Thereby frightening speech into silence, muting it back into the mind-forged manacles.

Terrorism as a way of teaching it a lesson. Kill its plenipotentiaries if you can't murder its firemen with stolen airplanes. Blow up marketplaces, mommas and babies. That'll soothe the insulted prophet. Sure it will. Sure it will.

Two or three hundred years ago, we too were still hoping to keep the free-speech cat in the bag. Doughty little men who couldn't keep their yaps shut about holding certain truths to be self-evident — e.g., that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator etc. etc. — were promised that they would hang separately. Not an idle threat, either. They had free speech but God was on the king's side.

The same Deity who had answered Job's free-speech petition by telling him to kwitcher bitchin'. Take a gander at the stars and just STFU.

Here, too, we put out our own futile fatwa hits on free speech, hanging or burning the bewitched, bothered and bewildered, those accused out of spite or crazy of blasphemy or heresy — and we seem to be tending back in that direction. I bet you could already get some 5-4 decisions, at least 6-3, from Scotus backing Family Council pit-and-pendulum measures against ACLU wall-of-separation scolds. And it takes no great imagination to picture the Lone Star guv leading his public-school textbook screeners in a ten-gallon auto-de-fe against evolutionists.

Against science.

Samson slew a thousand Philistines with an ass's jawbone, and who doubts that Roy Moore, if called to do it, could and would, to coast-to-coast applause, slay twice that many scoffers with a tomahawk chunk of one of the Ten Commandment plaques he put up on public property and was obliged to pull down again, taking a charitable deduction by donating them by the boxcar-load to the Salvation Army for thrift-store resale. He'd do all that slaying, slewing, slaughtering as an onward Judeo-Christian soldier marching as to war, you just know he would. At least in his own mind.

Our own Peter the Hermit, his own free speech though second-hand from the Master Chiseler.

Replace the Constitution with the Bible and the Congress with something resembling the Southern Baptist Convention. The Confederate States of Jesus would come to pass in a landslide in a geographically limited plebiscite, with Kansas and Oklahoma joining the old sesesh commonwealths (possibly with Florida demurring) and with Utah also signing on if the other member states agreed not to hooraw them too unmercifully about their lurider Smith-Young postulates.

It wouldn't be safe out here on the highways of Holy Land CSJ for the church buses migrating down from the Midwest with full loads of touring pilgrims. Huckaholy Tours Inc. would have a whole fleet, featuring stops at sacred sites from the Oral manger restoration outside of Ada to Brobilly World in Asheville, with Chick-fil-A dinners on the ground, tickets to the Passion Play, and frequent on-board love offerings and altar calls.

Of course gifts to his PAC always welcome.

Sort of a prevue Heaven on Earth — "I dreamed I was there in Hillbilly Heaven, O what a beautiful sight!" — except like Branson I think I'd rather visit than have to dwell there. To which I already know the response about not letting the door hit me in the buetocks on the way out.

On the way out to Russia.

Or back to Kenya with the One.

I don't know, but I expect that while it might take two or three hundred more years  the Islamists will learn to live with this free speech nuisance. It'll still chap them when British novels and Danish cartoons and nitwit American movie scripts seem to them to mock or deride their holy men, but they'll learn to grin and bear it. Or at least to bear it.

Probably be surprised to discover, as many of our zealots still haven't, that the South Park and Family Guy caricatures aren't nearly the insult to the Good Shepherd that Pat Robertson is, or Kenneth Copeland, or all those perv priests who hate abortion but love to pork the born and whose superiors with the golden threads will still be covering for them when Hell freezes over.

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