Years ago there was a cartoon about Soviet society in which a reporter is interviewing a Russian citizen about life under Communism.
He asks the woman about Soviet transportation and she seems to have no problem with it.
“Eh, I can’t complain,” she says, shrugging.
Bread lines? “I can’t complain,” she says indifferently.
Housing? “I can’t complain,” she says.
Finally, the exasperated interviewer asks, “Well, ma’am, is there anything about living in Russia you don’t like?” And the woman shrieks: “I CAN’T COMPLAIN!!”
Which is what freedom of speech is all about. Any totalitarian government will let you talk as much as you want, so long as you agree with them. Agreement is not the issue. It’s the dissent, the complaints, that bother the people in power.
America is, of course, a country in which you and I can complain. I believe we will always enjoy that freedom. Still, it is disturbing to hear the U.S. Attorney General, John Ashcroft, say that critics of the administration’s anti-terrorism proposals are providing, quote-unquote, “ammunition to America’s enemies.”
He told Congress that those who “scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty . . . only aid terrorists.”
A pretty sweeping generalization. Now, some of the criticisms may be valid, some not. And the motives of the critics are probably all over the map too. But geez, this is a country where we have the right to talk things over, openly, isn’t it?
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.