Dehumanizing

“If you ladies leave my island, if you survive basic training, you will be a weapon.  You will be a minister of death, praying for war.  But until that day, you are pukes.  You are the lowest form of life on Earth.  You are not even human f*cking beings.  You are nothing but unorganized grabastic pieces of amphibian sh#t!”

        —R. Lee Ermey as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket

 

Imagine, if you will, a 24-year-old single mom, with her five-year-old in the car, being assaulted by a man who repeatedly shoves her to the ground.  Imagine she’s berated with a flood of curseword-laden epithets.  Imagine she’s dragged around by her feet until her dress rides up over her head.  Imagine, then, her tearful, angry, frightened, and, yes, f-bomb-laced report to the police officer at the scene gets recorded.

Does this sound funny to you?  Is it even remotely entertaining?

Well, it was to CNN anchor Carol Costello, who last week broadcast the audio with this gleefully grinning introduction (just watch her face in the video embedded in the linked story):

“This is quite possibly the best minute and a half of audio we’ve ever come across.  Well, come across in a long time . . . Sit back, and enjoy.”

Best.  Audio.  Ever.  Enjoy.

That’s her introto audio about an assault of a single mother (she later repeated the “best minute and a half of audio” remark via Twitter).  Following the audio, Costello returned to the screen, still smugly grinning, and confided that a lengthy expletive bleep was her “favorite part.”  She closed by telling viewers:

“You can thank me later.”

Wow.

Not that it matters, but did I mention that the young single mother in question was Bristol Palin, daughter of former Alaska Governor and 2008 Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin?

Actually, it does matter, because it turns out that just three months earlier, Costello posted an op-ed at CNN.com demonstrating that she, in fact, knows better.  Boldly piling onto the Ray Rice assault story that by then was already nearly six months old, Costello—rightly, I might add—got all over Rice and the NFL and condemned the cowardice involved any time a man assaults a woman.  I mean, that’s bad when a man assaults a woman, right?

Unless that woman is the daughter of a much-reviled star of your political enemy, apparently.

After a week of being blasted for her callous display—and it’s worth noting that CNN never even suspended her, much less fire her—Costello finally apologized.

Via Twitter.

She refuses to apologize on the air, and you know she hasn’t had the guts or decency to call Bristol and apologize personally.

Classy.

Ms. Costello herself has been a victim of a violent assault.  She—taking her at her word—knows what that’s about.  When the victim is Janay Rice, or herself, she knows that’s a heinous, despicable act.  Why, then, is it hilarious when the victim is Bristol Palin?

The answer, I’m afraid, says a great deal about the very dark place to which we’ve allowed ourselves to slip: Carol Costello does not view Bristol Palin or anyone else associated with the political Right as a human being.

[As an aside, I don’t think anyone knows what Bristol’s political views are, if she has any, and she’s never run for office or held herself out as a pundit.  In this instance we’re talking pure guilt-by-association]

This is where we are now, kids.  We’ve reached the point where those with whom we disagree—and their children—are no longer human beings, and therefore any mishap, epithet, or mistreatment that may befall them—or that we, ourselves, may cast upon them—is not only OK, it’s the height of entertainment.  And this is what then allows us to take joy in the physical abuse of someone on the other side.  Or publicly equate someone with barnyard excrement just because we disagree with them.  Or mock the fact that a political opponent is confined to a wheelchair.

I’ll confess this is not confined to to the Progressive Left, although I submit you’ll find more examples of it on that side of the discussion.  This is running through our society, and it’s a direct result of us allowing ourselves to slip into a culture of dehumanization and death.

TheCollegeFix.com reports that a growing number of students on college campuses not only support unlimited abortion on demand, they support “post-birth abortion.”  And for those of you who have previously ridiculed the slippery slope argument against abortion, I want you to pay attention:  some of these students favor killing children up to age five.

Five years old.

That’s not a sperm or egg.  That’s not a zygote or embryo.  That’s not a fetus. That’s not even an infant or a toddler.  That’s a kindergartener.

The argument these people make is that—supposedly—human beings don’t become “self-aware” until age five, and until they reach that stage of development, they’re not fully human.  Therefore, it is not society’s place to substitute its moral judgment for that of the mother.  Having reduced the child to sub-human status in their minds, they then view it as OK to kill the child as a matter of convenience.

Once this mindset takes hold, there is almost no limit to the depravity it will permit.  The Holocaust was not possible without the Nazis first being able to reduce Jews, in popular thinking, to less-than-human status.  Slavery was not possible—or at least could not have been sustained from as long as it was—on these shores without a prevailing mindset that African blacks were not human beings; indeed, the argument that blacks are human beings was the most powerful intellectual tool in eliminating the practice.  Today’s Islamists would not be beheading unbelievers and apostates without the same kind of thinking.

This is a dangerous place we’re heading.  We’ve become all-too comfortable with casting people into the pit of the sub-human, or watching others do it and being OK with it as long as it’s not us.  We should be profoundly, viscerally, uncomfortable with the abuse of another (whatever our political differences), or with the killing of a four year old child (or any child).

That we’re increasingly not is very, very disturbing.

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Chickenshit

Umpire:          You’re pushing it, buddy, you’ll find out.  You want me to run you?  I’ll run you!

Crash:            Oh, you want me to call you a cocksucker?

Umpire:          Go ahead.  Try it! 

Crash:            You want me to call . . . beg me!

Umpire:          Try it! Call me a cocksucker!

Crash:            Pretty please, beg!

Umpire:          Call me a cocksucker, and you’re outta here!

Crash:            Pretty please, beg me!

Umpire:          Call me a cocksucker, and you’re outta here!

Crash:            You’re a cocksucker.  You’re a cocksucker!

Umpire:          You’re *outta* here!

        —Stephen Ware as the Umpire, and Kevin Costner as “Crash” Davis in Bull Durham

Why does the Obama administration hate Israel?  More specifically, why does this administration, and Obama in particular, hate Benjamin Netanyahu?

Just this week, a piece in The Atlantic quoted multiple unnamed “senior officials” in the Obama administration referring to the Israeli Prime Minister as “chickenshit,” saying the former commando and combat veteran has “no guts.”

Wow.  Really?

That’s a hot one coming from this President and this administration, particularly while hiding behind journalistic anonymity.  But apparently this is just the latest in a running list of derogatory references to Netanyahu that The Atlantic catalogues as including: “recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and ‘Aspergery.’”

Is this really how we speak about the leader of one of our closest allies?

Meanwhile, last week in response to the killing of a 17 year old Arab-American by the IDF, the Obama administration issued a statement expressing “its deepest condolences to the family.”  That’s fine, so far as it goes, but when State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki was informed of reports that the teen was killed while throwing Molotov cocktails at Israeli civilians when he was shot (and later buried wearing a Hamas handkerchief), she refused to identify that as an act of terrorism, thus denying the IDF’s action any cloak of legitimacy.  I note this is exactly the same tactic used by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist apologists when they simultaneously denounce “terrorism” yet refuse to condemn Hamas or Hezbollah.

Unfortunately, this is nothing new, and the Obama administration’s mistreatment of Israel and Netanyahu is well documented.  For example:

March 2010:  Obama abruptly leaves a meeting with Netanyahu to have dinner in the White House private residence, leaving Netanyahu to twiddle his thumbs.

May 2011:  Just prior to a UN vote on the recognition of an independent Palestinian state, Obama publicly calls for a return to the pre-1967 borders, thus undermining Israel’s negotiating position.

November 2011:  Forgetting he has a hot mic, Obama complains to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, “You’re fed up with him?  I have to deal with him every day.”

September 2012:  Obama refuses Netanyahu’s request for a meeting, despite Netanyahu’s volunteering to fly to the District to do it.

July 2014:  While Israel is actively engaged in an effort to stop Hamas from firing rockets from Gaza into Israel, the administration announces $47 million in aid for Gaza, where instead of building hospitals and homes, Hamas builds tunnels for smuggling terrorists into Israel.  This is on top of the $400 million a year the U.S. sends to the Palestinian Authority, which under the unity government arrangement, helps fund Hamas.

Why are we being like this?

The Atlantic, for its part, blames the soured relationship on Israel, in particular on the continued building of settlements on the West Bank.  To be sure, the settlements tend to present a stumbling block on the road to peace, as they increase Israel’s hold on buffer zones she views as necessary to her national security.  But The Atlantic—and, apparently, the Obama administration—forget that Israel has a history of giving up land for peace only then to be attacked from the very land she gave up (see, e.g. Israel’s withdrawal from settlements in the Gaza Strip in 2005).

And Israel has good reason for concern.  Israel is tiny; with about 8,000 square miles of territory and a population of 8.2 million, she is roughly the same size as New Jersey.  Discounting the West Bank, Israel is barely 8 miles wide at her narrowest point, which makes for a very precarious defensive situation.  She is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the west, and hostile Islamic states to the south (Egypt), east (Jordan), and north (Lebanon and Syria).  She has been invaded or threatened with imminent invasion by those states three times in the last 60 years (1948, 1967, and 1973).  Calls for the destruction of Israel are common in the Islamic world, which is becoming increasingly influential on the international stage; the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has a permanent delegation to the UN, and its 57 member states typically vote as a bloc together with permanent Security Council members Russia and China, and is a primary driver behind pushes for UN resolutions criminalizing any speech deemed “insulting” to any religion (read: anything that upsets Islam).

And ISIS now controls areas barely 200 miles from the Israeli border.

You’ll forgive the Prime Minister if he’s more than a little frustrated and impatient with a U.S. administration that has little serious time (or regard) for him, even as it inches ever closer to a deal that will ultimately allow Iran to become a nuclear power.  Iran has repeatedly, and in no uncertain terms, declared its desire and intention to erase Israel from the map.  There is no reason not to take them at their word; if the Iranians get a nuclear weapon, they will use it on Israel, and they will do so immediately (Iran’s Shahab-3 cruise missile has a range of 1,200 miles, placing Jerusalem and Tel Aviv within easy striking distance from western Iran).

And that’s where the rubber really meets the road, because what it tells us is that in this drama there are, in fact, good guys and bad guys.

In contrast to Iran, or Hamas in Gaza (at least tolerated, if not supported, by the ruling Palestinian Authority in the West Bank), or Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel has never called for the destruction of any nation or group of people.  And what’s telling about that is that Israel could long ago have cleaned Gaza and the West Bank of every living Arab if she wanted to.

But she hasn’t.

To the contrary, Arabs in Israel enjoy full citizenship, the same as Jews or anyone else.  They can and do vote, serve in the Knesset or the courts, and own property.  They pay the same taxes and receive the same government benefits as Jews.  They can freely and openly practice their religion.  Women, homosexuals, and even Muslim Arabs enjoy more freedom in Israel than anywhere else in the Middle East.

That we won’t stand firmly with what is obviously the only open, free, democratic society in the region—and indeed, why we instead are almost openly hostile to it—is flabbergasting.  And it stems directly from this administration’s pathological inability or unwillingness to call a spade a spade.  If we learned nothing from the Harry Potter franchise, it’s that you can’t fight an enemy until you have the courage to call it by its name.  Yet these people are so wrapped up in their hyper-politically-correct worldview that they can’t acknowledge reality.  They can’t accept that there are in fact good guys and bad guys, and identify them.  They can’t call terrorism terrorism.  They can’t call evil evil.

I suppose we shouldn’t really be surprised at this point.  This is the same administration that blinked at its own “red line” in Syria; couldn’t pull the trigger on defending the consulate in Benghazi, and then repeatedly tried to blame it on a stupid internet video rather than call it terrorism (and two years later, Obama still has never had enough spine to stand before the American people like an adult leader and discuss that incident); insisted on calling the shootings at Fort Hood “workplace violence” despite convicted killer Nadal Hassan repeatedly shouting “Allahu akbar” as he did it; still hasn’t taken meaningful action to curb the growing threat from ISIS; delayed an attempt to rescue ISIS hostages until the intelligence on their location was stale (two have since been beheaded); and three times canceled the raid to capture/kill Osama bin Laden.  Not coincidentally, this is the same administration that repeatedly gets caught spying on our closest allies (no wonder Obama almost never sits down with any of them one-on-one); has repeatedly hidden from legitimate inquiries behind stalling and bogus claims of executive privilege; never takes live press Q & A; and routinely engages in sophomoric gamesmanship.

And now we know this is the same administration that anonymously badmouths its friends to the press.

We have a word for that:

Chickenshit.

Dropping The Ball On Ebola

If the world is a monster

’bout to swallow you whole

Philomath, they know the lowdown

Throw your troubles out the door

(I’ve been there, I know the way) Can’t get there from here

        —R.E.M., Can’t Get There From Here

 

I’ve been holding off on this, because I hate stating the obvious; but sometimes there’s just no way around it.

On March 25, the Centers for Disease Control reported an outbreak of the Ebola virus in Guinea, with 86 suspected cases resulting in 59 deaths.  In less than a week, that had expanded to 112 cases and 70 deaths in Guinea, and reports of infection were spreading to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone.  Reaction from the White House?

Nothing.

Within two weeks the numbers in Guinea had risen to 151 cases and 95 deaths, and cases were further spreading in Liberia and Sierra Leone.  By the end of April the number of cases had passed 200, with 146 dead.  After five weeks, had the Administration blocked travel to/from these places?  Nope.

But it had managed to send a heavily armed team of federal agents to a ranch in Nevada to collect a tax bill.

Through May and June, the virus continued to spread.  By the end of June—90 days after CDC reported the outbreak—there were over 400 cases in Guinea, over 200 in Sierra Leone, and over 100 in Liberia; numbers double or more what they had been a mere eight weeks earlier.  Did the Administration move to block travel to the places battling the infection?  No.

But it did find time to make an illegal swap of five Taliban generals for alleged Army deserter Bo Bergdahl (as an aside, despite the apparently unanimous consensus of his unit as to what happened, we conveniently won’t have the results Army’s investigation until after the midterms).

CDC’s reported cumulative combined case totals continued to explode through the summer, as the virus further spread to parts of Nigeria (I’m only giving samples of the semi-daily updates here for space reasons; you can see them all here):

July 7:                 779 (481 dead)

July 14:               888 (539 dead)

July 21:            1,048 (632 dead)

July 28:            1,201 (672 dead)

August 4:        1,603 (887 dead)

August 12:      1,848 (1,013 dead)

August 19:      2,240 (1,229 dead)

August 28:      3,069 (1,552 dead)

In the five months since CDC first reported the pandemic, the number of cases had risen from 86 to over 3,000, with a fatality rate of over 50%.  By now, at least two Americans were among the medical aid workers infected while trying to care for the sick and dying.  Yet there was essentially no reaction from the Obama administration, and no move whatsoever to curtail traffic to the U.S. from the infected region.

On September 6, CDC reported that the infection had spread to Senegal, and was also being reported in Congo (although somehow CDC had determined that the latter was unrelated to the outbreak in West Africa).  Curiously, CDC for the first time included in its report—almost defensively—that no confirmed cases had been reported in the U.S.  Even more curious, CDC stopped including the cumulative numbers from West Africa in its semi-daily updates.

The following day—and I’ll leave it to you to speculate whether the CDC’s change in reporting the day before was mere coincidence—President Obama was on NBC’s Meet the Press, where he told Chuck Todd he was sending the Army to go build isolation units in Africa and that we need not worry about Ebola here:

“Well, Americans shouldn’t be concerned about the prospects of contagion herein the United States short term, because this is not an airborne disease.”

Just three weeks later, CDC confirmed infection of a man in Dallas who had flown here from Liberia.  He died October 8, and at least two of his U.S. caretakers have contracted the disease.  Now six-and-a-half months in, there have been nearly 9,000 cases, and nearly 4,500 deaths.  The disease has now been reported in Spain as well as in the U.S.  Although there is now some minimal level of pre-flight screening at some African airports, and post-flight screening at a total of five U.S. airports (beginning only this week), there is still no ban on travel to/from the affected areas.

This is inexplicably inept, or criminally derelict.

Efforts to aid local treatment to contain the disease are commendable, although one can question whether that’s within the U.S. federal government’s constitutional mandate; it’s almost certainly not a proper role for an already over-stretched military.  But if your objective is to protect Americans, the obvious and easiest first step is to ensure that that the disease can’t get here from there. And indeed, the WHO emphasizes the importance of keeping healthy people separated from the sick as critical to preventing spread of the disease.  Duh.  While it may be true that the Ebola virus itself is not airborne, its infected hosts certainly can be.  Airport screening is only as good as your ability to catch infected people; if they’re not yet symptomatic—it can take as long as three weeks after infection to show symptoms—or if they lie, you may well not find them until it’s too late.

Say what you want about the competency of CDC’s protocols, or the Dallas hospital’s initial response to the first case of infection.  None of those things would have been an issue if people from the affected region simply couldn’t come here in the first place.  Although Thomas Duncan would, tragically, almost surely still be dead, the two American nurses who are now fighting the disease wouldn’t be infected, and the dozens or more who have had contact with his caregivers (and so on . . . and so on . . .) would not now be at risk.

Unlike the crazies on the Left who to this day believe George W. Bush deliberately created Hurricane Katrina by executive order because he hates black people, I do not blame the Ebola outbreak on Obama.  Its presence now in the U.S. for the first time, however, rests squarely on the shoulders of his indecisiveness and the incompetence of his response once it came.  This really should have been a no-brainer, maybe not on the day of the first CDC report in March, but certainly by July when the pandemic was clearly exploding and was beginning to affect American aid workers in West Africa.  Yet although Obama told Chuck Todd in September he had made the Ebola issue a priority for his national security team what is now nearly four months ago, the one action item with the best chance of protecting Americans at home still hasn’t been taken.

Why?

That question becomes even more jarring when you compare the delay and non-response on Ebola to the speed with which the Administration acted to ban travel to Israel.  On the morning of July 22, a Hamas rocket landed about a mile from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv.  One rocket.  Within 24 hours, the FAA had ordered U.S. domestic carriers to suspend flights to Israel.  Presumably the idea was to protect American lives that might be at risk should the fighting result in a commercial aircraft being hit.  Never mind that in living memory—someone please correct me if I’m wrong—no commercial airliner coming into or out of Ben Gurion has ever been hit by ordnance from the 60 year old Israel/Palestine conflict.

Clearly this Administration knows how ban travel, and to do it quickly, when it so chooses.  Why the inaction on Ebola?

Is the President afraid of damaging our critical diplomatic ties with Liberia?  Does he want to preserve our essential trade relations with Sierra Leone?  Does Guinea have some strategic position that is vital to our national defense?

Is it because the affected region consists almost entirely of heavy Muslim-majority countries (Liberia being the lone outlier)?

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised given this President’s track record of having no strategy to deal with ISIS in Iraq or with Russia in Ukraine, and complete inaction to secure the Southern border, among some of his more recent failures.  But we really have to ask in this instance how this President has managed to miss something so basic as taking the most concrete measure possible to prevent the virus from getting to the U.S. in the first place.  After all, how did Ebola get into Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria?  An infected person traveled there from Guinea where the initial outbreak began.

Now it may be too late.

Shutting Us Up (reprise)

German Officer:  What did you say to her? Would you kindly repeat it to me?

French Officer:  What I said is none of your business.

German Officer:  Then I will make it my business.

        —Hans Heinrich von Twardowski as the German Officer, and Alberto Morin as the French Officer in Casablanca

 

I want to follow up on a post from last month with a question:

When did we get so afraid of speech?

Attorneys for the City of Houston have subpoenaed local pastors for copies of sermons touching on the topics of homosexuality, gender identity (whatever that is), or Houston Mayor Annise Parker (who, not coincidentally, is openly lesbian).  At issue is a new city “anti-discrimination” ordinance aimed at a ludicrous level of politically-correct hyper-inclusiveness that, among other things, allows men to use women’s restrooms because they “feel like” women (I’ve previously dealt with the insanity of these kinds of laws here).  Apparently there is a lawsuit challenging the ordinance, filed after the city refused a referendum despite a petition collecting nearly triple the number of signatures necessary to place the measure on the ballot.

It is not my task here to debate the merits of the ordinance.  Nor is this about my views on gay rights, same-sex marriage, or even homosexuality in general.  This is about government bullying and censorship in the name of political correctness.

In Texas we allow broad discovery in litigation, even of non-parties, but the information sought must be at least reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of evidence that would be admissible at trial.  To be admissible at trial, the evidence must have a tendency to make some fact of consequence to the determination of the matter more or less probable.  The pastors under subpoena are not parties to the lawsuit; they are neither the ones pressing the legal challenge to the ordinance, nor—obviously—are they the ones responsible for drafting or passing it.  It is difficult to see how anything one of them said from the pulpit makes any fact of consequence in deciding the ordinance’s validity more or less probable.  Curiously, the subpoenas don’t even appear to seek—or at least are not even limited to—sermons dealing with the anti-discrimination ordinance at issue.  Instead, they seek information on sermons dealing with homosexuality in general, or dealing with Mayor Parker personally.  Which begs the obvious question:

Why are the sermons being subpoenaed at all?

One suspects it has everything to do with the fact that the pastors being targeted have been vocal critics of the Parker administration and the anti-discrimination ordinance, which for obvious reasons has been something of a pet agenda item for her.  And that’s a serious problem.

The First Amendment reads in its entirety:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

By virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment and the incorporation doctrine, these guarantees restrict not only Congress, but also the States (and, by extension, local governments).  And the idea is pretty simple, really: people in the United States should be able to practice their religion and to speak out against the government without fear of government reprisal.  This concept is the very foundation of what our republic was supposed to be all about, and if you think about it, to the extent any of these pastors said anything having any bearing at all on the ordinance in question, they were engaging in First Amendment activity on multiple levels.  They were in church, exercising their religion. They were before their congregations, thus (presumably) peaceably assembled.  And not only were they engaging in speech, but they were engaging in speech articulating a grievance against the government.  With apologies to Larry Flynt, this is the very essence of what the First Amendment was designed to protect.

Yet their reward for speaking out is to be met by a phalanx of government lawyers, and heaven knows nothing good happens once lawyers start showing up.  All because those in power did not like what these people had to say.

The increasing weaponization of the mechanisms of government to intimidate opposition into silence is chilling, to say the least.  In the last century, dictatorships quashed dissent through the brute force of the KGB or the Stasi.  But state censorship of opposition doesn’t have to be so crude as midnight disappearances to the Gulags in order to be effective.  IRS denies or delays tax-exempt status for Tea Party groups, thus denuding them of the funding necessary to get their message out effectively.  Logan Clements produced a film critical of FUBARCare, and found himself immediately the subject of a tax audit.  The same Department of Justice that refused to prosecute the New Black Panthers when they were caught on tape intimidating voters brought felony campaign finance charges against Dinesh D’Souza after he released an anti-Obama film heading into the 2012 election season.

What do you suppose things like this do to the willingness of ordinary citizens to raise their voices and be heard?

In 2003 then-Senator Hillary Clinton famously squealed that she was “sick and tired” of people being labeled as unpatriotic when they dared to question the Bush administration.  These days, however, it’s not a question of dissenters being labeled unpatriotic, or even racist or homophobic (or maybe worst of all, “denier”).  We’re way past name-calling.  Now, anyone who might dare speak up has to wonder if they’re going to get a call from the IRS.  Or if a process server is going to knock on the door to invite them to a government-sponsored expose of every document in their file cabinet.  Or if they’re going to be arrested and threatened with five-to-ten in a federal penitentiary for jaywalking.

This is not how it’s supposed to be in this country.  We’re supposed to have active engagement by ordinary citizens in the issues of the day.  We’re supposed to disagree, and to be able to voice that disagreement, at times loudly.  As Michael Douglas said as President Andrew Shepard in The American President,

“America is advanced citizenship.  You gotta want it bad, ‘cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, ‘You want free speech?  Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.’”

But we seem to be losing that.  Fast.  Those whose hands grip the levers of power are so consumed with maintaining that grip that they now trod over the most fundamental tenets of our political society to ensure that they never even have to engage in (let alone win) the debate.  It’s becoming increasingly dangerous to speak.  Maybe not physically dangerous, and maybe not even dangerous in a go-to-jail sense—although one increasingly wonders—but it doesn’t have to be.  Just responding to a subpoena can be financially crippling to most, and there’s no insurance to cover it.  For many, the fiscal risk alone is more than they can chance.  Better to keep quiet and not attract the state’s attention.

If we don’t speak out now, if we don’t take that risk, who will be there to speak when they come to muzzle the last of us?