Tuesday, August 04, 2009

America: A Dystopian Drama?

“People should not be afraid of their governments; governments should be afraid of their people.” -- from the 2005 film V for Vendetta

I attended Catholic grade school throughout the 1960s. I saw a lot of changes just during those eight years. But during the early ones, we were consistently taught about the evils of Communism, and of how our Faith and the Marxist philosophy were incompatible. We listened as the good nuns told us of priests tortured and killed in socialist regimes. But they also told us of how children would be taught in schools, to report their parents to the authorities if they found them engaging in questionable activities. Snitching on your mom and dad, the two people who gave you birth, who nursed you and fed you and cleaned up your messes and all that. Can you imagine?

It all seemed pretty outlandish to me, and remained the stuff of half-forgotten memories -- and as I came of age, the stuff of futuristic novels.

Then I read this on the White House website:

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can't keep track of all of them here at the White House, we're asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Let me see if I understand this correctly. If you publish a newsletter or a political blog, that begs to disagree with the current administration about health care policy, they want me as a dutiful private citizen to rat you out!

Excuse me, someone's knocking at the door.

[THIS JUST IN: A report from The Hill blog: "Sen John Cornyn (R-TX) is worried that the White House will use a new media outreach program to collect the personal data of its political opponents." Gee, who woulda thought...?]
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9 Comments:

At 8/04/2009 11:13:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

I believe the V for Vendetta quote is a paraphrase of the Jeffersonian quote along the same lines:

"When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny."

And no matter who said it, it's true. This is insane.

 
At 8/05/2009 02:39:00 AM, Anonymous Paul said...

I don't think you quite understand it correctly. The aim of the White House website blurb is to quell "disinformation" about health insurance reform - that is, false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately. Stifling honest debate (what you're arguing the White House is advocating) and quelling false rumors about free sex-change operations and government mandated abortions (what the White House is ACTUALLY advocating) seem like two distinct things to me.

If I understand this correctly.

 
At 8/05/2009 08:12:00 AM, Blogger David L Alexander said...

Paul:

You don't. The desire of the administration to get its message out is not at issue, nor is challenging contrarian views among the public. What is at issue (and is probably also unconstitutional) is to expect ordinary citizens to report on the sources of those contrarian views. History has shown that such information can be used, and often is, to intimidate or silence those who disagree with their government.

In other words, "stifling honest debate." Why else would they need the SOURCE of dissention?

 
At 8/05/2009 09:53:00 AM, Anonymous Paul said...

The sources of those "contrarian views" exist at a viral level - on the internet, by word of mouth, and on the tips of the tongues of those who have downloaded .pdf files from websites that represent the pharmaceutical lobby, giving them how-to manuals with instructions to disrupt town hall meetings by shouting nonsense. I don't doubt the White House's DESIRE to stifle these critics, but these critics' criticisms are not rooted in a desire to argue the finer points of health care reform (if that were true, we wouldn't be hearing so many falsehoods repeated in Youtube videos on the news.) There is no honest debate to be waged with these critics, as they are not criticizing anything factual about health care - merely propagating untruths.

Do you honestly think that the government has the resources, much less the desire, to silence every baboon with an IP address foaming at the mouth over government-run health care? It's cute to think this fringe portion of the right's impact is that effective, but if the White House wanted to undertake an Orwellian campaign like that...well, they'd probably need stimulus money.

The law asks us to call the authorities if someone you know is skimming off the top on their W-2s, or smoking pot in their family room. Does that implied responsibility as a dutiful private citizen keep you up at night, as well?

 
At 8/05/2009 10:38:00 AM, Blogger David L Alexander said...

"The sources of those 'contrarian views' exist at a viral level... from websites that represent the pharmaceutical lobby, giving them how-to manuals with instructions to disrupt town hall meetings by shouting nonsense."

I know of no such methods being promoted by the groups you mention, but I get messages from such groups every day discussing far more substantive matters than you suggest. That said, the use of ridicule to overtake an opponent in a debate is on the short list of methods for political activism promoted by the late Saul Alinsky in his book "Rules for Radicals." That the current president was an avid student of Alinsky's writings and methods -- both cut their teeth on the streets of Chicago -- is well documented.

"Do you honestly think that the government has the resources, much less the desire, to silence every baboon with an IP address foaming at the mouth over government-run health care?"

Three words: J. Edgar. Hoover.

"The law asks us to call the authorities if someone you know is skimming off the top on their W-2s, or smoking pot in their family room. Does that implied responsibility as a dutiful private citizen keep you up at night, as well?"

Unlike cheating on taxes and the use of illegal substances, seeking redress for grievances on matters of the public interest, and the freedom to assemble and speak in the process thereof, are protected by the Constitution of the United States. Indeed, it was just such actions that spurred the very founding of this nation.

This is about the issues, not about me. I'll sleep like a baby tonight, and you'll step back on your side of the line, mister!

 
At 8/05/2009 10:49:00 AM, Blogger Mitch said...

Why not inundate this email address with reports of sources of false info on health care reform. Listing the sources of false information as the White House website and other associated websites promoting this health care reform.

 
At 8/05/2009 12:30:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

I did my civic duty, proudly reporting the AP to the white House for spreading the "misinformation" that health care reform would include a provision to include coverge for abortions in the public health plan.
I haven't gotten a response indicating that it's not true, and frankly I am not holding my breath waiting for one.

 
At 8/05/2009 01:35:00 PM, Blogger Dad29 said...

Buy More Ammo.

 
At 8/05/2009 01:48:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would you mind posting about two forthcoming Masses in Ireland for the Holy Year of Priests?

http://catholicheritage.blogspot.com/2009/08/forthcoming-masses-september-october.html

And if you could link to our blog/put us on your blogroll too that would be fantastic.

God bless you!

St. Conleth's CHA

 

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