A little earlier today, I watched a news report which showed a group of college students rioting in order to stop an invited guest speaker from speaking. This seems to have become a common occurrence in colleges across the country, especially when the speaker is Republican or deemed to be "right wing." Today's riot was in a California state college, where police had to take the guest speaker out a rear door to avoid possible physical injury from the mob. Recently we have seen similar incidents all across the country. At the University of Missouri, we saw a female professor calling for some "muscle" in order to stop a young news reporter from questioning the participants after a similar riot. And, only a few months ago, an invited guest speaker was shouted down and prevented from speaking at the Ivy League's Brown University in Rhode Island. One has to wonder what is taking place in academia. We have often heard and read professors espousing "critical thinking," but nationally, and to some extent locally, we find an absence of critical thinking . . . it being replaced with "left wing only" rhetoric. We can do better!
The First Amendment provides citizens with the right to free speech. That doesn't mean the speech has to be good. And "free" doesn't necessarily mean it's without consequences. Telling someone on the playground that their mother wears combat boots may earn the speaker a bloody nose. As long as speech is not libelous or slanderous, it's free. If it is either of those, it may be costly to the speaker. Even so, especially during this seemingly never ending political season, we find our politicians hurling invectives at each other, engaging in name calling, and offering crude innuendos about their opponents. We can do better!
Across the aisle, we find candidates working diligently to divide the country, most often by blaming the status of one group for the status of another. People are promised a series of undeliverable rewards, with those rewards to be obtained by taking from those who have achieved some measure of success. Education? Hard work? Merit? Family structure? Those virtues aren't mentioned as dividing and duping the population is more politically important than truth. We can do better!
Political correctness has invaded our society as a substitute for faith and morals. Our president chooses to eliminate funds designated for teaching "abstinence" as part of sex education, but is adamant about retaining over $550 million in annual funding for Planned Parenthood, which is over 42 percent of that organization's annual income. Can it be that abstinence funding is the reason for the slight declines in abortions? Supporters of Planned Parenthood tell us that no federal funding can be used for abortions . . . pure hogwash. Money is "fungible". That means it can be used for purposes other than originally intended. How many people know that Planned Parenthood donated over $1.4 million to the Obama campaign? Or, that its current plan is donate a seven figure sum to the Hillary presidential run? Or, that historically they have contributed substantially to other Democrat candidates? Or, that Planned Parenthood has one of those dreaded political "Super Pacs," mainly supporting Democrats? Part of that "fungible" money received from the government is being given back to selected politicians to buy their support for continued funding of Planned Parenthood. Your tax dollars at work. We can do better!
Our federal government has become dysfunctional. The Constitution which has served us well for over two hundred years is being pushed aside by the Executive Branch. Respect for the other branches of government appears to be nonexistent. Compromise has been removed from the political dictionary as each side digs in its heels with my way or the highway approaches. Hypocrisy abounds. The non-elected bureaucracy issues unchallenged regulations that have the force of law, with some of those regulations essentially killing established businesses and industries, with the result being excessive cost burdens being placed on citizens. Many of those businesses have had to seek redress from the court system and, in doing so, have had to bear the burden of legal costs to fight to overwhelming force of the federal government. All in all, the business community becomes plagued with uncertainty . . . not knowing what the next issue may be that takes away the norm. We can do better!
The vitriol we see on the national scene is often replicated locally, as some choose to demean those with different viewpoints by resorting to name calling and other slanderous remarks. It would be better to make a cogent argument for one's viewpoint than to make an enemy of a person with a different point of view. We can do better!
(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)
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