Friday, April 11, 2003

Freedom of Speech?

"Bull Durham" is one of my favorite movies. I love its "down-to-earthness", its humanity, its sexuality. It's real...which is more than I can say for the Baseball Hall of Fame, and Dale Petrosky, in particular. They canceled a 15th anniversary celebration of the movie because of anti-war statements by Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. Mr. Petrosky claimed that their statements "ultimately could put our troops in even more danger".

From whom, Mr. Petroskey? The Iraqi regime is no more. I suppose if Iraqi troops were fanatical Sarandon and Robbins fans, armed to the teeth by weapons they had supplied, your comments would make sense. But they don't. Most Iraqis couldn't care less, don't know about them. I doubt if our troops do either. They've got a lot more important things to think about...like staying alive.

In addition to trying to censor opinions he doesn't agree with, Mr. Petrosky and company have also politicized baseball. If that's true, then the next inductees into the hall won't be there solely because of their contributions to the sport but will also be there because they ascribe to hawkish, Republican, intolerant views.

Last time I wore a uniform I thought I was there to protect freedom. What that meant to me was I was risking my life so people could freely express their points of view, whether I agreed with them or not. Somehow, since 9/11 as a people, we seem to have lost sight of that. We are caught in an age of political correctness, perhaps the worst we have ever seen. Under such an atmosphere, our forefathers probably never would have fought for independence. They would have been too afraid. Like the Iraqis. Who is going to come here and save us?

While I'm on the subject of free speech, I want to applaud the American Library Association for standing up to the intrusiveness of the Patriot Act (the bill whose name is another example of political correctness run amok). Freedom means intellectual freedom most of all. Under the Patriot Act, if you're using a computer at a library, you are subject to federal monitoring. Worse, the act states that you are not to be notified that you might be monitored. The Justice Department's assurances to the contrary, this is Orwell's "1984" come to pass just short of 20 years later. Setting aside Constitutional protections (i.e., requiring a warrant to perform this kind of electronic eavesdropping) is more dangerous to American freedom--except for the overreaction of government officials--than anything any terrorist can do; and it is much more insidious.