Free Speech


One thing the tea partiers have done for American politics is alert60 percent of Americans that 40 percent of Americans would not qualify for American citizenship ifaverage history and literacy tests were required.We rank 27th among modern countries in literacy and basic knowledge. I have lots of friends who simply don’t believe that so many Americans are dysfunctional.

Historian Gordon S. Wood records that many very crude and unsophisticated men occupied Senate seats from the earliest days of the Republic. But, after 150 years of free public education, has the situation improved? Probably, but as one reporter said recently, it is hard to find a Congressman who knows anything!

The worst lie is that half the people are conspiring to do harm, when in fact most are trying to make the world better for all, including themselves. Jefferson and Hamilton were each convinced that the other’s vision would destroy the new nation. Eventually their views proved both wrong and right in part, but neither wanted destruction of the nation. Even today many are fearful of the motives of the “other,” leading to mindless opposition instead of debate.

Even as we acknowledge the role of emotion and intemperance in decision-making, there is such a thing as ignorance.When the unread argue that their Social Security is a dole from Uncle Sam instead of a return of their own payroll deductions with interest, they are simply ignorant of facts.

When the unread don’t see that their own health care is more expensive when these costs are borne by thefew rather than spread among the many, they are unreasonable. Surely they would not have the cost of a fire department borne only by those whose houses burn, yet the logic with health care is exactly the same.

When Americans deny the wide range of human conditions which render a minority of Americans – the very young, old, injured and disabled – unemployed for no cause of their own making they are being stubbornly ignorant of a reality and often hypocritical to their advertised religious principles.

Surely Americans who insist that 15 or 40 percent of the national budget is spent on foreign aid when the number is certifiably less than 2 percent are either ignorant or willfully lying. Forty percent of Americans believe that “God solves all problems.” Surely they do not believe that He actually solves short-term problems like hurricane relief or cancer (except that, of course, Apocalypse eventually “solves”all problems!).

So many of the myths American adults believe are in the same class as Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, and stork delivery tales we tell children too young to understand more details. But by age five or sixthese tales have grown thin and children want facts.

About 40 percent of adults believe ghosts and angels exist. A hospital nurse may seem like an angel, and do the work of an angel, but she brings charts and pills and does not have wings.Too many adults have not outgrown unverifiable folk tales, most of which have value as metaphors but fail as explanations of specific events.It is blithely said that there are no atheists in foxholes, but I know of no evidence that prayers saved a single soldier.

An axiom in higher education is that we were expected to examine our basic assumptions,consistent with Socrates’ assertion that an unexamined life is not worth living. Luckily somebody examinedbasic assumptions about the shape of the earth, its path around the sun, and many other wrong beliefs.Now we have too many unwilling to examine their assumptions about climate change, the role of government, community and God in their lives.

Ithas been observed that many Tea Party attendees are nice people with real complaints, some artificially inflamed by paid provocateurs with unspoken agendas.But their recorded assertions reveal appalling ignorance of the actual state of the nation. It is not that people are incapable. We note high levels of right thinking by individuals in their own fields. Men and women are very wise in fields of endeavor where they apply themselves, whether farming or finance or housekeeping. The problem is that in the vital world of politics (Aristotle said we are all political animals) we are often ignorant, unjust and wrong. Simultaneously we expect both less and more of government. As a result we don’t know what havoc we do on voting days.

Jesus may have said “forgive them for they know not what they do,”but let’s not forget, the damage was done.

-Paul R. Cooper, Yellow Springs


This letter is in response to Sheldon Richman’s Free Speech letter (“The Dishonor of Militarism,” DCP, September 22-28, 2010).

Sheldon, I was rooting for you (“end the militarism, what we could do with the money, etc.”) until I saw this: “Without the bloated national ‘security’ apparatus, companies would compete for consumers’ patronage in the marketplace rather than striving to become government contractors milking the taxpayers.” Really? Where would contractors “compete for consumer dollars?” Blackwater? What “marketplace” are you talking about? Certainly not one that has ever existed in the history of this planet.

I always wonder where the evidence is that this magical “free marketplace” ever existed. Or could ever exist. I think it’s a load of selfish, greedy Libertarian bullcrap.

-Kyle Christensen, Dayton

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