Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Free Speech or Free-For-All?

Today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News has the following to say about last night's Moscow Planning and Zoning Commission meeting:
"...the meeting was marked by interruptions, outbursts, cat calls, snorts and even a few 'boos,' most notably when New Saint Andrews College president and dean Roy Atwood got up to speak..."
Folks, this is NOT free speech. It's a free-for-all. It's not democracy. It's anarchy. Democracy, at least in the United States, does mot mean mob rule, where those who shout the loudest get to make the laws. There have to be rules, limits and respect in public conversation. Normal, everyday people are not going to go to public hearings like that, and they certainly are not going to stand up and speak before such a hostile crowd. Eventually, since that is all they ever hear, politicians begin to give credence to those clamorous views. The radicals know this, and that is why it is their preferred tactic. Intimidation under the guise of free speech. They believe that anything they do to further their cause is justified.

The same thing has happened here in Pullman with Wal-Mart. I have talked to scores of people over the past few weeks about the issue. Everyone supports Wal-Mart, but many are afraid to do so publicly. Why? It's just a store, right? Wrong.

PARD has poisoned the discourse with their radicalism at city council meetings, press conferences, public gatherings, and in the media. In recent letters to the editor, PARD members mentioned how Wal-Mart supporters have used "polarizing" language that "undermines dialogue" and the city council is "denying the democratic process." In these same letters, however, they speciously link Wal-Mart to meth labs and the decline of the public education system. What will they blame it for next? The Mariners' horrible season? Wal-Mart is an all-purpose boogeyman to the leftists.

When people read or hear these strident diatribes about Wal-Mart and slave labor, poverty, crime, sexism, etc, etc., they think to themselves: "Wow, this person is really angry." Most people tend to avoid nasty confrontations and controversy, especially when hot-button subjects are involved. They don't want to write letters to the editor for fear of being attacked or ridiculed in a retaliatory letter or having their store boycotted. Many shy away from trading jibes with professors who have Ph.Ds in protesting. So next thing you know, PARD dominates the debate over Wal-Mart, all the while pretending to be the victims of a conspiracy by the city and Wal-Mart to stifle them. What a great strategy. How undemocratic. People in Pullman will soon learn about the lengths PARD will go to to win.

It's time for the conservatives in Moscow and Pullman (and there are many) to stand up to this radical menace. The futures of our communities are at stake. It won't be easy, but it's very important.

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