Brock Carlson, Fargo, Published October 26 2013
Letter: President apparently doesn’t extend free speech to all of usOn Oct. 17, President Barack Obama gave a news conference in the wake of the deal to end the partial government shutdown. Toward the end of the conference, the president made a statement I found troubling.
He said, “And now that the government is reopened, and this threat to our economy is removed, all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists, and the bloggers, and the talking heads on radio, and the professional activists who profit from conflict, and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do.”
On the surface, this may seem as just a run-of-the-mill talking point about a dysfunctional Congress. Upon further examination, it is clear that the president is telling the American people that the opinions of those who oppose his vision are not only invalid, they are dangerous and should not be lent any credence.
Ironically, this comes from the leader of the party that came up with the inane phrase “Dissent is patriotic” during the Bush presidency. Why is the president even talking about this?
Free speech is paramount in our country, and vital to our political discourse. Frankly, it is not any of his business what opinions or information any citizen chooses to take in. If he believes that adding another trillion dollars to the national debt is the right path for the nation, then he should make his case to the American people.
Instead, we see he attempts to shut down debate by painting his ideological adversaries as extreme and reactionary. Sadly, this is not the first time Obama has sought to limit speech. Early in his first term, he told Republican lawmakers not to listen to Rush Limbaugh; also his administration began denying FOX News access because it was deemed not to be a legitimate news agency.
Regardless of your views on Limbaugh, talk radio or FOX News, I doubt you want their free speech rights curtailed. Free speech is foundational to our republic, and it must be protected, even if we find it disagreeable or offensive.
That the president of the United States would use his position to intimidate and try to silence opposition is troubling indeed.