commentary: The Abuse of Freedom
Why America is Losing its Freedom
Joseph B. Baity
Given 20-Feb-21; 13 minutes
The United States and all lovers of liberty lost a friend, an advocate, and one of the most passionate and expressive political warriors when conservative icon, Rush Limbaugh, finally succumbed to lung cancer at the age of 70 earlier this week. Political discourse in America will never be the same. Love him or hate him, Rush was instrumental in helping to hold back the tide of progressive politics that is threatening to drown us all.
This commentary is not about Rush, but the message it attempts to convey is made larger and more urgent by his passing. Much has been written in the past few decades about the onset of political correctness. The PC movement has its roots in the counter culture movement of the 60s and 70s, but didn’t start to gain momentum until the late 80s/early 90s. It has manifested itself in many ways, initially creeping into our culture by stigmatizing certain common forms of expression.
Many words we once accepted to describe or identify ourselves and each other have been or are being effectively scrubbed from our daily lexicon. Words like “handicapped,” “disabled,” “retarded,” “oriental,” or “negro,” among many others, are now frowned upon. The list today is growing and nearly endless. And while it is common and, sometimes, even a good thing for certain words and phrases to lose favor over time in an ever-changing society, frankly, the list of what is now forbidden to speak in public has grown beyond any semblance of common sense.
In fact, even the term, “politically correct,” has now become politically incorrect. And unless you’re working in a late night diner in the Deep South, referring to someone as “sweetheart,” “dear,” or “babe” will likely get you slapped or shamed on social media.
Today, as we struggle with our addictions to smart phones and social media, the PC movement continues to worm its way into our existence, promoting and exploiting the victim mentality, and hyper sensitivity that has overtaken mankind, particularly in America.
But instead of just stigmatizing a few words or phrases, now we are surrounded by a hostile mob of “thought police” who are practicing or demanding wholesale censorship of any article, speech, representation, random thought, or idea that causes anxiety or fails to agree with their elitist, progressive narrative. News stories are being blocked and censored, and with that, the opportunities to discover truth are diminished. Websites are being deplatformed or demonetized, and with that, prospects for the free and open exchange of ideas are disappearing.
Books, movies, and songs are being banned, statues are falling and our history revised. With all that, so much of our American heritage and the lessons we’ve learned—positive and negative—are denied or forgotten. Ministers are being muzzled, and with that, the knowledge of right and wrong—how to obey and serve our Creator; how to repent—are under threat.
Even our president—now former president—was virtually gagged, bound, and silenced by Big Tech, mainstream media, and social media in the pretext of stemming the flow of dangerous fake news and toxic misinformation, while promoting their version of the same.
We read of cancel culture, safe spaces, virtue signaling, online shaming, and hate speech. A recent survey of college-aged kids revealed a growing desire to ban free speech, even political speech, if it causes them apprehension.
But regardless of the manner, the justification, or the terminology used, what we are witnessing is a deliberate assault upon our constitutional right to free speech in what was once called the “land of liberty.” Since its inception, America has distanced itself from the rest of the world by espousing and codifying the principles that undergird freedom of speech among many others.
That these rights were bestowed upon Americans and that they were crucial bricks in the foundation for over 200 years of unparalleled prosperity is certainly no coincidence—no mere lucky break. Indeed, it was the result of divine providence.
Just recently, I’ve been studying the Federalist Papers, a series of 85 articles and essays written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison to promote the ratification of the United States Constitution way back in 1788. In my study, I have marveled at the depth of intellect, concern for justice, awareness and understanding of human nature, and love of liberty embraced by all the framers of the Constitution, and especially James Madison.
Madison, widely regarded as the “Father of the Constitution,” is my favorite of all the framers. A rather sickly man, he measured just 5 feet, 4 inches, and rarely tipped the scales above 100 lbs. He was, nonetheless, an intellectual giant. I believe you could say that he was the smartest man in the room, even when joined by such intellectual stalwarts as Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. His solution for one of the most hotly debated issues of the day—how to divide authority between the Federal government and the individual states—was nothing short of genius, and it leans heavily on our rights of free speech.
It was Madison’s idea that the inevitable fight over Federal power versus individual state power would best be determined, not permanently by constitutional dictate, but from generation to generation via the political process.
In other words, the brilliant Mr. Madison recognized that the debate between the federalists and states’ rights advocates could never be resolved without the possibility of alienating the losing side to the extent that war or secession might seem their only recourse. The Civil War stands as proof of that.
Most of the framers wished for Mr. Madison to spell out a one-size-fits-all, permanent solution. But Madison believed that would have incurably disgruntled many of the states and likely relegated the fledgling—and not-yet-United States—to the waste bin of history.
So instead, he left that question to the political process—our local and national elections—to determine where that authority should lie, with the understanding that the lines drawn one year could be erased or moved the next, in accordance with the popular will of the people. Madison believed, “Public opinion sets bounds to every government, and is the real sovereign in every free one.”
Now, as well as this idea has worked, I also see it as proof that the U.S. is not a Christian nation. God would never design a government that depended upon this constant tension between two or more factions to determine the division or delegation of authority such that it would remain fluid, and subject to the whims of the people. In fact, the apostle Paul condemns such factions as works of the flesh in Galatians 5:20. But man has never created a better government when measured in terms of liberty and prosperity for the common man—ever. And though it is not a Christian nation, I believe our framers were inspired by God.
But what does this have to do with freedom of speech? For a government that is so clearly based upon the political desires of the people to divide and delegate authority so that the government works for the people, knowledge must not be suppressed and freedom of speech must not be encumbered. All the issues must be openly discussed and fairly debated in order for the people to remain sovereign as the framers intended. In Madison’s own words, “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” Oh! How I wish that our current leaders were as intelligent, as honorable, and as eloquent.
So, with all these remarkable rights designed and enshrined in the Constitution by these distinguished men, why are we losing all that once was good in this nation? What went wrong? Well, in a couple of words, we did.
Another telling quote from James Madison helps to clarify my point: “We have staked the future of our new nation . . . the future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the 10 Commandments.”
Quite simply, we failed to do that. We abused our rights, our freedoms, and our liberties. We used them to justify sin, to serve ourselves instead of God, while promoting and celebrating ill will against our leaders and hatefully censoring and silencing any opposition. We arrogantly expanded our liberties to allow for the freedom of virtually all forms of expression. We exalted, celebrated, and promoted perverted lifestyles. We elevated obscenity, vulgarity, and pornography to the status of federally protected speech. And we reward those who would dishonor our president or attack our institutions of security, like the police.
Our nation’s laws forbid us from screaming “fire” in a crowded theater, but our news, entertainment, and social media virtually demand that we celebrate abortion, sanctify gender transitions, and exalt same-sex marriage. Our actions fail to silence ignorance, but instead, seek to silence God and men of virtue. So, is it any surprise that our Creator has determined to systematically remove the blessings of freedom that He gifted this great nation and the government that provided for a secure and fertile ground for all to enjoy, including us here in the Church of God?
Yes, it is a warning for the peoples and government of the United States, but we, as the elect of God, dare not presuppose our innocence in this matter, or that we are immune to the judgement of our great God that has led to these sad and lamentable moments in the course of human events.
In closing, let me read I Peter 2:13-16:
I Peter 2:13-16 Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.
So with the loss of Rush Limbaugh, the liberty movement lost a critical player in the battle against the progressive onslaught in an America that no longer respects or appreciates its God-given freedoms. The timing is not coincidental. His voice, as secular as James Madison’s, will be missed as we continue to witness the systematic revocation of our Creator’s blessings—blessings that He would gladly reinstate for a repentant nation.