A while back, the Tea Party News Network highlighted a conversation that Senator John McCain had with radio host, Dan Patrick. Patrick asked the Senator what he thought about Donald Sterling, and then wondered if it was right for a man to be recorded in his own private home and that being used to destroy him financially.
McCain said, "It's the world we live in, you don't like it, but everything I say I expect to be recorded. It's just the way we live, Dan. It's something you've got to accept. I don't particularly like it, but it is what it is."
But, is the Arizona Senator correct that, since he expects to be recorded, we all need to get used to the idea that anything we say can and will be used against us?
The over-politicization of everyday life is a dangerous road we seem to have been swept down. A friend of mine, who really does not pay much attention to politics, mentioned to me that she noticed everything has become political - from the soccer team her kids play on, to the school's lunch program. Every day, subtly, the things we do have become tests about what side of the political spectrum we reside on, and it's a nasty practice I fear we may not curb.
With the advent of social media, so many of us put our information out publicly, but does that mean we have reached the status of public figure or servant? Even if you use social media to tell your friends who you are voting for, or how you feel about a political party, does that mean everything you say can be used against you to take something you own away from you?
When a Senator admits that he expects everything he says to be recorded and used in a political attack against him, we think, "Well, he's the one who ran for office, he's the one who works for the people, the people have a right to know." But, if Joe Sixpack takes to Facebook to tell everyone what he thinks, with his privacy settings on public, should he reconsider now that there is considerable evidence that everything you say can and will be used to destroy you?
We've lost sight of the rationale of free speech, but also, we seem to be living through a phase of over-reaction to offense, and it resides on both ends of the political spectrum. Instead of pointing out what is right and what is wrong, we fall back not only on what might offend the sensibilities of the demure, but claim we're being victimized by something somebody wrote or said, and we demand justice for it. Justice comes in the form of the offender getting something taken away from them, or mocked into submission, or forced to apologize -- for simply saying something they thought.
At this point, we don't even have to visualize what might happen if we speak up, since there are plenty of real, true-life examples of what happens. If you are a conservative, expect to be hassled by the IRS. If you say something racist, you could lose your property rights. If you believe in traditional marriage and attempt to promote it, you will not be promoted and may lose your job. If you are a Christian, evangelizing in the military, expect to be silenced and reprimanded. If you have a bumper sticker excoriating the current administration, expect your car to be keyed. If you want to run your business the way you always have, your belief system will be used against you. And, on and on. These instances aren't new to the world, but they should be revolting to a country committed to freedom.
So, it's a double-edged sword to stand for what you believe. Sure, those who realized personally how intolerant the mob-like society we have has become have suffered, and fear can decide things for us easily. But, if we all practice freedom daily, we overwhelm.
It seems silly to have to spell it out, but a Senator's words and actions are fair game, a private citizen's should not be, and it would be wonderful if we had more public servants who worked to protect the freedoms and privacy of the American people. Ironically, in order for that to happen, more people have to be brave enough to speak up.
There used to be a saying, "I don't agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." That saying is stealthily being changed to, "I don't agree with what you say, therefore you should be punished." The consequence of that change on a free nation is revolutionary, and the only way to restore the former is to practice your God-given freedoms every day.