2024 Leg Session, Civil Liberties, Featured, Gold Dome, Politics, Uncategorized

Caldara: Colorado’s majority Democrats assault free speech

(You can listen to this column, read by the author, here.)

Among all protections throughout human existence for political minorities, none greater was ever created before the First Amendment.

For the better part of my life, it was classic liberals and the political left who fought for the right of dissent, guaranteeing government shall not abridge speech.

It was the cultural warriors of my childhood through school, media and Hollywood who drilled into us themes like: “innocent until proven guilty”; “the ends don’t justify the means”; “I disagree with what you say, but defend your right to say it”; and “dissent is patriotic.”

Why? Because the political majority needs no protection for its self-expression. The political minority does.

It was Jewish lawyers at the ACLU who fought for the right of Neo-Nazis (who’d like to see Jews exterminated) to parade in Skokie, Illinois.

Progressive icon Noam Chomsky preached, “If you’re in favor of freedom of speech, that means you’re in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise.”

Without the ability for political minorities to speak freely without fear of censorship, retribution, cancellation, job loss or the ending of their quest for higher education, democracy quickly withers.

We are watching democracy withering in the halls of our own state Capitol.

The super-majority Democrats put out a list of words of dissent not allowed to be uttered in their tyrannical building. The list includes the following words and terms — alien, illegal, fresh-off-the-boat and undocumented immigrant.

At the well of the House floor state Rep. Ron Weinberg described himself as an “illegal alien,” because, well, that’s what he was. For that utterance legislative business was stalled for his public scolding.

First, there’s nothing offensive about the term. There are aliens (a governmental term to begin with) who are here legally and aliens who are here illegally.

Rep. Weinberg was told he was censored because his speech could hurt someone’s feelings. Odd, isn’t it? Only the feelings of one side of political debate count. And the feelings of people who wish to speak don’t? Sensitivity of the political minority is sacrificed for “sensitivity” of the majority.

Or maybe it’s not about sensitivity at all? Maybe it’s about expediency. Just maybe it’s about disempowering one’s opponents. Maybe censorship is really about keeping those in power, well, in power.

If the constituents of Rep. Weinberg are offended by his speech, they will express themselves at the next election, assuming he’s allowed to be heard in the first place.

Rich Guggenheim, from Gays Against Groomers, testified against a bill to allow felons to change their names when they “transition” gender. He committed two thought crimes — “misgendering” a person via pronoun choice and “deadnaming” a person (using that person’s pre-transition name).

For these sins against the state, he was gaveled down, told to leave and his testimony was stricken from the audio record of the Legislature.

They scrubbed the official records of his testimony! That is terrifying. Let’s ask how we would feel if former President Donald Trump could delete testimony he didn’t like. Imagine the screams of “threat to democracy” that would rightfully echo.

Deleting official testimony and altering records is simply tyrannical. Something we’d see in Soviet Russia or North Korea, but not here in Colorado.

Somehow our leaders made “adjusting” official records acceptable by making changing one’s birth certificate like changing one’s address. This may not seem like a big deal, but it’s huge. Government records, truthful at the time created, shouldn’t be tampered with, unless you don’t mind the same treatment for other records like people’s age or the deed to your property.

The state forcing citizens to use someone else’s preferred pronoun is compelled speech. It’s ugly. We should have no patience for the state coercing any witness testifying to refer to a biological male as female.

From the point of the witness, in Mr. Guggenheim’s perspective, government is mandating he lie in an official proceeding and on the official record.

This behavior is by far the most clear-cut assault on minority rights and free speech I have ever seen at the Colorado Capitol. The state is abridging free speech.

And where is the left to stop it as they once did?

We shouldn’t just fear, we should be terrified of a government that uses its authority to silence dissent.

And for those doing it, I ask again: If Trump were doing these very same things, you’d have to support it, right?

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.


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