Hate Speech? Nope. Just Common Sense

Hate Speech? Nope. Just Common Sense

By Phil Valentine - April 1, 2009

I have detected a disturbing trend in the tenor of the debate now coming from the left.

Blogs, phone calls to talk radio and letters to the editor all ring with the same theme. Anything that is remotely critical of our president or the Democrats in Congress is now being characterized as "hate speech." Liberals have even been emboldened to shout at me across busy floors of public commerce. The political dialogue in this country has taken a nasty turn.

When I took a vacation from my column here at The Tennessean last week, the left-wing blogosphere rejoiced that the only decidedly conservative voice of the Sunday opinion page had, at last, been banished. Sorry to disappoint you: I'm back.

You may not agree with my opinions. They may, in fact, enrage you, but you should be willing to at least listen to what those who don't share your vision of what this country ought to be have to say.

A few weeks ago, the editor of a small-town newspaper very publicly banned my writings from his newspaper. Not over something I had written in his newspaper, mind you, but because of a position I had taken in The Tennessean. What could possibly be so distasteful as to warrant my lifetime ban from his publication? I dared ask the question, "What are we getting for our federal tax dollars?'' When George W. Bush was spending money on what people on the left claimed was an "endless, pointless, immoral war,'' then questioning the expenditures of the federal government was not only acceptable but mandatory.

Now that the liberals have taken over Washington, it seems that criticizing massive bailouts and so-called stimulus packages to the tune of trillions of dollars we don't have is suddenly repugnant if not downright unpatriotic.

The left has always had its forums. The Big Three networks along with CNN, PBS, NPR, MSNBC and countless others have always given voice to the liberal way of thinking. Filmmakers like Michael Moore and Al Gore release propaganda pieces disguised as documentaries. Although we on the right point out the obvious, we don't insist that these entities be shut down.

Talk radio seems to be the last remaining bastion of conservative thought -- dare I say, common sense -- and the liberals have set their sights on closing it down. Liberals who, no doubt, read from talking points hand-crafted by back-bench strategists, call my show with accusations of "hate speech." When asked to provide specifics, they fumble and mumble and accuse me of hating the president. I don't hate the president. I rather like him, on a personal level. What's not to like? He's personable. He's charming. He's intelligent.

What I hate is what he's attempting to do to this country. He sincerely believes that the government can spend its way out of debt. As I've said, that's akin to believing one can drink his way to sobriety. It defies logic but logic is not the currency of liberalism; emotion is.

Liberals look at our current economic situation and scream and cry that our government should do something. Anything! That's an emotional response to a problem that requires logic and common sense to solve. It's easy to throw money at a problem in a fit of misguided compassion, but throwing money around is exactly how we got here. So those of us who criticize the policies of this administration are systematically targeted for destruction.

What's so disturbing about this trend is the damage it does to our fundamental right to freedom of speech, to freedom of the press, to the free exchange of ideas. It is not I who hate; rather, it is those who disagree with me who hate me for holding an opinion contrary to their own.

These supposedly open-minded liberals seem to be all about diversity except when it comes to diversity of thought.

Phil Valentine is an author and syndicated radio talk show host with Westwood One, heard locally on SuperTalk 99.7WTN weekdays from 4-8 p.m. His column appears on Sundays. For more of his commentary and articles, visit

The Tennessean , Copyright 2009

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