WASHINGTON — What a world we Americans have created for ourselves.
We have gone from speaking freely to biting our tongues at nearly every instance out of fear of offending someone and bringing the wrath of the word police down around our heads.
A veteran Pittsburgh television anchor was fired the other week after she analyzed the violence of the inner city on her Facebook page. Her firing is exactly the type of thing the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan warned us about 40 years ago.
Similarly, a director of a major tennis tournament lost his job after making intemperate remarks about women’s role in the game.
We are constantly looking over our shoulders to make sure we aren’t doing something that might embarrass us or make us the object of widespread derision through narrow interpretation and distortion.
Our legislatures, both federal and state, adopt socially restrictive laws that regulate our behavior to fit their ideas about what is or isn’t moral, ignoring the fact that the Constitution does not regulate morality. Based on their religious tenants, lawmakers would deny us many of the inalienable rights promised us by our founders. If they prevail, women’s bodies are not their own, sexual activity will be as they prescribe it and our very thoughts ultimately will be inhibited.
North Carolina recently adopted a law that requires, among other things, that transgender people use only the bathrooms that correspond with their birth gender. A man who has become a woman would be forced to use the men’s restroom and vice versa. Will there be law enforcement personnel assigned to every public relief facility in the state? How utterly silly is that? No need to answer.
The impact of all this, of course, has helped turn the current presidential nominating process into an exercise of ideological dueling never before seen in our history. Some of the most excessive promises and distasteful allegations ever made come tidal-waving across our media landscape daily. Until recently at least, Donald Trump seemed immune to political correctness.
Women who have abortions should be put in jail? Illegal aliens — millions upon millions of them — should be rounded up and deported, but not before they have been made to help build a wall that would keep them and their brethren out forever. Religious freedom doesn’t include Muslims, who also should be banned.
At the left extreme, Bernie Sanders would dole out free health care and free college education and free everything, except perhaps the truth, as hurtful as it may be. Huey Long proclaimed, “Every man a king,” but was killed before he could bring that vision about for his Louisiana constituents. Sanders would diminish Wall Street to a limited role and redistribute the wealth and, one supposes, establish a new social order. Phooey.
There is some hope that the nation’s major employers — profits and image in mind — could rescue us from some of these inane and obnoxious and, for my money clearly unconstitutional, state legislative actions.
The governor of Georgia, after intervention from the likes of such power houses as Coca-Cola and Bank of America, decided he should veto a so-called religious liberty bill that was widely seen as anti-gay. As a result, he faced anger from the state’s evangelical conservatives. The same sort of pressure was placed on Indiana’s governor when that legislature adopted a similar law and he signed it. The outcry and economic threats ultimately caused a reversal of the legislation.
While the nation’s culture in the main appears to be moving toward more social tolerance, there is an ideological break with this in Congress and in a number of legislatures controlled by Republicans in the South and West, particularly where they are in the majority.
Democrats who held out little or no hope of gaining the 30 seats necessary to recapture the U.S. House now believe that the angry campaigns of Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for the Republican nomination may give them a chance. They believe that many moderate Republicans are so disgusted they may stay home from the polls in November.
Stay tuned but don’t be afraid to express. It’s good for the soul.
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Dan Thomasson is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service and a former vice president of Scripps Howard Newspapers. Readers may send him email at: [email protected] .