"Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul."
It's commencement season again, so the nation's pundits are taking advantage of the opportunity to take university youth to task for rejecting commencement speakers who espouse unpopular causes (anti-Muslim crusader Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Condoleezza Rice, I.M.F. head Christian Lagarde etc.), which demonstrates a failure to be open to a true "marketplace of ideas." Of course, the circulation of ideas is a lot more significant than a mere "marketplace," but since profit is the only value that capitalism will tolerate, and capitalism is not about to disappear tomorrow morning, we'll leave that consideration aside for the moment. Just what moral standing does U.S. punditry have to condemn others for not tolerating speech it can't stand?
The obvious answer is, "none at all." "Liberals," and "conservatives," (and for that matter, many university students) are quite similar in their intolerance for political views that conflict with their own. The corporate media, those entrusted with the task of perpetuating political orthodoxy, i.e., the incapacity to question, does not, cannot, and will not tolerate speech delivered by doctor David Duke, Louis Farrakhan, the honorable Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bolivian President Evo Morales,Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Russian president Vladimir Putin, Syrian president Assad, any spokesperson of Hamas, and Holocaust revisionists such as Ernst Zundel and Bradley Smith, among others. Even Phil Donahue and Helen Thomas have been ex-communicated by the media czars, the former for questioning the wisdom of attacking Iraq, the latter for suggesting that (illegal) colonizers of Palestine ought to return to the lands where they have legal standing. In short, the pundits presuming to lecture American youth on the virtues of tolerance and respect for a diversity of views are themselves partisans of a narrow orthodoxy, one they don't even know they have, much less are willing to question.
From the point of view of the upholders of a "free marketplace of ideas," you are a racist murderer if you think lack of forensic evidence of homicidal gas chambers in WWII poses a problem for those who believe in them, an unreconstructed Bolshevik if you question capitalist rule by a microscopic minority of investors, an apologist for chemical warfare if you don't support overthrowing the government of Syria, a supporter of dictatorship if you think the Russian people have the right to resist a U.S. orchestrated coup in the Ukraine, and an apologist for terror if you support democratically elected Hamas's right to govern the Palestinian people. Small wonder that Americans have a dim view of politics and are reluctant to participate. When vulgar smears greet every original thought, who in their right mind wants to participate?
Meanwhile, how do the pundits greet whistleblowers? In general they applaud the jailing and torture of Chelsea Manning and the forced exile of Eric Snowden for revealing state secrets to the American people, who otherwise would not have any means of knowing about many of the crimes committed in their name. The American First Amendment establishing press freedom is much celebrated by the punditocracy for distinguising the U.S. from Canada and European states, some of whom have official secrets acts that allow the state to raid the files of media companies. However, the presumed moral superiority of the American system becomes difficult to appreciate given the perpetual eagerness of the corporate media to spout the national security state's propaganda of the moment. As the saying goes, once the bull has been spayed, he receives all barnyard privileges.
The existence of the First Amendment is precisely what makes the corporate media's craven submission to official doctrines reprehensible. If the press and broadcast media were subject to state intrusion, they could plead self-defense in making "news" coincide with the propaganda needs of the state. But since they do not face any penalty for crafting the news however they see fit, one can only call them cowards for giving credence to the lies and distortions favored by Washington. Base and criminal cowards.
Reject this hypocrisy, students, and demand full employment for graduates by establishing a free and independent media with access to mass audiences. Let freedom ring!