Monday, February 27, 2006
George Will Gets a Little Help, And You Get a Little highwayscribery
the highway scribe is back from a jaunt through the BosWash corridor: New York, Baltimore, and Washington D.C. as reported before last signing off.
The three-hour Amtrak trek is a cobbled collection of abandoned industrial sites, a great place for anthropologists, historians, and archeologists. The industrial titan that was once the United States is no more yet even in its state of decadence inspires with its vastness and distinction from present-day landscapes.
The imagination is easily prodded into an attempt at reconstructing the activity, the pollution, the unrest, the movement and money; to sprinkle it with easy and romantic devices like horse-pulled carriages and mule-driven drays, top-hatted capitalists with porcelain doll, neuralgic wives.
There is a pre-modern hint to a lot of the architecture. It is somewhat striking to one who inhabits a a faux adobe and stucco environment how foundries, granaries, assembly plants, and warehouses were constructed with an individual pride, graced with steeples or clock towers, laid-in with rich red brick, ornamented with angels and gargoyles.
It occurred to the scribe that a positive and popular initiative might be for government to launch a repopulation of these dead areas. Giving the structures and parcels away, free of liability, to the country’s besieged creative classes for their own.
Free warehouses and structures and tax breaks for smaller concerns in an effort to recreate the chain of manufacturing so vital to urban life and economic equality.
This instead of endless and senseless sprawl and the natural defoliation of (what’s left of) the countryside. A kind of efficiency to re-inhabit the shell left there by a mighty and more fearless breed of American. A sought after rediscovery and association with a successful past and an assertion of creativity and craft as treasured social values.
That’s just a little highwayscribery for you.
Getting on with our own times, today we invert a popular highwayscribery convention whereby the scribe’s own thoughts are mixed-up with those of superior men in article/posts that accrue mostly his own (dis)credit.
But today we reach down the ladder of excellence and extend an elevating hand to George Will, the bow-tied banner-carrier of a (r)epublican-type past (that we kind of miss). Will is capable of crossing lines now and again, but belittles those of distinct notions and has defended the administration (with a few exceptions) pretty consistently.
And that’s going to be remembered when the purge begins.
Anyway, he has written an article in the “Washington Post,” entitled “Less Freedom, Less Speech.”
You can find it here:
It involves the recent sentencing to prison of a man named David Irving who is a self-described “moderate” fascist and one of those people who doesn’t think Hitler killed millions of Jews in Europe, even though that’s what he really likes about Hitler.
Anyway, Irving’s going to jail, essentially for the beliefs he holds.
Will thinks this wrong, and that is why highwayscribery allies itself with him today, standing as we do for truth, justice, and the American way (from a “moderate” anarcho-syndicalist perspective).
“Last week, while Europe was lecturing Muslims about the virtue of tolerating free expression by Danish cartoonists, Irving was sentenced to three years in prison. What folly. What dangers do the likes of Irving pose? Holocaust denial is the occupation of cynics and lunatics who are always with us but are no reason for getting governments into the dangerous business of outlawing certain arguments. Laws criminalizing Holocaust denial open a moral pork barrel for politicians: Many groups can be pandered to with speech restrictions. Why not a law regulating speech about slavery? Of Stalin’s crimes?”
Will is absolutely right for free speech must be absolute. You start cherry-pickin’ and the tree of rights is done for.
The columnist argues that the right to free speech has been shrinking over time, “increasingly ‘balanced’ against ‘competing values.’ As a result, it is whittled down, often by seemingly innocuous increments, to a minor constitutional afterthought.”
highwayscribery joins George Will in deploring the criminalization of marginal thoughts, however repugnant, and hereby introduces him to our many and influential readers.