Nothing much phases me after 36 years in Washington, D.C., but there is one thing still makes my blood boil - when the Nanny State's PC police try to silence somebody with whom they disagree.
I plead guilty to being a First Amendment fanatic. The First Amendment guarantees that every American has the right to speak his piece without having to fear being arrested or otherwise harmed as a result of his opinions or beliefs.
|‘Just to be safe, Cathy should avoid dimly lit Italian eateries if he ever again sets foot in Al Capone's hometown.’|
At least that's how it's supposed to be. Nowadays, everywhere you turn, there's the PC police telling us what we can and cannot think or say.
That's why Chick-Fil-A chief Dan Cathy walked into PC Hell this week after professing his belief that marriage only includes a man and a woman.
Think what you will of Cathy's views about marriage. I couldn't care less whether you agree with him or think he's from another planet. The point is the Constitution says you get your say and so does he.
But that's not what we get from the PC police and their slavish followers like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, both of whom threatened to invoke the power of government to prevent Chik-Fil-A from locating in their jurisdictions.
Nobody should be surprised to find the Mayor of Chicago sees no problem with using his office to silence those with whom he disagrees. Just to be safe, Cathy should avoid dimly lit Italian eateries if he ever again sets foot in Al Capone's hometown.
Nor should we be surprised to hear such clap-trap from the mayor of New England's biggest city. After all, it wasn't that long ago that Beantown's Puritan ancestors put dissenters in the stocks, burned witches at the stake, and exiled contrary preachers like * Roger Williams to the wilds of Rhode Island.
The Founders put the First Amendment in the Constitution to protect the rest of us from people like Emanuel and Menino within and without government who seek to use it to enforce their preferred orthodoxies.
It's no coincidence that, as the First Amendment Center's Charles C. Haynes pointed out recently, much of the pressure for adding the First Amendment to the original Constitution came from Baptists and Presbyterians in Virginia who feared being squashed by the Episcopal Establishment in Richmond.
The problem for all of us is that none of this matters to the fanatics who are determined to track down and punish anybody with contrary opinions and thereby to make sure everybody thinks and speaks only approved views.
"Live and let live" simply isn't part of the PC police vocabulary. Neither is the idea that nobody is forced to buy Chick-Fil-A waffle fries. Go to McDonalds or Burger King or nowhere at all if you prefer.
Here's something else the PC police apparently never think about: What will they do when, having gutted the First Amendment for others, it is they being told to shut up?
Maybe then they'll understand Thomas More's urgent query in "A Man for all Seasons" to the young fanatic, William Roper, who would "cut down every law in England to get at the Devil."
To which More replied: "Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?"
More ultimately lost his head to the axman for speaking his mind, thanks to the PC police goading King Henry VIII into a bloody rage. Dare we risk discovering that the only thing different with such people today is their weapon of choice?
* Corrected from an earlier version.
Mark Tapscott is executive editor of The Washington Examiner.