The words of my high school biology teacher are still etched in my distant memory, "democracy has gone to your head." I spent two hours in detention for daring to ask a question that contradicted the communist story line of Romanian history and it angered my history teacher, Mrs. Avram, because she could not tell the truth, instead she took her frustration out on me. To tell historical truth meant that she risked immediate deportation to a re-education camp. Whatever she believed, she dared not divulge it or diverge from the party line and revisionist lies. Mrs. Avram was Jewish and thus under much more scrutiny than ordinary Romanians. She was always dancing a fine line - as a Jew who had relatives in Israel, she was a potential spy. In the eyes of communism, we were all potential spies, however, being Jewish was a double risk. Her file with the dreaded Romanian Securitate must have been quite thick. There was an assigned spy on every street, apartment block, or village. Everyone knew who this person was, usually an elderly man or woman, either retired, or living on such a small pension that they were sure to die of starvation without the extra help from the blood money the agents provided.
What is freedom of speech? If I asked people on the street, I got as many different confused answers as I expected. That is because people talk about freedom of speech but have not really given it much thought. It is taken for granted that people can say whatever they wish, without any consequences. Is freedom of speech the guaranteed right to say what you desire without government censorship, is it freedom of the airways, freedom to write against the ruling elite, freedom to speak your mind politely even though others may be uncomfortable or disagree violently, including offensive speech? Certainly you cannot yell "fire" in a crowded theater. That is punishable by law.
Do we really have freedom of speech? Can we express opinions without consequences? Can we be banned to Siberia? Are we really banned to obscurity if we dare speak the truth? Do we become journalist pariahs like Michael Savage who was banned in Britain for speaking the truth? Few defended him on principle alone, even though they may have disliked him. Banning is not something new, many famous writers were banned during their lifetime for literary expression and political views. Many were sent to the gallows, the scaffold, the guillotine, and gulags, never to return. Some were sent to the Land Down Under when it was just a colony of criminals. Napoleon was exiled to Corsica. Ovid was exiled to Pontus Euxinus for his writings and his love affair with the emperor's daughter. You can certainly lose your job if you exercise your right to free speech, many have and still do. If you are in academia, you may or may not get tenure, depending on your views. If you are a liberal, it is a walk in the park. If you are a conservative, you might as well kiss your tenure good-bye. If you are a student whose opinions diverge from the teacher's, you are either assured a failing grade, or you become the mockery and insult board of your professor for the entire semester/year. Of all the places in the country I can think of, a university should be the number one defender of free speech. Based on my experience, most campuses are places where freedom of speech is stifled, carefully controlled, manipulated, policed, and relegated to a very small area called "free speech zone." However, to express your views on any topic in such a corner, you need permission from the university, such permission may or many not be granted and, if allowed, only for a short period of time. Students are coached and often paid how to properly protest an event that diverges from and contradicts Marxist propaganda. Political correctness is so pervasive and so gone amok, it borders on communist dictatorship censorship. Political correctness is speech censorship any way you slice it. Everything is censored unless it agrees with the university's socialist/Marxist views. Most professors are inveterate communists and I should know, I've worked with quite a few for years!
I remember my elation before I set foot in the United States and the trepidation at the prospect of being able to say whatever I wanted without any fear of being deported overnight to Siberia or being immediately subjected to harsh interrogation and communist jail. I say "communist" to distinguish it from the country club jail in the United States. Once inside a gulag, they threw away the key. You either came out a different person or you came out feet first. I had a friend, Dr. Cornel (not his real name, God rest his soul), who did hard time under communists in a lead mine. He worked there for 17 years and, when he came out, he looked rather ghostly. Nobody expected him to live much longer. He survived his ordeal and lived more than twenty years in a southern town. His only crime was that he owned property, a couple of homes and, as a physician, exercised his right of free speech. It was not enough that they confiscated his homes, his land, his property, and his medical practice, they had to teach him a lesson in a re-education camp as well, a lead mine, for 17 years! What a gravy train of free forced labor for the communists. And, they assumed, he would never, ever utter another word against communism, if he survived the back-braking work and the inadequate diet. The irony was that he became an ardent speaker against communism and was quite popular on the lecture circuit around the world. He received a comfortable pension from the U.S., had a nice home with a large fish pond and a boat. He was very proud of his lake and the Greek statues surrounding it. I knew he deserved any eccentricity or luxury his wallet could buy. Seventeen years of suffering and loss of freedom in a lead mine could never be reclaimed by material possessions.
I learned very quickly that there were consequences for speaking your mind - yes, we had freedom of speech, but, like insurance, if you used it, your premiums would go up dramatically. Every time I would point out shortcomings in the system and how it could be improved, I would hear the same worn out answer, "if you don't like it, you can go back where you came from." That pretty much put a damper on objective criticism. If you made a comment involving someone black, you were a racist, not a good label to overcome. An entire industry of "victimhood" was created around the accusation of racism. It had to be redressed with affirmative action, quotas, and financial reparations. Nobody forced anybody to do hard time in a labor camp, but it forced people into pariah martyrdom or professional suicide if freedom of speech was exercised.
Fast forward thirty-two years and I realize that we have lost any semblance of freedom of speech. Anything we say is labeled instantly racist. We cannot even punish black criminals anymore, it is racist. We cannot disagree with someone of a different skin pigmentation, we are racist. We cannot disagree with the Democrat Party, we are racists. We cannot be conservatives, we are racists. We cannot be patriots, we are racists. We cannot respect and demand borders, language, and culture, we are racists. If we are part of the Tea Party, we are racists. We cannot punish corrupt Congressmen who happen to be black, we are racists.
If there was a place I could choose to be poor and free at the same time, it would have been the United States. Lately, I am not so sure any more. The United States is beginning to resemble more and more a dictatorship, a banana republic. I am having PTSD attacks every day now. I call them communist deja-vu. Thirty-two years ago, when I left communist Romania in order to live under freedom in the United States, I would have never believed that Americans would be so stupid as to believe that a failed economic and political system in many other countries over the course of the last century, would actually work in the U.S. just because someone in power says so. This is not entirely a surprise, we have become an entitlement society, a give-me everything for free at any cost. I have been first-hand witness to the dumbing down of the American educational system by the very Marxist teachers licensed by the Department of Education, with the blessing of the National Education Association union membership and the blessing of totally oblivious and lazy parents whose only care was that their child/children received free meals. Even the most conservative states in the union seldom had more than a few conservative, American patriotic teachers amongst their ranks. Indoctrinating students via revisionist history and the staunch assertion that America was evil, capitalism was evil, and Americans had to be ashamed of their history and past worked. We created a generation of zombies who serve as useful idiots at various protests around the country and dutiful and devoted voters. It has never crossed their minds that they are voting themselves into a life of poverty and exploitation by the ruling elite, an economic status quo they will never be able to overcome through entrepreneurship or hard work. Violence, destruction of property, desecration of the American flag, of the national Anthem, of everything that represented our country for 235 years, anti-capitalism, and rabid anti-Americanism have become the American creed of the young and lost generation. It does not seem to matter that a large portion of the college-educated cannot find a job commensurate with their education and will not likely find one any time soon. Politicians with their messianic talk cannot create jobs, capitalists do. Freedom of speech against the "oppressors" is more important than putting bread on the table. Why worry? Uncle Sam and the government will provide for us all. Is that why you spent thousands of dollars on a college education, to become dependent on government welfare? I recognize the dependence we had to rely on in order to survive under communism. There was no other way, any creativity and entrepreneurship was squashed, literally, under the heavy boot on the neck by the communist ruling elite. I seem to remember this administration using this exact term, referring to the "evil" banks, oil and car companies, the very people who help create jobs and prosperity under capitalism. The phrase, borrowed from Stalin, Marx, Lenin, and Engels, is a reminder of the horrors perpetrated by communist elites on millions of innocent Iron Curtain victims who were starved, worked to death, or butchered by the "regime" for daring to question the efficacy and validity of their economic policies. Scientific socialism and dialectical materialism were actual courses taught in communist high schools and colleges.
I used to think that Americans were shameless because they had children out of wedlock and society celebrated their depravity. Churches dedicated special programs on Mother's Day to out-of-wedlock teenage mothers. Men were irresponsible when they abandoned their children as soon as they found out their one night stand was pregnant. Both sexes were shameless in their lack of respect for chastity and the sacred vows of marriage. Why take responsibility when the government stepped in and took care of both mom and infant through its taxpayer largesse welfare programs? Morality, honesty, and a total lack of an ethical compass have degenerated so far that nothing surprised us anymore, we considered it part of everyday life, it became PC. To me political correctness is really political control. Have we lost our freedom to speak to PC? I would answer that with a resounding yes. It has to be political correctness cloaked as religious tolerance that compels us to allow the Muslim Cordoba Initiative to build a mosque at Ground Zero, celebrating their victory over the Infidels worldwide, but particularly American Infidels, the most hated group by Islam. It is not tolerance that is forcing us to accept the final conquest and victory over our lands by Muslims, over the hollowed grounds where thousands of human remains are still buried after 9/11, it is sheer stupidity and ignorance driven home by our failed educational system.