Former President Bill Clinton — whom we all know as a champion of political accountability, an exemplar of good governance, and a staunch defender of the traditional liberties of the American people — has weighed in on the tendency of some of his fellow countrymen to abuse their right of free speech.
In advance of the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, Mr. Clinton felt the need to warn conservatives, particularly “extremists” having Tea Party tendencies, to be careful of what they say. He “insisted he wasn’t trying to restrict free speech, but…”
According to the AP:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Bill Clinton warned of a slippery slope from angry anti-government rhetoric to violence like the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, saying “the words we use really do matter.”
The two-term Democratic president insisted he wasn’t trying to restrict free speech, but in remarks Friday he said incendiary language can be taken the wrong way by some Americans. He drew parallels to words demonizing the government before Oklahoma City.
“I’m glad they’re fighting over health care and everything else. Let them have at it. But I think that all you have to do is read the paper every day to see how many people there are who are deeply, deeply troubled,” he said.
“By all means keep fighting, by all means, keep arguing,” he said. “But remember, words have consequences as much as actions do, and what we advocate, commensurate with our position and responsibility, we have to take responsibility for. We owe that to Oklahoma City.”
Mr. President: I, too, am “deeply, deeply troubled”. And words do matter.
At the risk of putting myself on a DHS or FBI watch list, I offer the following words, which were written by a fellow Virginian a while back (my emphasis):
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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
I stand in solidarity Thomas Jefferson.
I, too, believe the current federal system should not be abolished for light and transient causes. Our task, as patriotic Americans living in parlous times, is to determine when these causes have in fact become weighty and permanent.
Like Mr. Jefferson, I am disposed to suffer evils while they are sufferable rather than to abolish the forms to which we are accustomed. But when does a long train of abuses and usurpations become too long?
When we reach that point, it becomes my right — no, my duty — to throw off such a government, and to provide new protections for my future security.
If these words constitute a slippery slope, then I’m already at the bottom of it. Put the cuffs on me and take me away.
Hat tip: Fjordman.