In sum, she invokes Oliver Wendell Holmes's "marketplace of ideas," where ideas "flourish or perish under their own power," to suggest that liberals "muzzle dissent" more than right-wingers do. Her evidence? Well, for one thing, "an unscientific poll involving a tally of (her) recent e-mails leads (her) to believe that liberals are less 'liberal-minded' than their conservative counterparts." It couldn't be that people of the same stripe disagree more agreeably than people of a different stripe do, though one can observe this very phenomenon in this blog's comments. She also claims that liberals have "sought to muzzle dissent" no less than five times since 1992, which list might invite the retort "five incidents of chicken pox do not constitute an epidemic." But it's also possible she gets angry emails from liberals because her ideas aren't good enough to "flourish" but still do, thanks to her column helpfully provided by the local media, and I'm inclined toward this explanation, because only one of her five listed events (liberal opposition to military recruitment on college campuses) represents a possible incident of liberal "muzzling." The other four events range from outright lies to, what do you know, incidents where liberals exercised their First Amendment rights by criticizing people they didn't like.
First, the outright lies. Bob Casey was ostracized at the 1992 Convention because he wouldn't endorse the Democratic Presidential candidate. This is, I would expect, a fairly common phenomenon though it doesn't reflect well on the party. If it were a mere matter of his pro-life views, six other pro-life speakers wouldn't have been able to speak at the Convention, either. And Rick Santorum didn't express "traditional views on family" so much as he compared homosexuality only slightly favorably to bestiality and suggested that the reason so many Boston priests fondled kids is that Boston is a liberal city. It's a lie to suggest liberals were angry about "traditional views on family" rather than his reactionary views on society.
And criticizing isn't the same as "muzzling." Who exactly has put duct tape over Rick Santorum's mouth for spewing his spew? No one has prevented Santorum from standing for the Senate, or for the Presidency in 2008 if that is his will. And Bill Cosby was, in Ms. Flowers's own words, "criticized," not muzzled, not prevented to speak (as he would speak about similar topics later and those comments were duly reported). And, finally, the Dover decision does not "muzzle" -- do liberals require the teaching of quantum mechanics in Buddhism class just because some people find the experience of Einstein's mind a religious experience? And even if the decision were "muzzling," the man who did the muzzling is a conservative Republican justice appointed to the bench by Mr. Bush. Surely such a man would have stood up to liberal tyranny, if it existed.
Conflating "dissent" and "criticism" and "muzzling" and "censorship" is a right-wing trick I'm getting damn tired of, but I suspect with Ms. Flowers it's also intuitive: she really feels oppressed when people disagree with her, or with her heroes. Well, I'm not opposed to making people feel ashamed of themselves when they say things they ought to be ashamed of, as Rick Santorum and so many others have certainly done. "For shame!" is also free speech; you may find it unpleasant or uncivil, but not oppressive. And the First Amendment does not only apply to one person at a time; it applies to all of us, all of the time, and that includes those moments when we criticize others, no matter how that makes their sympathizers feel.
I mean, really. This column should have "perished," but it's no better or worse than most right-wing sputum circa 2006. And I've a damn garden to tend to.