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Ironically, not much separates the Amanda Marcottes and Jeb Lunds of the political ecosphere, in the ostensible divide between them and those like the Donald J. Trumps, Edward Gallaghers – and Hallmark Channel viewers – whom they would seek to demonize. I am no Trump, Gallagher, or Hallmark Channel apologist. But I don’t need to be in order to safeguard and champion the freedom of speech – including theirs.

Perhaps the ultimate irony – and lesson of history – is in the historical fact that while those whom they seek to vilify would defend their right to speak, albeit under the umbrella of proper discretion, the same could very likely not be said of them. In other words, championing the right to speak freely would likely not be reciprocated by them to those with whom they disagree. Thus, the greatest irony of all and lesson of history is that they themselves become the worst oppressors, as oppressive, brutal, cruel, fascistic, dictatorial, and authoritarian as any against whom they would speak.

Upon closer observation, it becomes apparent that every strong upsurge of power in the public sphere, be it of a political or a religious nature, infects a large part of humankind with stupidity. … The power of the one needs the stupidity of the other. The process at work here is not that particular human capacities, for instance, the intellect, suddenly atrophy or fail. Instead, it seems that under the overwhelming impact of rising power, humans are deprived of their inner independence and, more or less consciously, give up establishing an autonomous position toward the emerging circumstances. The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us to the fact that he is not independent. In conversation with him, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with him as a person, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like that have taken possession of him. He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. This is where the danger of diabolical misuse lurks, for it is this that can once and for all destroy human beings.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, On Stupidity (1967; 1997) [emphasis added]

The ideal tyranny is that which is ignorantly self-administered by its victims. The most perfect slaves are, therefore, those which blissfully and unawaredly enslave themselves.

Dresden James


Edward Gallagher

Amanda Marcotte

Hallmark Channel


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