The New Freedom Riders

A case is currently wending its way through the courts that ironically may be decided on precedents set back during the civil rights movement, originally intended to protect civil rights activists from retaliation by racist state and local governments.  Political activism by African Americans was, shall we say, less than encouraged in the Jim Crow South, with signers of petitions understandably fearing intimidation and violence, so courts in 1958 recognized the right to organize in private.  Elements of this decision informed later significant privacy cases, including Griswold V. Connecticut, Roe v. Wade, and Lawrence v. Texas.  These groundbreaking civil rights victories gave a lot of other people some nifty ideas, though, and as we’re now discovering, Freedom Isn’t Free anymore, but rather something to be purchased through the toil of high-priced lawyers.

You see, in our upside down world, those seeking to take away others’ civil rights are now pleading for privacy protections; though backed by huge and powerful churches and wealthy individuals, the anti-gay marriage crowd is deathly afraid of having their eyes clawed out by drag queens, or worse, Rosie O’Donnell driving by their houses and mooning them.  After their bittersweet victory in California, the Mormons and others have hired an armada of lawyers to keep their petitioners secret; well-earned boycotts and social opprobrium is just a bit more than these holier-than-thou shrinking violets can endure.  (They tried to keep their donors secret, too, but that spectacular affront to the idea of open elections was repeatedly laughed out of court.)  So, here we have a bunch of religious zealots attempting to Talibanize America state by state, opportunistically moving their lavishly funded but deceitful and malicious campaign into Washington and Maine, all the while whining about how hurtful it is to be constantly called bigots, just because that’s what they happen to be.

Recognizant of the fact that, like most of their jihads, this one can’t be sold honestly nor fought fairly, the Love Police have chosen the sweet-sounding moniker of “Traditional Marriage” to carry on their war on families not like their own.  You know, “traditional marriage,” like David Vitter’s.  Like all eliminationist movements, the victimizers cast themselves as the real victims, their overwhelming numbers and deep-pocketed (and often tax-exempt) supporters still leaving them with that old beleaguered feeling.

And everyone’s getting on board the freedom train; racists, who know a thing or two about lynching and hate-driven violence, are suddenly quaking in their boots that because someone might call them out on their vicious bile, endlessly whining that they’re being “censored,” simply because their own free speech is wantonly and unfairly also extended to their critics.  Although they’re the ones who historically, and increasingly at present, are the ones resorting to violent rhetoric and even actual violence, their reflexive projection makes them just sure that at any moment those darkies, Habibs, and/or Mexicans are going to suddenly rise up, kick their doughy white asses, and ravage their womenfolk, not necessarily in that order.  Stranger things have happened, after all, especially according to Rush Limbaugh and Fox, so they can’t be too careful.

But what would an Overlord’s Rights movement be without some corporate hangers on?  After all, corporations have a few bones to pick with the rest of us, and they have lots of money and lawyers, so why shouldn’t they put on a slick “We Shall Overcome” tour, too?  Fox News (natch) bravely fought the first battle, winning from the Supreme Court the “right” to lie to the public in their news broadcasts, in the hallowed name of “Free Speech.”  Nike quickly joined the crusade, righteously demanding that the Constitution affirm its right to lie about working conditions in its factories, thus scoring yet another come-from-behind Free Speech victory over which the Founding Fathers must be bursting with posthumous pride.  Not to be outdone, and finding itself with a vexing PR mess after pronouncing every fraudulent pyramid scheme it ever encountered as good as gold, the ratings agencies, Standard and Poor particularly, have decided that bad financial advice also deserves its rightful place in the public square, lest Freedom abandon our shores.  Financially, anyway, S & P thinks that the Constitution ought to be a bit more of a suicide pact, especially for others.

What these new Freedom Riders have in common, of course, is that the only “suffering” they are attempting to use the courts to ameliorate is brought upon solely by their own hateful and/or egregious conduct, which, unlike race or sexual orientation, is, well, their own fault, and freedom decidedly does not mean freedom from criticism, much less legal liability, you would think.  Unfortunately, the courts, with a few notable exceptions, fail to see the difference.

Freedom’s on the march, alright; but to a decidedly different drummer.


  1. Meremark says:

    This is so totally highbrow and it’s the most basic of things.

    I realize I am years and years behind everyone else comprehending this but I just never had free electives to take Humanities courses. I enjoyed reading this more than anything I can recall reading all year.

    Human Nature
    , from Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment

    As I get it, there remains a (300-yr-old) question of who ranks most: collective sociality or the individual.
    Remains unsolved because there’s a conundrum in it: individuals invented sociality. So individuals dictate it. Sociality did not invent individuals. Yet, majority rules.

    - – -

    From time to time I pause to remind myself what a strange trip it has been to bring me into political thought. I had no use for politics, political intrigue (or whatever it is) disgusted me, for many many early years. Instead, I was absorbed in science, investigation, and especially neuroscience, toward answering a question I posed myself at about age 7 and dedicated my life to know: What is a thought?

    The slipperiness of the work — thinking about thinking — rears its ugly head more or less immediately to mind. Yet I persisted.

    Then one day I knew the answer. Inside our skull is not two half-brains, (a right half and a left half), rather there are two autonomous or sovereign brains, a right brain and a left brain. We are of two minds.

    A thought is the ephemera which occurs between them.

    The two brains function differently. The left brain is optimized for deductive processing. The right brain is optimized for inductive processing. And there are many synonyms (for ‘deductive’ and ‘inductive’) and synonymous constructs for these two fundamental concepts.

    But when one plows through all the different semantics and rhetoric and polemical postulations, the phenomenon of consciousness mainly is as follows. (Hag, is ‘recognizant’ really a word or did you make that up?)

    Our left brain studies survival of the organism, me myself and I first, and this is rightist or conservative thought.
    Our right brain senses the collective group whose character(-istic nature) we partake of, are endowed with, and this is leftist or liberal thought.

    Review: Left brain thinking is rightism. Right brain thinking is leftism. Everybody is both. The trick is holding balance. That’s where ‘thought’ comes in.

    So I came out of my neuroscience lab and investigations and simply stated the answer I had found. I hadn’t anticipated that nobody wanted to know the answer. Almost everyone was getting along (understanding ‘life’) using one (dominant) -side brain, that was their narrative and they were sticking to it.

    That’s when I got into politics. Or, uh, political thinking.

    Thanks for listening, letting me vent; I just need to pause from time to time and remind myself how the hell I got here and what the hell I’m doing here: sharing the answer — neither side is correct or absolute or ultimately true; rather, every issue (politically) must be resolved in an appropriate balance between, and according mutual respect to, individual faculty and collective (societal) faculty.
    Both in a person’s head and in people’s heads. Peace.

    - -
    P.S. that stuff ‘they’ say about primitive, basal, lizard brain, and gut emotions (conservatives), versus cognizance and conscious thought (liberals) — that’s all a useless dichotomy, like posing apples against oranges. Reptile brain processes is NOT thought, it’s reflex or maybe ‘instinct’ (but let’s not wander off into semantics). Thought comes in one dichotomy: Left brain (‘private’) or right brain (‘public’). oops oops oops, careful, sucky semantic quicksand is all around; I kinda use the single quotes ‘_’ like waterwings on words to float them on the quicksand for a moment, while I think about it.

    • Meremark says:

      Should say: “… one dichotomy: Left brain versus right brain” (‘versus’ replacing ‘or’).

      “a right half and a left half” should be: a right hemisphere and a left hemisphere.

    • cocktailhag says:

      I had always thought that left brain/right brain functions were analytical v. intuitive, or more archaically, scientific v. artistic, with some people leaning more strongly toward one side or the other. Then again, my scientific education is embarrassingly thin, particularly in the area of human biology. “Recognizant” is indeed a word; one I probably use too frequently…..

    • Skeptic says:


      I loved this sentence:

      A thought is the ephemera which occurs between them.

      I only wish I’d written it. I know that I lean more toward the inductive side, than the deductive, but I think I do use both, depending upon the task. That right side, though, makes me more flexible, and able to go with the flow.

  2. ouranos says:


    The dilemma conservatives make for themselves is resolved so easily. I don’t understand, can’t understand, what makes it so difficult for them to comprehend.

    I wrote this a few years ago as part of a small essay on freedom:

    It’s about granting to others what we wish for ourselves.

    By withholding that equality from others, our own freedoms are lost to us. By refusing to recognize the rights of others our own rights are diminished.

    I’ve heard it said that love is a gift which, when given freely to others, is increased for those who do the giving. Freedom is like that, too.


    About your comment, I wrote this, as part of a poem, over 30 years ago:

    So I go on
    trying to maintain composure
    in the face of this
    ungodly double-exposure.

    I’m of two minds.
    Each realizes that to survive
    they must cooperate
    or at any rate
    lend assistance
    to a peaceful co-existence.

    The balance between the “two minds” seems to have been severely upset in this nation of ours. I wonder if it will ever be set right again.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Exactly, Ouranos. That’s why the enemies of freedom must always cast themselves as victims; otherwise they would be seen as garden-variety oppressors. To their minds, “freedom” is what they say it is, something finite, and not to be granted lightly.

    • Meremark says:

      ouranos, poetry is happenin’, as you prove.

      “… if it will ever be set right again.

      Drugs, I mean, medicine. Mainly mushrooms. Also, what works is meditation, meditative breathing, exercise, diet.
      And, damn, shake a hand make a friend.

      • skeptic says:

        Meremark, you’re getting close to what really needs reforming, healthcare-wise. In the meantime, just staunching the hemorrhage of bankruptcies due to medical bills would be a start.

  3. Skeptic says:


    Great job of describing that peculiarly conservative paradox of denying to others what they most need and desire for themselves.

    • cocktailhag says:

      As we’ve heard before here, asked rhetorically, “What does someone’s (wealth) take away from you?” Ironically but predictably, ask a conservative what someone’s marriage take away from them, and they’ll have a million answers, all specious. Who knew that money grows on trees, but freedom is a precious, non-renewable resource?

  4. retzilian says:

    Hag, did you get your rejection email from the Post? I got mine. I’m crushed. heh.

    I wonder what entry will win. We’ll have to keep track.