Somehow, over the last few years, the word "hater" has become an insult. That makes no sense to me. It's not like "rapist" or "murderer." There are plenty of times when hate makes sense. You can hate poverty, corruption, racism, war, Simon Cowell. There are all sorts of things that morality demands that we hate. You can't insult someone by divorcing hate from the subject of the hate. Don't believe me? Try this then: Call someone a "lover." Is that a good thing? What if they love pedophilia, kitten rape, cancer, and Simon Cowell? See what I mean? The mere act of loving or hating doesn't make someone good or bad. It's what it's applied to.
Pictured above: Hater.
So, no, you can't shut down a negative opinion just because it's hateful. Is it irrational? Is it based on ignorance? Is it not supported by fact? Then sure, shut that hater down for all of those reasons, but not just because he's "hating." Of course, that's a lot of work that people won't do, so 2013 will still have plenty of Justin Bieber fans making the informed argument, "Uh, shut up, hater."
Hey, guess what? Remember a few months ago when I wrote an article explaining that despite the topic barely being covered by the media, we live in a country where the government can now lock you up indefinitely with no legal counsel and no right to an attorney based on some poorly defined "suspicion" of abetting terrorism? No? Here, please read it now. It's true: President Obama paid some lip service to the constitutionality of such a bill and then signed it, fighting any provisions that would in any way limit the power of the executive office. Neat trick, huh?
"For my next trick, I'll shrink the First Amendment to about this size while still being praised by hippies."
Katherine Forrest, United States District Court judge for the Southern District of New York, issued an order enjoining enforcement of the NDAA (before having her order stayed by a higher judicial panel), because this bill did indeed go further in expanding executive power than previous bills. Furthermore, the bill defined abetting terrorism so poorly that the journalists petitioning its constitutionality had a valid belief that their mere journalistic actions could qualify as assisting terrorists. Indeed, in court, the government attorneys could not allay that concern and were unable to provide specifics as to what actions would trigger indefinite imprisonment.
"Wait, we're asking for the power to completely suspend due process, and you have the nerve to ask us for specifics?"
Not to fear, my more liberal friends claimed. Don't you get it? Obama is just trying to get re-elected. Republicans will paint him as soft on terrorism if he doesn't sign it. Some offered, duh, he's just setting it up nice and sweet for the Supreme Court to rule it unconstitutional. Somehow, even though the Obama administration folded (or waffled?) like a cheap suit over the First Amendment issues on the so-called Ground Zero mosque, my liberal friends assured me that no black man who didn't seem to hate women or gays could ever abide anything as wildly unconstitutional as the NDAA. None of those arguments made sense to me. Mostly because they were totally wrong.
The Obama administration has taken no action to amend the NDAA for 2013 -- oh, except for threatening to veto any bill that altered the executive authority he had under the 2012 bill. There was the Feinstein/Lee amendment, created to clarify that the NDAA could not remove an American citizen's right to due process, but you know what? That amendment was removed without explanation and replaced with language that makes no one's rights clear. Last month, the bill passed the Senate by an overwhelming margin.
So come 2013, we will have the NDAA again. None of the abuses to our due process have been remedied. And do you know the worst part? No one cares. You can find testimonials on YouTube, like this one from David Seaman, but the subject is ignored by mainstream media, and most people still don't believe that a "liberal" like Obama could sign such a bill. All my liberal friends were correctly up in arms when Bush pursued such wrong-headed measures, but it seems like as long as you're not pushing church-based legislation (like banning abortion and gay rights), a whole bunch of liberals don't seem motivated to keep watch over our Constitution. The apologists will come forth in the comments, and before they explain why our president's hands were tied on this one, I hope they read the first NDAA column and the court decision linked above. Their arguments, which were overly optimistic and flimsy, are even more tenuous now. It's not that I want to be right. I just want to remove some of the calming rationalizations that enable the present liberal apathy, because this apathy means that 2013 and beyond will see no shortage of abuses to our basic freedoms.
A new season of HATE BY NUMBERS is almost here. Also, be sure to follow Gladstone on Twitter and stay up-to-date on the latest regarding Notes from the Internet Apocalypse. And then there's his website and Tumblr, too.