And yet, much as we value free speech, we often wish it weren't so routinely abused by liars, thugs and outright morons. Ditto freedoms of the press and religion -- and, not incidentally to this discussion, the franking privilege.
We are stunned by the campaign advertisement of one Rick Barber, seeking the Republican nomination for Congress in Alabama. The video, as described by Ruth Marcus in the WaPo, tries to suggest that the current policies of the American government are essentially identical to those of the pre-Civil War South and Nazi Germany. It is "slavery" to pay taxes, at least if those taxes are paid "so a total stranger can get a free meal, medical procedure or a bailout." (Ironic note: Barber is an ex-Marine, meaning that for four years, our taxes paid for his meals and medical procedures.)
More stunning still are his over-the-phone remarks to Marcus:
"We can't be so naive to think that just because we live in America that [slavery and Nazism, apparently] can't happen to us," he said. "We are being fed a socialist agenda spoon by spoon, and we don't see it coming. In Germany, when Hitler was first elected under the Socialist Party, no one would have thought in a million years it would have gone where it did."
Really, Rick? Really?
We know that this guy isn't the best his party can do, and Marcus assures us that his candidacy is a long shot. But we also gather that his rhetoric -- Obama as Hitler, for example -- is gaining popularity with the Tea party people. This unnerves us. We will be relieved, and greatly so, when his campaign explodes like an Independence Day firecracker, all noise and no real destructive power.