by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Speaking recently on a panel in a conference on “Sources and Secrets” in New York, [New York Times reporter James] Risen said the Obama administration is “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation.”
The administration wants to “narrow the field of national security reporting,” Risen said, to “create a path for accepted reporting.” Any journalist who exceeds those parameters, Risen said, “will be punished,” according to Poynter.org’s Andrew Beaujon.
And don’t forget that it was New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson who earlier this year called the Obama years “the most secretive administration” since Ronald Reagan was in the Oval Office.
Then there’s the sad case of now-former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich who resigned after it became known he contributed to the traditional marriage side of California’s Proposition 8 campaign in 2008.
Eich’s public lynching by opponents of Proposition 8 drew this observation from HBO Real Time host Bill Maher: “I think there is a gay mafia. I think if you cross them, you do get whacked.”
Fifty-two percent of Eich’s fellow Californians agreed with him on Proposition 8. It can be unsettling to wonder how many in the opposite camp, if suddenly given the power, would today visit retribution on every one of those voters if given the opportunity.
The link between these two incidents is found in the “totalitarian temptation” identified years ago by Hannah Arendt.
It’s always there for those who seek to force everybody else to conform to an ideological vision of the good society.
Obama administration officials seek to force national security reporting into narrow parameters of accepted acceptable thought. They are quite willing to use government power to enforce those parameters.
Similarly, many gay marriage supporters who advocate punishment for those who disagree with their cause want to use government power to enforce their views and suppress those who disagree.
Lesson: Big Government cannot long coexist with either a free press or freedom of speech and thought. Men are still not angels and government still cannot be trusted with too much power.