“You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” Exodus 20:4, Deuteronomy 5:8

I often wonder if the concept of “free speech” is worth all the trouble. Certainly, I believe in the free flow of constructive speech, informed speech and well researched empirically factual speech. I think I understand the concept of speech in a civilized context, I have two degrees in speech. Of course the second, is a fine arts degree but I think that it still qualified me for some insight on the subject. I object to speech that is obfuscating, slandering, hurtful, mean spirited and disruptive. Unfortunately, much comedy falls into this category, yet... What price do we pay to be entertained?

The evil twin clown princes currently in the public dock seem to be Rush Libaugh and Glen Beck. Of late, Beck is subject to a boycott by thirty-three major sponsors for calling the President a racist. Except for his brown eyes, Beck might be the poster boy for the Aryan race, but what do I know? I think Beck would better serve himself as a journalist, than as a conservative’s Lenny Bruce. I do like to see Beck’s probing interviews with the newsworthy and pundits, he seems to have talent, but when he throws his tongue into his cheek, his professionalism as a journalist becomes garbled. If he is a comic, then perhaps he should go back to back with the Colbert Report. I also miss the CNN of Ted Turner, one that reported news objectively. It is too bad that Public Television cannot put together a public cable news channel for us who like to tune in 24/7.

The trouble with clowns like Beck and Limbaugh is that they love to stir up people for the sake of stirring them up, so they can sit back and enjoy the chaos they can safely say they set in motion. Their vein of views have all but driven reflective folks out of the Republican Party. They are not alone. I have seen Friends Meetings beset with meanness and chaos because of a few individuals wanting to keep everyone off balance because of the sense of power they feel knowing that they subverted Gospel Order, faith and practice. I have even erred in like manner, though my motive was never exclusionary. Ten years ago, I learned through education, what I never was able to pick up by osmosis in the previous thirteen years as a convinced Friend, about Gospel Order.

Clown princes love to divide, break down foundations and convince the foolish and the ignorant to join them in destructive behavior. Clown princes are anarchists, not unlike the Joker in the film The Dark Night, only in the guise of the traditional and the conservative. They play toward the lowest common denominator, people that cannot recognize how they are being manipulated by being told what they think they want to hear; people that need certainty to survive. I seriously doubt that the followers of the clown princes will boycott Wal-Mart and essential cleaning products in support of their idols. I also doubt they will suddenly embrace Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.

We live in an uncertain world, where former certainties are melting away like the glaciers and some, who do not believe they can adapt, are drowning in the discharge. Is our faith in God or is it in what we believe God should be in our own estimation? Where is God in harsh rhetoric toward the medical care of the uninsured and uninsurable? Are we lost in an illusion that what we have is ours in the first place? Did the founding fathers really intend to protect all free speech? Obsenity, blasphemy, venom, hate speech, inciting criminal acts? If you yell “fire” in a crowded theatre, there had better be one burning.

Beware clown princes.

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