Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Tonight's Lecture

The Old South Meetinghouse presented Chris Finan as part of the Lowell Lecture Series. He discussed his book "From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act: The History of the Fight for Free Speech in America" I was disappointed. He was not a very passionate or moving speaker. It began with an interesting discussion of attempts to crush free speech during and after World War I. Then he moved on to "banned in Boston". But halfway through his time, he jumped to the Patriot Act. Mr. Finan spoke in vague terms...."we" need to fight "them". If "we" stop fighting for our right to free speech "they" will take it away, "they" are just waiting for that opportunity. I've never been big on conspiracies. The Patriot Act was waived around like a big boogie man. Mr. Finan glowingly spoke of Borders Books and Walden Books being on "his" side in their worries about readers privacy.

I could be wrong, but I only heard about one incident where the Patriot Act was used to try to get information from a library and they were slapped down by the library and the courts backed the library. If you didn't know anything about the Patriot Act, you would think it's sole purpose was to track what you read, buy to read and check out of a library. Arguements like this rely heavily on the ignorance of the general public. If you are going to have people say "Hey, that's a small part of the Patriot Act." "Please cite who is in jail because of a book?", "Hey, I've read the Patriot Act and you are exaggerating the threat posed to free speech." doesn't work. But I was tired and hungry. It wasn't a well planned trip. Oh well.

I popped down to P.F. Chang's and had the lemon chicken. I felt much better.

1 comment:

Shawmut said...

Your night at the "Old South Meeting House" sounds like the typical Boston Lecture routine. I tend to think of them as 'Secular Sermons.' I'm sure Finan likes to make big issues on what has been banned in Boston.
Quite frankly, here in Boston, Free Speech has already been banned by the Social Stigma of Philosophical Parisees. The Patriot Act would be banned in Boston if that crowd had its way. 'Sanctuary Cities' would get 'foreign aid' (Hmmm, Maybe...Nah, let it go...). I can just anticipate the day a person in uniform will be charged for indecent exposure by some PC Cop strutting avalanche thighs in a thong.
Actually, I felt alienation first when I came home in the 60's. My car had an ID tage from the Intelliigence Center, Ft. Holabird, MD (and we've heard how evil we were).
Henry Knox owned a bookstore in Boston; became Washington's artillery officer and eventually Secretary of War. Oh, Yes. Don't forget the trek he conducted hauling guns from Fort Ticonderoga for Boston's St. Patrick's day - Evacuation Day. Considering the dynamic, I'd say he will stand taller in history that Walden's or Border's. I'd say Finan was a low-renter.