There have been a plethora of new discussions popping up in the Prozac Nation lately, all of which have some relevance to the Bill of Rights. Megan Kelly, a celebrity newswoman, interviewed Alex Jones, a Sandy Hook denier. This has the Prozac Nation up-in-arms, because the interview happened near Fathers' Day. One would think that Americans would be a lot more outraged at the decline in men becoming fathers and the way American fathers are treated; but that's swept under the rug. The debate has, though, reignited attacks on the 2nd Amendment such as happened during Sandy Hook in 2012.
And as we wrote in our last article, the Southern Baptist Convention is due to vote on an historic resolution condemning extremism from the so-called Alt-Right. This has generated a lot of discussion on the Internet relating to Freedom of Speech. This follows on the heels of a weekend that saw riots in 33 cities over something to do with American Moslems. Neither side seemed exactly clear on what they were fighting for or against; but the incidents brought into question some questions about Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Assembly, etc.
The debate between personal liberty and collective responsibility is almost wholly a modern phenomenon in Western democracies. The issue emanates out of World War 2 primarily, although the seeds were being planted during WW1. Technologies which grew out of those wars demonstrated that, for the first, human capability of reaching masses of people. Prior to 1945, there were no weapons capable of destroying entire cities. There were no missiles capable of reaching other continents until 1954 and nothing capable of reaching Outer Space until 1957. The same is true of mass-communications. Radio became popular during the 1920s, but the experience the world saw with the Nazi Propaganda Ministry led to regulations in the post-war period. Television grew during the same period and from the 1990s onward, Internet technology has connected the world.
Some pundits of the 1950s and 1960s began to address this problem; and it is one that cannot be dismissed lightly. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms allows us access to weapons capable of self-defense against an entire violent street gang; but those same weapons can annihilate a church or school full of people. The Right of Free Speech and its ancillaries protect even opinions considered offensive; but the with the technology of today, those opinions can reach audiences of scores of millions of people. The old dilemma of the Sword and the Pen have given way to the ICBM and the Twitter Feed.
What has actually happened---as the older generations of Sociologists realized---technology has evolved at a faster pace than civilization. And it cannot be stressed enough here that we are speaking of the moral aspect of our Civilization. Mankind is not really more violent or uncivil than before; those tendencies always existed but technological developments can bring them to the fore in times of social unrest. But it can also bring many good things---advanced weaponry can make war too costly and encourage peaceful solutions. This is true incidentally in self-defense situations: a would-be rapist is less likely to attack a girl defended with a machinegun than one defended with a nail-file. And the remarkable humanitarian effort in Syria was made possible only by high-speed communications.
The Silver Lining to this cloud is to understand that these debates we're currently having ---unpleasant as they may be---are actually very necessary steps in Social Evolution. The Gun Rights' advocates have done a great job in the wake of mass-shootings of increasing education and promoting responsible gun ownership. The 1st Amendment advocates have much catching up to do; but there are positive signs on the horizon. Our Founding Fathers understood that in an atmosphere of Liberty, things will rectify themselves so long as we follow the Spirit of the Law, rather than its Letter. And education, as always, is key.