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The New Thought Police
Inside the Left's Assault on Free Speech and Free Minds
By Tammy Bruce
Prima Publishing
300 pgs. US$23.95/C$35.95

Campaigns of terror

By Steven Martinovich
web posted January 28, 2002

The New Thought PoliceIt is under the guise of good that much of the bad in the world has been done and proving the validity of that principle the best may be the actions of previously marginalized groups. As Tammy Bruce, a self-described "openly gay, pro-choice, gun-owning, pro-death penalty, liberal, voted-for-Reagan feminist," can tell you, hell hath no fury like a marginalized group come to power.

Bruce's The New Thought Police: Inside the Left's Assault on Free Speech and Free Minds aims to show why the left has, in her words, become "so compelled to resort to speech and mind control, thus contributing to a vicious circle of destroying individual liberty." Political correctness, the most benign but still dangerous form of the left's campaign, began with suggested speech and has ended up with campaigns designed to destroy anyone who disagrees with their agenda.

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is the best recent example. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation's campaign against Schlessinger in 2000 was calculated to stop the popular radio host from expressing her opinion - and what you were told she said differs from what she really said, as Bruce proves - about homosexuality and to serve as an example to others. It began with a group that at best represents 4 to 10 per cent of the American population and ended with Schlessinger's television program cancelled and a respected commentator mocked from op-eds in every major newspaper to television programs like NBC's Frasier.

Bruce is well placed to know how the process works. A former head of the Los Angeles wing of the National Organization of Women, she used the same tactics in her work. Though occasionally bumping heads with the national wing over her unorthodox beliefs, Bruce was a loyal foot soldier in the politically correct army until the guns turned against her.

And they are powerful guns, as Bruce details, that come from all directions. Wielding more cultural and political power than the right, the left now has the power not only to defend groups that used to be on the wrong side of those guns, they now use that same power in the same way they used to criticize the right for. The victicrats, made up certain African-American civil rights leaders, the lesbian-gay-bisexual lobby, feminists, multiculturalists, academia, media and the entertainment industry - all of whom Bruce explores, have formed a loose but mostly united front that gives them the leverage necessary to get their message out unopposed while silencing their critics.

"Ironically," Bruce writes at one point, "it is the progressives who, while seemingly committed to freedom of expression, attempt to exact severe social punishments on anyone who espouses an idea or opinion that challenges their status quo. Perhaps it's time for all of us to reread George Orwell's 1984."

When you're the one facing that silencing effort, the ordeal can be terrifying. Your name is smeared by a media still respected to a certain degree by a public unaccustomed to thinking poorly about previously marginalized groups and the more zealous members of that community make is a mission to ensure your life is turned upside down. For Schlessinger, that turned into death threats and the papering of her neighborhood of flyers, the same tactics ascribed to militants opposed to abortion. Although Schlessinger remains popular, other people's careers and lives have been completely destroyed for the crime of being perceived as insensitive.

If there's some good news, Bruce does write that it's not too late to fight what she calls the Thought Police, as long as your willing to suffer the initial wave of attacks by whatever group you've angered and their fellow travelers, something that rightly should scare someone more interested in making it through the work day than changing the world. But for those that are willing to stand up for themselves, Bruce offers some comforting words. Activism relies on individualism, not groupthink, and legitimate activism empowers people, not the opposite. If you decide to fight the good fight, you can at least sleep easier knowing you are doing the right thing.

Steven Martinovich is a freelance writer in Sudbury, Ontario.

Buy Tammy Bruce's Inside the New Thought Police at Amazon.com for only $16.76 (30% off)

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