Some few years back, I took advantage of my new “involuntarily retired” status to follow a lifelong dream to learn Russian. I still don’t speak it fluently – it’s a tough language – but at least I can express myself grammatically.
The language courses were augmented by cultural courses that were mandatory for Russian majors, and strongly encouraged for everyone else. Part of the culture component was watching Russian-language movies, all of them Soviet-era, despite the fact that the Soviet Union has been history for over twenty years at this point. (I did suggest my favorite post-Soviet film, Ostrov – The Island – but was turned down.) Most of the films were comedies. A couple were from World War II, very Workers-Overcoming-the-Imperialists in content. And then there was The Chekist.
For those who don’t know, the Cheka was the great-grandfather of the KGB, the original post-Revolution Secret Police. They set the tone for every agency that followed, in terms of terror: the knock on the door at 3:00 a.m., the mass roundups, mock trials, and executions for “counter-Revolutionary activity,” which could be as simple as being out of work (being out of work was considered “parasitism,” being a parasite on the productive Working Class).
The film opened with a wedding scene, a young couple, very obviously very much in love, being married in a Russian Orthodox ceremony. Then the camera slowly panned through the crowd to the back, where a man could be seen garroting a woman. As the wedding concluded, doors were thrown open – and only then did you realize that the wedding had taken place in a prison cell, that everyone there was slated for execution, and that the incongruous garroting had been a mercy killing. The prisoners were directed to strip off completely naked, then herded to a wall with troughs in front of it, positioned so that they were facing the wall, and then gunned down, in the back. In the seconds before the opening salvo, the young couple – now separated by the priest who had married them, who stood between – reached behind him to hold hands.
The next scene cut to a group of men around a kitchen table, drawing up lists of people to be executed. Subsequent scenes made it clear that these lists were actually quite arbitrary. You would expect to find priests being executed, and they were plentiful, but often someone ended up on the list because a co-worker wanted a promotion, and someone stood in his way; that person’s name would be placed on the list. Over a ten-year period, more or less, the lists continued to be drawn up by the same people at the same location – until the final scenes, when the protagonist, the Chekist, was missing. You saw him again in the very last scene, standing stark naked with his face to the wall, alone at the troughs, and laughing at the cruel irony of his fate. Then the shots rang out, and the screen went black.
As you can imagine, it wasn’t easy watching. There was a stunned silence in the classroom for a couple of minutes, before one of the students asked, in a shaking voice, “How could they let this happen?!” I wanted to laugh. What a question! It was clear, from this young fellow’s attire, that he was a believer in Marxism-Leninism (the slogans on the shirt were a dead giveaway, for one thing), and that he couldn’t imagine such a thing taking place in the enlightened Workers’ Paradise. And I wanted to laugh because the Hate Speech bill had just been passed, making it a federal crime to speak one’s mind on a whole variety of topics. Homosexuality was covered, and of course racism. Over time, hate speech against Islam has made it to the list. Judaism was implicitly covered. Not, evidently, Christianity.
I’ve been thinking about this fellow a lot lately, primarily because of stuff like this: http://michellemalkin.com/2012/03/07/the-war-on-conservative-women/ And this:
indicative of the war on the Catholic Church. That, of course, has been going on for a very long time. But the objection of the Catholic Church to those provisions of the Obama health-care bill that deal with contraception, has renewed the attacks, and they have become more and more vitriolic; note the comments to a local story out of the New Hampshire Statehouse.
So, bottom line: the Left has absolute freedom of speech, but when the rest of us try to exercise the same freedom of speech, it’s hate speech?
That’s how they let it happen.