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Jeff Ackerman: There are consequences for surrendering to Big Brother

It seems appropriate that my son Luke is struggling to get through George Orwell’s novel, “1984,” at the same time America inches dangerously closer to an Orwellian society of its own.

“A government that creates the language and mandates how it is used can control the minds of its citizens,” Orwell cautioned.

Under the guise of “Political Correctness,” our government appears to be on a dangerous path, where expression is silenced as “hate speech,” or “inflammatory,” or … my favorite … “divisive.”



Not a day goes by when I don’t get called or contacted by someone wondering why I chose to publish letters or guest columns they deemed as “hateful, divisive, or inflammatory.” And many of the callers come from a generation that burned bras, flags, draft cards and presidents in effigy back in the 1960s. They now call for a censorship of words, of opinion, of anything contrary to their own views and they do that under a dangerous flag.

In his acclaimed novel of a nation controlled by Big Brother, Orwell referred to the official language as “Newspeak,” a language void of opposing terms, such as “good” or “bad.”




“If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought,” he warned. “Without a word for freedom, freedom cannot exist.”

In Orwell’s “1984,” the nation is controlled by a government elite, or ultimate ruling class, which represents 2 percent of the population. There is hunger and repression as a result of extreme government policies. It is a nation governed by hysteria, the destruction of the family unit and persecution of free thinkers, or those who are different, or not wholly bought into the party’s policies. Much as the world saw under Franco, Hitler and Stalin.

I see a world today where the masses are all too ready to allow government to run their lives. A world where Big Brother – through electronic gadgets provided by Facebook and Goggle and e-mail and cell phones and in-car GPS systems – watch our every move, tracking everything from what we eat to where we go to what we like to do and who we like to do it with.

And we are more than happy to surrender all of that in the name of entertainment, or efficiency.

I see a world where the government sector, or government elite, has surpassed earnings and benefits and job security not afforded in the private sector that is shedding jobs to meet the ever-growing demands of the government regulators.

Despite a recession that some suggest is actually a depression, state government (with no budget) employs just as many people today as it did during better times and Washington, D.C., fat cats throw lavish parties at taxpayers’ expense, oblivious to the masses who struggle to feed their families.

I see a government that wants as many people as possible dependent on it (from welfare, to unemployment to health care and other government subsidies) because dependence leads to compliance and governments simply love a compliant masses.

Fear is also a wonderful tool because it causes the masses to freeze, flee or fight. In Orwell’s “1984” there is always a war and fear drives that effort. War is Love, writes Orwell.

If you believe our borders need to be protected you are a racist and practitioner of hate speech.

If you oppose same-sex marriage you are simply homophobic and a practitioner of hate speech.

If you oppose our president’s policies you are a racist spewing inflammatory and divisive language and ought to be silenced.

What I’ve striven for on these opinion pages is diversity of thought. I happen to believe that everyone should have a say-so, no matter how “stupid,” or “inflammatory,” or “divisive,” some would suggest those opinions are. I’m not ready to create a government-controlled “Ministry of Truth” to determine what is, or is not, fit to print, broadcast, or televise under the name of political correctness.

The day I become politically correct is the day I become morally and ethically incorrect.

I believe in Thomas Paine, who argued that, “He who denies another the right to opinion makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.”

We need to be mindful that there are consequences to surrendering our thoughts, opinions and privacy to the Politically Correct Police, while subjecting ourselves to even more government control. Those consequences can be found in our history books and the chapters are dark.

Jeff Ackerman is the editor/publisher of The Union. His column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 477-4299, jackerman@theunion.com, or 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley 95945.


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