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Nathan Imhoff: More empty words from Gitlin

SCV Voices

Posted: February 25, 2010 9:46 p.m.
Updated: February 26, 2010 4:55 a.m.
"If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all." - Noam Chomsky

While observing all the talking, shouting and letters to the editor in recent days on the topic of free speech, I was reminded of the many chats I had with my dad in our family garage while I was growing up.

One particular discussion stuck with me, when he explained his service in the Marines protected people's freedom to burn the American flag, but also protected his right to tell them they are wrong.

My dad understood, that anyone can support speech they like, but it takes a real man or woman to support speech you hate. What an amazing country we live in, allowing its citizens the freedom of thought and expression.

SCV Independent Minuteman member Roger Gitlin and the Save our State crowd are prime examples of what Samuel Johnson so eloquently stated: "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."

Even 250 years ago, Johnson saw though the manipulation of self-proclaimed plastic patriots such as those who believe dressing in red, white and blue and waving American flags automatically makes their position somehow more American than others.

I found it hilarious that Gitlin took so literally the satiric comments in my Feb. 6 column ("Fewer signs, more thoughts are needed") that he felt compelled to address them individually.

It was odd, however, when he publicly claimed not to engage in a war of words and instead enticed his followers to do his dirty work of sending in letters complaining to our friends at The Signal for him.

Just a few days before the publishing of Gitlin's Feb. 14 column, Save Our State launched a campaign to harass The Signal and hinder its freedom of press, not to mention attempt to get the "little bias SOB" reporter Jonathan Randles fired. One would think self-proclaimed patriots believe in Randles' freedom of speech and The Signal's freedom of press.

I couldn't help but think of John Locke's gem, "I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts," after observing Gitlin the past few days.

I think he missed his calling as a used-car salesman, as he attempts to sell the clunker of another Minutemen rally to the fair citizens of Santa Clarita. Gitlin does his best to paint his beloved Minutemen as Boy Scouts, claiming they are a "multinational group that abides by the rule of law and whose members pledge a code of conduct."

Big surprise: This all-powerful code of conduct didn't stop the various documented physical threats various Santa Clarita citizens received during a previous rally, did it Mr. Gitlin?

It also didn't stop Frank Jorge from making a sexually discriminating rant which was removed from The Signal's Web site because of its vulgarity and content.

Even the bankrupt energy juggernaut Enron had a code of conduct stating: "We are dedicated to conducting business according to all applicable local and international laws and regulations." I doubt they went with the "we have a code of conduct" defense in court.

Gitlin goes further to say, "no participant shall spew or act out any racially derogatory sentiment." I am beginning to question whether he is aware people are recording these rallies and putting them on the Internet.

The Save Our State crowd has a history of blowing into peaceful communities like Santa Clarita and bringing with them other unwanted, outside extremist group opposition - creating a spectacular three-ring circus full of clowns pointing video cameras at each other, and screaming emotional, irrational nonsense.

Just ask the small Ventura County town of Ojai, whose residents eventually got fed up and showed these guys the door. This is why I found particularly rich Gitlin's criticism of the wingnuts at Full Rights for Immigration Coalition busing in their bleeding hearts from Los Angeles, considering he has been working overtime to build his own plastic patriot brigade. Yeehaw!

The fact of the matter is, The Signal has shown great maturity in handling the attacks that Gitlin has provoked against it. It has shown immense grace in allowing Gitlin to publish an extra-large, 1,000-word column that came up just as empty as all the other letters to the editor offering no viable solutions.

He just echoed all the same illogical "red herring" fallacies that criticize people in the community who are powerless to do anything about the illegal immigration problems here in the Santa Clarita Valley.

If California is powerless to enact its own solution, what makes him think small communities like Santa Clarita have an ice cube's chance in hell? How about more solutions and fewer bullhorns, Gitlin?

Alfred Whitney Griswold said: "In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only weapon against bad ideas is better ideas."

Nathan Imhoff is a Newhall resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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