Rep Peter King is in hot water with his recent comment that the number of illegal immigrant "dreamers" that are valedictorians is far less than the number that are "mules", smuggling drugs across the border. He points out that the proposed immigration law changes would legalize both, and we are using the valedictorians to justify the legislation, while ignoring the large number of "mules" that would also be legalized by the proposal. (see here)
His critics have been harsh, complaining that his comments are racist, "toxic", bigoted, "hateful", and offensive. Even his allies have felt the need to distance themselves from his comments.
I have a question - is what he said true? Isn't the truth higher priority than offense? Do we disallow true, relevant speech on public policy when it offends?
This is a common thread in political debates today. When you want to suppress a fact, an idea or a speaker, label the speech with some hateful label, and shout the speaker off the stage. Paint his supporters with the same brush and sneer at them as though they are unfit for polite society. Don't debate. Shout. Don't offer facts. Call it "toxic", "hateful", "harmful". Discredit and demoralize your opponent, and suppress those ideas you don't want discussed.
Rep King's assertion may be true. No one seems interested in checking. There is only one valedictorian per high school, and only a fraction of them are illegals. Smugglers are caught crossing the border every day. The "reform" being proposed appears to legalize both. Common sense suggests that what Rep King has said may well be true, and is relevant to the legislation.
The question must be asked - given the facts, is the legislation wise? Facts that are relevant and true must be part of discussions of public policy. Cowing speakers into silence is thuggery. Being cowed is cowardice.
It takes courage to speak out on topics that are important, knowing that people will hate what you say. We, the voters should not allow the shrill and the offended to drive the truth from political debate.
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