If you don’t understand our current culture, gentle reader, then you’re not alone. Given the increasing penalties for individuals exercising their First Amendment rights as well as other rights, expect the divisiveness to continue.

You probably aren’t familiar with the name Paul Rossi, but you may know about his situation. He had been a math teacher at an elite New York City school. He is now banned from the school building.

What was his crime? He was attending a “racially segregated Zoom meeting” and questioned the facilitator, who claimed that “values like objectivity and individualism were characteristics of white supremacy.”

Rossi said he likes to model behavior for his students, and he wanted them to be able to question statements such as those as well. Apparently, in a woke universe, that’s not permissible. Those who penalize those who question such absurdities don’t care a whit for the First Amendment—meaning actual American values.

Time was when a teacher’s job was to teach students how to think, not what to think. Whenever you question something, you’re questioning what you’re told to think. That should be considered to be a good thing, but not in this day and age.

Not only was the facilitator at the teacher’s Zoom meeting wrong—because objectivity is a good goal and individual rights are guaranteed in the Constitution—but he also epitomized cancel culture’s philosophy. The message is: You may have a point, but it’s not the politically correct opinion de jour, so shut your pie hole.

But examples of odiousness occur in areas other than education, also. How would you like to live in the state of New York, where the recently resigned governor—a public official—has told private business to require all patrons to have had a COVID vaccination?

Do people realize that the purpose of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, also known as the Bill of Rights, is about limiting government’s power over individuals? We are a nation built on limited government—and on the importance of personal and private rights.

Yet, multiple levels of government want to view people as no more than their race, political affiliation, or sex. The greatest irony is this: In all forms of identity politics, your individual identity is subservient to some group. Sadly, this is encouraged and applauded by some.

The second of our nation’s goals, which is what our Constitution’s Preamble lists, is to “insure domestic tranquility.” How’d that work out in the larger cities during the last year? What happens when you don’t arrest arsonists and looters? You get more arsonists and looters.

Oh, yeah: An infrastructure bill just passed, but only a third of the funds go to what is defined as infrastructure, at a tune of just over a trillion dollars. And now Congress is ready to take up a 3.5 trillion social-programs bill.

In the above two bills alone, we’re spending more than the estimated 3.9 trillion the government is to collect in taxes this year. If that doesn’t sober you up instantly, then you’re very likely too drunk to drive.

Everyone should have the last goal mentioned in the Preamble, “to secure the blessings of liberty,” burned in their brains. When the government expands its power and scope, individual liberty shrinks. And because of that, the American spirit should dictate that people choose freedom over control.

Unless, of course, you’re one of the Texas state legislators who fled a month ago to Washington, DC—willingly, I might add. They’re claiming that their liberty is being curtailed.

Nobody stopped them from fleeing Texas and fulfilling their legislative duties there. They would be laughing stocks, but sadly they’re emblematic of much of what is wrong today.

Jeff Ottney was a teacher at Titusville High School and was once the managing editor of Rollercoaster! magazine. While he owes his political views to Aristotle, Edmund Burke and George Will, he believes the most conservatizing experience one can have is becoming a parent. Ottney can be reached at jottney@gmail.com

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