Using Terrrorism as an Excuse To Remove Rights

As far as I can find out, about 2,819 people completely innocent people were killed in the September 11 attacks.

That is a huge and intolerable number. But ponder this:

Each year in the US: 43,200 people die in car crashes; 14,900 people die in falls; 8,600 people die from poisonings; 4,000 people drown; 3,700 people die from fires and burns; and another 3,300 people choke to death. (Numbers found here.)

I do not mean to belittle what happened on September 11. It was an attack on our nation’s sovereignity and a mass slaughter of innocents — outrageous and sudden, and without provocation, justification, or cause.

But think about the magnitude of our response in relation to the actual threat for a moment.

John Ashcroft and his ilk are using it as a giant excuse to infringe upon (if not repeal) your civil rights. If you’re a thinking citizen, you have to ask yourself why.

Ashcroft would spend billions for new ID systems, new secret agencies to spy on us, new warrentless searches, new ways to deport immigrants. He’d secretly keep thousands of people (including children) in military prisons for years without access to lawyers and without any hearing. And he’d keep them there in conditions that Amnesty International considers to amount to torture.

He’d read your email, listen to your phone conversations, and track you online all without a warrant. Why? He’ll tell you that it’s because of the “threat of terror.”

I’d counter that it’s because he has a boundless, near-fascist neo-Christian and neo-conservative political agenda.

He wants to know if you are looking at porn. He wants to know if you touch yourself. Why? Because if you ever challenge him, he can destroy you with his data.

He wants to know what you read. He wants to know what you think. Why? John Ashcroft is J. Edgar Hoover on acid, and you�d better be scared.

Think about it. If John Ashcroft cared at all about your life, his first priorities would be seat belts and air bags. The fact is, he couldn’t care less whether you die or not. All he wants is the power to force you to live the way he thinks you should. In case you missed that, I�ll repeat it:

What John Ashcroft wants is the power to force you to lead the life that he thinks you should lead.

We call that fascism. We sacrificed (and killed) tens of millions of people during World War II to stop fascism�s spread. I (for one) will not sit idly by and watch while Ashcroft and Cheney and Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld fire up the Fourth Reich. Look closely. That�s essentially what they are doing.

(You are starting to think that I’m insane, right? I wish I was . . . . Just look at John Ashcroft’s record, and the disinformation campaign that got us into Iraq. All I ask is that you keep one eye open. These people are dangerous.)

I understand that this is an outrageous thing to say, and I don�t say it lightly. I predict that I will stand by it in five and ten years� time:

The current U.S. administration is the closest that any Western government has gotten to fascism since the death of Spain�s Franco.

Keep your eyes open.

Thwarting a Useful Jury Experiment?

I don’t necessarily agree with it, but here is an argument that the recent Texas court decision keeping a documentary crew from videotaping a capital jury’s deliberations was wrong. Read it here from the Washington Times.

Supreme Court: Mannequin Sex Doesn’t Equal Indecent Exposure

A Sioux Falls man caught in the Washington Pavilion having simulated sex with a mannequin didn’t commit a crime of indecent exposure, the state Supreme Court says.

In a decision released Thursday, the court reversed the conviction of Michael James Plenty Horse, who was found in the late afternoon of Nov. 14, 2005, lying on top of a mannequin in the Alumni Room of the Pavilion.

A security guard surprised Plenty Horse, the record says. He lay with his pants partially down on a mannequin which had its band uniform partially removed. He was 19 at the time.

The Supreme Court unanimously reversed a misdemeanor conviction, saying the state’s indecent exposure statute “criminalizes sexual gratification by displaying or showing one’s genitals in public.”

The evidence failed to show that Plenty Horse was trying to display himself in public. It was almost closing at the Pavilion, and no other patrons were around when the guard found the man.

The court said Plenty Horse’s action, “lewd though it may be, does not fall within the purview of the indecent exposure statute.”

Details here from the South Dakota Argus Leader. (via

Publisher Sues Reporter Over Story

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The company that publishes the Santa Barbara News-Press has sued a reporter, claiming that a story she wrote in the American Journalism Review defamed the newspaper in a ”biased, false and misleading diatribe.”

Ampersand Publishing LLC’s lawsuit accuses Susan Paterno of libel and product disparagement and seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

Paterno, 48, declined to comment Monday but her attorney, Howard King, said the lawsuit was without merit and that he believes its intended effect was to frighten other reporters who want to write about the News-Press.

”It’s to let any reporter know that if you exercise your constitutional rights, it will cost you money, time and put them through turmoil,” he said.

King noted that AJR was not named as a defendant, and said that numerous editors and an outside law firm vetted the story.

The article, which appears in AJR’s December 2006-January 2007 issue under the title ”Santa Barbara Smackdown,” focused on the turmoil at the newspaper following the departure since July of nearly every top editor and several other employees.

Paterno, who has written for AJR about 10 years, talked with former staffers, some of whom accused News-Press owner and publisher Wendy McCaw of meddling in the newsroom.

This has been a really ugly story since day one. And it’s not getting any prettier. Details here from the AP via New York Times.

Judge: Doctors Not Required to Report Teen Sex

WICHITA, Kansas (AP) — In a victory for an abortion rights group, a federal judge ruled Tuesday that abortion clinic doctors and other professionals are not required under Kansas law to report underage sex between consenting youths.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten was a setback for moralistic prude Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, an abortion foe.

Kline contended that a 1982 Kansas law requiring doctors, teachers and others to alert the state and law enforcement about potential child abuse covers consensual sex between minors. He argued that the law applies to abortion clinics, and later extended that to other health professionals and teachers.

The Center for Reproductive Rights challenged that interpretation in court, and the judge sided with the organization. Kline said he had not decided whether to appeal.

“It’s not unexpected,” Kline said. “It’s what we’ve been predicting.”

Details here from the AP via CNN.

ACLU Sues Volunteers for Event With Bush

DENVER Nov 22, 2005 — The American Civil Liberties Union on Monday sued volunteers for an event with President Bush, saying they violated the civil rights of two people who were tossed out because of their political views.

Leslie Weise, 40, and Alex Young, 26, were escorted from the March 21 event after they arrived in a car with a bumper sticker reading “No more blood for oil,” and wearing T-shirts saying “Stop the lies” under other clothes, the federal lawsuit said.

The suit names as defendants Michael Casper, Jay Bob Klinkerman and five unknown people who the ACLU says contributed to the decision to remove the pair.

Details here from the AP via ABC News. Or you can read the ACLU’s press release.