left biblioblography: Freedom's Cage

Monday, June 18, 2007

Freedom's Cage

So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found? The same old fears.
Wish you were here.
- Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here

Beware your blood pressure: this might get your dander up.

For a country that's the 'home of the brave, land of the free' this administration's got some heavy explaining to do.

While our commander-in-thief lives in his Nixonian cocoon, his 'handlers' (a more appropriate term could not be used) have decided, for the last seven years, to keep Curious George well in the dark.

I speak of course, of Free Speech Zones.

"Free speech zones (also known as First Amendment Zones, Free speech cages, and Protest zones) are areas set aside in public places for political activists to exercise their right of free speech in the United States. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states that "Congress shall make no law... abridging... the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." The existence of free speech zones is based on U.S. court decisions stipulating that the government may regulate the time, place, and manner - but not content - of expression.

The most prominent free speech zones are those created by the Secret Service for
President George W. Bush and other members of his administration.[1] The stated purpose of free speech zones is to protect the safety of the dignitary, or the protesters themselves. Critics, however, suggest that such zones are "Orwellian",[2][3] and that authorities use them in a heavy-handed manner to censor protesters by putting them literally out of sight of the mass media, hence the public, as well as visiting dignitaries. The Secret Service denies specifically targeting protesters, but, on a number of occasions, these denials have been contradicted by local police officers who have stated under oath that Secret Service agents specifically ordered them to target protesters. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a number of lawsuits on the issue.

Many colleges and universities earlier instituted free speech zone rules during the Vietnam-era protests of the 1960s and 1970s. In recent years, a number of them have revised or removed these restrictions following student protests and lawsuits."

The rationale for these 'zoos' is that the Department of Homeland Security claims that terrorists might be hiding amongst the hoi polloi, but the inference is that protesters are aiding and abetting the terrorists.

Oh, wait, did I say 'inference'?

"Attempts to suppress protesters become more disturbing in light of the Homeland Security Department’s recommendation that local police departments view critics of the war on terrorism as potential terrorists. In a May 2003 terrorist advisory, the Homeland Security Department warned local law enforcement agencies to keep an eye on anyone who “expressed dislike of attitudes and decisions of the U.S. government.” If police vigorously followed this advice, millions of Americans could be added to the official lists of “suspected terrorists.”

Austin Cline has a similar article here.

Now, for the sour icing on the spoiled cake (from the first link provided above):

"The Secret Service says it does establish 'public viewing areas' to protect dignitaries but does not discriminate against individuals based on the content of their signs or speech. 'Absolutely not,' said Tom Mazur, a spokesman for the agency created to protect the president. 'The Secret Service makes no distinction on the purpose, message or intent of any individual or group.' Civil libertarians dispute that. They cite a Corpus Christi, Texas, couple, Jeff and Nicole Rank, as an example. The two were arrested at a Bush campaign event in Charleston, West Virginia, on July 4, 2004, when they refused to take off anti-Bush shirts. Their shirts read, "Love America, Hate Bush... The ACLU found 17 cases since March 2001 in which protesters were removed during events where the president or vice president appeared. And lawyers say it's an increasing trend."

 So now the blackshirts are dictating not only how we can protest, they're also instructing us on casual wear?

This goes to bullet point #5, from Umberto's Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt:

5. Besides, disagreement is a sign of diversity.

Ur-Fascism grows up and seeks consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference. The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.

Dissent is the lifeblood and foundation of our great country. It goes to the open-ended portion of the Free Speech clause of the First Amendment. Do I need to mention also, that this is a suffocation of anything resembling a redress of grievances (also granted as a right by that selfsame amendment)?

This cannot stand. It sets fire to the Bill of Rights, it immolates the Constitution, and violates all this country was built on.

It is un-American. It's unpatriotic. It chokes the roots of freedom, so that the brushfire of fascism can sweep the landscape, and shackle the citizenry into blind fear. Every man, woman and child will become wards of the state, herded into conceptual pens, and told what to bleat, and when.

Share the outrage. Point the finger.

Or, as Howard Beale said in the movie Network:

"Go to the window and shout as loud as you can: 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!'"

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments: