May 26, 2006

Okay, so it's been a LONG while since my last update..

As many of you know, I have two kids now, and they're taking every single available moment of my time to the point where I can't count on doing anything I don't NEED to do. I know you've all been waiting with baited breath for my latest and greatest update to Well Duh!, but now you can sleep again, because here it is.

Because of the above, I've decided to shaite-can any attempts at putting together a podcast for the time being. I may still do one, but right now, I don't have the time.

The inspiration for today's diatribe is linked above, and I think it should be required reading for everyone.

Today's topic is "The War on Terror." I have a couple of big problems here:

1) The is a war on an ideology. This ideology will never entirely be wiped off the face of this earth. There is ALWAYS be someone, somewhere in this world who intends to get what they want through the use of fear. Merriam-Webster defines Terrorism thusly:

Main Entry: ter·ror·ism
Pronunciation: 'ter-&r-"i-z&m
Function: noun
: the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion
- ter·ror·ist /-&r-ist/ adjective or noun
- ter·ror·is·tic /"ter-&r-'is-tik/ adjective

By this most basic definition, terrorism is EVERYWHERE. We, the United States of America, are engaged in Terrorism. Anyone remember "Shock and Awe"? My point is, this is a war that will NEVER, EVER, NOT AS LONG AS THE HUMAN RACE EXISTS, end. Might as well make it the WAR ON AIR!

2) What the President and staff keep telling us is that we're exacting this war to protect Freedom, protect our country, save The Constitution. Sounds really noble, but if the way we do this is to kill thousands (some say hundreds of thousands), watch everybody we can strive to see through the use of wire tapping, throw people in jail without charges, without trial, without recourse, censor our press (including the internet), jail reporters for TELLING THE TRUTH, create "Free Speech Zones", can anyone who speaks out against the government and any of several thousand other little bits over the last 5 years, then what the hell are we actually fighting FOR? Honestly, we've sold the grain to keep the horse.

What infuriates me is that the American people are putting up with it. I'm a Dad, I want to protect my children as much as ANYONE, and probably more than most, but there's a limit. I will NOT let my children grow up into a world where the freedoms that The Constitution of the United States unumerates are conditional. They are NOT conditional. Note that I did not say that the Constitiution gurarantees our rights, it merely states what they are and that it is the goverment's responsibility to protect and defend them.

If you haven't seen it, Boston Legal had an episode on March 14th of this year entitled "Stick it" where Alan Shore (James Spader) gives a closing argument which very clearly says all of this things I've been thinking. You can get both the Audio (mp3) and the Video (wmv) from Crooks And Liars. I am only going to link the page that they're available so that you can pick for yourself and read about it as well, but I will quote some of it.

Alan Shore's closing argument

Alan Shore: When the weapons of mass destruction thing turned out to be not true, I expected the American people to rise up. Ha! They didn't.

Then, when the Abu Ghraib torture thing surfaced and it was revealed that our government participated in rendition, a practice where we kidnap people and turn them over to regimes who specialize in torture, I was sure then the American people would be heard from. We stood mute.

Then came the news that we jailed thousands of so-called terrorists suspects, locked them up without the right to a trial or even the right to confront their accusers. Certainly, we would never stand for that. We did.

And now, it's been discovered the executive branch has been conducting massive, illegal, domestic surveillance on its own citizens. You and me. And I at least consoled myself that finally, finally the American people will have had enough. Evidentially, we haven't.

In fact, if the people of this country have spoken, the message is we're okay with it all. Torture, warrantless search and seizure, illegal wiretappings, prison without a fair trial - or any trial, war on false pretenses. We, as a citizenry, are apparently not offended.

There are no demonstrations on college campuses. In fact, there's no clear indication that young people seem to notice.

Well, Melissa Hughes noticed. Now, you might think, instead of withholding her taxes, she could have protested the old fashioned way. Made a placard and demonstrated at a Presidential or Vice-Presidential appearance, but we've lost the right to that as well. The Secret Service can now declare free speech zones to contain, control and, in effect, criminalize protest.

Stop for a second and try to fathom that.

At a presidential rally, parade or appearance, if you have on a supportive t-shirt, you can be there. If you are wearing or carrying something in protest, you can be removed.

This, in the United States of America. This in the United States of America. Is Melissa Hughes the only one embarrassed?

*Alan sits down abruptly in the witness chair next to the judge*

Judge Robert Sanders: Mr. Shore. That's a chair for witnesses only.

Really long speeches make me so tired sometimes.

Judge Sanders: Please get out of the chair.

Alan: Actually, I'm sick and tired.

Judge Sanders: Get out of the chair!

Alan: And what I'm most sick and tired of is how every time somebody disagrees with how the government is running things, he or she is labeled unAmerican.

U.S. Attorney Jonathan Shapiro: Evidentally, it's speech time.

Alan: And speech in this country is free, you hack! Free for me, free for you. Free for Melissa Hughes to stand up to her government and say "Stick it"!

U.S. Attorney Jonathan Shapiro: Objection!

Alan: I object to government abusing its power to squash the constitutional freedoms of its citizenry. And, God forbid, anybody challenge it. They're smeared as being a heretic. Melissa Hughes is an American. Melissa Hughes is an American. Melissa Hughes is an American!

Judge Sanders: Mr. Shore. Unless you have anything new and fresh to say, please sit down. You've breached the decorum of my courtroom with all this hooting.

Alan: Last night, I went to bed with a book. Not as much fun as a 29 year old, but the book contained a speech by Adlai Stevenson. The year was 1952. He said, "The tragedy of our day is the climate of fear in which we live and fear breeds repression. Too often, sinister threats to the Bill of Rights, to freedom of the mind are concealed under the patriotic cloak of anti-Communism."

Today, it's the cloak of anti-terrorism. Stevenson also remarked, "It's far easier to fight for principles than to live up to them."

I know we are all afraid, but the Bill of Rights - we have to live up to that. We simply must. That's all Melissa Hughes was trying to say. She was speaking for you. I would ask you now to go back to that room and speak for her.

That is all. More another time.