10.09.2006

freedom

These things have happened in the United States.

A man was arrested for criticizing Dick Cheney to his face. He was charged with assault. This was in Colorado.

A man was arrested for flying an upside down American flag. This was in Iowa.

A man was arrested for wearing a t-shirt that said "give peace a chance" in a mall. This was in New York State.

A man was arrested for wearing a Veterans For Peace t-shirt in a V.A. Medical Center. The man was a veteran. Illinois.

A man was arrested for holding a sign reading "Honk if you want Bush Out". Michigan.

A 15 year old boy was arrested and assaulted by a police officer and two security guards after refusing to remove a t-shirt with the words "stop snitching" on the front, and "you have the right to remain silent" on the back. The police officers used mace. Maryland.

A man who fought for the rights of airport baggage screeners was visited at home by the FBI and questioned about terrorism. California.

A man wearing a t-shirt with Arabic writing and the words "We will not be silent" was forced to change into a different shirt in order to board a flight from New York to his home in California. His story in his own words is here.

Here's some First-Amendment shredding I witnessed first hand. The ACLU published an excellent report (pdf) on New York City's attempts to squelch the massive anti-war protest on February 15, 2003. Scroll through. It's quite an education.

I'm not including on this list civil disobedience protests where people blocked traffic, interrupted speeches or trespassed on federal property.

I'm also not including all the government spying on, harassment of, arrests of and threats against activists, both now and throughout its history.

And, although they weren't protesting, and didn't get arrested, I feel I should mention the two men who were told to stop touching on an Americans Airline flight from Paris to New York. The pilot threatened to divert the flight unless they complied. (Contrary to some reports, they weren't arrested or charged with suspicion of terrorism.) Not sure if this qualifies as "in the United States," but it is a US company.

In most (though not all) of the above cases, the arrested citizen was vindicated in court, often with the help of the ACLU. But, as one commenter pointed out, the arrests achieve the immediate goal of quashing potential dissent, as most people fear arrest. (Many people can lose their jobs, or their right to live in the US, if arrested.)

And, as others have mentioned, despite the judicial exoneration, under the new US laws suspending habea corpus, any one of these harmless people could be declared an enemy combatant - and be made to disappear.

39 comments:

MSEH said...

Thanks for compiling that collection. Now, let me pick my jaw up off the floor...

James said...

A man was arrested for criticizing Dick Cheney to his face. He was charged with assault. This was in Colorado.

The charges were eventually dropped. But given the recent bills passed concerning indefinite detention without appeal, he could just as easily have been "disappeared". Bush could have claimed that criticizing the admin's Iraq policies constitutes "giving aid to the enemy" and that would have been that.

M@ said...

Filthy, disgusting bastards.

You know, my first reaction to these stories, if they happened here, would be to buy the same t-shirts and hang out in the same malls, and to try to get others to do the same. I don't know why there aren't a bunch of snarky teenagers taking this up.

By the way, more than once I've heard or read Americans saying, about other countries, "they don't have a fifth amendment". (I remember this comment specifically in reference to a publication ban on a trial here.) It's becoming painfully clear that the USA doesn't have one either.

L-girl said...

The charges were eventually dropped.

Right. As I said, most of these were vindicated in court - either charges dropped, or the court ruled in their favour. But...

But given the recent bills passed concerning indefinite detention without appeal, he could just as easily have been "disappeared".

Exactly. These could all be perfectly legal under the new laws.

I don't know why there aren't a bunch of snarky teenagers taking this up.

There often are! But it happens locally, and doesn't get national or international attention.

By the way, more than once I've heard or read Americans saying, about other countries, "they don't have a fifth amendment". (I remember this comment specifically in reference to a publication ban on a trial here.) It's becoming painfully clear that the USA doesn't have one either.

Or a Fourth Amendment (unreasonable search and seizure). And most painfully, sometimes not even a First Amendment.

As a lifelong protestor, I grew up hearing how lucky I was to live in a country where I could protest.

That was the last bit of propaganda I believed. I think I was still clinging to it when we went to the Feb 15 2003 anti-war protest. Had I not seen that with my own eyes, I might have thought protestors were exaggerating. I won't make that mistake in the future.

L-girl said...

Now, let me pick my jaw up off the floor...

I know what you mean. It's hard to believe. Yet there it is.

Daniel wbc said...

Of course, even if those arrested were eventually vindicated in court, the powers that be have still achieved a goal. Aren't most people (myself included) going to think twice before making a public statement critical of the current U.S. administration? The average person does not want the hassle and trauma of being arrested.

redsock said...

There was also the case of a man on a JetBlue flight who was wearing a shirt with Arabic writing on it. It said something like "Peace" or "Stop The Killing".

Anyway, the pilot refused to take off and was going to delay the flight indefinitely until the guy either left the plane, turned his shirt inside out so the writing could not be seen, or changed into another shirt.

And there are dozens and dozens of examples over the last six years of anti-Bush protesters who must stand in "free speech zones" -- fenced-in areas often hundreds of yards and sometimes miles away from where Bush is speaking.

redsock said...

The charges were eventually dropped. But given the recent bills passed concerning indefinite detention without appeal, he could just as easily have been "disappeared". Bush could have claimed that criticizing the admin's Iraq policies constitutes "giving aid to the enemy" and that would have been that.

Yup. Now that the USA Mengele Act has passed, this is the actual law of the land.

I wonder if when a Democrat is in the White House (yeah, right!), if he or she will "disappear" all these war criminals in office now, locking them away in outdoor dog cages in Cuba or in 8x8 cells until they die on no charges whatsoever, using the laws they themselves demanded be passed.

That would be cool.

...

(Hello, Agent Mike! (waves))

L-girl said...

Of course, even if those arrested were eventually vindicated in court, the powers that be have still achieved a goal.

Yes indeedy. That's an important point.

There was also the case of a man on a JetBlue flight who was wearing a shirt with Arabic writing on it.

You couldn't think of that yesterday when I was looking for examples? :)

And there are dozens and dozens of examples over the last six years of anti-Bush protesters who must stand in "free speech zones" -- fenced-in areas often hundreds of yards and sometimes miles away from where Bush is speaking.

Oh yeah. He has to be protected from any possible sign of protest. Looking for these examples yesterday, I saw lots of good blog posts and essays about that.

L-girl said...

But given the recent bills passed concerning indefinite detention without appeal, he could just as easily have been "disappeared". Bush could have claimed that criticizing the admin's Iraq policies constitutes "giving aid to the enemy" and that would have been that.

....

Now that the USA Mengele Act has passed, this is the actual law of the land.


I should add this to the post. Will do now.

redsock said...

I remember reading recently about a woman who complained to airport security because a man was speaking in a language other than English on his cell phone.

The woman said the guy was making her nervous. I don't think anything happened to the guy, but security did have a serious talk with him -- as opposed to simply telling the woman to go to hell.

M@ said...

Fifth Amendment

I meant the First. Not that it matters, because none of them seem defensible nowadays anyhow...

And the reason for the fourth amendment, I think, is exactly because arrest can be a way of intimidating a population. Funny how they knew that back then, but have forgotten it now.

And designating "free speech zones" is pretty much an admission that there is no free speech outside them, doesn't it?

redsock said...

Some quotes about the Military Commissions Act of 2006:

Senator Patrick Leahy:

It removes as many checks and balances as possible so that any president can basically set the law, determine what laws they'll follow and what laws they'll break and not have anybody be able to question them on it. ...

Habeas corpus was first brought in the Magna Carta in the 1200s. It's been a tenet of our rights as Americans. And what they're saying is ... if a determination is made by anybody in the executive that you may be a threat, they can hold you indefinitely, they could put you in Guantanamo, not bring any charges, not allow you to have a lawyer, not allow you to ever question what they've done ... say you're a college professor who has written on Islam or for whatever reason, and they lock you up. You're not even allowed to question it. You're not allowed to have a lawyer ... You have no recourse whatsoever. ... It's Kafka.


Michael Ratner, the Center for Constitutional Rights:

What this bill authorizes is really the authority of an authoritarian despot to the president. ...

This bill will be struck down and struck down badly. But meanwhile, for two more years or whatever it's going to take us to litigate it, we're going to be litigating what was a basic right, as the senator said, since the Magna Carta of 1215, the right of any human being to test their detention in court. It's one of the saddest days I've seen.


Amy Goodman:

You gave a very graphic example. You said, "Imagine you're a law-abiding lawful permanent resident. In your spare time you do charitable fundraising for international relief agencies that lend a hand in disasters." Take that story from there, the example you used.

Leahy:

You send money. You don't care which particular religious group or civic group it is. They're doing humanitarian work. You send the money. It turns out that one of them is giving money to various Islamic causes that the United States is concerned about. They come to your house. Maybe somebody has called into one of these anonymous tipster lines, saying, "You know, this Amy Goodman. I'm somewhat worried about her, simply because she's going -- and I think I've seen some Muslim-looking people coming to her house." They come in there, and they say, "We want to talk to you." They bring you downtown. You're a legal alien, legal resident here. And you say, "Well, look, I've got my rights. I'd like to talk to a lawyer." They say, "No, no. You don't have any rights." "Well, then I'm not going to talk to you." "Well, then now we're twice as concerned about you. We're going to spirit you down to Guantanamo, and we'll get back to in a few years."

deang said...

He has to be protected from any possible sign of protest.

As many of you probably know, when he was governor here in Texas, he set a national record for number of executions, dozens and dozens of people killed, some of whose pleas for mercy he mocked like the sadist that he is. So our local Campaign to End the Death Penalty group was marching around the governor's mansion at least twice a month in protest, trodding a path established years ago by citizens before us. Early in his governorship, Bush decided that we could no longer march on the same block the dictator's house was on, though people had been doing it peacefully for years without incident; we now had to keep to an area across the street from his lair. For executions that had received especially large amounts of publicity, he would post cops in riot gear around the manse to intimidate. During the leadup to Shaka Sankofa's execution, with protestors pouring into the city, unarmed people challenged the periphery restrictions and were violently charged by a phalanx of police. A troubling portent for the country.

Scott M. said...

There was a woman on the GO train about a year ago who came up to the section I normally sat in with some of my GO friends. The lady saw a person who had a rug for prayer folded on his lap, and had some beads or something he was fiddling with under them. She refused to sit in the seat available and went away and -- get this -- called the conductor (Barrie) up.

Apparently she reported a crazed looking individual which made her very nervous. Of course, duitifully the conductor came up to the front to check out the complaint. He very quietly and very privately asked to look under the folded rug, profusely apologized and went away. Really, he couldn't have handled the situation any better -- who knows what the crazy lady said she thought he was doing. I was amazed; I'm not a big fan of that conductor, but he handled it in such a way that unless you were paying very close attention (as I was) you would have missed the whole thing.

Shortly after that the gentleman became a regular in our section and we had a great time.

Still amazed to this day that someone was that... I don't know... racist? Bigoted? Fearful? What's the word I'm looking for?

L-girl said...

Still amazed to this day that someone was that... I don't know... racist? Bigoted? Fearful? What's the word I'm looking for?

I think you found it - all three.

Cheers to the conductor for handling it with such aplomb. Not everyone would know how to do that.

L-girl said...

Dean, you have such a good perspective for us, living where you do.

I wish you'd come up to Canada already. :)

James said...

I wonder if when a Democrat is in the White House (yeah, right!), if he or she will "disappear" all these war criminals in office now, locking them away in outdoor dog cages in Cuba or in 8x8 cells until they die on no charges whatsoever, using the laws they themselves demanded be passed.

This has been circulating recently:

21 Jan 2009. Washington, DC.

New President Hilary Clinton took the oath of office yesterday and
startled the nation by immediately declaring former President George W.
Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense
Donalald Rumsfeld, and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice as
"Enemy Combatants." Within hours, all four were aprehended by the FBI
and transported in shackles to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The four are being
held without charges and have been denied access to legal consul or
other outside contact. Newly appointed Attorney General Al Gore, in his
first official press release, confirmed that former President Bush had
not been charged but "as we speak" was "confessing to any number of
crimes against the Constitution and humanity itself." Gore's office
provided no further details. One unnamed source close to the Attorney
General reportedly claimed that former Vice President Cheney "will soon
understand the phrase 'go f*** yourself' in vastly deeper intimacy than
he has ever imagined." Another source stated "on background" that the
Attorney General is reserving a special room for (former Florida
election official) Kathleen Harris and another for (retired Supreme
Court Justice) Sandra Day O'Conner.

President Clinton, appearing before cheering supporters in a black
leather quasi-military uniform, gave a rousing speech emphasizing themes
of bipartisan cooperation and national security. Reading from prepared
notes and smiling broadly, she announced, "America finally can close the
book on the vast right wing conspiracy. As a first priority, we look
forward now to working with Senator Frist on progressive health care
reform in a renewed spirit of cooperation."

Senator Bill Frist, the defeated Republican presidential candidate, was
not available for comment. Unnamed staff members confirmed earlier
reports that Frist is out of the country, touring puppet democracies
without extradition treaties. Frist lost the hotly contested election in
November when hundreds of thousands of brain-dead voters suddenly
emerged as an unprecedented united voting block. In a late October
campaign ad, perhaps the most effective strategy of Campaign 2008, the
Brain-Dead Coalition announced itself "opposed to government meddling,
unprecedented government spending, unrepentant murder of scores of
thousands of post-birth humans, and the ongoing worldwide torture of
unrepresented uncharged and downtrodden world citizens." In a series of
key precincts in swing states, Diebold electronic balloting machines
were deluged with apparently legitimate votes cast by citizens who all
had earlier been declared brain-dead by their physicians. The Supreme
Court declined to review the alleged unusual voting patterns, citing as
precedent a 2004 case in Florida.

President Clinton attended a series of inagural balls over the course of
the evening but retired early to the White House, clicking her (spiked
black leather) heels together three times and quoting, "There's no place
like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home."

L-girl said...

Nice fantasy.

Interesting how Diebold gets a pass in favour of the Brain-Dead Coalition.

Then again, it says "progressive" and "Hillary Clinton" in the same sentence, which proves it's science fiction.

Lone Primate said...

New President Hilary Clinton took the oath of office yesterday and startled the nation by immediately declaring former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donalald Rumsfeld, and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice as "Enemy Combatants." Within hours, all four were aprehended by the FBI

Hilaryous Clinton? Yeah, right. Listening to her talk makes me pine for the "kindler, gentler" days of GHW Bush. She'd be more likely to nominate them all for the Congressional Medal of Honor. :/

Ferdzy said...

More fiction than science, but yeah.

Lone Primate said...

Hey, while we're at it, how about this one? :)

21 Jan 2009. Washington, DC.

New President Ralph Nader the oath of office yesterday and tickled the world pink by immediately declaring former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donalald Rumsfeld, and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice as "crash-test dummies" and sentenced them all to life participating in rollover tests of several large, bloated, gas-guzzling, top-heavy North American SUVs. They are eligible for parole in 2034, when they will be released onto the streets of Baghdad wearing big large lapel pins reading "HI! I'm (insert name here)! May I take your order?"

zuzu said...

Hi there! I've been lurking a bit over the past several months, but this is my first comment.

Recent events have made me utterly ill. And I thought things were bad when I first submitted my immigration paperwork for Canada (my triggering event? Attorney General Torquemada). I really feel like this country is on the downslide. All empires eventually fall, usually from hubris. And we got that in spades.

I got my visa not too long ago, and am now in the process of trying to figure out where to settle. I'd originally planned to continue practicing law, but then I realized that I don't love it enough to go through the fairly onerous process of getting licensed in Canada.

I'd appreciate any advice, links, what have you, that can give me an idea of what various Canadian cities are like. For some reason, I can't seem to get much info on Toronto.

Thanks!

zuzu

Lone Primate said...

Hi, zuzu, where are you living now? If we had some general idea, we might be able to suggest something analogous in Canada. :)

L-girl said...

Hey Zuzu! Welcome to wmtc, glad you decided to speak up.

You already have your visa - congratulations!!

I know several American lawyers who got re-credentialed here, and the process did not take all that long or seem too onerous. Of course, that's in the eye of the beholder, but they were working in under a year.

One of them is very interested in helping other lawyers who are emigrating. If you'd like her info, email me.

Meanwhile, there's lots of info about Canadian cities online, but you should probably come up and visit before you make any definite plans.

As Lone Primate asked (more or less), what kinds of things are important to you in a city?

zuzu said...

Thanks for the responses. I will drop you an email.

I'm currently living in NYC (Brooklyn), and would like to stay in an urban environment. Though a little yard might be nice for the dog. Walkability and public trans are crucial. I'd also like a friendly city where it's relatively easy to meet people and everyone's not necessarily paired off, since I'm single and in my late 30s.

L-girl said...

Come up to Toronto!! And I'm sure Vancouverites would tell you the same.

Definitely email me, let's talk.

Lone Primate said...

Even though I've only visited and haven't been there extensively, I've reached the conclusion that Montreal is probably the Canadian city most like New York. I mean, New York is New York and Montreal is Montreal, but in comparison, my feeling is Montreal gets the nod. It's older, and not just chronologially. Toronto really doesn't 'begin' till about WWII. And Montreal knows who it is and where it is and that it's cool, always was and always will be. Toronto's only just settilng into that mindset, but you still get the hint of the sweats... are we there yet? Are we cool? LA strikes me the same, only in spades... LA is never going to be cool the way NY is because it's constantly caught up in being cool. Montreal's one of those cities that's past that, if it ever mattered. Of course, there's the French thing. :) I have the feeling that Vancouver is less tense than Toronto, though I've never been to Vancouver... just a vibe it puts out. Calgary is probably going to be big over the next quarter century, but it's going to have all the same adolescent angst that Toronto just grew out of, and for the foreseeable future, Calgary's gonna be all about the money. If that's all that matters, it's probably the place to be. If it isn't, it's probably not going to be the place to be till well into the century.

Southern Ontario's got a lot going for it, and it doesn't have to be the GTA. London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Windsor, even Hamilton are all good cities to live in. Maybe have a look around. :)

L-girl said...

Montreal may be most like NY in its feel and vibe, but for an American emigrating to Canada, unless they're bilingual, I would say it's a no-go. There are more practical considerations to deal with.

redsock said...

The Times of October 13 reports that new Department of Defense documents released under FOIA reveals that data was kept on anti-war protestors:

"The documents, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, show, for instance, that military officials labeled as "potential terrorist activity" events like a "Stop the War Now" rally in Akron, Ohio, in March 2005."

Protest the regime and -- boom -- you could be deemed a terrorist.

While they may not actually do it, the law says they can.

James said...

Southern Ontario's got a lot going for it, and it doesn't have to be the GTA. London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Windsor, even Hamilton are all good cities to live in. Maybe have a look around. :)

London (my home town) is not necessarily that great if you aren't straight. Shortly before I left, one of the big news stories was a pair of visiting professors who were considering working at the university there, who were beaten and hospitalized for being two men walking together in a downtown park.

It's also where Julian Fantino got his start arresting gays on no evidence as part of an "anti-kiddie porn" campaign.

doug said...

yes I lived in London for 35 years and it's a great city in a lot of ways but very conservative, not the most tolerant...I've been to Montreal a lot watching Expos games(that's a sad story, their demise) anyways I loved the architecture, cafes, restaurants but if you are a "outsider" it's a tough city, Quebec City is definitely a no-go but Montreal is hard on anglos as well....I think Toronto, Vancouver you like cold, the seasons Toronto, you don't Vancouver...Calgary politically is far too right for my liking...

L-girl said...

I also love Montreal. I should have said that in my earlier comment. It's a fabulous city. Every time I'm there, I feel like I've stepped into Europe for the day.

But for an immigrant who is not French-speaking, it would seem a poor choice.

M@ said...

If you're looking for employment in a legal capacity, Toronto is easily your best bet.

There are industries that have large centres in all kinds of wacky places (e.g. Kitchener-Waterloo is a huge area for insurance), but everything is represented in Toronto.

zuzu said...

Thanks for all the ideas! I would LOVE to go to Montreal, but I didn't score high enough on the evaluation test for immigrants. I'm thinking it will be Toronto.

L-girl said...

Zuzu, if it turns out to be Toronto, let us know when you're landing, or drop us a line when you get here.

zuzu said...

Absolutely! It will be a few months, since I have to sell my apartment.

FormerOwl said...

Latest economic data for Canada is that the economic growth of Alberta ranks #1 (labour scarce due to everybody working on the oil sands for big money), #2 is British Colombia, and #3 is Newfoundland. Ontario is currently last in growth, having suffered a loss of manufacturing jobs due to the rise of the C$ vs the US $.

If you want really distinct seasons, Ottawa is a good place. I know somebody who hated spring in S. Ontario (too much mud), but loved spring in Ottawa - bright tulips breaking out through snow. Ottawa, being the capital, has had a lot of money spent on a variety of parks and bike paths. Part of its transit system is a dedicated system of bus routes going through parks - this is very fast and works like subways in other cities.

Alberta is now attracting top scientific talent to its universities, and there is groundbreaking research going on - e.g. U of Alberta in Edmonton has developed a tooth regeneration method, insulin production for diabetics, nanotech centre, etc. Calgary strikes me as very US in attitudes. It used to have a slightly British aura, but that is long gone.

L-girl said...

I'm pretty sure the Ontario job loss due to manufacturing is distinct from the jobs in Toronto. Certainly the legal industry (and attendant support services, like IT) is not affected by that.

Ottawa always sounds very nice. I look forward to visiting. I can't imagine having the luxury of living somewhere based on weather, though. I have fantasies about living someplace very rural, but what would I do for work? My living costs would be lower, but not so low that I could work for minimum wage.

Calgary strikes me as very US in attitudes.

That should be enough to keep Zuzu away. :)