Thursday, November 17, 2005

Ignore Your Rights

and they'll go away.

After 9/11, the world seemed to come together to support a grieving nation, a nation that trusted its President to keep it safe. Instead, the Bush Administration squandered much of the good will of other nations, and used the fear of our citizens to drastically curtail our civil liberties.

By playing on our fears, Congress pushed through the "Patriot Act" which dramatically limited the legal protections previously afforded to our citizens.

The government now has expanded arrest powers, more leeway to monitor our communications, and to do such things as track the books we read from libraries and bookstores. Suspicion alone seems to be enough to lock away people without hearings or adjudication. As Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) warns of the attempts to expand the limits of the Patriot Act, he writes:

"When Congress passed the Patriot Act immediately following 9/11, we warned that the definition of terrorism was so broad that it could sweep in benign groups who were simply using tools of civil disobedience to make a political point, or even unions engaged in picketing. The Republicans told us not to worry, that the Department could be trusted not to abuse their authority."

"Recent reports indicate that we do, indeed, need to worry about the conduct of the Department of Justice under this Act. Recently, the ACLU iscovered, through the Freedom of Information Act, that the FBI had designated a Michigan-based peace group and affirmative action advocacy organization had been labeled "terrorist organizations."

Speaking out has somehow become "unpatriotic" and dissenters, when tolerated at all, are herded into "Free Speech Zones." Prior to that, the assumption had been that free speech was constitutionally protected within our nation's borders, not just the borders of the designated fenced-in areas.

Those who are trying to diminish our rights rely on our fear about speaking out, our failure to pay attention, or our reluctance to ask questions. It is our duty as citizens to make sure that our country does the right thing at all times, and to speak out when our leaders don't.

Despite assertions to the contrary, dissent is patriotic.


Rupert Rouge said...

jc, love all your designs and your comments. Is that a self-portrait in your "About Me" section? You are amazing with your ability to do graphics and research!

Sending you a virtual cup of Darjeeling tea with lemon slice, 1 lump of sugar, and a Florentine (as it's so near the holidays), since we can't have tea together in real life. :(

Blog on!

jc said...

rupert rouge,

Thanks! Yes, that's me in the picture, with a little graphic enhancement to make it fit the color scheme of my blog.

And thanks for the tea! It was just perfect on this chilly day.