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  • Wednesday, September 03, 2008


    Another Nail into Civil Liberties

    The usual overwhelming displays of force have been on parade at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. The excuse of some individuals committing property damage is used to justify excesses on a much wider range of people. Preemptive arrests of people in non-violent groups is the order of the day.

    A case could be made that the shunting off of legitimate protests to a "free speech area" several blocks away from the convention contributes to the need of people to make themselves heard. When voicing a critical opinion becomes impossible to hear through deliberate suppression, people will find a way to express their dissatisfaction.

    It's difficult for me to blame the police. They are following orders and they have all these nice shiny "non-lethal" weapons at their disposal. The military/police mindset is to meet resistance/protest with overwhelming force to subdue it quickly. If some protesters do illegal things, all protesters are lumped together and treated with the same hard fist.

    The modus operandi of the law enforcement branches appears to be a variation on "Kill 'em all and let God sort them out." In this case, "Arrest 'em all and release them when they can't participate in protests." Subtleties like due and proper legal processes are left behind when the situation is viewed through the lens of a 24 episode.

    The lesson? Civil liberties are disposable when they are inconvenient. Authority and power always trumps rights and free speech. Distinctions between violence and lawful protest are immaterial because both are the same from their viewpoint.

    The irony, of course, is this use of force to silence dissenting opinions in our loudly declared prime example of democracy. This dissonance apparently does not trouble many people.

    Here are a few stories:

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