"It is poor civic hygiene to install technologies that could someday facilitate a police state." ~ Bruce Schneier
Ashcroft Is Winning: Libertarians Begin to Knuckle Under
The patriots are succumbing to the Patriot Act. For the record, I have the greatest respect for the intentions of the fine people alluded to, but not named here. Consider this a lament, a pep talk, a rallying cry.
I recently had the final paragraph of one of my articles, 'Let Them Eat Lead,' intentionally deleted without my knowledge. Here is that paragraph:
'On October 14, 1793, Marie Antoinette was awoken at night; tried and found guilty of treason, and soon after, was beheaded.'
Here is the reason it was deleted:
'David, with the various bad guys reading the site, I can't have anything that implies that something similar might or ought to happen to G. They look for this stuff.'
I was stunned. This site is actively censoring itself from publishing things that might be implied to threaten G (presumably George Bush) due to the fear of some bad guys presumed to be reading the site. This is scary, and made even more so, considering that libertarians in general, and websites such as this one in particular, are some of the most vocal, most ardent defenders of free speech in the United States . If these guys are running that scared, what does that say about the rest of us?
Never mind that the paragraph never mentioned George Bush or suggested in the slightest manner that he be harmed in any way. Never mind that the person mentioned, Marie Antoinette, was tried in a legal court of law, convicted of treason, and given the legal sentence in France at the time and the United States now (the death penalty) for the crime of treason. Never mind that I personally am opposed to the death penalty. All that matters is that a bad guy might possibly imply that the statement might somehow encourage 'something similar' happening to George Bush. That's all it takes these days to get the most ardent defenders of free speech in the United States to censor themselves. Scary days indeed.
But perhaps this was all just a bit of over-cautiousness. Maybe a passionate plea to restore the censored paragraph would work. I wrote to the involved parties:
'Sometimes I like to ask myself if I would have been one of those who said, "Give me liberty, or give me death!" and meant it; or is all my writing just so much hissing from a bag of hot air? I think I would have meant it. I like to think the rest of us would have meant it too.'
Nothing doing. The deleted paragraph would not be restored. Congratulations, John Ashcroft, you are winning.
Liberties not exercised are liberties soon lost. So I decided to take what I considered to be the most honorable course of action. I asked that the article be pulled from the site, and posted it unedited and uncensored on my own little-viewed amateur web site. Yes, I'm probably just tilting at windmills, but I hope the bad guys really are watching me. I want them to know that I, for one, refuse to back down. And hey, bad guys! If you see John, please tell him that I have a topless statue of 'Spirit of Justice' on my desk and right now, I'm staring at her bare right breast.