Sunday, March 11, 2012

The week in tyranny

Do people even care anymore that their privacy and liberty are under constant assault from our lawmakers?

Earlier this week, we had a report that John McCain introduced a bill that would open up "massive troves of e-mails" to government agencies. As the ACLU succinctly put it, "This is a privacy nightmare that will eventually result in the military substantially monitoring the domestic, civilian Internet."

If Congress failed to control and censor the Internet following the backlash against SOPA and PIPA, they'll just find other ways to snoop into your private affairs and decide what you're allowed to say.

McCain's fingerprints were all over the NDAA detention provision as well. The man has absolutely no regard for civil liberties.

Meanwhile, down in the heart of Texas, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled that cops can search your cell phone without a warrant. Never mind that you're supposed to have a Constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures. Since the information on your phone could be wiped clean while the cops went off to get a warrant, the court says cops can just skip over the whole pesky warrant thing and go right ahead and invade your privacy.

But the icing on the cake came Thursday, when Obama signed into law a provision that essentially ends the right to peaceful assembly in the United States. In what's clearly a further act of legal backlash against the Occupy movement, the so-called Trespass Bill makes it a crime to protest in an area under Secret Service protection or in an area hosting an "event designated as a special event of national significance."

Michigan's Justin Amash, one of only three patriots to oppose the bill in the House, had this to say about it on his Facebook page: "The bill expands current law to make it a crime to enter or remain in an area where an official is visiting even if the person does not know it's illegal to be in that area and has no reason to suspect it's illegal."

The "special event of national significance" part is so vague as to leave the bill's scope wide open to interpretation, and that's the problem. Events of "national significance" have included everything from a Super Bowl to the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions. Furthermore, the president can give Secret Service protection to anyone he wants under the law, so you could be protesting in a public park and have no idea that the president just gave the cops on the scene Secret Service protection. And off you go in handcuffs, deemed by Fatherland Security a national threat. And since you can be held indefinitely without charges under the NDAA provision Obama signed, you have no legal recourse whatsoever.

Speaking of the conventions, I was at the Democratic shindig in Boston in 2004, and I was appalled to see authorized protest sites set up yards and yards away from the convention center. These were billed as "free speech zones," but essentially they were cages where people were allowed to protest, as long as they stayed inside the cages.

You know what the only "free speech zone" is in America? It's the whole damn country.

Of course, even if we do speak our minds, the technology now exists to literally prevent people from physically speaking at all. How long before the government thugs use the SpeechJammer to shut down protest altogether?

Let's review the First Amendment, because our elected leaders are apparently too dense to understand.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Our liberties are being steamrolled, and we're sitting back and letting it happen.

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