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Subject: To Be Silenced, Or Not to Be: That is the Question

Written By: CatwomanofV on 11/01/04 at 1:50 pm

This was sent in an e-mail. It is quite long so I have to break it up into two parts. But, it does make you think.

To Be Silenced, Or Not to Be: That is the Question

by Debi Smith

"Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all
subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat
--Justice William O.Douglas

Last week, both vice presidential nominee John Edwards and President George
W. Bush visited Southern Oregon. Considering the area is relatively rural,
sparsely populated, and Oregon is a state that usually gets little attention
in a presidential election, it was an unprecedented and rather exciting
occasion. I decided to try and get tickets to both events for my kids and

Getting tickets from the Jackson County Democratic Party Headquarters for
the Edwards event was pleasant and easy. They didn't ask me to declare a
party, didn't ask who I was voting for, didn't ask me to provide personal
information or a DNA sample.

Not so at the Jackson County GOP headquarters. First they wanted to know my
name, address, phone number, email, and my driver's license number. "Do they
really have the time, funds, and need to run all this data through some
security check? What are they afraid of?" I asked myself. But hey, if it'll
get me some tickets, I'll grudgingly fill out the application.

It didn't get me the tickets. "Are you a Bush supporter?" I was asked. I
explained that I was a registered Independent and not necessarily a Bush
supporter. "Are you going to vote for Bush?" I was asked. "No," I honestly,
and out of curiosity to see what would happen, replied. I was summarily told
that if I wasn't planning on voting for Bush, I wasn't welcome. "John" came
over to make sure I got the message. I told him I'd taken my kids to similar
events (we saw Clinton and Gore in 1996) and didn't he think it was good to
get my kids involved in the democratic process early? To take them to events
such as these and let them make up their own minds? I guess not. He just
kept repeating, in a rather intimidating way, that if I wasn't a supporter,
I wasn't welcome. (Funny how he wasn't worried about how this sort of
attitude might affect the future of the Republican Party. Hmm.)

I initially found the whole thing absurdly funny even though I was shaking
(intimidation will do that to you) as I walked out of GOP headquarters. As
the day wore on and the more I reflected on the starkly different
experiences I'd had at both headquarters, the more frustrated and indignant
I became. What is happening in this country that my children and I are kept
out of a rally for the man who is currently our president? I had no
intention whatsoever of causing any disturbances or protesting the event in
any way. We're a homeschooling family that uses a variety of life
experiences and opportunities as our classroom. This was simply just another
unique event for my children and I to attend and learn from.

Incidentally, I observed nary a protest during the entire Edwards rally the
following day, despite the fact there had been no effort to keep anyone out
based on their viewpoints or political affiliations. Why couldn't the Bush
Campaign and the GOP behave in the same congenial and democratic fashion I
wondered, and again asked myself, "What are they afraid of?" I even tried to
come up with a new acronym for the GOP. Grand Old Paranoia came to mind.


Subject: Re: To Be Silenced, Or Not to Be: That is the Question

Written By: CatwomanofV on 11/01/04 at 1:52 pm

Part II

Feeling more and more outraged by the sanitation of the Bush event, I
decided to attend the unWelcome Bush rally to be held in Jacksonville.
Jacksonville is a tiny little dot on the map (pop. 2245). It's a
well-preserved gold mining town that now houses museums, tiny boutiques,
eateries, and small inns. Bush would be spending the night here following
his presumptuous and premature "Victory Rally" being held a few miles away
in Central Point. A politically active friend of mine had organized the
peaceful demonstration and had spoken several times with local authorities,
informing them of the event, and asking all the pertinent questions. She was
told that as long as people remained on the sidewalks, there should be no
problem and that they were there to protect the president as well as our
right to peaceably assemble.

Our group started out small, 70 or so people carrying signs, water bottles,
video cameras, and children. As the evening wore on more people began
gathering-Bush supporters, and protesters alike. There were several
blockades, manned by security, at different intersections to the west of
where we were. People, to my knowledge, were respecting the requests not to
move beyond the blockades as well as continuing to respect the request to
keep to the sidewalks. When a helicopter started making low passes overhead,
a portion of the motorcycle motorcade came by, and a throng of riot cops
made their appearance guarding the west end of the block, we assumed the
President was on his way. Everything continued to remain fairly calm, even
with the mixture of chanting from both sides.

Suddenly, an officer within the line of riot cops ordered the crowd to move
back two blocks to 5th Street. They allowed about four seconds for this to
sink in and then started pushing us back by moving forward in a line. The
sidewalks could not contain the sudden movement of people, and subsequently
the streets became crowded and chaotic. If their desire for us to move had
been communicated earlier, or if that portion of the street had been blocked
off to begin with, people probably would have, in general, respected it,
even though we were in our legal right to be in the vicinity. But instead,
the authorities in charge chose to create confusion and conflict instead of
wisely diffusing it ahead of time. And the result was an unnecessary melee:
sudden gunfire; people running, falling, being shot with pepper bullets;
children upset by the gunfire, and coughing from the pepper; women who were
carrying their children being grabbed and pushed violently; people daring to
ask questions being forcibly pushed and intimidated. It must be reiterated,
this event was organized to be peaceful, non-violent, and family friendly.
And, even though there was a mixed demographic on the street, the event
remained non-violent and relatively peaceful.except for the actions of a few
of the less than restrained riot cops. Riot cops, who were, we have to
remind ourselves, taking orders from a higher command.

I fully expected to see the presence of the secret service, the snipers, and
a multitude of officers at this event. What I didn't expect to see was a
completely unnecessary use of extreme force in a situation that clearly
didn't warrant it. If there was, and to my knowledge there wasn't, anyone
doing something illegal or outside their constitutional rights, then why
couldn't a couple of these well-trained officers peacefully remove the
offenders? I was at the front of the crowd when the mayhem broke out and I
saw nothing that would warrant shooting pepper bullets, especially into a
crowd so full of young children.

After returning home from this disturbing event, I turned on the news. The
only thing that aired on my local NBC affiliate regarding the event was an
interview with a Bush supporter in the darkened street. I did learn later
that a couple other outlets offered a slightly more balanced, though still
sanitized, viewpoint. Several independent video clips documenting the
overuse of force have also been sent to various media outlets over the past
few days, and to my knowledge, none have been aired. More sanitation. Could
this be happening all over the country? How many valid stories are going
unreported by the major media? Or are so sanitized as to be a faint glimmer
of the actual truth?

Who runs this sanitation department?

Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of
opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of
increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all
its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.
--Harry S. Truman, 33rd president of the U.S.

After about 10 minutes of Internet research, I observed a picture beginning
to develop. And, my friends, the picture isn't pretty. Yes, the silencing is
happening all across America. At Presidential visits, during peace rallies,
non-violent demonstrations, in high schools where kids draw anti-war
pictures in art class, in small towns where people put dissenting comics on
their car. All these events have resulted in visits, interrogation, and
intimidation by the Secret Service. When you begin to notice the larger
pattern of thought control, intimidation, and downright attack upon the very
bedrock of our nation's guiding principles by the people who are sworn to
uphold it, a sick feeling begins building in your gut.

In answer to my question, 'who runs this sanitation department?' Dave
Lindorff, investigative reporter, journalist, and columnist succinctly
explains, "White House advance teams and the Secret Service have routinely
instructed local police at cities where the president or vice president plan
to visit to remove demonstrators-particularly those carrying signs which
might mar the TV imagery of a triumphant presidential motorcade or rally-and
pen them in, often in fenced-in enclosures, well away from the event and the
media. The result is news coverage that has seemed to suggest a universally
adored administration."

The AFL-CIO, commenting on the well documented suppression of free speech
and intimidation witnessed during the FTAA Ministerial in Miami last
November said, "Some are calling the repression witnessed.the 'Miami model.'
The Miami model calls for authorities to foment irrational fears about
peaceful political protest in order to legitimize suppression of our rights.
This climate of panic enables top police officials to harass and intimidate
protestors and sympathetic members of the public.. These tactics are
designed to discourage ordinary Americans from exercising their
Constitutional rights to free speech and free assembly. People in America
should not have to fear violent attacks funded by their own tax dollars when
they participate in peaceful and permitted demonstrations. These tactics are
part of a larger strategy of the Bush Administration to chill political
dissent and stifle civil liberties here in America."

At the very Bush rally I was refused entrance to, three teachers (who were
craftier than I when trying to obtain tickets) were kicked out for the crime
of wearing t-shirts that said, "Protect our civil liberties." Reportedly, a
rally volunteer said the shirts were "obscene." These three women were even
threatened with arrest if they did not leave the event.

How have we come to such a point where advocating for protection of our
civil liberties is obscene?? Of course, that's a silly question come post
9/11, right? Obviously, 9/11 (which was the all too convenient"catastrophic
and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor" that the neo-cons had been
frothing at the mouth for since writing their thesis Rebuilding America's
Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century in 2000) meant
that in order for ordinary American citizens to experience security we'd
have to give up many of our freedoms. Duh. Fall in line sheeple. Don't ask
questions. Don't be unpatriotic. Don't dissent. For heaven's sake, go
shopping. Go to Disney World. But whatever you do, don't think. your
security's at stake.

Yes, our security is at stake. We are in the midst of a massive takeover
(some would say corporate) of this country. But the real enemy isn't some
nefarious terrorist out there. It isn't in those shipping containers Kerry
mentions. It isn't in Iraq. It isn't in your neighborhood mosque or at the
peace rally down the street or in the underbelly of the next plane you ride.
You know why Bush lost interest in Bin Laden? It's because he knows who the
real enemy is, and where he resides. And no, let's not blame this all on

Aside from believing the enemy within is much larger than George W. Bush, I
also believe a big chunk of the blame belongs on the media's doorstep. In a
few short years, media ownership has been consolidated into fewer and fewer
(for profit) hands. According to the website www.corporations.org/media/ "In
1983, 50 corporations controlled the vast majority of all news media in the
U.S." And in 2004? "Only 5 huge corporations -- Time Warner, Disney,
Murdoch's News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, and Viacom (formerly
CBS) -- now control most of the media industry in the U.S. General
Electric's NBC is a close sixth."

These mega-conglomerates are in the business of selling you something. And
the closer you look, the fishier it smells. But don't take my word for it.
You owe it to yourself, and your country, to more deeply investigate the
wily purveyors of our nation's "news." One current and particularly
egregious example of media totalitarian boot stomping is Sinclair
Broadcasting. The same Sinclair Broadcast Group that in April forbade its
ABC affiliates from showing Ted Koppel's 40-minute tribute to fallen troops
in Iraq, because the programming appeared to be "motivated by political
agenda", has the audacity to order, yes order, their stations to preempt
regular programming, days before the election, to air a film that attacks
Senator Kerry's activism following the Vietnam War.

Sinclair Broadcast Group, the country's largest owner of TV stations, has
also, among other things: required journalists to read pro-Bush statements
(verbal loyalty oaths), refused to air ads criticizing Bush and/or featuring
video clips of the President making false claims, and have aired "news
stories" written and paid for by the government. And this isn't being
"motivated by a political agenda"??

Freedom Chips Anyone?

At first glance this may seem completely off the subject, but what about the
fact that the state of Virginia is contemplating inserting RFID chips in all
state issued drivers licenses? As per Kent Willis, Executive Director of the
ACLU of Virginia:

"Almost everyone carries a driver's license, and RFID chips allow people to
be tracked. This proposal would allow anyone to set up an RFID reader to
capture the identities and personal information of every person who comes
within range. FBI agents, for example, could sweep up the identities of
everyone at a political meeting, protest march, gun show, or Islamic prayer

This morning, I mentioned this RFID program to my son, asking him how he'd
feel if he lived in a country that monitored your every move via a chip that
was implanted in your driver's license, internal passport, or even worse,
your body (technology that was just recently approved by the FDA, by the
way). He nonchalantly replied that he wouldn't necessarily like it but that
it wouldn't be any big deal. I talked to him about civil liberties, about
privacy issues, about the freedoms this country fought long, hard, and
bloody battles to obtain. Unfortunately, I wasn't very convincing. But
fortunately, he doesn't get all his schooling from me. He's also enrolled in
several classes outside the home and this afternoon I walked in to find him
doing some homework for one of them.reading excerpts from George Orwell's

I know people are probably tired of all the Orwellian analogy. But this is
just the tip of the iceberg. And we're headed for a terrible sinking if we
"stay the course." I sat down to look through the excerpts my son had been
reading, remembering back to when I'd read the book as a teen. Included in
the reading homework was the preface Walter Cronkite wrote in 1984 for that
year's edition of Orwell's novel. It reads, in part:

If not prophecy, what was 1984? It was, as many have noticed, a warning: a
warning about the future of human freedom in a world where political
organization and technology can manufacture power in dimensions that would
have stunned the imaginations of earlier ages.

That warning vibrates powerfully when we allow ourselves to sit still and
think carefully about orbiting satellites that can read the license plates
in a parking lot and computers that can tap into thousands of telephone
calls and telex transmissions at once and other computers that can do our
banking and purchasing, can watch the house and tell a monitoring station
what television program we are watching and how many people there are in the
room.And we hear echoes of that warning chord in the constant demand for
greater security and comfort, for less risk in our societies. We recognize,
however dimly, that greater efficiency, ease, and security may come at a
substantial price in freedom, that law and order can be a doublethink
version of oppression, that individual liberties surrendered for whatever
good reason are freedom lost.

It has been said that 1984 fails as a prophecy because it succeeded as a
warning--Orwell's terrible vision has been averted. Well, that kind of
self-congratulation is, to say the least, premature. 1984 may not arrive on
time, but there's always 1985.

Or 2004.

Yes, I blame this neo-oppression on the Bush cabal, I blame the media, but I
also blame myself, and everyone else like myself, who just hasn't had the
time, or taken the time rather, to pay sufficient attention. To question. To
reason. We were born into very fortunate circumstances-our country having
fought long and hard for the opportunity to be self-determining, democratic,
and free. Yet we have mostly squandered that gift by our inattention and
often slobbering focus on all things material. It's we the people who've
handed over our power to the media, to corporations, to the government.
We're the ones who left the store, leaving the door wide open and the keys
in the till. A few months ago I ran across a rather chilling and haunting

What no one seemed to notice...was the ever widening gap...between the
government and the people....And it became always wider....the whole process
of its coming into being, was above all diverting, it provided an excuse not
to think for people who did not want to think anyway...and kept us so busy
with continuous changes and 'crises' and so fascinated...by the machinations
of the 'national enemies,' without and within, that we had no time to think
about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around
us....Each act... is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait
for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion,
thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting
somehow....But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or
thousands will join with you, never comes. That's the difficulty. The forms
are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the
jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the
holidays....Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are,
what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven't done (for that was
all that was required of most of us: that we do nothing). You remember those
early meetings of your department in the university when, if one had stood,
others would have stood, perhaps, but no one stood....You remember
everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond
--An excerpt from Milton Mayer's "They Thought They Were Free, The Germans
1938-45" (1955, University of Chicago Press)

Hopefully history has taught us what we must now do before it's too late.
Before we are compromised beyond repair. First, we must take responsibility
for becoming better informed, and we must do so by seeking out a wide
variety of information. Secondly, we're approaching what's probably the most
important election in our nation's history. The powers that be have tried,
successfully it seems, to drive a wedge through the middle of this country's
heart. Not since the civil war or the civil rights movement have we been so
vehemently divided. Does the term "Divide and Conquer" ring a bell? Now is
not the time to allow ourselves to be silenced or divided. We must speak
out. We must listen to each other. Up to and following this election, we
must continue to build bridges through the use of informed dialogue and
compassionate listening. It can, does, and will make a difference. We must
not be silent. For as Thomas Jefferson said, "All tyranny needs to gain a
foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."

Debi Smith -- meal making, laundry washing, toilet swishing, bill paying,
teen transporting, hug giving, information gathering concerned American --
writes from Ashland, Oregon, where she shares a home with her husband, two
children, a cat, and a dog. She can be reached at debi@mind.net


Subject: Re: To Be Silenced, Or Not to Be: That is the Question

Written By: Tanya1976 on 11/01/04 at 2:19 pm

Thanks, Cat, for posting this. Everything that was set up over 200 years ago will be turned over! Wake Up, People!


Subject: Re: To Be Silenced, Or Not to Be: That is the Question

Written By: Don Carlos on 11/01/04 at 6:26 pm

Thanks, Cat, for posting this. Everything that was set up over 200 years ago will be turned over! Wake Up, People!


And thats the plan.  The military/industrial complex and their corpoate media lap dogs will have us all thumping bibles, beating gays, and shooting doctors who perform abortions while the books get burned and people like us, who dare to be critical get carted off to Bushwitz.  The camps, I understand, are already set up.

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