Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Criticizing the VP is a Crime?

We’ve all been hearing about the erosion of civil liberties in the U.S. ever since 9/11. Former Atty. Gen. Ashcroft, testifying in favor of the ill-conceived and hastily-passed “USA PATRIOT Act,”reprimanded any journalists or lawmakers who would think about raising civil liberties concerns. Since that time, we’ve seen the FBI investigate the American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker organization) as a terrorist threat–since everyone knows that Christian pacifists and terrorists are the same thing. We’ve seen nuns connected to Pax Christi placed on “no fly” lists. We’ve seen librarians referred to as “pro-terrorist” because they’ve resisted the “Patriot” Act’s demands that they spy on patrons’ reading lists (always wanting to save the govt. money, I have emailed the Atty. General weekly with my reading–highlighting titles that are particularly subversive). We’ve seen the right to peaceable assembly restricted to “free speech zones” (I thought America was supposed to be a free speech zone?) far away from the president. We’ve seen hundreds arrested without cause for exercising peaceable assembly outside the Republican National Convention in New York 2004.

And all of that is a drop in the bucket compared to what Arab-Americans and Muslim Americans have had to endure.

But now, as Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive reports here, the Secret Service arrested a man and charged him with assault for walking past Vice President Cheney and saying “I think your policies in Iraq are just horrible.” That’s assault? The man was handcuffed in front of his wife and son, kept in handcuffs for hours at the local lockup before the charges were downgraded to harassment and he was released on $500 bail! Eventually the charges were dropped completely. But, I am glad to hear that the arrested man is suing the Secret Service for false arrest and for violating his right to free speech. Assaulting the VP indeed. I mean, you’d think this guy shot Cheney in the face with buckshot and then failed to report the accident!

Then, again, maybe this dude should be glad that VP Cheney didn’t get Pres. Bush to classify him as “an enemy combatant” (classification that is completely at presidential whim), lock him in Gitmo and tell the CIA to interrogate him with “harsh measures.”

Yet another example of how this administration, while foolishly continuing to try to export democracy at gunpoint, continues its all-out assault on democracy here at home. Fear and democracy are incompatible. This home of the once-brave is fast becoming the home of the formerly free.


October 6, 2006 - Posted by | politics


  1. I remain skeptical that any meaningful civil liberty has been lost since 9/11, as your post certainly proves!

    Comment by Looney | October 6, 2006

  2. Because the cops haven’t come to my door for posting this, no “meaningful liberty” has been lost? Really. I have met people who are the family members of those kidnapped and deported in the middle of the night without due process–even though they had married and had American children and no links to terrorism.

    I met with people who were beaten for peaceable assembly outside the Republican National Convention and then charged with assaulting the police–and only videotape by third parties saved them. The cops were under presidential orders to make it look like everyone loved the G.O.P.

    I watched the TSA confiscate the 2004 banner of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America as a “security threat.”

    There were AARP members who were arrested for driving to the WTO protest in Miami in 2004.

    Let’s not even talk about the torture.

    No “meaningful liberties lost?” No, these would be a great increase in liberty were this China, but this is supposed to be the U.S.A.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | October 6, 2006

  3. Well, are you telling me that people used to be able to thumb there nose at US immigration law, but now they can’t, therefore, meaningful liberties were lost???

    Or perhaps a slap on the wrist for pushing protests to the limit means that liberties were lost???

    And how many times have you been tortured?

    Comment by Looney | October 6, 2006

  4. “without due process”

    Note: Due process regarding visas is always done in the person’s home country. This has cost me money and annoyances, but it is perfectly reasonable.

    Comment by Looney | October 6, 2006

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