Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Death of Habeus Corpus

In the 1980's I was occasionally afraid that those calling for the internment of HIV+ people and LGBT folk might actually get their wish. SON of COINTEL PRO was functioning alive and well in my life.
... by 1983, FBI agents and private security specialists had launched broad intrusions into the lives of ordinary citizens engaged in otherwise legal activities. (from the brilliant political-social-analytic website Public Eye)
My activities and those of many of my colleagues and friends - social justice activities - all proactive, creative, and legal - were curiously interesting to hunkered down men who sat outside my home in parked cars, to tall men who stood at ease in the back of my church during communion, to the "insurance agent" who, for "insurance reasons" had to read the titles of our books into a tape recorder after being let in by our landlord.

Might you wonder what type of activities?
Perhaps you surmise, dear reader, that we deserved to be snooped upon without warrant.

I was part of a drama troupe that educated various public servants, (educators, police, etc.) about HIV/AIDS and LGBT folks.
I taught 5th grade.
I was active in MCC, a "Gay Church" that met in the Unitarian Church, the same building that housed the anti-nuke people.
I was involved in an attempt to provide an education for the children of MOVE members that would be acceptable both to the mothers and the State. (Such a compromise was not possible.)
I protested to oppose the Supreme Court nomination of Robert Bork.
I lived in an intentionally diverse house of African Americans and white folks, gay men and lesbians during a decade and in a city that preferred to keep everyone as separate as possible.

Jesse Jackson spoke from our front steps on the eve of the Pennsylvania Primary in 1986. Maybe that was the dangerous activity that required surveillance.

We were never identified as "enemy combatants," picked up for questioning, or carted away to another country to be not-tortured. It was clear that there were those in "law enforcement," in "the government," who believed there was something about our activities that constituted a threat, but their interference in our lives didn't go beyond an intimidating quasi-public survelliance.

What of activists now? How chilling must it be to have a law that completely eradicates Habeus Corpus. Why bother with intimidation and scare tactics? We used to be afraid that someone would cart us off, drop us somewhere without defense. But it would have been illegal, and we held on to the shred of hope that the feds who were watching us would follow the law and would not physically interfere with us.

No hope of that now. It is now legal for someone to be identified as an enemy combatant, and carted off to G-d knows where, where G-d knows what to happen, where even the Geneva Conventions - that last bulwark of ethical instruction - aren't attended to, and, since there is no right to a lawyer, no one will even know where they are should they want to report them missing.

Maybe it can be an episode of Without A Trace. The FBI looking for someone the FBI has taken.

And what does this mean for Ministers, DREs, and other religious professionals who act as if the Reign of G-d is among us and we are to do justice? I think it can't be good. The chilling effect of this legislation, of this constitutionally unsupported square of rotting spam on a board, can't be good. It means that we may begin to second guess our public statements. And that's the cruelest censorship.

Keith Olbermann has something to say as well. First, the special report on Habeus Corpus.

And his Special Comment on Habeus Corpus is available at Crooks and Liars.
It's got a great last paragraph. It's worth waiting for though, so go read or watch the commentary from the beginning.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

I Heart Keith Olbermann

for so many reasons. Reason #334A is because he's on "news network" programming at the same time as Bill O'Reilly, which just seems fair. Here's reason number 334B--

Olbermann named Paul Weyrich the Worst Person in the World Award winner for Thursday Oct. 6, 2006 for making this statement as taken from Olbermann's Countdown page:

“Here’s the real problem,” [Weyrich] said, “it has been known for many years that Congressman Foley was a homosexual. Homosexuals tend to be preoccupied with sex.” When the host suggested that that was just an opinion and many would take exception to it, Mr. Weyrich explained “I don’t care whether they take exception to it; it happens to be true.”

Olbermann responds (two days after Chris Matthews didn't respond to a similar statement on Hardball):

No, actually. But let me repeat this, brainiac. This isn’t about Foley being gay. It’s not about what the kids did, it’s an adult, male or female, straight or gay — taking sexual advantage of children and other adults protecting that adult. Commentator Paul Weyrich, today’s Worst Person in the World.

Media Matters has done a very efficient job of exploring the gay-pedophile libel.

A related set of statements/libels that has James Dobson and Matt Savage saying the Mark Foley scandal boils down to "pranks" by pages can be found dissected here.

It's so so nice to have the Right on popular television again, isn't it?

In case you're wanting a 360 degree view of other media outlets perspectives, here's Fox's:

Fox's Hannity and Colmes misleads their viewers about the actions of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) in Washington, here, and a report on Special Report with Brit Hume, two days after CREW clarified their position, repeated these statements without including the clarification.