Where Zero Tolerance Is Overdue

Column by Tim Hartnett.

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The perpetual battle being waged against people who feel entitled to speak their own mind didn’t end when James Madison wrote the First Amendment. If the guarantees on paper in the Bill of Rights could have settled that much, the Ten Commandments would have eradicated sin. Those 45 words that describe where the fight against oppression should draw its lines were put together as an ultimatum to public employees. That was 222 years ago; the fight was not long in coming.

The struggle for control over what is said and heard can’t be erased by a government mandate or a popular referendum. The Alien and Sedition Acts were passed only seven years after the Constitution was ratified. The military, Congress, police, corporations, hostile mobs, school functionaries, special interest groups and the guy on the next barstool have all been known, and far from rarely, to take it upon themselves to decide acceptable opinion. The censorious often succeed, at least harming the miscreants, on those occasions when they can’t be shut up altogether.

Let’s face it, it’s less than mindboggling that the IRS would pick and choose which ideological factions hop through which hoops.  Anybody awestricken by that revelation probably believes there are “fair and balanced” news purporting entities. People abuse power and there are not that many exceptions. Last year we found out the FBI had teamed up with the bankocracy to derail the Occupy Movement. The suits and Feds had not ruled out picking off the leadership figures with sharpshooters. Exactly how far they went we’ll never know for certain. The media is always kinder and gentler when G-Men target unconventional types. Giving Middle Americans, who wrap themselves in the flag and dress colonial, the paper shuffling run-around is far more controversial.

The entire mainstream media mob appeared to miss the irony reporting that the FBI would be investigating another federal bureau for crimes against the First Amendment. When the Hooverites strong-arm subjects, they have a lot more to worry about than excess red tape. The gang at 935 Pennsylvania NW has been in the ideological control freak business since Charles Bonaparte founded the anti-constitutional plot in 1908. Thought criminals they pursue may end up burned alive, shot, harassed to suicide, impugned as rats, financially sabotaged or even induced to falsely confess to the crime of the century. There is no arm of the government devoted to preserving expressive or any other individual rights. The ruling culture isn’t about to invent anything that could stunt its own growth.

When George Bush was residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., we got regular reports of policemen seizing signs with anti-war messages on them. Did anyone in the media hierarchy advocate penalties against authorities perpetrating these violations? What we rather heard, from bizarrely qualified voices, was that troops in Iraq were fighting for free speech and other rights here at home. So the policeman forcefully squelching foreign policy ideas he doesn’t like is part of the fight for the Bill of Rights then, just so you don’t get confused. A person using force of his own to keep speech un-suppressed would be branded a dangerous criminal and risks getting killed, while a constable slain by someone refusing to cede First Amendment rights would be buried a hero with an expansive motorcade and a grandiose ceremony.

The solution to assaults on the American culture is a simple one. The protections of sovereign immunity have been getting scumbags off the hook in this country under every administration. This provision exempts the government when they frame people for murder as well as when they commit that crime themselves. Under these circumstances, it’s juvenile to be shocked that they try to tax ideas they aren’t keen on.  It is equally naïve to pay any attention to politicians’ bleats about trusting government. A monopolistic trillion dollar-a-year industry that keeps the competition in check at gunpoint is never going to be trustworthy. 

Any government official caught in the act of extralegally obstructing communication he is ideologically opposed to belongs in a prison. No event in any career can redeem an attack on that freedom Americans once held most dear. The public has grown so inured to law enforcement wantonly oblivious to all restraints that taking someone’s sign away seems paltry to focus on. It’s only when they start taxing the signs that government’s war on ideas gets any attention.  

A regime bent for decades on exponentially increasing the population in American penitentiaries has no claim to any indulgences from the oppressed citizenry. A country snarled in as many laws as ours is, is nevertheless strangely lacking sufficient regulation to penalize the offenses, from illegally seizing political signs and on to murder, of an ennobled class of public employees. They are no more afraid of any civilian than a secret policeman was in a defunct east European despotism and hence have little regard for popular opinion. 

The central authorities have been telling us for decades that there are lurkers in the shadows out to get them. If we could ever make such a delusion true, we’d all be a lot freer. With a few hundred of them behind bars as examples, respect for individual rights would be as popular as Obama in the District overnight.

The IRS scandal is only the tip of an iceberg of government abuses that will, but for drastic statutory action, remain submerged into eternity. During the '50s, news and politics were subverted behind the scenes by a coterie of Georgetown drunkards that felt entitled to seize power by citing a distant threat. The DHS has a vast battery of resources it uses against people never convicted of anything. These powers are complemented by the legal means to keep a wide variety of activities secreted from the public. In this environment we have no way to measure the legitimacy of the political process. Driving the country while drunk with power is a violation that has run rampant long enough.

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